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Weight gain: Are food intolerances to blame?

JJ Virgin, PhD, CNS, author of Six Weeks to Sleeveless and Sexy, is the premiere voice of scientific reason in the world of nutrition and wellness. She is one of the nation’s foremost celebrity nutrition experts, public speaker and media...

Don't sabotage your health

Are you following all of the weight loss rules — counting calories, counting carbs, exercising — and yet still struggling with stubborn pounds? Making things worse, are you also experiencing a perpetual state of fatigue, achiness and bloat? Your so-called healthy diet may be to blame.
Woman holding stomach

Health frustrations may be due to food intolerances

If you’re experiencing a losing battle of the bulge, along with chronic health issues, it’s no wonder you’re frustrated, wondering if you’re ever going to feel better. Guess what? All of these symptoms can often be traced back to what you eat. And often the culprits are the very foods you’re eating in an effort to be healthy. The reason is food intolerance: a negative reaction to certain foods that can sabotage your health by triggering inflammation and causing a host of nasty symptoms.

Food intolerances versus food allergies

Unlike food allergies that are acute and severe, food intolerances can be tricky to pinpoint. If someone with a peanut allergy eats peanuts, she can go into anaphylactic shock and immediately need medical attention — this is acute and severe. Someone with a food intolerance, on the other hand, will experience subtle symptoms that can worsen over time.

Food intolerances fire up your immune system just like food allergies do, but their effect is more subtle and symptoms may not appear for several hours or even days, after you’ve eaten a highly reactive food. So you may not make the connection between, say, the egg-white omelet you had for breakfast and that late-afternoon splitting headache. Food intolerances develop when you repeatedly eat a highly reactive food. They can trigger leaky gut, immune reactions and inflammation, and can also stall fast fat loss.

How do you know if you have food intolerances?

Food intolerances trigger numerous symptoms. If you recognize even one of these symptoms, you could be suffering from a food intolerance.

  • Digestive trouble – bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea
  • Sleep issues – fatigue, insomnia, restlessness, waking during the night
  • Congestion, sneezing and coughing
  • Muscle aches and joint pain
  • Dark circles under your eyes
  • Dull, lifeless hair
  • Skin problems, including acne and rosacea
  • Mood problems – lack of focus, brain fog, depression, anxiety or irritability
  • Poor or unsteady energy
  • Premature aging
  • Weight gain or inability to lose weight

Food intolerances are hazardous to your health

Because food intolerances trigger an immune reaction, they can also cause inflammation. Chronic inflammation is connected to just about every disease on the planet, from dementia to cancer. Inflammation also makes fat loss impossible.

Eliminate the worst culprits for food intolerances

When my clients eliminate highly reactive foods from their diet, their symptoms disappear, they look and feel better, and they lose weight. Those last stubborn pounds their bodies clung to finally go away.

I’ve narrowed food intolerances down to seven common culprits: soy, eggs, gluten, dairy, peanuts, corn and sugar/artificial sweeteners.

You know that sugar is bad, but some of the other foods may shock you. “But what about whole grain goodness,” clients ask me, “and my favorite health expert who said eggs are nature’s perfect food?” My response is that some of these foods can be healthy — unless you have food intolerances. One problem is that people tend to over-rely on certain foods, and repeatedly eating them can create food intolerances over time.

Give it three weeks

Try removing the above foods for three weeks, and chances are you’ll look and feel dramatically different. Besides a decrease in chronic symptoms, you may finally see weight loss in the first week alone. Seeing is believing, so take my challenge and completely eliminate these seven foods for three weeks (it's only three weeks!). You can learn more about how these foods create havoc in your body in The Virgin Diet.

More diet tips

Break your food addiction and lose weight
The anti-inflammatory diet: Foods that heal
Blast through extra pounds with the SHRED diet

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