Do you have a food allergy or food intolerance? Here’s how to figure it out…

Food allergy and food intolerance are commonly confused. But it’s important to understand the differences between them in order to help pinpoint the cause of your reactions and get your symptoms under control.


Food allergy

A food allergy occurs when the body’s immune system mistakenly sees a certain food as harmful and produces specific ImmunoglobulinE (IgE) antibodies to help fight it off. Unlike food intolerance, food allergy:

  • can trigger a wide range of symptoms, from digestive and skin issues to swollen airways
  • can cause mild to severe immune reactions (which can be life threatening)
  • can be triggered by ingesting very small amounts of the offending food
  • usually produces symptoms within a couple hours of consumption
  • will usually show as a positive reading on a skin prick test (SPT) or radioallergosorbent (RAST) test.


Food intolerance

A food intolerance, on the other hand, does not involve the body’s immune system. Rather, it’s an (often delayed) reaction to food or food chemicals that sparks symptoms similar to that of food allergy. However, unlike a food allergy, food intolerance:

  • usually only involves the digestive system, producing symptoms like nausea, stomach pain, diarrhoea and vomiting
  • is not life threatening
  • is not usually triggered by small amounts of the offending food – some people are able to tolerate small amounts, while others notice that ingesting small amounts can build up over time, eventually leading to a flare up
  • can produce symptoms 12-48 hours after ingesting the offending food, making it tricky to pinpoint the problem
  • can often not show as a positive reading on SPT or RAST test, making them more difficult to diagnose.


Pinpointing the problem:

There are various things you can do to help isolate the food/s causing your allergy or sensitivity:

  • Get tested – the first step is to get a skin prick test (SPT) or radioallergosorbent test (RAST) through your GP. But, while these tests provide answers for some, many find that the foods they’re reacting to don’t show up.
  • Log a food and symptoms diary – this may help you pinpoint the food/s that trigger your symptoms. Keep in mind that:
  1. food intolerance reactions can be delayed by up to 12-48 hours.
  2. many foods contain natural food chemicals – like salicylates, amines and glutamates – which may be what you’re actually reacting to. Learn what foods contain these chemicals so that you can track them in your food and symptom diary.
  3. stress and poor health may exacerbate your symptoms (so it might not just be the food that you’re eating).


Do you suffer from food allergies or intolerance? Discover our natural allergy treatment!

Positive Association Technique (PAT) is a natural allergy treatment that is completely pain-free and non invasive.

PAT is a non-invasive, holistic therapy, which:

  • draws on acupressure and kinesiology techniques
  • aims to re-train your body
  • may reduce your reactions to substances that may be causing or exacerbating your allergy symptoms.

Some cases can be complex, so our naturopaths may also recommend supplements, herbs, and lifestyle advice to help you achieve the best long-term results.


Want to see if PAT is right for you? Get in touch!

Send our practitioners a question using our Ask a practitioner service, and you’ll get a call-back or reply straight to your email inbox.

Request our FREE Information E-Pack, to get more information about the allergy symptoms affecting you, right to your email inbox.

You can also request an appointment with one of our experienced PAT practitioners in one our clinic locations – North Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth or Auckland


This blog is intended as general information only. PAT cannot diagnose or cure allergies – it is intended to decrease reactions and help manage symptoms. It is not intended to raise unrealistic expectations. If symptoms persist, consult your GP.

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