Food eliminations are often touted as miraculous cures to a host of physical, and even psychological, conditions. Ask a question about digestive issues on social media or complete a Google search and you are bound to receive “remove gluten, dairy, soy, carrageenan . . . (fill in the blank)” as the promised solution.
“Eliminate this ingredient and all your symptoms will improve” is persuasive, especially when someone is suffering and looking for answers. It often sounds like this: “I was in pain for years before discovering gluten was the enemy. It’s in everything. Take it out of your diet. It made all the difference for me.”
A convincing testimonial can elicit immediate consensus: “I am going to try that. Thank you.”
This dialogue on social media or among friends makes me cringe. People are genetically and experientially different. What works for one person is not going to look or work the same for another. And when we uphold specific foods as “digestive demons,” we breathe life into something that is often scientifically invalid. As Alan Levinovitz, PhD shares,
Tell the right story, and a new demon is born.
Digestive issues are complex. When we break it down into simplified actions, it can ignore the root cause of symptoms. Please note that this blog post is not neglecting that foods can trigger symptoms; however, food restrictions often outweigh the necessity for them and, as I will share, can perpetuate harm.
There are a host of factors that cause or aggravate digestive symptoms, including stress, anxiety, trauma, eating disorders and medical conditions. Determining the cause includes sourcing information from the body, considering one’s lived experience and appropriate medical tests. Continue Reading