How Having a Food Intolerance Changed My Life

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As food makes up a huge part of day to day living, adjusting to the fact that you have a food intolerance can be daunting. Whilst being made aware of potential trigger foods can be an effective first step in tailoring your diet to suit you, what to do after this step isn’t always so clear without the right advice. Often, you might feel as though you’re able to eat fewer foods than before, and you might feel as though you have to restrict your diet out of a fear of eating something that might act cause you problems.

However, finding out you have a food intolerance doesn’t mean living in fear of your trigger foods. As Scarlett over at www.scarlettlondon.com realised, getting the right advice on your diet can be life changing.

“My life revolved around my stomach”

Before Scarlett knew she was intolerant to cows’ milk, her life was dictated by her eating habits. “My life revolved around my stomach – I’d wake up every night in searing pain with the concern deep down that something was wrong with me. I couldn’t go to lectures or do anything social, and I was largely a recluse, doing my uni work from my own bed. It wasn’t the life I wanted to lead.”

Taking the test

Fed up with “planning [her] day around a toilet”, and suspicious that her problem might have an underlying cause, Scarlett decided to try out a YorkTest IBS Diet Programme.  “I’d pretty much exhausted all other options by then and was a little bit fed up with the treatment I’d already had for IBS, which didn’t seem to really work for me”. After taking a pin prick test, Scarlett “received a big pack in the post, with tonnes of information on IBS (and the FODMAP diet), food diaries, and a list of foods I’d reacted to.”

Whilst Scarlett had always suspected that certain foods might be acting as a trigger, her tests results confirmed this. “The results showed definite reactions to milk and eggs, and borderline reactions to chilli peppers, egg yolks, lentils, wheat and yeast. This was a bit of an eye opener – I can remember several occasions where I’d glugged a glass of milk or had a particularly cheesy meal and gone to bed with almighty stomach pains afterwards. At the time I put this down to stress or anxiety – which I know can be contributors for me – but the test showed definite patterns with the foods I’d been eating.”

“After a chat with one of York Test’s Nutritional Therapists, which was provided as part of the IBS programme, I decided to overhaul my diet once and for all”.

Making a change

After taking the test, Scarlett received advice on how to tailor her diet to avoid triggers, and help reduce the IBS symptoms that had become everyday occurrences. However, doing so didn’t come without its hurdles. “Cutting out dairy is harder than you think. Despite the many people I’ve told claiming ‘oh I don’t drink much milk either to be honest’, it’s in a number of things you consume in your day-to-day life without even realising.”

Although initially daunted by the change, Scarlett found the advice given to her by YorkTest useful. “Talking to the Nutritional Therapist was really helpful. I was always quite a fussy eater, but she tailored some meals to contain foods that I actually liked, as well as giving me some options to try out if I was feeling adventurous.”

As well as being helped by YorkTest’s tailored nutritional advice, the nutritionist Scarlett talked to also recommended that she check out Deliciously Ella, whose story Scarlett found hit quite close to home. “It’s a blog written by a girl who previously suffered a health condition but decided to overhaul her diet. She focuses on eating to make your body happy, rather than counting calories – a mantra which I’ve adopted. I hate the idea of a “restricted diet”, but knowing I could eat ‘anything’ so long as it made my body happy, and worked for me, didn’t feel like a restriction”.

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Handling symptoms

Months after making the decision to tackle her food intolerances and IBS, Scarlett has found herself much less prone to flare ups. “Although my symptoms haven’t disappeared completely, I feel more in tune with my body. My IBS is so much better and as a person, I feel ‘well’ again. I’ve discovered ways of making my favourite foods and recipes work for me, and I’ve also become more adventurous when it comes to my overall diet.”

“I’d never go as far as to say that I found a miracle cure, because tailoring my diet and understanding what worked for me was difficult, and it was hard to give up problem foods straight away. But I think when you have more control over the way you consume, prepare and look at food, you start to feel rewarded by it rather than guilty.”

If you think that you might have food intolerance, and could benefit from a nutritional consultation, then take a look at YorkTest’s Food&DrinkScan Programme. After a simple pinprick test, you’ll receive a personalised list of trigger foods, and get access to a nutritional consultation to help you make the next step in finding a diet that works for you.

Head over to Scarlett’s blog to read more about her experiences tailoring her diet, and find her on Twitter here.