This week, I’m taking a deep dive into some of the basics around food intolerances and food sensitivity testing with a series here on the blog. Yesterday, we dove into the two different ways you can determine if you have a food intolerance: an elimination diet and a food sensitivity testing kit.
Food sensitivity testing is great for narrowing down where you should start with elimination diets, or you can skip the testing entirely and go straight for the elimination diet.
You can see the previous posts in this series here:
- What is a food intolerance?
- What are the symptoms of food intolerances?
- How do you know if you have a food intolerance?
Today, we’re going to answer the question “Is food sensitivity testing right for me?” We’re going to cover how to choose a test that’s right for you, if you should see a doctor for food intolerance testing, and if you can conduct a food sensitivity test for yourself. Finally, we’ll discuss the cost implications for food sensitivity testing and the top 5 ways to know if food sensitivity testing is right for you.
But first things first – I want to make my disclaimer about this blog series and why I teach what I teach here on my blog and website:
I don’t think there’s one way of eating that’s better for anyone. I don’t promote a gluten-free dairy-free diet because it’s somehow HEALTHIER than other diets. I talk about it because I eat that way (egg-free too), and it seems to resonate with a lot of women out there.
I feel like there’s not enough info out there for women getting started with this diet when they discover they can’t eat certain things, so I do my best to share my journey, my tips, and things I’ve learned along the way. The goal here is to shorten the learning curve, not preach what I do because I think others should do it too.
Take note that I’m not a doctor and this is not medical advice. I’m a certified health coach and person who’s been living with food intolerances for years, that’s it. I’m just a person who’s trying to share information. If you need medical advice or specific health advice, be in touch with your doctor or naturopath who can give you a personal diagnosis.
Ready to dive in? Let’s get to it!
Choose a test that’s right for you
There are a number of different options of food intolerance tests on the market these days. Here are the top 5 kits that I was able to find in my research:
Food sensitivity tests currently on the market:
This test measures 96 different foods and uses a blood sample as a collection. Everything is done at home and is super simple and easy to understand the results through an online portal within 5 business days.
This test measures 44 different foods using a blood sample as a collection. You can take this test at home and receive a customized report within 5 to 7 business days.
This test measures over 300 food and environmental intolerances. This test is completed at home, and uses a hair sample to determine what you’re intolerant to.
You receive a detailed report within 7 to 10 business days after they receive your sample at their processing lab. 5Strands costs $122.
This test measures 150 foods and 150 non-food items in its Essentials kit, 400 foods and 325 non-food items in its Premier kit. This test uses a hair sample to determine the foods you are intolerant to. After your hair sample reaches the lab, you receive a PDF report to detail your results.
Allergy Test costs $60 for the Essentials kit and $90 for the Premier Kit.
This kit measures 300 foods, plus the presence and levels of candida, yeast species and overgrowth, vitamin deficiencies, and mineral deficiencies in your body. This test is unique in that it tests for something other than foods you may be intolerant to specifically.
You’ll receive your results online within 2 to 3 weeks. This test uses a hair sample to determine your potential food intolerances. There are multiple price points for this kit ranging from $49 to $249.
This test measures 8 different foods: gluten, lactose, cow’s milk protein, egg, peanut, histamine, pet dander, and “other foods.” This test uses a cheek swab to determine the foods you are intolerant to.
After your sample reaches the lab, you’ll receive results in a PDF in 6 weeks. The HomeDNA collection kit costs $89.
I found other test kit options, but honestly, there didn’t seem to be enough information or reviews on the products themselves for me to even feel comfortable putting them in this blog post.
So how do you choose which test to take? There are a number of different factors – and questions you’ll want to ask yourself before making your decision:
How is the test administered?
I’ve seen blood test kits and hair sample test kits for determining food intolerances. The blood test kits are more likely to provide you an accurate reading as it measures how cells are ‘reacting’ to the different foods in your blood.
How is the test supported?
Are there scientists or doctors reviewing your test results before you get them back? Be sure that the food intolerance test that you choose is scientifically based.
What is the cost and what is your budget?
These food intolerance test kits I researched range from about $60 to $249, so choose the test that falls within your budget.
How many foods do you want to be tested for?
Each food sensitivity testing kit offers a variety of different foods you can be tested for intolerance. Choose one that gives you plenty of options, so that you can cover your bases in one test.
How are the test results delivered and will you get support with your next steps?
Each testing kit brand will have different support and ways of delivering your results. The best ones I’ve seen offer an online report, support, plus information for the foods that you’ll be interested to test with a thorough elimination diet to verify if you have any reactions (good or bad) by removing them from your diet.
So now that you know some of the different things you should consider about food sensitivity tests before making your decision on which one is right for you, the next question is really…
Can I test myself for food intolerances?
With all the different food intolerance sensitivity tests available on the market, you can definitely test yourself for food intolerances in the comfort of your own home. Most of these kits you can do with a simple pin-prick of your finger, put a few blood drops onto a card, then send it off in the mail. It couldn’t be easier to test yourself with one of these kits. Then once you get the results, it will be easier to narrow down foods you need to focus on when conduct an elimination diet on your own.
How much do food sensitivity tests cost?
The cost of food sensitivity tests range anywhere from $99 to $299. There are multiple brands, testing varying foods, so you can find a range of price points. Be sure to check out the important factors like in the “how do I choose a which test to take?” section of this blog post.
Top 5 ways to know a food intolerance test right for you
There’s no real way to know if something is a right fit for you, but if you need a little bit of validation on whether food sensitivity testing is something you should be doing, check out these top 3 ways to help you decide.
1. You have no idea if the symptoms you’re experiencing are from food or other lifestyle factors.
If it seems like what’s going on with you could be from a million things, this might be a good place to start, because it’s quick and easy to get an answer.
2. You have a hunch that the foods in your current diet are making you sick, but you don’t know which ones are causing you problems.
If you’ve been food journaling (or if you haven’t) and feel like your symptoms are across the board and aren’t making sense to you, a food intolerance test might be great for you so that you know which foods to pay attention to further in your reactions to them.
3. You aren’t sure where to start when it comes to eliminating foods out of your diet to start feeling better.
Elimination diets can be overwhelming if you haven’t done one before – if you want a clear list of foods to try to eliminate and then see how you react, a blood food sensitivity test kit might be perfect for you.
4. You aren’t squeamish about poking your own finger and drawing blood for the test kit.
I did it and I promise it was really just a small poke and then it was over. I actually felt like the hard part was squeezing the dickens out of my finger to get the blood to come out more than the poke itself.
5. You feel good about getting quick results and reading up on them on the computer.
This isn’t the same as going to a doctor and having them relay everything for you. You can get your results and dig in as much or as little as you want to in order to understand what your results come back with.
The bottom line on whether you get a food intolerance test or not really comes down to how comfortable you are navigating an elimination diet on your own right from the start. I think that if you have a lot of symptoms and have no idea what’s going on with you, one of these tests certainly couldn’t hurt in helping you narrow down your efforts.
I’ve done a bit of research on this topic, not only to share with you, but for myself also. With everything that I found out along my researching and note-taking on food sensitivity test kits, I walked away with one winner in my mind: EverlyWell.
Of course, that winner for you might be different and that’s okay. I appreciated EverlyWell for its ease of use, the fact that it used a blood sample collection (this seemed a lot more legit to me than using a hair sample), the cost, and the fact that I’d get so much support – quickly – after getting my results back.
I did take an EverlyWell test last year and documented my process. Check out the post tomorrow where I’ll share the whole detailed video and step-by-step process for completing a food intolerance test at home.
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