I paid for intolerance tests for the family over three months ago and whilst they’ve proved divisive within the medical community, with many taking the stance that more research into their validity is required, they have undoubtedly helped mine and my family’s health, so I wanted to share our experience.
I’m not a doctor of course so do please seek professional advice before embarking on any kind of tests if you’re concerned, but myself and my children have had life-changing results thanks to eliminating trigger foods from the tests we took with York Test.
In the interest of balance though I want to start by sharing registered Dietitian, Laura Clark of LEC Nutrition‘s professional opinion on intolerance tests,
‘Food intolerance tests tend to look at IGg antibodies. These are released by the body in response to exposure to a food so do not necessarily indicate an intolerance. It’s important to consider the whole picture and not alter the diet based only on results from these tests. The best way to know for sure is to exclude a food for a short period of time and then reintroduce. Seek advice from a dietitian to ensure the diet is not nutritionally compromised’.
As I stated earlier, myself and my kids have had super results after eliminating foods which showed a reaction in our tests 3 months ago, so here I share our own personal experience with you.
I opted for tests via York Test as my Mum had used them many years ago with positive results (they’ve been around for 35 years) and I’d reached a point where I was at my wit’s end when it came to my health with symptoms of bloating and aggressive red and itchy urticaria style rashes which were appearing daily at that point.
I wanted to investigate if the foods I was eating might be causing these issues.
I knew there would no doubt be several trigger foods listed in my own results, so I bypassed the York Test’s first step test where you post a blood sample to decipher whether you react to foods (not specifying which ones) in the first place. I went straight for the second step where a long list of foods are tested against your sample.
York Test would have refunded me the cost of the more expensive second step test if I hadn’t reacted to anything (bar an admin fee) but I was certain that trigger foods were bound to show up as I was already aware soya disagreed with me, as do brazil nuts. I’m not allergic to nuts however and am fine with others.
My father does have a nut allergy to peanuts, hazelnuts and brazils.
I had an anaphylactic reaction to an unusual Indian dessert whilst at uni in my twenties too which was incredibly scary and frustratingly I wasn’t able to pin down exactly what had triggered it.
We sent off a pin prick blood sample which is posted to you from York Test and can be taken painlessly from your finger or foot is sent into an SAE that fits into the letterbox. We received our results by email and post within a week of testing.
The reason I tested the kids was because Oliver, 7, had complained of feeling oddly sick most days and Xander had relentless ENT issues, mostly with his ears.
Oliver’s results came back with an egg intolerance and Xander, cows’ milk. They both instantly felt better after cutting out these foods. As in within a day.
Xander, who was on antibiotics frequently prior to the tests, has not yet suffered an infection in three months since we’ve switched to dairy-free foods.
I don’t believe it’s a coincidence as prior to the elimination diet, he was on back-to-back antibiotics for throat and ear infections that baffled doctors due to not shifting.
Oliver has equally felt better, only complaining of feeling sick when he ate a Yorkshire pudding we forgot had egg in it!
My own list of trigger foods was fairly long (you are sent a list with a traffic light system -the red being the worst triggers, the amber a 50% reaction with most feeling OK when they eat from that list every so often, and the green list showing no reaction.
My number one culprit was egg (which my husband Peter had predicted long ago but I’d hoped wasn’t the case) along with wheat, gluten, soya, yeast and cashew nuts as others I needed to avoid.
The amber list saw cow’s milk, garlic and lentils, which I now eat in moderation.
A nutritionist phoned me to discuss all of the family’s results and advised on the elimination process offering alternatives along with email support and booklets in the post.
I was encouraged to cut out both red and amber listed foods to start with a view to cut out the red list for 3 months before slowly reintroducing each one.
I’ll be honest, the first week was hard-going and some of my symptoms felt worse before they improved (I was reassured this was normal) but by week two I felt better than before, both emotionally as well as physically. It was like a fog had lifted mentally.
2 months in, I reintroduced some cow’s milk products, and as I’m originally Greek, a little garlic ( I can’t not) but I’ve yet to eat any red trigger foods in three months and I feel a million times better for it.
In fact I (unknowingly) ate a salad on holiday which had mayo in the dressing and I instantly felt dizzy. That’s how much egg affects me.
I’m not ready to reintroduce the red foods yet one by one as I feel so good without and have seen reactions still to egg and soya so my body isn’t ready yet.
I will do, down the line though.
The hardest food to bin has been chocolate (with soya). I’ve found some brands which without it and Kallo dark chocolate rice cakes forgo it too which has offered some solace during PMT thankfully but Dairy Milk it is not!
Prior to the test results, whilst I was aware soya beans and tofu didn’t agree with me, I still scoffed chocolate and soya sauce but since becoming stricter, my blotchy red rashes have reduced, I’ve lost weight without dieting (I love my food and can’t cope with tiny portions) and I have greater energy than before.
I have upped my exercise regime too so must note this, but I’m certain eliminating foods which cause inflammation has helped hugely.
I’m now a small UK size 10 and whilst I’ll never lose my Mumtum two c-sections later, I feel much happier in my skin (and my Topshop dresses!)
I also must note that don’t believe the way I feel is psychosomatic, my kids don’t have that kind of mind over matter ability anyway-and I’ve not had a migraine since stopping foods that were noted as reactive.
My migraines were infrequent but severe when they occurred and usually arose around menstruation with even partial blindness and flashing lights which once prompted me to head to A &E. Scary stuff. I feel more in control of my body since discovering the foods that trigger reactions in me.
Importantly, my kids are healthier and happier.
I just wish we’d taken the test sooner.
Next, I’ll be getting my husband Peter tested, but as he doesn’t have any symptoms, we’ll be opting for the initial test to check if he reacts to any foods in the first place.
There are lots of companies out there that you can have suspected intolerances checked with of course. This isn’t a sponsored review, I just wanted to share how full of beans we’re all are since taking intolerance tests.
My results also encouraged my own GP to take blood tests for allergies as well as IBS and Coeliac Disease (both negative).
I must note these tests were not cheap by any means, but in my opinion they’ve been completely worth it.
We would often run to A&E and out of hours doctors at crazy o’clock with my 4 year old’s incessant infections and to have had a break from hi being in pain and the disruption infections cause, has been a welcome relief.
Of course, if my kids become ill, we follow our doctor’s advice and would always take antibiotics and any medicine required to ease infections and illness, but to have seemingly helped the cause of Xander’s problem, over treating the symptoms so far, feels awesome.
As well as following a healthy, balanced diet and exercise, I personally take B6, B12, folic acid and vitamin D daily to support my mental wellbeing and health and the kids take an age-appropriate multi-vit.
As a sidenote, I loved watching Marie Forleo’s video with Dr Kelly Brogan on how healing your gut can help with depression, she advocates removing inflammatory foods and you can read the post in full HERE.
Have you had intolerance tests before?
I’d love to read your thoughts.