Healthy Lifestyle

Food Allergies vs. Sensitivities

In the past few years there’s been a lot of talk about food allergies and more recently food sensitivities. With many popular diets eliminating common allergens, you may be wondering if you need to remove these foods from your diet. In this post I’m going to explain the difference between food allergies and food sensitivities. I’m also going to share my experience with testing for food sensitivities and the effects I felt after changing my diet.

Food Allergy

An allergic reaction to food occurs when we consume something that our body perceives as a threat. This causes the immune system to respond by producing antibodies. Antibodies work by removing harmful molecules from the body. The symptoms of an allergic reaction occur quickly after ingesting an allergen and can be severe. This is because the amount of antibodies increases rapidly; IgE antibodies. For example someone with a peanut allergy accidentally eats some granola that contains peanut. Within minutes their throat may begin to tighten, they might develop hives, or their lips, tongue, and face may swell.

Food allergies Signs/Symptoms

  • Skin reactions
    • Lips, tongue, and face swell
    • Itchy eyes
    • Hives
    • Rash
  • Respiratory tract reactions
    • Swelling, itching, tightness in the throat
    • Shortness of breath
    • Dry cough
    • Runny nose
    • Wheezing
  • Digestive tract reactions
    • Abdominal cramps
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Diarrhea

Food Sensitivity

When you have a food sensitivity, the body responds in a similar way, by releasing antibodies, however different ones; IgG and IgA. Compared to an allergic reaction the symptoms of a food sensitivity occur slowly, this is because the amount of antibodies increases over hours and can remain elevated for a longer period of time. Someone with a sensitivity to dairy can drink a glass of milk and feel fine, until a few hours later, when they might feel bloated, gassy, or tired.

Food Sensitivity Signs/Symptoms

  • IBS
  • Migrains
  • Rashes
  • Asthma
  • Chronic fatigue

For a more in-depth explanation of food allergies/sensitivities this article  does a great job at breaking it all down in a easy to understand way.

Here is my experience and reason for being tested for food sensitivities. I have had acne most of my life, a pimple here or there is no big deal. However, a little over a year ago my face was breaking out badly. I’m talking painful cystic acne and more white pustules than I had ever experienced. I feel like I have done just about everything to get it under control over the years; cut out dairy, take antibiotics, apply numerous prescription/non-prescription creams, gels, spot treatments, and masks. During this time of terrible breakouts I was reminded of a fellow RD who spoke about her experience with developing acne as an adult. Ultimately she found out she had a sensitivity to almonds, and when she removed almonds from her diet her skin cleared up. It made me wonder if there was a something in my diet that could be contributing to my skin issues.

I found a functional medicine practitioner and was tested for food sensitivities; IgG and IgA antibodies. My blood was tested against over 100 foods. Once I got the results I was very surprised to learn that many of the foods I ate on a regular basis I was sensitive to; dairy, eggs, blueberries, and soy to name a few. I was overwhelmed with this information and sad I could no longer drink blueberry, banana, kale smoothies. After the initial shock wore off I slowly removed the foods I have a sensitivity to from my diet. Soon after doing this I noticed I was less bloated and gassy than ever before. I also realized what foods made me feel that way to begin with, dairy I’m looking at you! I did see a modest improvement in my skin and as it turned out my skin issues ran deeper than food sensitivities alone. When I did the food sensitivity testing I also checked my hormone levels, which told a different story and was more closely tied to my skin issues. A whole other topic for another day.

If you experience any of the above food sensitivity symptoms it may be worth for you find a professional and get tested. What I enjoyed most about this experience was learning something new about my body and seeing how it responded to the changes I made.

*Removing certain foods/food groups from your diet can cause nutrient deficiencies. It is important to speak with a health professional; MD, NP, RD when removing a food/food groups from your diet to formulate a plan to ensure you are getting the necessary nutrients you body needs to function at its best.

FNCE Swag- My Favorite Items

I have been in Chicago this past week attending the Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo (FNCE). It is the annual conference for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. This year was my first time attending FNCE. Overall it was a great experience. I learned some new things that I am excited to put in to practice and tried a bunch of new products. Below is a review of my favorite items I received from the expo.

