Home Nutrition Food Allergy vs Food Intolerance: What’s the Difference?

Food Allergy vs Food Intolerance: What’s the Difference?


Testing and treatment 

Food allergy testing: 

For allergies, a skin prick test is the most common test used by allergists to diagnose an allergy. In this test, the allergist will place drops of the allergen on the patient’s skin, and then prick the skin so that the body absorbs it. After 20 minutes, the skin is checked for any redness or swelling; these are indicators of an allergy. A blood test can also be used to determine the immune system’s response to releasing immunoglobulin E (IgE) in response to foods. 

Unfortunately, there are no treatments for allergies. However, some individuals outgrow their allergies as they age, or see a decline in the severity of their reactions. When an allergic reaction occurs, an EpiPen should be used as this injects epinephrine into the body, helping to improve breathing, raise blood pressure, and reduce swelling in the throat and face. 

Food intolerance testing: 

Although there are many food intolerance tests available, they are not entirely reliable. The best way to diagnose a food intolerance is to simply take note of any of the food intolerance symptoms that are experienced following the consumption of a certain food; particularly one of the foods listed previously. 

Easy ingredient swaps for common allergens! 


  • Soy milk provides almost as much protein, calcium, and vitamin D as cow’s milk and is, therefore, an excellent alternative (assuming you are not also allergic to soy milk as it can be common to be allergic to both). Nut milks may also be used, although they are lower in protein and fat.  
  • Margarine or coconut oil can be used as a butter substitute. 
  • There are many dairy-free cheese brands in grocery stores for a cheesy, dairy-free dish! 


  • Eggs provide structure to baked goods. To make an egg-free dish, use applesauce, a mashed banana, or ground flax seeds mixed with water. 

Peanut butter: 

  • Any nut butter can be used as an alternative! For example, there is almond butter, pistachio butter, and cashew butter.  
  • For nut-free alternatives, tahini and sunflower seed butter are great substitutes! 
  • If you have an anaphylactic reaction to peanuts be sure you read labels and select products that are not produced in a facility that also contains peanuts. 


  • Many gluten-free grains are made into gluten-free flours. These include rice, potato, tapioca, corn, and quinoa. 

Whether you have a food allergy or intolerance, it can be difficult to know how to manage it. It is even harder to distinguish the difference between the two if you are unsure of what the differences are. If you experience any adverse reactions to a certain food group, this post may have helped you distinguish the differences between the two, along with common symptoms and ingredient swaps. A key takeaway is, however, that you can easily live with an allergy or intolerance due to the many resources out there to help you manage it! 



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