Food Allergies and Weight Gain: Food Addictions and Cravings

Food Allergies and Weight Gain

Do you crave pizza? Ice cream? Potato chips and chocolate? Do you crave these foods seemingly out of the blue, for no reason you can put your finger on? Here’s some food for thought: Food allergies very often cause intense cravings for the foods that your body is reacting badly to. In fact, food allergies can go hand in hand with food addiction and cravings and weight gain.

In fact, food allergies, food addictions, and weight gain are all tightly linked within your body. Much like a drug addict, people with food addictions (i.e. intense cravings that you can’t seem to resist) can experience withdrawal symptoms when that desired food is taken away, resulting in a new, sometimes even more intense, craving. And so the cycle continues.

To put it simply, a food allergy in your body may be causing your food cravings and your intense cravings may be causing you to overeat unhealthy junk foods, which causes weight gain. And while you may not realize it just yet, often people’s daily eating habits are a product of their unconscious physiological need to avoid withdrawal symptoms such as feeling run down, tired, and depressed.

Food Addictions and Cravings

Meanwhile, along with food cravings, water retention is a common symptom of food allergies -- and is an important contributing factor to obesity. Eliminating the food you’re allergic to (the allergen) will often result in a rapid water loss of five to 10 pounds within a week’s time without any kind of diuretic or change in the number of calories eaten.

Food Allergies and Weight GainMichael Rosenbaum, M.D., who practices preventive medicine in Mill Valley, California, has observed this phenomenon frequently. He has also found that after the initial loss of water, the person is able to lose fat more easily, even without dieting.

Food allergies also have powerful effects within the limbic system in your brain, according to Dr. Rosenbaum. This section is also called our “primitive reptilian brain” and it controls basic functions of life including body temperature, blood pressure, sleep, hunger, thirst, and sexuality. It also controls your emotional functioning.1

The bottom line is that food allergies have profound effects on hunger, thirst, temperature (a vital portion of our resting metabolism-- or how many calories our body burns at rest), and emotions -- all of which negatively impact weight loss.

Charles McGee, M.D., author of "How To Survive Modern Technology," sums it up nicely.

"There are many people who are addicted to all sorts of foods … What’s most important is that it’s extremely difficult for these allergic individuals to lose weight unless they ultimately gain control of their food allergies. They must identify the particular allergens, break the craving, and then eliminate the chemical or food."1

That’s right. Eating foods that you are allergic to actually inhibits your ability to lose fat.

How? Prostaglandin E2, which is released in response to these foods, blocks your ability to access your fat stores, so your body either physically cannot burn fat or burns fat at an extremely slow rate.2

Also, excessive amounts of partially digested food allergens in your body can increase your appetite and decrease your metabolism, according to research in the New England Journal of Medicine3. So the more you eat foods that you are sensitive or allergic to, the harder it will be for you to lose weight, even if these foods are otherwise considered healthy.


Action Step:

Identify your food allergies, then start to eliminate those foods from your diet. To do so, make a list of the foods you most commonly crave or binge eat. The most common foods that people crave are also the most common allergens -- things like dairy, wheat, corn, sugar, and chocolate. Don’t believe me? Just look at this list:

Top Reported Food Cravings:

  • Ice cream (dairy, sugar)
  • Pasta (wheat)
  • Pizza (wheat, dairy)
  • Bread (wheat)
  • Corn chips (corn)
  • Soda (corn -- “high fructose corn syrup” is always in the top three ingredients)
  • Pastries (wheat, sugar)

Instead of eliminating the food allergies you suspect, it is advisable to do a complete food elimination diet where you eat a diet of hypoallergenic foods for two weeks. A hypoallergenic diet includes lamb, rice, and most vegetables and other safe foods and eliminates the common allergenic foods such as wheat, corn, dairy, sugar, soy, citrus, cocoa, tomatoes, gluten.

Or you can simplify the elimination diet to simply stop eating the foods you most crave.

Experiment with removing these foods from your diet … and remember to start looking at product labels in the grocery store to find hidden sources of your top food allergens -- they are hiding in many of the products out there!

Determining your food allergies is a difficult task for most people to undertake on their own. On the Enlita Program, we guide you through an allergy elimination diet and a reintroduction that allows you to test the most common allergenic foods. We also provide you with information on the most useful laboratory tests for food allergies.

The reason we start our natural weight loss program with an elimination diet is because the majority of our patients find that they lose weight when they remove the foods they are allergic to. The only way to discover if you have food sensitivities is to experiment. You may discover that food allergies have been preventing you from achieving your ideal weight.


1. “Food Addiction, Food Allergy, and Overweight” by Stephen Levine, PhD.
2.“Strangest secret about weight loss.” (c) Immuno Laboratories, Inc.
3. New England Journal of Medicine, 1997, vol. 337

By Dr. Kendra Pearsall

About the Author:
Dr. Kendra Pearsall, N.M.D. is a Naturopathic Medical Doctor specializing in natural weight loss and food addiction. She created to help millions of people achieve optimal health, natural weight loss and life success with her free weekly e-newsletter (sign up at the top of this page.)