Do You Have a Food Allergy?
If you suspect you may have a food allergy or intolerance, the first thing you should do is start keeping a food diary. Both Dr. Fenster and Dr. Atkins believe that keeping a food diary not only helps you track which foods are causing reactions, but it also gives your doctor the necessary information to suggest treatment. "Write down what food you ate and how you felt immediately afterwards, then five minutes, and then a couple of hours later," says Dr. Fenster. Some reactions can occur several hours after you've eaten a culprit food.
Don't be afraid to get a second opinion if you feel your doctor doesn't understand your concerns. "There's no drug to treat food allergies, no pharmacy to visit for medication," cautions Dr. Fenster. "So some doctors are still reluctant to diagnosis food allergies or even recognize them." Ask friends or check the information board at your local health food store for other people with food allergies. They might be able to recommend a doctor, or, more appropriately according to Dr. Fenster, a nutritionist to help you manage your food allergies.
If you think you may have a food allergy, your doctor might suggest a skin-prick test, where a small amount of the food allergen is injected under the skin to detect a reaction. A blood test may be another route of testing. In this case, a sample is sent to a laboratory where tests are done to determine whether the blood contains IgE antibodies to suspect foods. Neither test poses any risk to your baby. Allergists may also suggest an elimination diet where the patient cuts out certain foods and then reintroduces them to gauge reactions. Dr. Atkins, however, advises against food allergy testing during pregnancy unless a woman has a severe reaction to a certain food.