Trying to reach your weight loss goals and not seeing any progress? Maybe it’s time to take a look at what you’re eating, not just how much. Food sensitivities could be playing a part!
You’re eating less, you’re exercising regularly, and you’re managing your stress. But you’re still not seeing any change on the scale. What gives?
Unfortunately, weight loss isn’t as simple as eating fewer calories than you burn. From hormone imbalances to poor sleep, several underlying factors can impact whether your body can shed those extra pounds (or not).
One of the most overlooked culprits? Food sensitivities.
Food Sensitivty vs Intolerance vs Allergy: What’s the Difference?
Food should fuel and energize you. But what if a particular type of food causes more harm than good? Let’s break down the different adverse food reactions, from mild inconveniences to life-threatening immune responses:
Food sensitivities occur when your body struggles to digest certain foods or additives. Perhaps your body doesn’t have enough of the enzymes needed to digest certain compounds (like lactose or gluten). Or, you may be sensitive to certain additives like sulfites or artificial colorings. Either way, you may experience bloating, gas, diarrhea, skin rashes, headaches, brain fog, mood swings, and fatigue.
Food intolerance occurs when you lack the enzymes to break down certain foods properly. For instance, those with lactose intolerance lack the enzyme lactase, which helps to digest milk compounds. Intolerances can cause similar or slightly more severe reactions to food sensitivities.
Food allergies are quite different from food sensitivities. Rather than simply upsetting digestion, a food allergy triggers an IgE (histamine) immune response. The immune system overreacts and produces a range of allergic-type symptoms, such as hives, itching, swelling, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, and anaphylaxis in severe cases. People with food allergies need to avoid the food they are allergic to to stay safe.
How to Know if You Have a Food Sensitivity
People with food allergies quickly learn which foods they should avoid. Their reactions happen quickly and cause noticeable symptoms.
Those with food sensitivities, however, can struggle to track down their trigger foods because they often cause mild or undetectable symptoms – and those symptoms may arise days after eating the food.
So, how can you know if you have a food sensitivity?
Track your symptoms.
Do you have recurring bloating, abdominal pain, headaches, or fatigue? Do your symptoms show up at random times? You may be experiencing delayed reactions to certain foods. Keeping a food diary can help you identify patterns and trace your symptoms back to potential trigger foods.
Take a look at your diet.
Food sensitivities are often tied to foods that cause inflammation. Every time you eat these foods, you increase the inflammation and dysbiosis in your gut and reactions like bloating, pain, diarrhea, mood swings, and other food sensitivity symptoms occur.
If you suspect you may have food sensitivities, start by reducing your intake of inflammatory foods (like processed food, refined sugar and grains, dairy products, and alcohol). At the same time, increase anti-inflammatory foods (like fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats) to help your gut start the healing process.
Consider an elimination diet.
During an elimination diet, you remove any potentially triggering foods (usually gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, nuts, and shellfish) from your diet for a specific period. Then, you gradually re-introduce those foods to see if your symptoms return. If so, you could be sensitive to the food you re-introduced. Elimination diets can be tricky to follow, so be sure to take this on under the supervision of a qualified functional nutritionist.
Get IgE and IgG food sensitivity testing.
What if you want to get to the root of your symptoms without a complicated elimination diet or food journal? Food sensitivity testing is the most direct and reliable way to determine which foods are wreaking havoc on your gut (and sabotaging your weight loss goals). At AlignLife, our functional nutritionists use precision lab testing to identify the problem foods. Then, they deliver a clear road map to a healthier diet made for you. The added benefit of working with a functional nutritionist is that they can also help design a meal plan that boosts your body’s ability to lose excess weight more efficiently.
4 Ways Food Sensitivities Can Sabotage Your Weight Loss Efforts
Food sensitivities won’t directly cause your body to hold on to extra pounds. But, they can create an environment in the digestive system that lends itself to weight gain. Here’s how:
1. Food sensitivities cause gut inflammation.
Inflammation is a natural process that can help your body fight infections and heal from injuries. But only to a point. Eventually, too much inflammation or inflammation that lingers too long is at the root of many of our most chronic and preventable health issues (including obesity).
When the body senses high levels of inflammation, it releases the hormone cortisol to bring inflammation under control. Unfortunately, this causes a domino effect that contributes to weight gain. When cortisol increases, so do blood sugar levels. As blood sugar levels rise, your body secretes more insulin to pull sugar out of the bloodstream. Over time, your body becomes desensitized to the rising insulin levels, and more insulin is needed to do the same job. This leads to insulin resistance, a metabolic condition linked to weight gain, difficulty losing weight, and other hormone imbalances.
