Common Signs You May Have Food Allergies or Intolerances

By Megan Faletra, MS, MPH, RDN
Common Signs You May Have Food Allergies or Intolerances

Here at Hilary’s we are passionate about creating delicious products that you and your family
can trust have been made with your safety in mind. We believe that living with food allergies
doesn’t have to be so hard, or flavorless, and work hard everyday to support the “free from”
movement, and bringing more allergy friendly options to the lives and homes of people living
with food allergies and intolerances.

With more and more people experiencing food allergies, and intolerances we believe that it is so
important for more information to be accessible to the general public. That is why we reached
out to our resident dietitian Megan Faletra, MS, MPH, RDN here at Hilary’s to discuss some of
the most common signs that you, or a member of your family, may be experiences food
allergies/intolerances, and what you can do about it.

A true food allergy causes an immune system mediated reaction to a particular food that affects many parts of the body. Allergic responses can range in symptoms, with the most severe and life threatening being anaphylaxis.

In contrast, while food intolerance symptoms can sometimes mimic those of food allergies, they typically are less severe, and not life threatening. If you have a food intolerance you may be able to consume a small amount of the food you have an intolerance too without symptoms, which would not be possible for someone with a true allergy. The only way to treat a true food allergy is to avoid the food entirely.

What is the difference between a food allergy and a food intolerance?

As a food allergy focused Registered Dietitian, who personally lives with Celiac Disease, I get
questions all the time about the differences between a food allergy, and a food intolerance. And
I totally get the confusion because some of the signs and symptoms can actually mimic each
other. But the biggest differentiating factor between a food allergy and a food intolerance is the
way our body responds to the food. While some of the signs and symptoms may overlap, how
our body is internally reacting to the food can be quite different.

What are the most common sources of food allergies/intolerances?

Some of the most common sources of food allergies/intolerances are known as the top eight
food allergens, they are:

o Milk
o Eggs
o Wheat
o Fish
o Shellfish
o Treenut
o Peanut
o Soy

People can have one or more of these food allergies/intolerances at a time, with children being
more likely to have a food allergy/intolerances. Food allergies and intolerances in children
however can be grown out of over time, but should always be monitored by a food allergy
specialist or primary care physician.

What are some of the most common signs and symptoms of food allergies/intolerances?

There are many signs and symptoms that can be associated with food allergies/intolerances,
which at times can make it difficult to determine whether or not you or a member of your family
actually is having an issue with a particular food.

Some of the most common signs and symptoms of food allergies/intolerances are:

Food Allergies

o Hives
o Eczema
o Nausea and Vomiting
o Itchy Mouth
o Redness of Skin Around Eyes and Mouth
o Stomach Pain
o Nasal Congestion
o Sneezing
o Trouble Swallowing
o Shortness of Breath
o Swelling of Lips, Tongue, Throat
o Weak Pulse/Drop In Blood Pressure
o Symptoms Comes On Fast

Food Intolerances

o Nausea
o Vomiting
o Diarrhea
o Bloating
o Stomach Pain
o Gas
o Skin rashes
o Fatigue
o Brain Fog
o Symptoms may only happen when you eat a lot of a certain food
o Symptoms typically come on gradually

So you think you or a member of your family has a food allergy/intolerance? What should you do next?

If you suspect that anyone in your family has a food allergy, meaning that you have witnessed
moderate to severe symptoms that come on fast you should immediately bring the person to
get tested for food allergies.

If you are noticing more mild symptoms that come on gradually, don’t appear to be life
threatening, and can be associated to a particular food you can trial removing that food from
the diet and see if the symptoms improve over two to four weeks. This can be hard to do
sometimes on your own since people can have multiple food intolerances, at which point it may
be worth reaching out to your PCP or a food-allergy focused Registered Dietitian to help support
you through the elimination, and reintroduction process.

When it comes down to it, while food allergies and intolerances are common, they can be well
controlled and managed in a way that allows for a child or adult to maintain a good relationship
with their food, in a way that is safe, and supports a healthy body.

For more information and helpful tips and resources check out some of our favorite
community resources for supporting you, and your journey to living a healthy, happy life with
food allergies.


Megan Faletra, MS, MPH, RDN, is a integrative dietitian, food-allergy specialist, and founder of The Well Essentials, a sustainable healthy living brand dedicated to empowering people to change the way they choose to consume to support a healthier body and planet. Megan also runs a virtual nutrition counseling practice from Boston, MA where she works to help improve her clients health and relationship with food through personalized nutrition counseling. She has been featured in countless publications including: Forbes, Rodales Organic Life, The Huffington Post, and many more. When she is not working you can find her traveling, hiking, doing yoga, and cooking something up in the kitchen…her favorite room in the house.