1. U of A Nutritional Sciences tote bag

The University of Arizona had a booth at FNCE  promoting their Nutritional Science program; the program I received my Bachelors of Science in. #Beardown.

2. Hemp Hearts

Hemp seeds are a favorite of mine to top yogurt, salads, and ice cream with. They are a great plant based source of omega-3s and protein, they’re also a good source of fiber.

3. Scharffen Berger Dark Chocolates

Good quality dark chocolate, enough said.

4. Sun-Maid Sour Watermelon Raisins

My favorite candy is sour patch kids, but I rarely eat them because they are so sugary. These raisins satisfy my taste buds because they are sour and sweet and the best part is they contain no added sugar! Watermelon is a new flavor coming out soon, they are currently available in Sour Lemon and Sour Strawberry.

5.  Rhythm Beet Chips and Kale Seeds

I love snacks like these beet chips, because the only ingredient is beets! They are baked, not fried and incredibly tasty. I also like they they gave out seeds to grow your own kale.

6. Sunsweet Prunes

Prunes made it to my favorites list after going to an educational session on prunes ability to inhibit bone resorption! Bone resorption is when bone is broken down and the minerals are released int o the blood stream, which can lead to osteoporosis. Research suggests eating 100 grams (about 12 prunes) per day for 6 months to 1 year can increase bone density in men and women. Prunes can also preserve bond density, subjects were tested 5 years after the intervention of 100gm prunes/d; subjects did not continue to eat prunes in the 5 year period.

7. Crazy Richard’s Powdered Peanut Butter and Nut Butter Mixing Spatula

 I am definitely a fan of powdered peanut butter, except most brands add sugar, but not Crazy Richard’s! They’re 100% Peanut Powder only has 1 ingredient, peanuts. The PB plus has added B vitamins and antioxidants designed for physically active individuals. They were also giving out a handy spatula to stir nut butter. It works so much better than a knife when mixing a newly opened jar of nut butter!

8. Nuts-Almonds, Walnuts, Pistachios

Nuts are one of my go to snacks because they contain fat, protein, and fiber. 3 things guaranteed to get you to your next meal without feeling famished.

9. That’s it bars

These bars are another great on the go snack with a small ingredient list and a good source of fiber!

10.  GoMacro bar

I have seen these bars at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and Sprouts, but never tried them before. As far as bars go their nutritional stats are not bad, they taste pretty good, and have a chewy/crispy texture. They are also coming out with some new fruit and nut bars.

11. Vital Protein Collagen Peptides and Bone Broth Collagen

 I love, love, love collagen! I’ve been taking the collagen peptides for a few months now and I’m hooked. I have noticed that my hair grows faster and it helped me heal from a ligament strain. I’ve been told that my skin looks firmer too! I bought a container of the bone broth collagen and look forward to incorporating it in to my diet. These stick packs are great for traveling.

 

Yogurt Buttons

Yogurt buttons are a cool and refreshing treat during the hot summer months. I like this recipe because it is versatile, quick, and easy.

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Ingredients

1 cup Plain Greek Yogurt

1/2 cup Fresh Fruit (I used mango)

1 tablespoon Fresh Lime Juice

Method

1. Puree yogurt, fruit, and lime juice using a blender, food processor, or an immersion blender.

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2. Pour mixture in to a ziplock bag and cut off the corner. The yogurt mixture will begin to pour out once you cut the corner, have your cookie sheet ready.

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3. Squeeze quarter sized dots on to a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper.

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4. Freeze until ready to eat.

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Other Considerations

  • Use any fruit you like
  • For more fruit flavor use 3/4 cups of fruit
  • For more sweetness use orange juice instead of lime juice

Self Myofascial Release

Myofascial release is a great way loosen tight muscles and alleviate muscle pain. The use of foam rollers, sticks, and balls can help restore muscle function. What is myofascial release?

  • A technique of applying pressure to myofascial connective tissue to relieve pain and restore function.