If you have food sensitivities, an inflammatory response occurs in your gut each time you eat that food. As inflammation increases, so do hormonal imbalances, and it becomes harder to shed those pounds.
2. Food sensitivities slow down your metabolism.
To stay fit, you need your digestive system to work like a well-oiled machine. Unfortunately, food sensitivities throw a wrench in your system. Whenever your gut is disturbed or overwhelmed, it works less efficiently than it should. This leads to sluggish digestion, poor elimination, toxic build-up, and a slower metabolism. The slower your metabolism, the slower your weight loss progress will be.
3. Food sensitivities lead to poor nutrient absorption.
Losing weight isn’t just about what you don’t eat. It’s also about eating foods that give you the nutrients you need to function well so you lose excess weight naturally. But eating a nutritious diet only helps if your gut actually absorbs those essential nutrients.
As we learned, food sensitivities cause inflammation in the gut. Along with elevating your cortisol and insulin levels, this inflammation damages the gut flora and intestinal lining. When these aren’t functioning well, your gut won’t be able to absorb the nutrients from your food properly. You’ll still ingest those calories, but the nutrients are lost before the body can use them. You’re left feeling tired and craving more food to make up for what you lost.
4. Food sensitivities can negatively impact your mood and motivation.
Weight loss is just as much of a mental battle as a physical one. But how can food sensitivities impact your willingness to keep pushing toward your goals?
As it turns out, your mental health is closely tied to your gut through the Gut-Brain Axis. This line of communication between the gut and your brain has been shown to impact everything from mood to stress levels to energy and drive. If your gut health is weakened due to unresolved food sensitivities, you may also experience a tendency towards depression, lethargy, and lack of motivation – all of which can make losing weight even more challenging.
Best Diet Tips to Follow if You’re Struggling to See Results
Trying to lose weight and manage food sensitivities can be frustrating. But here’s the good news: when you work on your overall gut health, you can address both issues simultaneously. Here are some simple tips to help you manage food sensitivities and jumpstart healthy weight loss:
Switch to an anti-inflammatory diet.
No matter what foods you are sensitive to, tackling inflammation is the first step. By reducing inflammation in the gut, you can metabolize food more effectively and reduce symptoms like bloating, fatigue, and brain fog. Plus, many anti-inflammatory foods also help encourage weight loss and healthy digestion.
If you’re unsure where to start with an anti-inflammatory diet, try searching for Paleo recipes. These tend to focus on nutrient-dense whole foods and limit ingredients that lead to inflammation or sensitivities. We also share many weight loss-friendly recipes on our AlignLife blog that can help inspire your next meal.
Try intermittent fasting.
Intermittent fasting is a way of planning your meal times to encourage improved digestion and weight loss. Rather than eat throughout the day, you may aim to eat all your meals within certain times, such as 11 AM to 5 PM. This increases the time your body rests in “fasting mode” and can focus on healing the gut.
Before you jump right into intermittent fasting, be aware that there are many different styles and considerations. Reach out to your AlignLife weight management team to set up a schedule that makes sense for your body.
Get a boost with supplements.
Beyond changing your diet, supplements offer a simple way to get better results faster. There are two key supplements we recommend to help you restore your gut health and lose weight effectively:
The healthier your gut, the fewer food sensitivities you will have and the easier it will be to lose that extra weight. And to improve your gut health, you need a diverse microbiome. Ultrabiotic helps improve your baseline gut health by replenishing your gut flora with essential healthy bacteria you need for proper digestion and metabolism.
Mobility was initially designed to improve joint health through a potent formulation of natural anti-inflammatory ingredients. But these same ingredients also reverse the damage of inflammation in the gut to help support those with food sensitivities or stubborn weight gain. As a welcome bonus, this supplement will also support a healthy exercise routine by stabilizing your joints and promoting quick post-workout recovery.
Eat for your unique body.
Weight loss is an individual journey that deserves an individualized approach. Knowing exactly where your unique challenges lie and following a weight loss plan designed for you will keep you off the plateau and on the path to progress. That’s where our MetaLife Lifestyle Empowerment Program and AlignLife functional nutritionists come in.
Rather than focus on calorie counting, we take our weight loss programs to the next level. We analyze not just your diet but your lifestyle, strengths, challenges, and lab work to create a plan designed to work for you.
Get Better Weight Loss Results with AlignLife
Along with food sensitivities, nutrient deficiencies and other hidden culprits can sabotage your weight loss goals. The good news is that we have the technology to identify and correct these issues in just a few simple steps.
It all starts with a visit to your local AlignLife team. From there, we’ll help you understand your triggers and plan a strategic plan to lose weight, keep it off, and live a healthier life.
Ready to stop struggling and finally reach your healthiest weight? Schedule a visit with your local AlignLife functional nutrition or weight management teams today!