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.

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.



  • 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



  • 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



  • 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



  • 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



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




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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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


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.


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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Winter Hydration

During fall and winter we do not have as many cues for hydration. When the temperature drops we do not sweat as much or feel thirsty as often compared to when it is warm. We also lose more water due to respiratory fluid loss through breathing. When exercising our bodies are working hard and sweat evaporates quickly in cold dry air. All of these factors make it easy for someone to become dehydrated.


Tips for staying hydrated this winter:

  • Carry a refillable water bottle with you
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol-which act as diuretics
  • Drink warm beverages-warm lemon water or herbal tea will also help keep you warm
  • Drink water before, during, and after exercise-dehydration can negatively effect performance
    • Depending on the activity have a sports drink to replace electrolytes
  • Monitor the quantity and color of you urine
  • Good fluid sources include water, sports drinks, soups, fruits and vegetables (whole or juiced)

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Seasonal Eating

In recent years there has been more emphasis on eating locally grown produce and the concept of farm to table eating. A central idea within these concepts is seasonal eating. Seasonal eating is eating foods that are in season, harvested at their peak.

When you eat foods that are currently in season you get more nutrients compared to eating foods that are out of season. This is because the foods are picked when they are at their peak.  Foods that are made available in their off season have less nutritional value because they are picked before they ripen so they can be shipped without spoiling. Eating foods at their peak also means more flavor! Seasonal eating also impacts the environment. Shipping foods long distances creates more fuel emissions. Food that is grown locally or regionally does not have to travel as far to get to you, with fewer emissions. Finally each season brings different fruits and vegetables to choose from adding variety to your diet.

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What is in season for fall?

Apples Artichoke
Asian Pear Asparagus
Avocado Beets
Broccoli Brussels Sprouts
Cabbage Carrots
Cauliflower Celery
Chard Cherimoyas
Collards Corn
Cucumber Dates
Eggplant Figs
Grapes Grapefruit
Green Beans Ginger
Guava Kale
Kiwi Kohlrabi
Leeks Lemons
Mushrooms Mustard Greens
Okra Onions
Ranges Passion Fruit
Peppers Persimmons
Pineapple Pomegranates
Potatoes Raspberries
Sapote Spinach
Squash-Summer and Winter varieties Tomatillos
Turnips Yams

Flu Season

Fall has arrived and with it comes cold and flu season. We all have certain ways to help cure ourselves when we are sick. It can be anything from a specific kind of cough drop, soup, or tea  to something your mom used to do or make for you as a kid. In addition to those things I have this home remedy. I make it whenever I feel that icky tickle in my throat.

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8oz Warm Water
1 tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
1 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1 small Lemon, juiced
4 drops Oil of Oregano
1 tablespoon Honey (optional-I only add this if my throat is in terrible pain)

Why this combination?

-Apple cider vinegar promotes nasal drainage and soothes a sore throat.

-Cayenne pepper has anti inflammatory properties, helps to clear congestion, and contains vitamin A.

-Lemon juice also soothes a sore throat and contains vitamin C.

-Oil of oregano has antibacterial properties and contains zinc, magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium, manganese, niacin, vitamin C, and vitamin E.

-Honey is known to be antimicrobial and soothes a sore throat.

Try this the next time you feel that tickle in your throat and let me know what you think.



A Healthy Diet While On Vacation

Today I have a guest author for this post. Cole Mill wrote a great guide for maintaining your healthy lifestyle while on vacation. What follows are tips for keeping your diet on  track, while still enjoying your trip.

Whether it is the call of the glorious sunshine on a distant beach, or the allure of endless shopping adventures in an exotic city, vacations recharge the soul. Yet holidays do come with some side effects. Besides the dreaded workout the credit card can endure, eating healthy is not always easy when traveling with your family. You work all year so that you will look stunning in your swimwear; the last thing you want is to unravel all your hard work. Here are some tips to help avoid packing on the pounds during your next vacation.

Healthy Eating


If you are flying across the globe it is wise to check out the menus offered by the airline. Most companies offer this information online and they allow you to make dietary requests. However, short flights may not offer this service, so have a nutritious meal before the flight to avoid making poor choices. Another tip is to travel with protein bars/drinks, almonds, fresh fruit or other healthy snacks.  During layovers, walk the restaurant areas at the terminal and find good, healthy options such as salads and baked chicken or even fruit cups. Taking the time to walk around will not only help find better choices, but it is a good way to get the blood circulating in your legs.

