Food allergies vs. food sensitivities

Eating & Nutrition   |   Age: 7 months 1 week

Food allergies vs. food sensitivities

Both food intolerances and food allergies can cause upset stomach, stomach pain, and diarrhea. But while they can create some similar unpleasant physical reactions, the two are caused by two different bodily systems.

Food allergies happen when the immune system treats a normally safe substance as if it were a threat. Allergic reactions can happen as soon as the food enters the body, or sometimes, in extreme cases, all it takes is a person touching or breathing the allergenic substance for a reaction to occur. Food allergies can be triggered by any amount of the allergenic food, and are a reaction of the immune system, in the same way that your body's reaction to a virus is, though the symptoms that show up may be different.

Food intolerances, on the other hand, generally take place in the metabolic or digestive systems, and happen when the body can’t digest a certain food properly. The reaction takes a little bit longer with food intolerances, because the food is first at least partially digested. Because food sensitivities have a delayed reaction, are milder than allergies, and are often caused by additives or ingredients - not a particular food itself - these sensitivities can be harder to pin down and diagnose. They also don’t happen every single time a person eats the food they’re sensitive to - they may only flare up with a large enough dose to trigger the sensitivity. Despite the difficulty of diagnosing them, food sensitivities are significantly more common than true food allergies.

Concerns about food allergies and sensitivities are the reason why it's important to introduce one food at a time to new eaters. When babies react badly to new foods, it's important to be able to pinpoint which food is causing the reaction, and what exactly the reaction is.

If you have questions about food allergies or sensitivities, you should talk to the doctor, as they are the best resource for opinions on these sorts of things.

More articles at this age

How much sleep is too much when a baby is sick?

Sleep can be the best medicine, but in some cases, too much sleep during an illness can be a cause for concern.

Mealtime hacks for life with a baby

Sure, you have your own food hacks - the possibilities are endless! Avocados in smoothies, peanut butter in ramen, and cereal instead of breadcrumbs for chicken, to name a few . . . But what about food hacks for your baby?

5 safety tips for bathing with your toddler

Many parents bathe with their children, but before doing so, it's important to keep some tips in mind to keep everybody safe while you're splashing around.

To clean the uncleanable

By the time your baby is in elementary school, not even the most gruesome bathroom mess will ruffle your feathers. You'll be a pro at erasing even the most dramatic kitchen disasters. But for now, you might need a little advice regarding how to clean what you previously considered uncleanable.

Help! My baby won't sleep through the night

You know that feeling you get when you can't sleep - when you lie in bed and think about how tired you'll be the next day? Yeah, your baby doesn't get that. All that your baby can think about is how awesome being awake is. If this is the case, and your baby just refuses to sleep throughout the night, there are actually a couple of (very legitimate) reasons why this is happening. And fortunately, there are some things you can do about it, too.

Great games to play with your crawler

When your baby starts crawling, it opens up a whole new world of ways to play - but where to start?

Welcome to lil'bee!

It looks like you're using an ad blocker. That's okay. Who doesn't? But without advertising-income, we can't keep making this site awesome. Please disable your ad blocker and refresh this page.

Thanks for understanding 🙏