Food intolerance? Likely not.

Food intolerances are huge topic which I will cover off in more depth in a blog post in future. Until then here is a brief overview: a food intolerance does not involve an immune-mediated response to the food in question.

The most common food intolerance is of course lactose intolerance. Primary lactose intolerance is genetically determined and by the age of four, the body switches off lactase production (the enzyme that breaks down and digests lactose).

For most of Northern European decent, they have a genetic mutation that keeps lactase production switched on for life. These individuals can develop secondary lactose intolerance due to illness -- where the body is so stressed it cannot produce enough lactase to digest the lactose.

Secondary lactose intolerance is common for many who have restrictive eating disorders because, of course, starving creates tremendous stress on the body and eventually the organs responsible for producing all manner of digestive enzymes are too depleted of energy to pump out the necessary enzymes.

Secondary lactose intolerance resolves quickly with re-feeding. Lactose is present in creams, milks, ice-cream. However it is not present in most cheese and yogurts have enough lactase within them that most with secondary lactose intolerance have no issues consuming yogurt either. You can use digestive enzyme supplements such as Lactaid for the first couple of weeks in recovery until your body is able to produce its own lactase.

Many of the food "sensitivities" and "intolerances" that you either have determined you have (due to physical symptoms after consumption), or have been diagnosed in you by various dubious screening tests, are most likely a reflection of a stressed digestive system unable to produce sufficient digestive enzymes to support comfortable digestion.

You are not likely to find your food intolerances or sensitivities will remain beyond a few weeks into your full rest and recovery effort from a restrictive eating disorder.