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Why do we react to foods?

Why do we react to foods? The most immediately serious reason is true food allergy.  A food allergy is mediated by the fast-responding antibody IgE. It might result in an immediate and intense reaction, such as anaphylaxis.  The most common symptoms include: tingling or itching in the mouth; hives; itching; and swelling of lips, face, tongue and throat or other parts of the body, among others. Treatment usually involves avoiding the culprit foods, using medications for reactions as needed, and possibly, desensitization through allergy shots.

Food sensitivities are less understood, but are thought to be a chronic, low-level reaction which can have a delayed response of one to three days after eating a triggering food. The most commonly associated symptoms are arthritis, IBS, migraines, asthma, eczema, and chronic fatigue.  If you have symptoms, IgG/IgA testing or other immune response testing can be useful for confirmation, and can be the basis for an elimination diet that could improve your symptoms.

Cross-reactivity to environmental allergens involves foods with similar proteins as outdoor allergens.  For example, if you have ragweed allergy you may also react to eating the melon family.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune response to gluten (found in wheat barley and rye).  Treatment is a lifelong gluten-free diet.

Reactive hypoglycemia and post-prandial syndrome happen when insulin levels rise after a meal and trigger symptoms.  Eating a balanced diet rich in protein, healthy fat and fiber, while avoiding high carb foods-especially refined carbohydrates or sugary drinks are first-line management.

Sweets: Naughty or Nice?

The holidays are full of special things, decorations, songs, events, parties and gifts.  There are also sweet treats all around.  Holiday treats can be bittersweet – both literally and figuratively.

Whether the holidays serve as a relaxing time or a stress filled environment, finding too much comfort in these treats can be damaging to your health.

Next time the tray of cookies is in front of you, try to make mindful decisions.  Think about if this cookie is truly special, or is it just there in front of you.  Is it the cookie that will bring me joy, or is it that I am surrounded by my family and friends?  Or am I reaching for this cookie because I am stressed, what else could I do to handle my stress?  If you decide to eat the cookie, great, don’t have regrets!  Take time to chew, and savor, and truly enjoy it.  You will feel more satisfied and less likely to mindlessly reach for another.

What if there were healthier options available?  You could be a part of making that available for your family and friends.

There are many options to create healthier alternatives to traditional holiday sweet treats and gifts. You can show your love and keep loved ones healthy!  For example, create your own trail mix, make dark chocolate bark with fruit and nuts, make your own spice rubs or soup kits in mason jars.  Our very own Dr. Julia Snyder even suggested a healthy treat, Almond Grabbers, and their recipe can be found here.

For more healthy holiday treat and gift ideas, check out EatingWell. For all other tips and tricks as to what you should avoid for the holidays, reach out to your R-Health doctor who’s always available for you, even during the holiday season.

Do you have ideas of your own healthy holiday treats?  We’d love to hear. Share them with us on Facebook.