We all know someone – maybe even you – who is overweight despite a healthy diet and plenty of exercise. They don’t snack on fatty foods, bags of chips and candy bars or drink sugar-loaded soft drinks, yet they “gain weight just looking at food!” Sound familiar? It may be an immune system reaction to food.
One of my patients, a beautiful young woman of 30, tall and slim, tells me that before her food sensitivity was diagnosed she weighed 110 pounds more than she does now. And that when she eliminated those foods that she was sensitive to, she lost all her excessive weight. “After having been fat all my life, the weight just fell off me,” she exclaims. This may surprise you, but let me explain why this happens.
When we consume food that we are sensitive to (or in some cases, allergic to, such as a peanut allergy) our immune system gets triggered and reacts. The part of our immune system that reacts to foods, poisons, venoms and heavy metals is called the Th2 side. The side that reacts to viruses, bacteria and parasites is the Th1 side.
To illustrate how this could lead to weight gain, look at a square inch of your skin on your arm. Then imagine getting stung by a bee on that square inch. Within seconds your skin turns red and begins to fill with fluids, swelling several times its normal size and weight. This swelling occurs as a result of specialized cells in the Th2 side of your immune system, whose job it is to neutralize toxins, poisons, venoms and the antigens that result from a foreign body or allergic substance being in your system.
Which foods are the culprits? For my client, it was gluten. From childhood she had undiagnosed celiac disease, a genetic condition that causes sensitivity to gluten, the protein in wheat and other grains. For others it might be dairy, eggs, nuts, chocolate, sugar and soy. The list of food sensitivity culprits is long and frequently includes food you eat often and especially while under stress.
What can you do? I recommend an elimination diet – eliminate the common “allergy” foods listed above for three weeks, then bring them back into your diet one at a time, one day at a time. I will guarantee you that during those three weeks you will lose 8 to 15 pounds. When you eat food you are sensitive to, in addition to having digestive or immune symptoms, the next morning you will have gained 2 or 3 pounds back. Observe which foods your body is sensitive to and eliminate them completely from your diet.