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If you need a nap on Thanksgiving after indulging in all the delicious food, you’re not alone. But if tackling a big plate of turkey with all the fixings makes your stomach ache, overeating might not be the reason for your discomfort.

One in four people have a food intolerance, but many are unaware because they already tested negative for food allergies. A food allergy sparks an immune system reaction and can produce life-threatening symptoms. A food intolerance, on the other hand, causes a host of digestive issues, including nausea, cramps, diarrhea and gas. In many cases, a person with a food sensitivity lacks the enzymes needed to digest the protein found in certain foods. The most common culprits of food intolerance are dairy and gluten, according to Mayo Clinic.

Don’t miss any Thanksgiving football games by continuing to eat the same foods that send you to the bathroom this holiday season. A visit to your nearest Any Lab Test Now location can help alleviate some of your holiday stress by helping you learn what foods you need to avoid during the season and beyond. Any Lab Test Now provides walk-in medical testing without a trip to the doctor’s office.

A certified medical assistant at your local Any Lab Test Now location can consult with you on your symptoms to determine which simple blood test is right for you. The Gluten Allergy Tests lgE will let you know whether you have a food intolerance to gluten. If you don’t think gluten is responsible for your stomach woes, Any Lab Test Now offers a 50 food panel, which will get to the bottom of your discomfort.

Aside from lacking enzymes needed to digest certain foods, other causes of food intolerance include:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Sensitivity to food additives
  • Stress
  • Celiac disease — an autoimmune disease that flares when a person eats gluten. Approximately 3 million Americans suffer from this disease, according to WebMD

Key triggers to avoid

While gluten and dairy are the top sources of food intolerance, they are not the only two foods that give people grief. Chemicals added to food to prevent bacteria growth and add flavor, like MSG, wreak havoc on the digestive tract, revealed Cleveland Clinic. Sulfites hide out in red wine and occur naturally in some foods. Dried fruits, canned food and baked goods often contain sulfites. And the bad news is, many of these food triggers are part of your Thanksgiving spread in the form of pies, casseroles and alcoholic beverages.

Long laundry-list of symptoms

Most people with a food intolerance complain about digestive distress — nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, gas and bloating are all common. But the symptoms of food sensitivity do not end when the toilet flushes. Food intolerance can also cause heartburn, headaches, irritability and nervousness, Cleveland Clinic reported. Some patients report joint pain and overall fatigue. Patients with sulfite sensitivity can suffer from mild wheezing to a more serious breathing problem requiring medical attention, WebMD revealed.

The diagnosis of a food sensitivity does not have to ruin your holiday fun. There are three simple strategies you can take once you know your food intolerances.

Find a food substitution

Gluten-free substitutes for pasta, breads and sweets can be found at any grocery store. If you’re diagnosed with an intolerance to dairy, make your mashed potatoes with a non-dairy alternative such as oat milk or lactose-free milk. Relying on food substitutions is trickier during the holiday season because someone else is often doing the cooking, but paying attention to ingredients and making alternatives of your favorite dishes will pay off.

Cut back on portion size

Holiday tables typically welcome elastic pants and loosened belts. Eating big meals, finishing the bottle of wine and sneaking cookies all add to the magic of the season. Don’t be afraid to indulge, but cut portion sizes on your food triggers. Many people with food sensitivities can alleviate unpleasant symptoms simply by eating smaller portions of the offending food. This Thanksgiving, take half a piece of pumpkin pie if you have a sensitivity to gluten, instead of double helpings. Your stomach will thank you.

Read food labels

Gluten and dairy are easy to spot. But some of the other food triggers are difficult to identify. Reading food labels is an easy way to make sure to avoid many of the problematic flavor enhancers and food dyes causing your food intolerance. If you think a food you typically serve on Thanksgiving might contain one of these hidden ingredients, take a few minutes away from the flurry of preparations for the big meal to read the label.

Knowing your food triggers can help you manage your diet and put a halt to embarrassing and uncomfortable symptoms. Visit your local Any Lab Test Now to get your diagnosis before the holiday season arrives.

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