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  • Writer's picturefranceswalker@thefoodinto

Why stress makes your food intolerance worse but pregnancy can improve it

Updated: Apr 8

Do you find your tolerance changes?

Can you eat foods you normally would react to while on holidays?

If you have been pregnant- did you find you became less sensitive or more sensitive to foods?

Do things get worse when you are sick or stressed?⁠

This is very common, find out why.

JOIN THE COMMUNITY: BRAND NEW Dietitian led Facebook group: Amines, Salicylates and Glutamates: The Food Intolerance Dietitian for great information and community support.

Personal Thresholds

Everybody has their own personal tolerance. Just like you have your unique finger print, you have your own threshold for what your body can tolerate without uncomfortable symptoms being triggered.

The picture shows salicylates from foods building up in the body, and only when the threshold is crossed (when tomato is eaten for the second time), are symptoms are triggered. This point marks your personal threshold.

This personal threshold is not fixed- it can move up and down due to many different reasons.

Hormones, Pregnancy & Menopause

Hormonal changes can be felt every month for menstruating women, and the shift in hormones can cause our personal threshold to go down. The end result is an increased reactivity to the foods that we are sensitive to, be it FODMAPs or salicylates/amines.

If you know you are extra reactive, and you know when your periods are due, trialling bringing back your diet a bit leading into this time may help avoid the worst of the increased food sensitivity during this time, and releasing the diet again once it has passed.

Pregnancy hormones also can shift our personal threshold mainly up, with most people reporting being able to eat foods they could not before (example include higher level of FODMAPs in their diet) although some have reported that they can become extra sensitive.

Menopause is another interesting example- often can see personal thresholds shift downwards and an increase in food sensitivity during this phase. In fact, food sensitivities may be encountered for the first time.


Needs to be in capital letters as is the best time of the year in my opinion. Stress can just fall away the on holidays and that extra level of being chilled and relaxed can really help to significantly increase personal threshold levels. Combine being pregnant and being on holidays to max your personal threshold!

Try and hang onto that holiday feeling as long as possible when you get back, to delay the stresses of life creeping in. Which brings us to the importance of managing our stress levels...

Being Sick or Stressed

Being sick or stressed are big ones- well known for instantly bringing down our tolerance level and increasing the effects food has on us.

At these times, it can help to pull back on your diet a bit and ride it out- taking what you need to help recover and calm down symptoms, then release the diet back to normal levels when you are well or less stressed.⁠

Food intolerance is never black and white but knowing it can wax and wane can help you identify how to manage your diet to keep yourself under your personal tolerance threshold.⁠


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