How to Go Looking for Allergies
The human body is a complex thing. Like any engine, it is composed of many parts—each serving a function and each dependent on the function of the other parts. If one part stops working, or is damaged, then the whole machine suffers. The body must be properly cared for, but before we can do that, we must determine what it needs.
We’ve got a general sense of our bodies—that is, we know what feels right and what doesn’t, the same way that we know what looks right and what doesn’t. And there are two extremes here: either the frantic jump to irrational conclusions based on the slightest discomfort, often leading to frightening searches on WebMD, or the immensely dismissive attitude that requires nothing short of a near-death experience to raise the suspicion that something might not be right. We want to be somewhere in-between.
Finding the middle isn’t easy. It requires attention.
Recognizing that you are just as important as the class, the homework assignment, the job, the business meeting, the bills, and all of the other aspects of life, is the most important step. Understand that if your machine isn’t working properly, you won’t be able to do any of it. And it’s not about joining a gym or going on some sort of diet, it’s simply about paying attention to your body and finding the things that are harmful to it.
If you pay attention and you notice that you frequently feel discomfort at a certain time in the day or that the texture of your skin is changing, then retrace your steps and ask yourself how long this feeling has been present. If you don’t know, that’s fine, but look for answers.
Write it Down
I will be honest, I love to write, but cataloguing the things I’ve come into contact with on a daily basis does not excite me in the least. Nevertheless, keeping a food diary is a good way to begin identifying possible food allergies. The same applies to products that you use on your skin.
It’s not enough just to write it all down however, the most important part is writing down any discomfort, whether internal or external, that you may experience throughout the day. Any of these observations should be accompanied by a time stamp, because some reactions work in a timely manner. When I eat gluten, for example, I can expect slight cramps and bloating within the hour (sometimes two hours, depending on the amount of gluten consumed).
Keeping a food diary and/or a list of products used, along with notes on reactions, will make you more aware of the things that you give to your body, as well as the frequency of the reactions. It is also a good way to track your progress once you start omitting things you’re your daily routine. Is it really working? Are you feeling better? It’s not full-proof, but it’s a good place to start.
See a Professional
At the end of the day, you’re not a doctor, so if you think something is wrong, see your doctor and talk to them about what you’re feeling and/or your dermatologist about what you’re seeing. Doctors will also be able to recommend specific tests that can pinpoint your allergies with more certainty.