At the Hotel                                                                        

When you arrive at your hotel, limit your exposure to temptations. Refusing the key to the mini-bar is one way you can prevent sudden urges for sweet or salty snacks. Your credit card will thank you too. Take a few moments to find a nearby health store or market. Stocking up on a variety of healthy snacks will make it easier for you to stay on track. Walking to the store is a good way to combat jet lag too. Instant soups or oatmeal are very easy to prepare with hot water from a coffee maker. If you feel the need to order room service, most hotels will be happy to accommodate your healthy choices, so be very specific about your order.

Continental Breakfast

Continental Breakfasts can be great for healthy eating or terrible depending how you approach them. Stay away from the high sugar items like cereals and muffins. Eat as much fruit as you want. Choose low-fat yogurt, oatmeal and even hard-boiled eggs. And when possible, try to choose whole grain varieties of breads and bagels. These options are full of dietary fiber, protein and complex carbohydrates that will keep you full and feeling great.

Finding Healthy Restaurants

Most restaurants have their menus online, so make the effort to explore what they offer. Plan your meal before you go so that you can avoid temptation.  Decide on your meal before you sit down and decline the menu when offered.  In addition, share meals, order off the lunch menus and don’t feel like you have to finish a meal just because that is what is served.  It’s often tempting because taking leftovers is not always an option.  Leave the extra food on your plate so that it is not ultimately on your waist. I have found reading reviews from other travelers to be extremely helpful in that they provide unbiased and honest opinions. I recently scoured the Internet and found a great site called Gogobot that helped me find a health conscious hotel as well as restaurants in Sin City. I pulled up a list of reviews for Las Vegas hotels regarding their services as well as the restaurants in the area. A tool like this allows you to maintain your healthy lifestyle by avoiding the ever so tempting buffets. Avoiding the  “all-you-can-eat” establishments is crucial. Fish restaurants and salad bars offer a range of healthy options. A small snack such as an apple, before going out to eat will help you to push away the breadbasket.

Reading Menus

Learning how to decipher the riddle of menu-speak will have you avoiding diet trap. Look for high-fiber, multigrain, and whole wheat breads to determine the healthy options at restaurants. Choose lean cuts of meat that are baked, boiled, grilled or roasted. Look for fresh salads that come with vinaigrette dressings. Vegetables should be steamed or stir-fired.  Light or reduced sauces are a better option for sauces or gravies.  By all means avoid battered or deep-fried foods. Do not opt for creamy or enriched sauces and be careful with cheeses and stuffed items.

It is easy to become swept up in the excitement of the vacation. But by taking care of your body, you will not only look good, you will continue to feel great. Downloading a calorie tracker for your phone can help you keep a watchful eye on your diet. Drink plenty of water, watch your alcohol consumption and eat good nutritious meals. Your post-vacation body will be thankful for all your efforts.

Enjoy your vacation!  Stay active and make the vacation about the company, sites and activities, instead of the food.

Visit Cole’s blog for more information on staying healthy!

Give Back

Living a healthy lifestyle is not only about proper nutrition and fitness, it also involves giving back and helping others. To me a healthy lifestyle is cohesion between the mind, body, and soul connection.

One of the ways I like to give back is by donating blood. Donating blood is one of the easiest ways to help someone else. The only thing it requires is about an hour of your time, which can help save someone’s life. Knowing this is the greatest personal benefit.

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I am so grateful for my body, everything that I am able/capable of doing, and that I am healthy. Yesterday I reached the 1/2 gallon donor mark and I’m not stopping there!

What do you do to help/give back to others?

Post Workout

I previously posted about post workout recovery. The following recipe is for my current favorite shake to have after a hard workout. I do not always have a shake after working out, eating real food and getting nutrients from the source is the best option. Also not all post recovery shakes need to be this hearty, because it is functioning as a meal and is consumed after a hard/strenuous workout it has higher calories, fat and protein content.



14oz Chocolate Coconut Water

1 scoop Egg White Protein-I used Jay Robb Vanilla

1/4 cup Uncooked Oats

1 medium Banana

1 Tbs Very green-Trader Joe’s

1 Tbs Chia Seeds

1 Tbs Peanut Butter

Blend all ingredients and enjoy!

Calories 615

Total Fat 10gm

Cholesterol 0gm

Sodium 598mg

Potassium 1607mg

Carbohydrate 78gm

Fiber 11gm

Protein 35gm