Guide To Food Allergy Symptoms

Tuesday, January 30, 2007 - 2:14pm

By Wendy Hodsdon, ND

Determining whether you have food allergies can be difficult and confusing. Possible reactions to foods vary from heartburn and headaches to joint pain. The severity of food reactions is also quite variable, and it can be difficult to sort out which symptoms are related to which particular foods.

Common food allergies

Here is an overview of common food allergies. The symptoms column shows common reactions to foods. The timing column shows how soon after eating the food that the symptom is most likely to appear. The related foods column shows some of the most common foods related to the symptom listed. Each individual’s response to different foods is unique, but this chart is a good place to start in figuring out your food allergies.



Related foods


30 min to 3 hours

Coffee, alcohol, tomatoes, citrus, bananas

Runny nose

1 to 6 hours

Dairy, wheat, corn, MSG, alcohol, chocolate

Stomach cramps

1 to 12 hours

Dairy, gluten, nuts, apples, pork, coffee


2 to 6 hours

Coffee, cola, chocolate, nuts, MSG, sugar, foods containing tyramine (yeast, cheeses, processed meats)


30 to 60 minutes or 6 to 24 hours

Simple sugars, dairy, chocolate, wheat


1 hour

Fish, shrimp, egg, peanut chocolate

Delayed hives

6 to 24 hours

Egg, soy, corn


6 to 24 hours

Chocolate, coffee, soy, corn, nuts, cola, MSG


12 to 36 hours



12 to 36 hours

Many foods are possible. Person specific.


1 to 36 hours

Chocolate, eggs, dairy, wheat

Brain fog

1 hour or

12 to 48 hours

Many foods, almost any foods

Muscle cramps

1 to 3 days

Dairy, eggs, sugar, soy, gluten and more

Canker sores

1 to 4 days

Gluten, citrus, sugar, apples, chocolate

Joint pain

12 hours to 3 days

Wheat, coffee, meat, and more

For more information on food allergy symptoms see the following article from TheDietChannel: Food Allergies: Could you Have Undiagnosed Food Allergies?

Do I have a food allergy?

The best way to use this chart is to observe your body and your habits carefully. Write down everything you eat as accurately and honestly as possible. Include the time you eat your meals, any snacks you have, and what you drink. Also include how you feel. Include physical symptoms such as headaches, runny nose, sinus pressure, swelling ankles, itching ears, as well as mental and emotional symptoms. Can you think clearly? What is your mood like? If you are a woman, include symptoms related to your menstrual cycle.

Then start being your own detective. What relationships do you notice between your symptoms and the foods you eat? Are there any patterns? It sometimes takes a couple of months to notice the patterns that are forming. Sometimes, it is helpful to get someone else to look for patterns.

Use the chart above to correlate symptoms with specific foods. When you notice a symptom possibly relating to a food, eliminate that food from your diet for six weeks. Notice what happens when you eat that food again. Understanding the body’s reaction to food can help you optimize your overall health.

For more information on children and food allergies see the following article from TheDietChannel: How to Reduce the Risk for Food Allergies in Children, and for infants/toddlers and allergies see Natural Feeding Guidelines for Preventing Food Allergies.