Running a wellness practice grounded in love has often given me a front row seat in the lives of my married patients. Recently, I was given the opportunity to watch a struggling couple shift their relationship from conflict and tension to understanding and love. The secret was in an undiagnosed food allergy: a gluten intolerance for Nancy, and a sugar intolerance for Steve. Shockingly, the food we eat can affect our moods, especially if you’re allergic to something you’re eating. Could this be the case for you? Here is what to look out for, and how to regain control!
Going Back to The Start: Our Food Relationship
For Nancy and Steve, it all started when I diagnosed her as pre-diabetic. I made some diet suggestions to help her rein it in. To be supportive, Steve decided to do the diet with her. They both cut out all sugars, grains, dairy, and packaged foods. (Steve’s favorite snack was a pint of ice cream before bed!) Ever since the change, Nancy has noticed that Steve is more active and engaged than before. She feels more tolerant of his moods, and his moods are better! Imagine if their problems were just because of what they were eating?
Until that day, I had not thought of changing a person’s diet as a method of saving their relationship. Now I do. If you’re struggling in your relationship, you may indeed need counseling but…you might also want to look at food allergies or reactions.
Take a close look at the food you consume. Easy, packaged foods (including “healthy” choices like granola bars, yogurts, and trail mix) are full of common allergens like peanuts, gluten, and lactose. We often associate these allergies with severe reactions like anaphylactic shock or digestive distress. However, there are other, more subtle signs that we may miss. Depression, fatigue, irritability, and anxiety are just a few of the many little known side effects of consuming problem foods. Your symptoms may be so subtle that you don’t even realize that it affects your mood.
Taking a Closer Look: Our Interpersonal Relationships
Even the healthiest relationships experience ups and downs. This is how we grow and adapt to change. In a flourishing relationship, hitting a rough patch is an opportunity to grow closer together. However, when our own health is less than ideal, it can take a serious toll on our relationships. If you struggle with a short temper, constantly feel argumentative, or would rather spend the day in bed than enjoying time with your significant other, a food intolerance may be to blame!
One of the easiest and safest ways to regain control of your moods is to pay close attention to everything you consume. This means saying no to packed, processed foods and stocking up on fresh, in-season whole foods. Start by eliminating foods that contain gluten and lactose, such as processed breads, cereals, crackers, and dairy. Be willing to experiment with eliminating gluten altogether, to see how it affects your mood. Get in the habit of reading food labels before you purchase.
Seek Outside Help
There are many food allergy tests available. A functional medicine practitioner like myself can help you decide which test is best for you. Remember that your relationship with your healthcare practitioner is one of the most important connections! Be sure to mention any changes in mood at each appointment, as anything abnormal for you is an indication of your health.