One in four of us admits to self-diagnosing a food allergy or intolerance, but it’s not as harmless as people think. MiNDFOOD investigates The Rise of Nutrichondria.
The Rise of Nutrichondria
What is Nutrichondria?
The term ‘nutrichondria’ was recently coined by nutritionists to describe a worrying new diet trend – the self-diagnosis of food intolerance or allergies based on false or flawed information. Nutrichondriacs are also said to have a pre-occupation with the negative details of their diet.
According to a new British study commissioned by DNAFit, a wellness genetics company, nutrichondria is on the rise. As many as one in three people admitted to nutrichondirac tendencies, despite only 15 per cent having undertaken medical tests to confirm their beliefs.
So why has nutrichondria become so prevalent? Researchers say that while the issue is complex, the rise of celebrity influence has had a big impact. In fact, as many as 22 per cent of the people surveyed by DNAFit admitted to self- diagnosing a food intolerance after hearing a celebrity talk about it.
Psychologist Dr Joann Lukins says blindly following celebrity diet advice is foolish. “The only [nutritional] advice we should pay attention to is that which is specifically tailored to our own personal needs,” she says. “As much as people may be hoping for the quick fix … the reality is that a sensible eating approach with a good dose of physical activity (as recommended by the professionals) is the best approach.”
Do you have an allergy?
So, what should you do if you think you might have a food allergy or intolerance? Maria Said, CEO of Allergy and Anaphylaxis Australia, notes that a person who has had a suspected allergic reaction to a food can go to an allergist/ immunologist to have a skin prick or blood test to see if they have antibodies to the food protein. “These results, along with information on what happened when the potential allergic reaction occurred, help the specialist diagnose whether the person is truly allergic or not,” she explains.
The recommended way of identifying intolerance is to follow a supervised elimination diet, says dietitian Jennifer Douglas. “An elimination diet should be carried out under the guidance of a dietitian. A dietitian will assess if an elimination diet is needed,” she explains.