7 Best Strategies to Heal Food Sensitivities Naturally

Written By

Rhea Dali

Expert Reviewed By

Dr. Lauryn Lax, OTD, MS

Dr. Lauryn, OTD, MS is a doctor of occupational therapy, clinical nutritionists and functional medicine expert with 25 years of clinical and personal experience in healing from complex chronic health issues and helping others do the same.

Food sensitivities or “food intolerances” are epidemic in modern day.

  • Entire grocery store aisles are devoted to “gluten free” eating.
  • The dairy industry now produces dairy-free and lactose free milks.
  • Some kids cannot bring peanut butter to school AT ALL
  • There is a diet for any ENTIRE food group you want or need to avoid (protein, fat or carbs)

In other words: food sensitivities are not only common now…they are “normal.”

And, while we can all agree that processed foods and chemical-laden foods are good to limit and avoid, what about food sensitivities to “real foods”—like rice, oats, cherries, shellfish, peanut butter and beyond?

Why do food sensitivities happen to real (healthy) foods and, more importantly, can you overcome them?

The short answer: Your gut-brain axis is out of balance, and, yes, you can overcome many food sensitivities with these 7 strategies.


Food Sensitivities - Unhappy Woman Suffering From Face Inch

Most people aren’t born being sensitive to yogurt or sweet potatoes or almonds or beef. There are several reasons why food sensitivities happen, including:

#1. Reduced “oral tolerance.”

You lose healthy gut bugs or have gut dysbiosis—imbalance, that reduces your gut’s ability to digest foods.

#2. Reduced digestive “super powers.”

Low stomach acid, sluggish gallbladder function, low digestive enzymes.

#3. High toxin load.

Mycotoxins, pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals, chemicals and fillers (in many foods/supplements today) decrease our digestion and also make us more reactive.

#4. Gut Brain stress.

Food intolerances are related to an “indigestible conflict”—something you can’t figuratively digest or swallow in your life. 

Like Little Johnny”. 7 year old Little Johnny ate a PB&J sandwich every day for lunch. He did for years and loved it! Then one day he witnessed his parents having an “all out” fight that led to their divorce…while eating his beloved PB & J sandwich. A few weeks later, he began to develop symptoms when he ate his same ol’ sandwich. It was assumed he had an allergy to peanuts and gluten…but did he really? The body keeps the score.

My former sensitivities to histamine-rich foods, oxalates and “healthy” foods like sweet potatoes, grass-fed beef, nuts, eggs, apples, broccoli and beyond also are a great example of how food sensitivity happens with stress. When I got sick with mold (a huge stressor), I became sensitive to multiple foods that the body associated with stress—both due to mold AND my history of anorexia.

When I had anorexia, my brain thought sweet potatoes had too many carbs, beef and nuts were too high in fat, apples, broccoli and egg whites were “safe” foods—both fear foods and diet foods were associated with stress. Boom! Food sensitivities galore when significant “indigestible” stress struck later in life! My brain and body went right back to the “old days” and said “Nope! Not into these foods!”…Until, I began to take back my “power” and learned how to heal my food sensitivities naturally. 

Similarly, another client of mine found herself with food sensitivities to “everything!” This occurred on the tails of her 7 year battle with autoimmune disease, mold exposure, hormone imbalances and gut issues galore. When we met, she was only eating about 5 to 10 foods because it’s all she could tolerate. Why did this happen?

Deep down, this client had a deep seeded belief that certain foods would make her fat—a belief that began at age 14 when her dad told her “carbs are bad.” Enter: Stress in her life—which correlated stress with food fears too.


Food Sensitivities - Woman Feels Dizzy, Depleted By Exhausted Body, Starvation

#1. Identify the Root Cause of Your Food Sensitivity 

Two questions for you:

  1. What is the “indigestible” conflict or stress that is associated with the food(s) you are eating?
  2.  And what was going on in your life (stress-wise/conflict) prior to becoming intolerant to the foods you “can’t” eat right now? 

The answers to these 2 questions can be very helpful for taking your “power” back.

Note: Some foods have LOTS of stressors and conflicts embedded in them without recognizing the exact stressor or conflict. 

For example, foods like gluten and dairy are some of the most eaten foods in the U.S. and if you grew up like me (a kid of the processed food generation and the Standard American Diet), it makes sense why these foods are some of the most “wide spread” food intolerances (they are eaten a lot and there are alot of stressors/conflicts that may be considered indigestible in our life).

