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Food Allergy Test

A Do-It-Yourself, Inexpensive Food Allergy Test for PMS & PMDD

by Dr. Daniel J. Heller
Dr. Daniel J. Heller Dr. Daniel J. Heller

Dr. Heller is a family practitioner who specializes in helping patients with hormonal conditions like PMS & PMDD; diabetes and prediabetes; and other chronic diseases. He is the founder, formulator, and clinical director of PMS Comfort. [more]


As we discussed in Food Allergy and Food Intolerance article, finding out your food allergies, intolerances, or sensitivities is one of the most powerful tools for natural relief of PMS and PMDD, as well as a host of other health conditions. When your food has been making you sick, it can feel like going from night to day when you finally figure out what is making you feel so awful. Symptoms that seemed mysterious become clear, and you no longer waste your energy wondering what's dragging you down. In our practice, food allergy is one of the primary things we consider in working with every patient.

The best way to find out if you have a food allergy, intolerance, or sensitivity is not a blood test from a doctor. Nor does applied kinesiology testing, as some chiropractors and natural health practitioners perform, truly measure all the different ways your body might react to eating certain foods. There is a better method: one that is free and do-it-yourself (DIY), and considered the gold standard of food allergy testing.

Food elimination and challenge, using your own body to tell you which foods aren't good for you, uses the most sensitive measuring instrument ever devised—your body. Even if you've already been tested for food intolerance, if you haven't done a food elimination and challenge, you haven't truly tested yourself for reactions to foods, because all laboratory tests have a margin of error that could result in missing a food substance that is a problem for you, or telling you that a particular food is a problem when it isn't.

How to Test Yourself for Food Allergies and Intolerances

While the following instructions may seem complicated and intimidating at first, stay with it—this is a straightforward process, and there is no better way to discover whether you have food sensitivities.

First, pick two or three of the foods most likely to be affecting you. This means foods at the top of this list, plus you should take into account any foods that you already suspect may be affecting you. The four most likely foods to cause or aggravate PMS and PMDD are refined sugars, wheat products, caffeine and chocolate, and alcohol. Remember, though, that one woman's meat is another woman's poison—meaning everyone is different. In your case, your food allergens could include corn, soy, eggs, dairy, artificial sweeteners, gluten, or other foods that are further down the list.

Next, take a few days to think about what you'll be eating during your elimination phase, and shop accordingly. Don't rush into this; it's better to plan carefully. Try out some meals and recipes so you can ease into the 3-step process.

Finally, dive in: Pick a day, wake up that morning, and begin a 33-day elimination of the foods from which you've chosen to abstain. It's important that you begin your elimination just before, or on day 1 of a menstrual cycle. This way, at the end of 33 days you'll have avoided that food group through one complete cycle. This makes it more likely, if a food intolerance is affecting you, that you'll notice a difference in your premenstrual symptoms.

As you enter your premenstrual phase in the last couple of weeks of your food elimination course, an improvement in the intensity and/or number of PMS or PMDD symptoms is a good sign. Of course, if you started a PMS Comfort Natural Relief Program, or medication for PMS or PMDD, or were on vacation for three weeks out of that month, a food sensitivity may not be the only explanation for how you feel. Sometimes teasing out the influence of foods versus other factors can be quite confusing, but usually it's simple to do so: often, a second briefer elimination/challenge will sort out the confusion.

Bear in mind that if your PMS symptoms occur sporadically rather than each and every month, you may not be able to time your food allergy elimination so that you can determine, within a 33-day period, exactly how food allergies affect your PMS.

Understanding Food Challenge and Your PMS and PMDD Symptoms

When you reintroduce foods beginning on day 34, after 33 days of complete elimination, you won't immediately know if a given food causes or aggravates premenstrual symptoms. Fortunately, you need only discover whether or not a given food affects you in any way. This is because any food to which you're sensitive likely causes multiple symptoms and effects.

