Most people think that the best way to plan your elimination diet is to use lists from a trusted source. But that is not all you can use. An important resource lies in what you can find out from your own family. You may get information that helps you decide what main foods you should reduce or minimise from the beginning. If you or your brothers or sisters, or your parents’ generation, had trouble with dairy in infancy then it makes sense that you should minimise dairy. But if no-one in the family had any trouble with any dairy products then it is unlikely that you will need to attend to them. The same idea can apply to wheat (though problems with wheat are more likely to have been noticed after infancy even in adulthood).
How does the Family Sensitivity History provide help to you?
It provides a list of the symptoms that occur in food sensitive families. See the long list on http://foodintolerancepro.com/symptoms-food-sensitive-people/
If you are planning the diet for your child, ask your mother, and your mother-in-law, to help. You write any symptoms you have had next to your name, then next to the names of your brothers and sisters, spouse, parents, aunts and uncles, and even your grandparents. They can include symptoms that may have been present in infancy but you never heard about them as your mum or grandmother says that child grew out of that symptom, or tolerated the food later. It can be quite a surprise to see the variety of food sensitive symptoms present in the family. If you are adopted, or separated from most relations, you can concentrate on what is known in you and what your intuitions are.
After you have finished with symptoms, you can then note any suspect substances: foods, additives, or anything that is considered suspect. If your sister’s eczema got worse if she ate oranges then you write ‘eczema’ next to your sister’s name and ‘oranges’ as a suspect food. When I ask families to write this out they often say there are so many symptoms in their family and so many suspect foods the information would fill a book! Where this happens it is a good indicator that diet is likely to have a positive effect on symptoms. In some families all the symptoms seem to be in one unlucky person. In other families there is little to report, but diet can still be worth doing, perhaps with closer attention to noticing reactions during challenges.
Other information to include is sensitivity to smells. Many food sensitive people realise that they are more sensitive to smells than other people are. This is important to record as smells in your environment are as important to reduce on an elimination diet as additive flavours and highly flavoured food. It is interesting that food sensitive people often vary greatly in which particular smells they strongly dislike.
When you start thinking about the smells in the environment you may remember family members fussing about other aspects such as strong tastes, different temperatures or textures of particular foods, as well as sensitivity to noise, or bright light. This brings you to the idea of also noting family members’ fussiness about food in particular – the next element in your Family Sensitivity History story. Sometimes people realize that foods they refused as children, such as tomato, or milk with an ‘off’ flavour, are foods that are suspect in the symptoms they now have.
Sometimes you hear family stories such as an aunt who gets headaches with strong perfumes, or a grandparent who gets cramping gut pain after rich food. People who were concentrating on one symptom in one person are often amazed at what comes out, saying things like, “I had no idea we had so much of this stuff in my family.”
Overall the Family Sensitivity History provides a picture of your family that you are unlikely to have appreciated otherwise. It then becomes a motivator as you realise you are a possibly food sensitive family, and doing diet investigation becomes even more a good idea. Using all the information you have collected you can get help from an experienced dietitian and from my book Are You Food Sensitive? to manage your diet in a more individual way.