ALCAT Food Sensitivity Testing: An Opinion

alcat testing

There are so many different ways to test for food sensitivities now that aren’t allergy pricks. And it’s hard to know which ones are real and which ones aren’t! I’ll go over what the ALCAT is, and how it might work for you, and my results!

Food sensitivity testing is different from allergic reaction testing, but you can have just as severe reactions to “sensitivities” as to allergens. But not a lot of doctors recognize and accept that.

What is the ALCAT?

Being a scientist, I like to know how things work, so I’ll start with how this food testing works. The ALCAT tests live cells to see if there is an inflammatory response.

This is different from an allergy test, because there they are testing to see if there’s an antibody response (Which causes the allergic reaction). If you want more details, I liked this explanation.

The ALCAT works like a lot of other food sensitivity testings, where it requires blood. This one required a lot more blood than some of the at-home kits, but they also tested so many different food products.

The results are given in a form of severe intolerance, moderate intolerance, mild intolerance, and acceptable foods.

Why Should You Do Food Sensitivity Testing?

nuts and cashews
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Everyone’s body is different. So no two people are going to have the same food requirements. If you’re questioning “why is my body feeling off?” it’s probably not a bad idea to try food intolerance testing! You’ll get different results from allergy testing, so you could try both.

It’s an easy way to start discovering what could be causing your digestive issues, headaches, backaches, acne, or so many other problems that might be happening.

These tests (not just the ALCAT) are becoming a lot more affordable, and are at least a starting point on an elimination diet to see if these foods are actually causing you problems!

My Biggest Tip

prepared food
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The most important thing I’ve found when doing food sensitivity testing is to take time with your results. Sit with them for a few days before trying to make changes.

Take the time to make a meal plan for the next week with doable breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack ideas. Go grocery shopping ahead of time and buy those items. Try to only get single ingredient items and make food from those so you don’t have to worry about missing the ingredient.

And before you start this food change-over, do a week’s worth of meal prep and have everything in the fridge prepared. This way if you get hungry, you can quickly make something to eat instead of going back to old habits.

Find more on how to do an elimination diet successfully here to go with your food testing!

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My Experience

I was having a lot of digestive problems and couldn’t figure out why. Doctors were stumped, and I ended up having my gallbladder removed.

After 9 months of being in agony every day from my stomach, I decided to try the ALCAT food testing and, finally I had answers.

The problem was that now I had too many answers and it was so overwhelming. Below you’ll see the sheets I was given that explained my food intolerance and reactions to items.

The doctor said to avoid everything that wasn’t in the green category….I had been living off of packaged food and candy my entire life so this was insane. I was supposed to give up corn, dairy, gluten, and so many other things.

alcat testing page
alcat testing results page
alcat results

The food testing company tries to be helpful and give a meal rotation plan with ingredient ideas. Again this is just a list of ingredients. Where I had initially come off of eating premade meals from the freezer section. So this didn’t work.

*it does have HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) as an okay item on this list. I’m not entirely sure what happened, but that is not something okay for me to eat. A lot of doctors will say it’s just the protein of the food that causes issues, which is not correct for a lot of people.

Now, after 7 years of making my own food from scratch it would be a whole different story. 

The problem is that these ingredients are in everything. We don’t live in a society that goes based off of single ingredient items. The society we live in is one where someone is making a “4 ingredient smores pie” it includes graham crackers, marshmallows, butter, and chocolate bars. To me that’s 50 ingredients. Not 4 ingredients.

Having to change the headspace from one to the other and learning how to cook is like learning a new language while living in a foreign country without a translate app.

If you’re in the same setting as me, read about a corn free diet here. I’ve tried to go into detail of how to actually eat without corn.

Day 1 of elimination

The first day of me trying to eliminate everything was a disaster. I was nannying that summer, so I brought my lunch. The best thing I could come up with to eat for like 12 hours was a hamburger patty and ketchup.

Let me note – this was NOT safe. The burger patty was likely not safe, but I want to focus more on the ketchup. It was Heinz ketchup, which if you look at the ingredients, has at least 5 (probably 6) ingredients that are likely made out of corn. If anything says “vinegar” or ” distilled vinegar,” 99.9% of the time means vinegar made out of corn. The corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup are corny. And most likely the spices, natural flavoring, and salt have some sort of corn additive.

Along with this appetizing, not corn free meal, it wasn’t enough for me to eat for the day. I caved and made a quesadilla out of a tortilla that definitely had corn in it.

Future days of elimination

After that, we decided to change tactics. We decided to just avoid the items on the severe intolerance list from the ALCAT results, and found pages instructing where corn was hidden in food from other blogs (like this one).

I did go through a big grieving process, because it felt like I was losing everything  I knew food-wise. It’s natural to feel this, because it is such a dramatic change. Not being able to go to the refrigerator or pantry and just eat something, unless you’ve made it with safe ingredients, is a big change. The hardest for me still is when I’m hungry and haven’t cooked anything, so I have to cook while I’m hungry. 

Things slowly got better, and I started learning how to cook and feed myself. And now I know how to take care of my stomach.

For the first time in almost a year, I had relief. That’s what matters.

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I do want to discuss the various food sensitivity testings. They’re a lot easier to come by now, and seem to be more popular, seeing them online with groupon, or even in stores at Target. 

I’m not sure which ones work the best, and some of them might not even give you the answers you’re looking for. For me, this ALCAT worked, for which I’m grateful. They are relatively cheap now, so it’s not a bad idea to research which ones are working the best at the given time and give it a shot if you are having mystery issues and want to see if it’s your diet that is causing the problems.