I am a big fan of using foam rollers to ease tight muscles. In the past 9 months I have been working, interning, and going to grad school, so I have had less time to dedicate to stretching and using my traditional foam roll. I used to stretch and roll every night before going to bed. Since I haven’t had time for that, I noticed my muscles are much tighter than they used to be and it has negatively impacted my exercise performance. I decided to get a rumble roller which gets deeper in to muscle and connective tissue, in order to get my muscles back to where they were before. Pictured below are a traditional foam roll and a rumble roller.

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  Traditional foam rollers with smooth surfaces compress soft tissue as you roll on them. This improves blood flow and tissue flexibility. There are now rollers available that have uneven surfaces that work like a deep tissue massage. The bumps knead and stretch soft tissue. This helps to breakdown knots, which restores flexibility and relieves muscle pain. Using the rumble roller has definitely been a new experience. I have only used it a few times but I can already feel the difference. There are may products available, do your research to find out which myofascial release tool is right for you. Myofascial release tips

  • Start slow breaking down soft tissue is a gradual process.
  • Keep muscles relaxed as you roll.
  • Move slowly, rolling back and forth quickly is not as effective.
  • When you find a painful point stay there for a few seconds to release this spot.
  • It can be painful, but stick with it! As you do it more your muscles will become more supple and it will hurt less.

 

Eat The Rainbow

To get all the vitamins and minerals your body needs it is important to eat a balanced diet and have variety within that balanced diet. Variety is important because different fruits and vegetables provide different nutrients.

eat-the-rainbow

Red

  • Nutrients: lycopene and antioxidants
  • Properties: Anti-inflammatory, reduce the risk of cancer, and heart health
  • Foods: Tomatoes, strawberries, red bell peppers, cherries, raspberries, watermelon,  pomegranates, and goji berries

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Orange/Yellow

  • Nutrients: Beta carotine, vitamin C, vitamin B6, and potassium
  • Properties: Anti-inflammatory, antioxidants, eye health, immune function, skin health, heart health, and cancer prevention
  • Foods: Oranges, lemons, carrots, bananas, butternut squash, mango, apricots, nectarines, pumpkin, summer squash, sweet potato, pineapple, orange and yellow bell peppers, and cantaloupe

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Green

  • Nutrients: Lutein, indoles, folate, and vitamin K
  • Properties: Eye health, cancer prevention, cell regeneration, anit-inflammatory, heart health, skin health
  • Foods: Spinach, kale, asparagus, cabbage, broccoli, kiwi, honeydew, green beans, artichoke, Brussels sprouts, celery, cucumbers, swiss chard, and avocado

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Blue/Purple

  • Nutrients: Antioxidants and Anthocyanins
  • Properties: Anti-inflammatory, cancer prevention, and cognitive health
  • Foods: Eggplant, red grapes, blackberries, blueberries, purple potatoes, plumbs, cabbage, red onions, and figs

Blue-purple-Fruits-Vegetables

White

  • Nutrients: Antioxidants and potassium
  • Properties: Anti-inflammatory, cancer prevention, and heart health
  • Foods: Cauliflower, parsnips, potatoes, leeks, onions, garlic, mushrooms, shallots, and coconut  

White-Color-Vegetables-Packed-with-Vitamins-Nutrients-and-Proteins

 

 

 
Last Updated: 04/06/2011

Preservative Free Peanut Butter Cups

Today convenience foods reign supreme, but what many people do not realize is that consuming too many preservatives can have a negative effect on health. Packaged processed foods don’t only have more fat, sugar, and salt they also contain ingredients that prevent them from spoiling, give them a certain appearance, color or texture, and flavor. As great as it is that a food item will stay good for 6 months sitting on the shelf, it’s important to remember why we need something to last that long. In emergency situations or when you are unable to prepare fresh foods. Though convenience foods are inexpensive, most do not provide adequate nutrition. Consuming too much processed packaged convenience foods can lead to weight gain, obesity, high blood pressure, allergies, difficulty breathing, nausea, headaches, and cancer. Below is a recipe for organic peanut butter cups. You can satisfy your sweet tooth without the preservatives, extra fat, and sugar. They only have 4 ingredients and are quick and easy to make. Talk about convenience!

