For over eight years the Couri Center has offered food sensitivity testing. Many patients struggle with a variety of symptoms like bloating, abdominal pain after eating, diarrhea, constipation, headaches/migraines, skin irritations, acid reflux and even chronic sinus issues. Food sensitivity testing helps to identify single or multiple foods that contribute to these symptoms. The results are helping patients better manage, reduce and even eliminate these symptoms. At the Couri Center, food sensitivity testing includes a consultation with a registered dietitian. This consultation is customized and allows time to better explain your results and provide you with education on how to alter and plan your diet.
During most food sensitivity consults, after reviewing the results, I wait for the patient to interrupt me and say “BUT I EAT THAT EVERYDAY!” I know. It happens nearly every time. The second most common statement; “but how can something that is supposed to be healthy be bad for me?” Eating too much of a single food has been shown to increase risk of food sensitivity. Patients who have already had food sensitivity testing may remember me saying “if you learn anything, your health will benefit most from eating with the calendar and following a rotational diet.”
Modern conveniences, like cross country and international shipping, provide grocery stores with fruits and vegetables year-round, that are traditionally seasonal foods. Blueberries, strawberries and raspberries are classic summer foods, however they are not grown in the freezing winter temperatures of the Midwest. When foods are shipped cross country or imported from other countries, they are picked early, and show lower nutrient profiles and less phytonutrients than produce picked when ripe. Another downfall of having produce consistently available year-round; single food items are consumed repeatedly and the nutrient profiles of less “advertised or popular” foods, traditionally grown during that season, are eliminated.
Daily, I discuss the downfalls of publicized diets, weight loss plans and advertised health claims. Every so often a different trend or plan gives numerical values to food. Classifications like Top 10 lists, calories and the glycemic index give food numbers that represent a single dimension of health value. When values are interpreted without proper professional guidance and patient history, foods are often restricted or increased dependent on their numerical value. Protein shakes made with blueberries and kale, Greek yogurt or scrambled eggs are generally classified as ‘healthy’ foods and often consumed daily. These foods are also found to commonly cause problematic symptoms in patients.
Being a creature of habit may be beneficial in many areas of life, however, it should not be part of a diet. Following a rotational or seasonal diet encourages consumption of a full spectrum of nutrients and vitamins. Remember that winter foods, such as vitamin C rich citrus foods, keep our immune system strong during cold and flu season. Spring and summer produce is full of antioxidants and beta-carotene which protects against sun and contain sweetness which helps maintain energy during long, hot summer days. Nature tends to keep us healthy, if we choose to listen.
Here are a few ideas to help increase the rotation in your diet:
- Grocery shop weekly. Each week when planning your meals, try to purchase different foods than the week prior.
- Research which foods are in season. In-season produce tends to be less expensive than out-of-season foods. Summer produce that is currently in season include greens, beets, broccoli, berries, garlic, peppers, peas, potatoes and watermelon. Shopping our local farmer’s markets is an easy way to purchase seasonal food as well as support local farmers.
- Look for color within the produce. Strawberries that are white are providing limited nutrients and flavor.
- Think before you buy. Do not avoid OR over-buy produce due to preconceived ideas of their health benefits. Remember too much of any good thing is usually a bad thing.
If you are struggling with understanding how to eat for your individual body, I encourage you to look no further. The Couri Center does not recommend any one diet, nor do we make generalized recommendations without proper data. We take the time to learn about and listen to our patients, put together a group of labs that provide detailed information and challenge ourselves by stepping outside the box for solutions to our patients’ concerns.