What, if any are your secret problem foods? Are there foods that you crave, eat regularly, notice symptoms after eating?

I had a client with digestive problems who was tired of feeling unwell by mid-morning each day.  Everyday 1-2 hours after breakfast she experienced reflux, nausea, belching and sometimes an urgency for the bathroom.  One day, not long after starting a new job, she realized this was having a daily impact on her mood, appetite, and tiredness.  Because of that, she worried about her fitness to do the job and travel in the mornings to work.  Because of that she decided to ask a nutritional therapist (NT) for help with her symptoms and food choices.  A food diary was inconclusive so she did a simple, low-cost food sensitivity test which suggested coconut may be a problem for her body.  She realised she had swapped cow’s milk yoghurt for non-dairy coconut yoghurt to enjoy with her granola at breakfast.  She found alternative yoghurt and breakfast choices and got control of these digestive problems with a few weeks so that she could do her new job without worrying and get back on with enjoying her life. 

It might not be that you can’t eat some of these foods, but maybe that you can’t eat a lot of them or have them in combination or that there is something else going in your body on that increases your sensitivity to them right now (e.g., poor immune function, inflammation). 

Don’t just stop eating a food or food group without understanding your symptoms and identifying if there are any foods that are bothering you.  You can use the food sensitivity activity at the bottom of this blog to get you started … then ask for help from a registered nutrition practitioner.  Book a FREE call to chat with me using this link

Working with a registered nutrition practitioner can help you to understand the triggers of your symptoms, support your digestion and guide you to rebalance your food intake.  If your symptoms persist or concern you, please contact your GP. 

The most common problem foods are tomato, red pepper, garlic, onion, cucumber, eggs, coffee, citrus, gluten, dairy.  There are also foods that contain

  • amines (e.g., cheese, tomato, strawberries, fermented foods, processed meats),
  • oxalates (e.g., nuts, spinach, chocolate, and beans),
  • salicylates (e.g., berries, grapes, tomatoes, almonds, herbs, and spices, and honey),
  • glutamates (e.g., sauerkraut, fermented food, bone broth, and occur in high amounts in soy sauce, parmesan cheese, and food additives like monosodium glutamate (MSG)),
  • FODMAPs (a group of foods containing sugars e.g., fructose, mannitol) that can trigger or exacerbate symptoms for some people.


Food sensitivity testing can be done by food diary (i.e. dietary elimination and re-introduction) OR food intolerance diagnostic testing.  IMPORTANT!  Excluding any foods and/or food groups from your diet should always be done under the guidance of a nutrition practitioner.

You may not have a food intolerance since food sensitivity can be the result of multiple factors in the body such as

  • nutrient insufficiency: when there is not enough of specific nutrients to support the body’s digestive, immune, cleaning and repair processes.
  • a ‘leaky gut’: when the lining of the digestive tract is inflamed or altered which allows larger molecules to enter the blood stream which can trigger an inflammatory response in the body (e.g., headache, joint pain, itchy skin)
  • a pathogen: the presence of pathogenic bacteria (e.g., Candida albicans) in the intestinal area which may be feeding off certain foods, often simple carbohydrates found in sweet products and processed foods like biscuits, cakes, bread.
  • dysbiosis: An imbalance of the bacterial population in the intestinal area which may impact inflammatory symptoms (e.g., diarrhoea, constipation, wind, headaches) with certain foods
  • SIBO: small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, which as the same states means that there is an overgrowth of some bacteria in the small intestine. Allowing some bacteria to become more dominant than others can results in SIBO symptoms like reflux, nausea, loose stools, gurgling, wind)

Activity: Food Sensitivity

Record the food types you eat this week using the chart shown here, available on this link.

Circle possible secret problem foods (i.e. you crave them, eat them regularly, get symptoms after eating them).  Common problem foods include gluten products (wheat, rye, barley in bread, pasta, biscuits), dairy (e.g. milk, cheese), eggs, fish, nuts, coffee, alcohol, citrus fruits, onions, red peppers, soy, nightshades, corn.

Disclaimer: This information provides general dietary advice and/or is explanatory in nature.  It is not personalised nutritional and lifestyle recommendations since no health history has been recorded.   If you have symptoms that persist or concern you, please contact your GP.