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Do you have a food intolerance?

I was very pleased to be asked to speak at a charity event today, a special day in which a home was transformed into a mini-spa with specialists offering treatments from massage to reflexology. The event was organised by Chai Cancer Care, an organisation that devoted to helping people and their families who are living with cancer.

massage The centre is located in north London, although their services reach farand wide. Please take a look at for more information. By the way, ‘Chai’ means ‘Life’, and the centre is devoted to a positive approach to dealing with cancer.

Rather than speak at an audience, we thought it would be interesting to ask the guests to write down some questions, and I drew them from a bowl at random. It was interesting for me to see that more then half of the questions related to food intolerances. This is a bit of thorny issue for me, as every time I write or talk about them I inevitably get an email from one of the companies that sell and promote food intolerance tests. They are always compelling ( X people who avoided Y after taking a food intolerance test felt Z % better ) and I can see why many people would want to believe that avoiding a food could be an answer.

Just twenty years ago, I suspect that few people had heard of food intolerances. Now it seems that so many people claim to intolerant to something that eating with friends can be a fraught experience as you half expect one of them to keel over at any point. Food intolerances gained some ground in the 90’s but now so many people seem to think that they are sufferers that there is even an awareness week to make sure that we all know about it.

I have heard it estimated by some of the great and the good of nutrition that up to 97% of the population of the UK could suffer from some sort of intolerance to food. I suspect that the truth is that its limited to around 3%, and the rest have been mislead.

massage2Our awareness of our bodies and our health in general is at an all time high. In its wake, I have found an alarming increase in fear of food amongst the worried well and an industry has grown around the anxiety that supports this fear. As there is potential status attached to being ‘intolerant’ or ‘allergic’ to wheat/peas/blueberries I worry that a growing number of people seem to find an identity in their food intolerances. Are we what we don’t eat?

Please let me know what you think, I am really interested to hear your stories about food intolerances.

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