A hidden cause of stress and overwhelm is food sensitivity. Not necessarily a full blown allergy, but a negative, sensitive, physical reaction to your diet. Eliminate the foods or beverages you are consuming that you are sensitive or allergic to and guess what? No more anxiety, panic or overwhelm!
Some sensitivities are easier than others to discern. You probably already know how caffeine can make you nervous, jumpy and keep you awake at night. And, I'm sure you've heard that gluten, which is found in most breads and cereals, can make your stomach hurt, your muscles ache or give you a headache. But, did you know a sensitivity to chocolate results in a faster heart rate and feeling hypersensitive?
What makes food sensitivity confusing is that symptoms don't show up, sometimes, for hours, or even days, after ingesting a particular food or beverage.
Physical Symptoms of Food Sensitivity
Feeling off balance, poor coordination, faintness, dizziness, and vertigo.
Headache, migraine, neck pain, or a feeling of fullness or pressure in the head.
Watery eyes, blurry vision, glaucoma, itchy eyes or eyelids, and/or dark circles under eyes.
Tinnitus (ringing of the ears), earache, reddened ears, fullness in the ears, fluid in the middle, hearing loss, recurrent ear infections, itching ear, and/or ear drainage.
Celiac Disease (sensitivity or allergy to gluten found in grain products)
Extreme drowsiness or sleepiness soon after eating.
Hives, rashes, eczema, dermatitis, itchy skin, acne, nail and/or skin fungus, jock itch, psoriasis, and pallor.
Chronic Fatigue, weakness, muscle aches and pains, joint aches, and pains, and arthritis.
Weight loss or gain (or fluctuating weight) without cause.
Urinary tract symptoms (frequency, urgency, pain), and bed-wetting.
PMS, miscarriage, and/or infertility.
Vaginal itching, bacterial and yeast infection, and discharge.
Swelling of the hands, feet or ankles.
Insomnia and other sleep disturbances.
Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, bloating after meals, belching, colitis, gas, feeling full long after eating, abdominal pains or cramps, hunger (even after eating), cravings, and/or eating sprees associated with cravings.
Emotional/Psychological Symptoms of Food Sensitivity
Brain fog, confusion, forgetfulness and/or inability to concentrate.
Problems speaking, such as slurring or stuttering.
ADD, ADHD and learning disabilities.
Anxiety and panic attacks.
Note: See Irritable Bowel Syndrome for information on digestive enzyme deficiency, which can cause all of the many symptoms of food sensitivity.
Foods Most Apt to Cause Food Sensitivity
After taking a look at the food sensitivity symptoms above, I am sure you will understand why the first defense against overwhelm should be your diet.
Foods most apt to cause symptoms, especially in Highly Sensitive People, are sugar (including artificial sweeteners), dairy (eggs, cheese, milk), caffeine, soy, unsprouted nuts, peanuts, corn, and yeast. Packaged and prepared foods, as well as sodas and diet sodas, also cause sensitivities due to high content of preservatives, artificial colors, sweeteners and flavors.
Many people, and not just sensitive people, are particularly sensitive to gluten (found in breads and grains), which is used as a thickening agent.
Nightshades can pose an issue for Highly Sensitive People. When you do eat nightshades, make sure they are cooked well. Nightshades contain alkaloids, which increase the immune response. Nightshades are potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant and peppers. If you have an autoimmune disorder or Irritable Bowel Syndrome you should avoid nightshades. Also avoid those things made from them, such as Paprika, Red Pepper Flakes, Cayenne Pepper and so on. Black Pepper is OK to use.
The Benefit of Keeping a Food Diary
Any time you are experiencing stressful symptoms keeping a food diary can help. Note what you've eaten or had to drink (including the time of day), how you feel every day, how well you slept, whether you could think clearly, and whether you felt energetic or drained. This way you can look back and see which foods or beverages are causing your symptoms.
After eating foods you are sensitive to it can take up to four days for symptoms to develop. By then, you may not even remember what you ate 4 days ago, much less relate it to how you are feeling today.
What's your weakness? Caffeine? Sweets? Breads? The foods we crave are often the very foods we are sensitive to.
If you suspect food sensitivity is contributing toward overwhelm, first eliminate the food or beverage for at least two weeks. After two weeks, try it again (just once) and wait the full 4 days to see if you have any recurring symptoms. This is tricky business though, as something else you ate or drank may be causing symptoms as well. Still, it can be helpful.
You might consider allergy testing. Allergies to foods, chemicals and additives cause digestive upsets. The drawback is that these tests are not always reliable. Still, you might try SpectraCell, a reputable online nutritional testing source.
Food Facts You May Not Know!
Discover foods facts you may not know that contribute toward food sensitivity.
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