Here's how to implement your food challenge:

  • On day 34 eat one of your suspected food allergens several times, in significant quantities, in different forms. In other words, not just a little bit or a little bite. And by different forms, eat wheat, for example, as pasta and bread, or dairy as yogurt and cheese.
  • Do not reintroduce multiple food allergen groups at once. When you reintroduce wheat, for example, don't have a cookie, because it combines wheat and sugar; when you reintroduce dairy, don't have ice cream—it combines dairy and sugar.
  • If you react right away, say, in the form of a rash, a stomachache, or some other rapid-onset symptom, you do not need to continue eating the food several more times that day! That sudden reaction is all the evidence needed to show that you are intolerant of that food.
  • Most food reactions don't happen immediately. Therefore, it's important that on days 35–37, you resume complete avoidance of your suspected food allergens. Any symptoms that occur after reintroduction, on days 34–37, are very likely a result of the 1-day food challenge.
  • Don't worry if you slip up and eat the food you're avoiding once or twice during the 33-day elimination. Although it is ideal to stay off the suspected food allergens completely, the elimination and challenge will usually still work if you can stay off the food 85–90%. Many of our patients report they accidentally ate the food at some point during the elimination, and know immediately from their reaction that it is an allergen for them.
  • Here are some of the most likely signs of a food allergy reaction when you reintroduce foods: First, you may experience an increased heart rate after you eat the food—you'll have to actually count it immediately before and after the food challenge to tell for sure. Other common reactions include fatigue, change in mood, digestive symptoms, constipation, diarrhea, rash, itching, problems concentrating, foggy- or cloudy-headedness, exacerbation of allergies, headaches, or aches and pains, or anxiety. You may also notice a change in how you feel overall. If you feel well during the elimination, and worse after the food challenge, that is a clear sign of a food intolerance reaction. And if, during the elimination, you find you wake up more easily and feel more alert in the morning, but more sluggish and slow in the mornings after the challenge, that is another sure sign of food sensitivity.
  • On day 38, move on to your next food, repeating the steps above. If on days 34–37 you did not notice any changes or symptoms, you can resume eating that first food. If, on the other hand, you reacted adversely, you will need to remain off that first food while you execute your food challenge for the second food. That way, you won't confuse your reactions.
  • If your response to eating the food allergen isn't completely gone by day 38, wait another couple of days for it to entirely clear before reintroducing another food. Some food reactions can last for over 4 days!

I'm Allergic to a Food—Now What?

Over time, you'll find out how much or how little of a food allergen you can eat. For some, it works best to avoid those foods completely, though you may do fine limiting the food to once or twice per week. Some find they can't tolerate a food in their regular daily life, but can have it on vacation without a problem.

If you discover you're sensitive to a food but decide you are not going to completely eliminate it, we encourage you to avoid it as much as possible in the two weeks before your period. That is probably the minimum amount of time needed to have a positive impact on your PMS or PMDD symptoms.

Finally, perhaps the most important aspect of food elimination and challenge is attitude. Approach this with a detective's mindset: gather clues and evidence, and consider it as you would an experiment. See what happens. As time goes on, even after the challenge, you'll continue to collect evidence that will help you decide how much of a food you can eat, in combination with what, and when.

We've helped thousands of patients conduct a food elimination and challenge, and want you to know that you can occasionally encounter a problem or a confusion with which you may need help. We hope that if you have such a question, you'll contact us. Our biggest concern is that you feel better and get healthier, and we're happy to help you on your way.

Real, Natural Relief—So You Can Feel Great All Month Long

PMS and PMDD misery aren't always taken seriously enough by doctors, family, and friends. At PMS Comfort, our whole purpose is to empower and educate you about premenstrual symptoms, and to provide real, natural relief so that you can feel great all month long. Our all-natural doctor-designed programs are based on decades of experience helping thousands of women recover from what you've been going through. Our Herbal Relief formula, when combined with our diet and lifestyle guidance, addresses more than just your symptoms—it can help bring your body and mind back into balance, and help you get and stay healthy. Plus, we're here to support you, every step of the way.

To learn more about your PMS and PMDD symptoms, take the PMS Comfort quiz. Or, start feeling better today, for as little as 89 cents per day.

We want to help. Give us a call at 1-800-731-6327, drop us an e-mail, or send us your question.

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Principal Author: Daniel J. Heller, N.D.
Last Modified: November 21, 2011

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