Living with a food intolerance

by Charlotte Morgan  |  09 November 2012  |  re-blogged from

There are only so many bloated stomachs a gal can take. What’s causing this discomfort? In a bid to find out, I took a food intolerance test. Here are the results…

Living with a food intolerance

One little needle

testStabbing one’s own thumb with a scary green needle isn’t easy. Indeed, it took me half an hour to summon up the courage to do it, egged on by my unsympathetic mum and sister. “Just get it over with, for goodness sake!” they yelled through the locked door, as I whimpered by the bathroom sink.

Why would I be pricking myself in the bathroom? Well, because YorkTest Laboratories had kindly sent me a ‘Food&DrinkScan’ through the post (a £299 test which ‘analyses your IgG antibody reactions to more than 158 different food and drink ingredients’), and in order to get those results, you have to send a little of your blood first class to York.

In all seriousness, the stab didn’t hurt that much; I was being a bit of a baby. My younger sister Elise, who also took the test, was in and out of the bathroom in minutes… but she’s training to be a dentist, and is therefore used to inflicting pain. A week later from that traumatic day, we both got our food intolerance test results through the post…

The results

Me: cow’s milk, acai berry, hemp, sesame seed, yeast. Coffee and Pinot Grigio also register, but on a lower scale.

cowI knew that cow’s milk would come up – it’s been making my tummy gurgle since I was a little’un, and my life thus far has been but a haze of Lactofree, Alpro Soya, and Rice Milk. I only ever have cow’s milk in tea, and even the smell of it makes me feel giddy on a bad day.

But acai berry, hemp and sesame seed? I never knew about those. They’re pretty middle class food intolerances – how shall I ever enjoy an acai berry smoothie again, or a hemp chocolate brownie, or a sesame seed garnish? And switching from Pinot Grigio wine to Chardonnay will be a bore.

Yeast, however, is a genuine problem. I love bread. Real bread, that is, made from simple ingredients and sold fresh. I’ve tried to ignore it, but I do tend to feel bloated and lethargic after eating bread… maybe I should switch to yeast-free versions? Biona do a couple, but I’m not sure I fancy millet bread and pumpernickel every week.

My sister Elise: cow’s milk, yeast, wheat.

breadHmmm. We shall have to blame one of our parents for this joint cow’s milk/yeast intolerance. Elise also gets bloated after bread, but she shows other symptoms too, including rashes and headaches. Indeed, the scale of her intolerance to bread was higher than mine (it goes from 0-4, with 4 being the highest), so I think she should make even more of an effort to cut out normal bread from her diet.

As for the wheat intolerance, that’s very inconvenient. Wheat is an essential component in so many foods, including all pastries, cakes, breads, beer, cereal, ice cream, some meats, soups… it can change your life, if the intolerance is severe. Luckily Elise’s was only 2 on the scale.

Testing the results

Me: purposefully eat the things I’m intolerant to.

coffeeNot the most exciting prospect, but I thought it would be the best way to test the accuracy of my YorkTest results.

One day, on the day that the winner of London’s best loaf was announced, I ate mainly bread (at least the equivalent of a small loaf) and drank mainly milky coffee. By the end of it my stomach had ballooned to near-double its size, and the coffee had given me a banging headache and dodgy tummy. The consequences of the coffee far outweighed the consequences of the bread, but quite clearly I am intolerant to both.

A couple of days later I tried to test the sesame seed intolerance with a couple of Sesame Snaps. I enjoyed them and, a few hours down the line, felt no effects. Perhaps you have to eat sesame seeds in extreme amounts to provoke a reaction? The acai berry juice drink did, however, give me a stomach ache within half an hour, and I’m afraid I couldn’t find any hemp to experiment with.

My sister Elise: avoid all the foods she’s intolerant to.

cerealA far better method and one which won’t leave the subject feeling ill. Elise cut out bread and dairy for a whole week, and also swopped to breakfast cereals which don’t contain wheat (we both loveMesa Sunrise, made by Natures Path).

This is what she said at the end of the week: “I feel like I’ve got more energy, I haven’t had a stomach ache in seven days (which is very rare for me) and I haven’t even touched my secret stash of Gaviscon! Cutting out cheese was hugely effective – I think my dairy intolerance builds up, until my poor tummy can’t take it anymore. So it would be fine to eat cheese for one day, but not ok to eat it two days running.”

Elise has since continued in her quest to eat less yeast and dairy, although she refuses to cut out chocolate profiteroles. I have scrapped cow’s milk altogether, and have promised not to go on any mad Pinot Grigio binges. I don’t think the acai berry, sesame seed and hemp thing will affect me too much, but I am sad about my aversion to yeast.


About Roger Nield MBE

Safety Director for the SMPL Organisation and supporting our Vulnerable Veterans Programme.
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2 Responses to Living with a food intolerance

  1. Melanie says:

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