Food intolerance: The long and difficult road to diagnosis

Many people believe that they suffer from food intolerance, yet it can be incredibly difficult to get a diagnosis at all. Sometimes it takes years until there is certainty. This can be a very frustrating situation, since the right dietary adjustments can improve the well-being of affected people significantly.


Figure 1 guides you through the most important steps on your way to get better again. It is very important to follow them carefully and not to skip any steps, because mistakes can easily occur when you're on your own.

Figure 1: A great number of steps may be necessary to diagnose food intolerances.

Why is an elimination diet so important?

Following an elimination diet is usually the first step after receiving an often preliminary diagnosis. The offending foods (e.g. dairy) or food compounds (e.g. fructose) need to be avoided for several weeks in order to find out whether your condition improves by avoiding suspected trigger foods. Ideally, common symptoms of food intolerance, e.g. nausea, gas, diarrhea, or hives, diminish during the elimination diet.

After about four weeks offending foods need to be reintroduced – either alone or under surveillance of a trained dietition in case severe reactions are to be expected. This step is very important for a further confirmation of the diagnosis: The recurrence of the aforementioned symptoms is a clear sign that the symptoms are caused by the diet.

This whole procedure, restricting and reintroducing foods, can be very tiresome, but should be carried out thoroughly, since the results are extremely important for further therapy.

Meal planning with food intolerances

Suffering from dietary food sensitivities means that all of the sudden you may have to avoid foods that you have been eating on a daily basis for years. With an isolated intolerance such as lactose intolerance this is normally not a huge problem, as you get used to the new situation after a short while and you can easily find lactose-free products everywhere.

Multiple intolerances, however, pose an entirely different challenge. Many foods that are on the safe side for one intolerance may cause adverse reactions with another intolerance – a difficult situation.

Therefore, multiple intolerances require careful meal planning. Basically you have to relearn everything you know about cooking, shopping for ingredients and dining out. This takes time and traps of all sorts are lurking everywhere. With that in mind, you should seek out help of a trained nutritionist who can help you with the initial steps.

Living with food intolerances can be complicated, but it's not impossible. We would like to support you in doing so. With the help of our app you can enjoy delicious meals even in the most complicated cases.

Why do we care so much about this topic?

We have been developing our price-winning "Food Intolerances" app since 2011 and we are happy to share our knowledge with you. Check it out:

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