When it comes to judging the severity of food allergies, here is some straightforward advice: Look at your skin, and forget about your taste buds.
For, no matter how delicious or repulsive certain foods may seem to be, regardless of the signals your tongue registers to your brain about eating your spinach (or squash or cauliflower) before consuming dessert, the more reliable indicator of an allergic reaction to various foods involves a quick glance at your skin.
If your face begins to redden, or if your arms begin to tingle and itch, you have the ultimate early warning system that you may be allergic to a specific food or group of foods, or an ingredient or set of ingredients relating to what you have just had for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Excluding acute cases, which require immediate medical attention and can be life-threatening, more common and benign food allergies should be measured by the skin and not the tongue.
I offer this insight both as a champion of whole foods and as a business leader, where, in my role as founder of Kiss My Itch Goodbye®, I seek to identify and isolate the elements that worsen chronic itch.
The enclosed recommendations are a practical guide for improved health and wellness, thanks to this informal skin test. Talk to a health care provider for additional information before trying this method, especially if life-threatening reactions are suspected.
Step One: Eat and Observe
The first step is the easiest: Look at how your skin reacts to your consumption of individual foods.
So, rather than using a spoon as a makeshift shovel holding a medley of carbohydrates and protein, sample each food separately; take moderate amounts of each item on your plate, and wait a few minutes to see if your skin undergoes any changes.
Do not expect a chameleon-like transformation, in which you become as red as the cherry tomato you may have just swallowed or the pepper flakes that garnish your pasta, but look, instead, for slight changes in skin tone and any tangible results that may coincide with what you just ate.
Record this information in a food journal, so you can determine if this reaction is a recurring problem or an isolated phenomenon.
Step Two: Try Variations of the Same Foods
If your skin consistently becomes irritated and itchy because of certain foods, look for alternatives that have different ingredients.
In some cases, the food may not be the culprit; the fault may rest with an ingredient or a set of ingredients—the latter complicates things—that a competing brand of artisanal bread or yogurt or granola may not have.
Through trial and error, and by recording the outcomes of your culinary coursework, you will become a more educated consumer. You will also become a healthier shopper, by virtue of being more aware of how your body responds to this or that food, or this or that form of flavoring.
Use this journal as your grocery list because, one, it will contain noteworthy information about your personal reaction to various foods; and two, this journal can be a timely and regularly updated guide for smarter shopping in general.
Step Three: Share Your Findings and Use the Web to Help Others
And finally, share your findings with like-minded friends (and "friends") online.
Social media is an excellent outlet to popularize your discoveries, in addition to connecting with people confronting the same or similar food- and skin-related challenges.
Establish a dialogue with these men and women—share your comments about the skin test with online communities—where there is a strong interest in safely treating chronic itch as a symptom unto itself, or as an effect associated with a food allergy.
This intelligence will inspire wiser choices concerning diet and nutrition.
The skin will give voice to a movement infused with clarity and decisiveness. WF
Posted on WholeFoodsMagazine.com 2/27/15
This piece is not intended to be taken as medical advice. Speak to a healthcare provider to get more information about potential allergies.