I became super intolerant to gluten and dairy during my eating disorder treatment days when milkshakes, Pop-tarts, Twinkies, Doritos, egg McMuffins and beyond were shoved down my throat. These experiences were very stressful and I can pinpoint my intolerances to the stress both in my life at the time as well as the food itself. 

#2. Identify Any Limiting Beliefs Associated with Your Food Sensitivity

Food sensitivities can also be created due to limiting beliefs, such as:

  • “Carbs make you fat”
  • “Spinach and vegetables are toxic”
  • “Fat makes you fat”
  • “Meat rots in your stomach”
  • “I don’t have willpower if I eat _____”
  • “This is good” vs. “this is bad” (food)
  • (Insert belief here)

What beliefs about yourself, food rules or myths have you believed that may be standing in your way of food freedom? What we focus on expands!

The more stress or rules we have around food, the more likely stress may be correlated with food—even years later!

#3. Create a New Belief for Eating More Variety

A simple true statement, word or mantra can help seed new beliefs:

  • I am healing and capable of digesting food
  • Abundance 
  • My body has the perfect blueprint of health and healing inside

Say your mantra before you eat.

#4. Rebuild Your Gut Microbiome

An often overlooked piece to the food sensitivity recovery puzzle is the gut microbiome! Your gut is the #1 driver of food tolerance (gut microbes help you digest your food). 

A healthy gut equals a more diverse diet and healthier you!

Build up your oral tolerance with supports such as:

Also, consider working with a practitioner to rule out gut dysbiosis, gut infections, leaky gut, SIBO and other gut-related issues that may be at play for you. 

#5. Try a New Food You’d LOVE to Try

A healthy mindset plus a healthy gut equals more food freedom. With the preceding pieces in place, think about one new food or meal you’d love to try—such as oatmeal with peanut butter, a scrambled egg omelet or guacamole. 

Opt for a high quality version of this food—such as: gluten free oatmeal and organic peanut butter, farmer’s market scrambled eggs or guacamole with homemade tacos and….(drum roll): Give yourself PERMISSION to eat it, knowing that, food cannot hurt you.

Say your mantra and enjoy it. 

If your body is really not feeling it, it will let you know and I promise it will recover from any small “setback.” 

#6. Just Breathe

Food Sensitivities - Young Woman Practicing Breathing Yoga Pranayama Outdoors

When in doubt, stop, drop and breathe. Breath calms the central nervous system and HPA axis—helping re-regulate any “flares” as well as making the gut a more hospitable for absorption. 

#7. Keep the Faith: Healing is Possible

When given the right tools, the body (and gut), innately wants to heal itself. 

The milkshake study is a PERFECT example of how our beliefs change our physiology (and body’s physical response to food).  

In it, researchers gave 2 groups a milkshake—one group got the “Sensi-shake”—a 140 calorie, ZERO fat, ZERO sugar milkshake; the other group got the “Indulgent” shake—a 600 calorie, sugar-rich, fat-rich milkshake. In reality…BOTH groups received the exact same milkshake—a 300 calorie shake. Nothing else changed in their diets.  

What do you think happened? 

The Sensi-shake “dieters”—experienced a:

  • 3x increase in their hunger and cortisol (stress) levels
  • they felt MORE deprived—
  • and their metabolisms slowed down significantly

The Indulgent shake people on the other hand felt the exact opposite—more nourished, satisfied and their metabolisms remained unchanged. Stress changes physiology. 

The patient with bacon intolerance is another great example of the gut brain axis at play.  A patient developed an intolerance to bacon—seemingly out of the blue.  She’d been able to eat bacon previously her entire life. 

Why did things change all of sudden?

Well, when we did the work to get to the root cause of this intolerance, she realized that she had been cooking bacon at the exact same time that she found out that her husband had been cheating on her… And in that moment, her brain-gut connection locked the stress into her body at a tissue and cellular level. Voila: Bacon intolerance.  

And lastly, the peanut study: researchers gave 25 kids with peanut allergies permission to feel good during the challenge—telling them that the re-introduction would be positive experience. They told the other 25 kids that the food reintroduction would be challenging and that they’d probably experience exacerbated food allergy symptoms.

The result? The kids who believed the experiment would be positive experienced less stress…less food allergy flares….and improved their peanut toleration. The others did not. 

Our bodies respond how we think and believe they should respond when we eat certain foods. Keep the faith you can heal.


Looking for customized support in healing from your imbalances? Connect us today with a practitioner to rule out gut dysbiosis, gut infections, leaky gut, SIBO and other gut-related issues that may be at play “under the hood.” 

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