Is it possible to diet and have an intolerance - with food restrictions in place does it make it easier or harder to lose weight?
While it is true that, for some, having a food intolerance can prevent gaining or maintaining a healthy weight - it is more likely that others will suffer from weight gain, even on a restricted diet.
It is a common misconception that if you have a food intolerance you will be thin and not need to diet because you are either: already following a strict diet; or you suffer from bad digestion so that you cannot keep food in your system for long and should therefore naturally lose weight.
A free-from diet
Just because you are eliminating certain foods from your diet it is not good practise to assume that everything you can eat is also good for you.
A quick stroll into your local supermarket will show you that the majority of the processed food available in the 'well-being food' section actually comprises of a high sugar and salt content. Processed food is still that!
Many people will find that by cutting out gluten and dairy - amongst other foods - they are in fact removing quite a few calories from their diet and will be replacing it with a healthier option.
But for some, by following a free-from diet, they are simply replacing the eliminated foods with sugary sweets and snacks. And of course, this will not help with weight loss - and could in fact cause even more weight gain.
To successfully lose weight on an 'intolerance' diet you will still need to look for and cook meals that contain a balance of nutrients - as well as protein, fats and carbohydrates.
While it is fine to enjoy snacks and sweets, choosing the healthier option will assist in weight-loss and maintenance.
As with any diet, any changes should become a way of life, not a restriction. Food is important, fun and a social event - as well as a necessity - and if you make every meal a chore or too boring then you will simply crave more 'trouble' foods.
By ensuring you know what is in your diet and eliminating the 'trouble' foods - as well as keeping an eye on the sugar content of processed items - you stand a greater chance of success.
Are you intolerant?
Many people just aren't aware of food intolerances and the fact that they can have a variety of causes: anything from a lack of a certain digestive enzyme (as with lactose intolerance) or sensitivity to food additives.
The most common 'trouble' foods are dairy, gluten, eggs, soy, corn and nuts. These can lead to, amongst other things, bloating and water retention-weight gain.
Food intolerances can affect as many as 1 in 10 people.
Food intolerance and sensitivity can be a common cause for abnormal food cravings and binging - and the pathological reaction caused by these foods can encourage your body to store fat.
By eliminating these foods you can help decrease cravings while your metabolism returns to normal.
If you are intolerant to a food, your body can react by storing it away instead of using it for energy. If you eat a lot of foods to which you are allergic, there will undoubtedly be weight gain.
Once you find out what foods are causing problems they can be avoided for a period of time - you do not necessarily have to avoid these foods indefinitely, just give your body a rest from them and then ensure they don't make up a large percentage of your diet. Everything in moderation!
Could this be you?
Do you suffer from regular bloating, gas, constipation and diarrhoea? Or do you suffer further from seemingly unrelated symptoms like mild asthma, eczema, headaches, muscle and joint pain, and fatigue?
If so then you may be suffering from a food intolerance.
By following an elimination diet you can start to figure out for yourself. Initially remove the biggest culprits (gluten and dairy) from your diet for two to three weeks.
Remember to thoroughly check the labels on processed foods and packets because lactose and gluten can be found in the most unusual places.
If after ensuring you have positively followed this elimination and you have not noticed any difference - also eliminate eggs, corn, soy, and nuts. You may also want to remove additives such as food colouring and preservatives.
After a few weeks, slowly reintroduce the possible culprits, one at a time, noting any reactions.
If the reaction is severe, you will need to cut the 'trouble' food from your diet.
For mild reactions, you could try a daily pro-biotic supplement, which restores the good bacteria in your gut necessary for digestion and can help prevent bloating and water retention-weight gain.
Be careful not to select a pro-biotic that is dairy based and try to choose one with greater than 10 billion CFU/dose (Colony Forming Units).
An intolerance or sensitivity differs from an allergic reaction. An allergic reaction is a reaction produced by the immune system when the body meets a normally harmless substance, which has been "remembered" from a previous exposure and subsequently produces the IgE antibody. This type of reaction needs immediate attention.