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Ingredients

Makes 6 big peanut butter cups or 12 mini peanut butter cups

Peanut Butter Bottom

3/4 cup Organic Peanut Butter

1 Tbs Organic Maple Syrup

2 Tbs Organic Coconut Oil, melted

Chocolate Topping

1/4 cup Organic Cacao Powder

1 Tbs Organic Maple Syrup

1/4 cup Organic Coconut Oil, melted

Method

1. Mix peanut butter, maple syrup, and melted coconut oil in a medium bowl until well combined.

2. Fill silicone muffin cups 1/2 way full with peanut butter mixture. Place cups in freezer for about 15 minutes or until hardened.

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3. Mix cacao, maple syrup, and melted coconut oil in a medium bowl until well combined.

4. Top the hardened peanut butter cups with chocolate mixture. Place back in the freezer for another 15 minutes or until hardened.

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5. Store peanut butter cups in freezer until you are ready to eat them. If left out the coconut oil may begin to melt and peanut butter cups can lose their shape.

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Other considerations

– For a sweet, salty, and savory flavor combination sprinkle a little salt on top

– For a crunchy texture add chopped nuts to the peanut butter mixture or sprinkle on top.

– For extra coconut flavor add shredded coconut to the peanut butter mixture or sprinkle on top.

No Bake Granola Bars

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Ingredients
Makes 10 to 12 bars.
2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1/2 cup dried cherries
2/3 cups peanut butter
1/2 cup agave syrup
1/8 teaspoon sea salt

Directions
1. Mix oats, pumpkin seeds, and cherries in a large bowl.

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2. Mix peanut butter, sweetener, and sea salt. Pour into oat mixture, and mix well, until everything is sticky and combined. If it’s too dry, add a bit more agave.

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3. Press mixture into a shallow baking dish that you’ve lined with parchment paper. Cover with more parchment paper, press well into the baking dish, and refrigerate for four hours.

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4. Cut into bar shapes, wrap, and keep refrigerated till ready to use. They will last two weeks in the fridge.

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Other Considerations

  • Use a different nut butter, or sunflower seed butter if you are allergic to nuts
  • Any dried fruit can be used
  • For additional protein mix in 1-2 scoops with the nut butter and agave syrup.

Serving Size…What’s That?

The information is out there to get 3 servings of dairy/day, 6-11 servings of grains,  to eat 5 day, or to fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables. What does all this mean? What constitutes a serving?

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Fruit: 2 servings/day (generally)

1 serving=1 cup of fresh, frozen, or canned, 1/2 cup dried, or 1 cup of 100% juice.

Fruits provide folate, vitamins A and C, potassium, and fiber.

Examples: Apple, apricot, avocado, banana, blueberries, cherries, grapefruit, grapes, honeydew, kiwi, mango, nectarine, orange, papaya, peach, pear, pineapple, plumb, raspberries, strawberries, tangerine, and watermelon.

Vegetables: 3-5 servings/day

1 serving= 1 cup raw or cooked, 1 cup 100% juice, 1 cup cooked legumes, or 2 cups raw, leafy greens

Vegetables provide folate, vitamins A, C, K, and E, magnesium , potassium, and fiber.

Examples: artichoke, asparagus, legumes (black beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, lentils, soy beans, white beans) beets, bell peppers, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cassava, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, eggplant, green beans, mushrooms, tomatoes, squash,  zucchini, and leafy greens: kale, chard, arugula, spinach, romaine lettuce.

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Grains: 6-11 servings/day

1 serving=1 oz 1 slice of bread, 1/2 cup cooked rice, pasta, or cereal, 1 oz dry pasta or rice, 1 cup ready to eat cereal, or 3 c popped popcorn.

Grains provide folate, niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, iron, magnesium, selenium, and fiber. Choose whole grains, which contain more nutrients, opposed to refined grains.

Examples: Amarath, barley, brown rice, buckwheat, bulgur, millet, oats, quinoa, rye, wheat, sweet potato, potato ,peas, and corn.

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Protein: 2-3 servings/day

1 serving= 3 oz lean meat, poultry, or seafood, 1 egg, 1/4 cup cooked legumes or tofu, 1 Tbs peanut butter, and 1/2 oz nuts or seeds.

Protein foods provides protein,  essential fatty acids, niacin, thiamin, vitamin B6 and B12, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc.

