A food sensitivity is not the same as a food allergy.

A food allergy
  • An unusual reaction by your body’s immune system to proteins found in certain foods.
  • Symptoms range from mild to life-threatening and include itching inside the mouth, throat or ears, rash, wheezing, swelling of the lips, tongue, roof of the mouth and around the eyes and vomiting
  • Symptoms may be triggered after eating just a small amount of the particular foods


A food sensitivity
  • A difficulty digesting certain foods. It does not involve your immune system – there is no allergic reaction
  • Symptoms happen gradually, often a few hours after eating the problem food and are never life threatening. Symptoms include tummy pain, bloating, gas and/or diarrhea, skin rashes and itching
  • Symptoms usually result if you eat a substantial amount of the food.
  • The sensitivity can be caused by many different foods


Wheat Intolerance

A difficulty digesting wheat based products such as bread, crackers, pasta, cereals, and even some sauces.

The culprit of sensitivity may be a food additive, chemical or contaminant, such as:

  • monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  • caffeine
  • alcohol
  • artificial sweeteners
  • histamine (found in mushrooms, pickled and cured foods and alcoholic drinks)
  • toxins, viruses, fungi, bacteria or parasites that have contaminated food
  • artificial food colours, preservatives or flavour enhancers

Lactose Intolerance

The body cannot digest lactose, a sugar found in milk, yogurt, cheese and other dairy products

Gluten Intolerance

Gluten is a proteins found in cereals such as wheat, barley and rye. If you have a gluten sensitivity, you may experience bloat, gas or fatigue. However, it is difficult to determine whether these symptoms are because of an intolerance to gluten, so it is best to talk with your doctor.

Coeliac Disease, another wheat condition, is neither an intolerance nor an allergy, but an autoimmune condition and wheat will have to be completely avoided.

Common Food Allergens

Almost any food can cause an allergic reaction, but most allergic reaction are caused

  • peanuts
  • tree nuts, such as walnuts and pecans
  • fish
  • shellfish
  • cow’s milk
  • wheat
  • soy


The best way of diagnosing a food intolerance is to monitor your symptoms and the foods you eat.

Food diary

Try keeping a food diary, noting:

  • what foods you eat
  • any symptoms you have after eating these foods
  • when these symptoms happen

Trial elimination and reintroduction diet

  • Once you have an idea of the food causing your symptoms, try excluding it from your diet for a few weeks and see if symptoms improve.
  • Reintroduce the food to see if symptoms return. You may find you can tolerate a certain level and you only get symptoms if you have more than this amount.


Preventing Food Allergies

If you think or know you have a food allergy, follow these steps.

  • Read food labels carefully to know what you are eating and drinking
  • Be careful when eating out, let the host know your allergens and ask that the prep area is free of those allergens also
  • Take along suitable snacks in case there isn’t anything available for you to eat
  • Wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace alerting others of your condition.
  • have your medication or treatment with you at all time

Protect your Child

  • Make sure your child knows to ask for help right away if he or she reacts to food
  • Notify school personnel, parents of your child’s friends and other adults who regularly interact with your child. Emphasize that an allergic reaction can be life threatening and requires immediate action.
  • Have your child wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace that lists your child’s allergy symptoms and explains how others can provide first aid in an emergency.
  • Teach the child how to administer medication or other forms of treatment

Complications of Allergies

For some people, a food allergy can trigger anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction. This can cause life-threatening symptoms such as constriction of the airways, difficulty breathing, and a severe drop in blood pressure, rapid pulse, dizziness and loss of consciousness.

Emergency treatment is critical for anaphylaxis. Untreated, anaphylaxis can result in a coma and even death.

Important Food Selections

When you have food allergies or intolerances, finding appropriate food alternatives can be difficult. The table below provides some suitable replacements to prevent nutrient deficiencies. Persons with severe food allergies may need to get creative and experiment with new food ideas.

Allergenic or Intolerable Food


Fish, shellfish, eggs

Poultry, meat (lean), dried peas and beans, nuts and nut butters

Cow’s milk and dairy

Soy or almond milk, yogurt and cheese

Cow’s milk (lactose)

Lactose free cow’s milk, soy / almond milk

Pasta (wheat)

Rice pasta, corn pasta, brown rice, ground provisions, quinoa

Wheat cereals, crackers and bread

Oats, cornflakes, Rice Krispies, rice crackers, homemade wheat-free breads

Wheat flour

Flours made from corn, oat, rice, sweet potato, cassava & chick pea

Important Note

  • If you suspect you or your child may have a food allergy, it is important to ask your doctor for a professional diagnosis.
  • Consider seeing a nutritionist or dietitian to make sure you are receiving all your recommended daily nutrients while avoiding problem foods. 
  • Do not eliminate entire food groups from your diet as a balanced diet with a variety of foods is important
  • Never restrict or revamp your child’s diet unless this has been advised by a nutritionist / dietitian or doctor
  • If you regularly experience certain symptoms even after the elimination of suspected foods, this may be a sign of something more serious and you need to see your GP.
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