If you are on a long-term restricted diet because of food intolerances, you’ll need to pay careful attention to maintaining good nutrition.
Protein, fat and carbohydrates come from staple foods. Proteins provide the building blocks for your tissues. Fats and carbohydrates supply the fuel for your body to generate and store energy. Even on a low-chemical diet you should be able to meet your protein and energy needs. If you begin losing weight, you’re probably not getting enough kilojoules (calories) and need to increase your intake of staple foods. Ask your dietitian for help if necessary.
Vitamins and minerals are necessary in small amounts for your metabolism to function normally. Remember that energy comes from major nutrients, not vitamins, so if you feel tired and run-down more vitamins are not likely to be the answer.
Popular diets come and go based on whatever alternative theories are currently in fashion; for example, hypoglycaemia, food family rotation, Candida, leaky gut and liver detoxification. These diets generally eliminate all additives and a wide range of foods that are rich in natural chemicals, so it’s not surprising that people with food intolerance who follow these diets often feel better, at least temporarily.
This is also true of so-called ‘yeast-free’, ‘wheat-free’ and ‘sugar-free’ diets. If your health improves on one of these diets, it’s easy to jump to the mistaken conclusion that yeast, wheat or sugar must have been the culprit. If you find that sweet foods, such as cakes, honey, jam and chocolate, upset you, it’s likely to be due to the natural chemicals and/or additives in them rather than the sugar. In fact, white (refined) sugar is perfectly safe for sensitive individuals, because any natural chemicals that might cause reactions have been removed in the refining process.
There is a common belief that dairy products are bad for people with ‘allergies’. In fact, this is not usually so. If you feel better avoiding dairy it may be because you’ve cut out the natural amines in tasty cheeses and chocolates, or the flavourings in yoghurt, ice-cream and milk shakes. Milk or wheat can sometimes irritate the stomach and bowels in people with food intolerance, but this will often settle down after the relevant food chemicals have been identified and eliminated for a few weeks.
Lactose intolerance is a common genetic difficulty in digesting lactose, and can cause bowel symptoms. However, it’s not usually necessary to exclude all dairy products, as most people with lactose intolerance can tolerate small quantities of milk and yoghurt. If you react to cheese (which contains no lactose) you’re likely to have intolerance to food chemicals other than lactose.