Examples: Seafood (tuna, halibut, salmon, mackerel, tilapia, shrimp, crab, lobster), lean meats (poultry, beef, lamb, pork), eggs, legumes (black beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, lentils, soy beans, white beans), nuts/nut butters (almonds, cashews, walnuts, pistachios, peanuts), and seeds (flax, chia, sunflower, sesame, pumpkin).

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Dairy: 3 servings/day

1 serving=1 cup of milk, yogurt, fortified soy milk, and 1-1/2 oz natural cheese.

Dairy products contribute protein, riboflavin, vitamin B12, calcium, potassium, and when fortified vitamin A and D.

Examples: Milk, cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, fortified soy, almond, or coconut milk.

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Oils: This is not a food group, however it is good to keep serving size in mind.

1 serving=1 teaspoon oil, 1 tablespoon low fat mayonnaise, or 2 tablespoons light salad dressing.

Oils contribute vitamin E and essential fatty acids.

Examples: Fatty fish, nuts, olives, seeds, canola, corn, flaxseed, olive, peanut, safflower, sesame, soy bean, sunflower, avocado, and coconut oils.

Black Lentil Soup

Compared to their traditional counterparts black lentils are tiny spherical black legumes also known as beluga lentils because they look like caviar. Due to their smaller size they cook quicker and make a great side dish, salad addition, or soup. I like this soup because the spices make it a warming dish, great for chilly winter weather.

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Ingredients

1 cup Black Lentils

1-1 inch piece of fresh Ginger, peeled and thinly sliced, plus 2 Tbs minced

3 Tbs Unsalted Butter

1 medium Onion, diced

2 cloves Garlic, minced

1/2 Tsp ground Coriander

1/2 Tsp ground Cumin

1/4 Tsp Cayenne Pepper

1/4 Tsp Gram Masala

2 quarts Low Sodium Chicken Stock

1 cup Crushed Tomatoes

Salt to taste

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Method

1. In a medium pot cover lentils and sliced ginger with 1 inch of water. Bring to a boil and cook over medium heat until lentils soften, about 10 minutes.

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2. Drain lentils and set aside, discard sliced ginger.

3. Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in the pot. Add onion, garlic, and minced ginger. Cook over medium heat until softened, about 8 minutes.

4. Reduce heat to low and add spices, cook stirring, until fragrant about 4 minutes.

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5. Add stock, tomatoes, and lentils bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until lentils soften further and soup has thickened, about 1 hour. Season with salt portion in to bowls and serve.

 

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Considerations

  • Make this soup vegan buy using vegetable stock and olive oil or coconut oil instead of butter.
  • Top soup with avocado, which adds richness to the final product.
  • Add chopped kale or spinach just before serving.

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Yoga

Yoga is one of my favorite forms of exercise. It has many benefits and is a great compliment to strength and cardiovascular training. There are also many types of yoga, providing something for everyone.

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I have been practicing yoga for the past 8 years with power yoga being my method of choice. I love it because it engages your mind, body, and spirit and never fails to make me feel great or put me in a better mood. When practicing it is one of the only times I am able to fully clear my mind and let go of every thought.

Benefits of Yoga

  • Increased flexibility
  • Increased strength
  • Improved posture
  • Improved lung capacity
  • Stress reduction

Types of Yoga-these are just a few, there are many more

  • Hatha- The foundation of all yoga styles. It incorporates postures, breathing, and meditation.
  • Bikram- Practiced in a heated room, which promotes flexibility, detoxification, and the prevention of injuries.
  • Kundalini- Thought to be the yoga of awareness it focuses on the breath and movement to awaken the energy at the base of the spine to travel up through the 7 chakras.
  • Power- A faster paced practice where one pose flows in to the next, creating an aerobic workout.
  • Restorative- A method to passively let muscles relax buy using/lying on blocks, blankets, and bolsters

As with all activities there is the risk of injury when practicing yoga. It is important to listen to your body and know your own limitations to prevent injury when doing physical activity. In yoga there is the potential to over stretch or strain muscles.  Also if you have a preexisting condition such as severe osteoporosis or are pregnant consulting your doctor before beginning a yoga practice is advised.

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NAMASTE