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Psychological Effects of a Food Intolerance

October 2020 - When it comes to food intolerances, the first thing that might come to mind is the negative effects that happen to the body physically. The stomach discomfort, the bloating, the pain, the nausea, the headaches - these physical symptoms are usually considered the worst of it. But, when it comes to how it affects our mental health, this often is not discussed and is more than likely swept under the rug.

Interestingly, there is a solid connection between our physical state and our mental health, and both can interlink with each other.

How can a food intolerance have psychological effects? Read this piece to find out more.

What is food intolerance?

Food intolerance (or food sensitivity) is when a person has difficulty digesting a specific type of food, which then causes problematic symptoms. These problems vary for each individual but common issues include stomach pains, nausea, and bloating to name a few. For those who experience these issues but are unsure of what might be causing them, consider taking a test from to avoid a restrictive diet process that can create more mental stress.

Feeling uncomfortable

When we feel uncomfortable, it is safe to say we do not feel our best. Even the smallest of issues can make us feel off-balance, which can then impact our overall mood. When we are bloated, we don’t want to get into that dress, and when we have stomach pain, we might not be able to concentrate on having a good time. Whatever it may be, feeling physically uncomfortable can have a massive impact on our mental state, so trying to navigate a food intolerance can have a detrimental effect.


Restriction can be extremely difficult to tolerate, especially">when the choice is not really yours. This feeling can be evoked for almost anything that you feel like freedom of choice has been taken away from you - the most pertinent example right now could be said to be the COVID-19 lockdown. It's the right thing to do for our health, but it's difficult.

Food is not just sustenance, it is a part of all cultures, where some are far more involved with the cooking and eating process than others. Food is also a social tie. We go for lunch with our friends or go for coffee and cake on a date, we book a restaurant for a special family meal - food is the one thing we all have in common that brings us together.

This is why food intolerance can be detrimental to someone’s mental health. It is easy to feel like you are being excluded when you can’t just pop to a pizza place or have to skip a restaurant meal because the ingredients can cause you serious problems.

Negative feelings about the self

Food restrictions can make those who have food intolerances feel like they can be a burden, or worse, left out. It is one thing to ask others to make sure a restaurant can suit your requirements (providing they are not too serious or at all life-threatening) but what about when others cannot make those exceptions?

These negative feelings about the self are a fast track to mental disorders such as depression and anxiety, so it is important to keep an eye out for how those with food intolerance to see how they are doing, and to help them be as included as possible.

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