Tag: food

Food Allergy vs. Intolerance: Do you Know the Difference?

It seems like everyone has a food sensitivity these days. However, there is an increase in individuals who are self-diagnosing their food allergies and intolerances, or even worse, using a food sensitivity as an excuse to restrict important foods from their diet.

Researchers estimate that 32 million Americans have food allergies, including 5.6 million children under 18. However, an expert-led survey found that almost 50 million people THINK they have one. This number was after the survey’s strict criteria for labeling a food allergy as well as its exclusion of food intolerance symptoms from the study.

 
In order to determine whether someone truly has an issue with food it is important to first understand the distinction between a food sensitivity/intolerance and an allergy.
 
  • A food sensitivity (or intolerance) = a symptomatic response to a food that is usually caused by a digestive issue, such as not producing enough of a certain enzyme to properly break down a food. This can lead to symptoms such as: bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, or gas, but is NOT an immune response. (i.e IBS or lactose intolerance)
  • A food allergy = an adverse immune response to a dietary protein within a food. Basically, the body thinks it is being harmed from the particular food and causes a range of symptoms from mild (rash or itch) to more severe, life-threatening reactions such as difficulty breathing/anaphylaxis. (i.e Celiac Disease or nut allergy)
The major difference is that with a food sensitivity/intolerance you may be able to eat small amounts of the problematic food without trouble or mild symptoms, whereas with a food allergy you may be at a risk of a life-threatening reaction.
 
If you suspect you have a problem with a particular food(s), it is best to see an allergist or gastroenterologist. Never self-diagnose or remove key foods from the diet without consulting a Registered Dietitian first.

Are you a Cereal Pro?

Cereal still remains one of the most popular breakfast (or snack) options across all age groups. In fact it is estimated that 50% of Americans eat cereal for breakfast daily. 

After milk and carbonated beverages, breakfast cereal is the third most popular item sold in grocery stores. With hundreds of options to choose from, it can sometimes be overwhelming to select the right variety for your health goals. 
 
Here are some helpful pointers to assist you the next time you hit the cereal aisle:
  1. Read the food label! The food label provides you with all the pertinent nutrient and ingredient information needed to determine whether a product is in fact healthy.
  2. Choose whole grain options. To know if a product is made with whole grains check the package for a) the words “100% whole grain” or b) the ingredient list to see if the first one listed is: whole wheat flour, stone wheat, durum wheat, or wheat flour. If you see “enriched white flour” the product is a refined (less healthy) grain.  
  3. Go for the fiber. Select a cereal that provides 3 grams or more of fiber per serving.
  4. Be careful of the sugar. The cereal industry in the U.S. uses over 882 million pounds of sugar per year in its production! Aside from weight gain, added sugar contributes to many chronic diseases including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. To check for grams of added sugar, look under “total sugar” on the food label. For example, the label will read 30 grams of total sugar, 20 grams of added sugar. That means 20/30 grams of sugar were added by the food company. Don’t be fooled by the bright packaging or your favorite cereal mascots. The sugar is everywhere! 
Healthier cereal options provide important key nutrients such as fiber and B vitamins. However, like any food, it is very important to watch portion sizes. Typically, 1 serving of dry cereal = 1 cup. 
 
Now you are ready to take on the cereal aisle like a pro! Which cereal do you like to eat?