In prior blogs, I’ve talked about what are called food challenges. Now I will explain what they are and how I was taught they work.
Although there are different types of blood tests that can be performed to test for food allergies, the absolute gold standard of food allergy testing is the oral food challenge.
For those people who have a fairly immediate, possibly life-threatening, reaction, food challenges are best conducted under the supervision of medical professionals. For those of us with somewhat milder, delayed reactions, food challenges performed in the comfort of your own home is a possible solution.
How does it work?
- Pick a food you suspect is causing you problems.
- Completely eliminate that food from your diet for at least two weeks (if you begin to feel better, that’s a clue, but you’re not done yet!).
- Eat the food prepared in a normal manner in typical serving sizes regularly, every single day, for up to five days. Keep the rest of your diet fairly routine during this period.
- If you get a reaction in five or fewer days, you likely have some kind of allergy or intolerance to that food. STOP eating it as soon as you’re sure of a reaction!
- If you have no reaction after fives days, you may begin rotating that food back into your diet.
Rest and then repeat the process as many times as needed for different suspect foods (or for the same food if you’re uncertain or think you ate something that messed up your testing).
Remember the timing. Two weeks off – five days on.
Beware, I have eaten foods that have successfully passed the challenge and they eventually began to bother me weeks or months later. So, this method is not foolproof to the extent that it can predict if you will EVER react to a food.
Also, some foods, like herbs, spices and condiments may typically be consumed in small enough quantities that a reaction is uncertain. It’s not until you consume a larger quantity for an extended period that you trigger a reaction. This has happened to me with the mint family plants (basil, oregano, peppermint), olives, and black pepper.