If you eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly but are gaining weight, you might have a food allergy. Food allergies involve abnormal responses to food triggered by the body's immune system. Antibodies in the body bind to a food's molecules leading to an immune response such as a rash, sneezing, digestive upsets and more seriously wheezing and difficulty breathing. Certain foods can cause bloating, abdominal pain and potential weight gain -- but that doesn't mean it's a result of an allergy. Consult with a physician and dietitian to determine if you have food allergies that could be affecting your weight.
Common Food Allergens
Some of the most common food allergens include peanuts, soy, nuts, eggs, milk, gluten, wheat, soy, fish, nightshade vegetables such as tomatoes and eggplants, and sesame. Additives, such as MSG, benzoates and sulphites, may cause an allergic response in the body leading to inflammation as well as other uncomfortable and serious symptoms such as headaches, dizziness and nausea. Although you might experience bloating or weight gain when you regularly eat a food that's a known allergen, the symptoms may or may not be related.
Allergies Versus Intolerances
Weight gain may not be the result of a food allergy but rather a food intolerance. Unlike allergens which cause an immune response in the body, a food intolerance occurs as a result of an enzyme deficiency in the body and a food cannot be properly digested. Poor digestion leads to symptoms such as bloating, flatulence, diarrhea and constipation. Several of these symptoms can make you feel and look heavier due to a distended belly and fluid retention. The Institute for Optimum Nutrition also suggests that a food intolerance may disrupt metabolic rates, slowing them down to inhibit weight loss and lead to weight gain. Foods that commonly cause an intolerance include citrus fruits, cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage, beans and dairy, most notably lactose in milk.
Inflammation and Weight Gain
Weight gain may occur when you ingest allergenic foods because of the inflammation they create in the body. Physician Dr. Mark Hyman states that inflammation from any source, whether it's sugar, bacteria or unhealthy fats in the diet, increases insulin resistance which then increases insulin levels and promotes the storage of fat. By reducing or eliminating allergenic foods, you will cut inflammation from the body and start to lose unwanted weight.
How To Heal
Start an elimination diet to determine which foods may be causing inflammation in the body and wreaking havoc on your gut. An elimination diet involves eliminating triggering, allergenic foods from your diet one at a time and gradually re-introducing them one at a time to determine which ones may be causing allergic responses including weight gain. Other ways to heal your gut, decrease inflammation and subsequent weight gain include eating whole foods, and a less-acidic diet that consists primarily of vegetables, fruits, lean proteins and healthy fats in moderation. Avoid all processed foods high in sugar, trans- and polyunsaturated fats found in cakes, cookies and canned beans.