The Strange World of Food Intolerance Symptoms (aka My Close Call With Chocolate Allergies)

When we think about food intolerances, we tend to think of things like stomach aches, bloating, and constipation/diarrhea. And yes, those can be symptoms of food intolerance, but so can a stuffy nose, migraines, joint aches, and other subtle signs.

I realized recently that my body does not do well with almonds. Because my symptoms — absolute exhaustion, muscle weakness, and difficulty taking a full deep breath (it was like someone was sitting on my chest when I would try to run) — weren’t typical, it took me a while to realize that I need to eat almonds only in moderation. As soon as I add daily almond butter to the mix, I find myself in trouble. After just a day or so of removing the almonds from my diet, I felt dramatically better. I’m sad because I love almonds, but I am also so happy to know the culprit of my symptoms.

I’ve also found that I’m totally addicted to these pumpkin seeds I got from Costco (or vitacost.com). They make a great replacement for almonds…
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I also thought for quite some time that I had an allergy to chocolate. How bad would that suck!? A bite of chocolate would make my tongue hurt and swell. And as much as I may sound like a hypochondriac, you can believe I tested this one over and over… and over. And after seeing this TED talk on the benefits of dark chocolate, can you blame me? After taking chocolate out of my diet on multiple occasions, I determined (albeit incorrectly) that I had an intolerance to chocolate.

Then I read that even the small amount of dairy in some dark chocolate can set off a reaction. I didn’t fully believe that dairy was affecting me because while I am very low dairy (I’ll have butter and a little cheese occasionally), I don’t have much of a reaction to it. I just try to minimize my intake for inflammatory reasons. I decided to try to eliminate it anyway (still hoping I wasn’t allergic to chocolate). A few weeks and bag of dairy-free Enjoy Life Dairy-Free Dark Chocolate Chips later, I’m ecstatic to report that the problem was the dairy, not the chocolate! Woohoo!

My point in all of this? When it comes to food intolerance, particularly high-allergen foods like gluten, dairy, soy, corn, nuts, and eggs, be sure to pay attention to how you feel head-to-toe, not just in your gut.

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So, no more of my favorite Trader Joe’s 73 percent dark chocolate almonds (a treat of mine for years), but at least I have two new favorite discoveries that taste just as good and make me feel a heck of a lot better!

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Landria Voigt, C.H.H.C., is the Nutritional Consultant and Public Speaker at Dr. Taz’s Atlanta Center for Holistic & Integrative Medicine office. She is a graduate of The University of Georgia and the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. She is author of the the book Super Paleo Snacks as well as the popular family and nutritional blog Stir It Up! where she shares her healthy recipes aimed at pleasing even the most finicky of palates, as well as forward-thinking ideas about nutrition. 

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