Taking action with food sensitivity

BBQWendy Busse is a registered dietitian and nationally recognized expert in food sensitivity nutrition care. She specializes in helping food sensitivity clients expand their diet and eat healthy, enjoyable meals.  Here she describes how action plans can help one to move forward when faced with a confusing array of symptoms and possible treatments.

Food sensitivities are frustrating!  It is difficult to decide what changes to make when there is so much conflicting information. If this sounds familiar, keep reading.

I wish that I could give you the magic answer about why food is bothering you and exactly what you need to do about it.  In most cases, there is not a magic answer. The only way to find the best diet and lifestyle for you is systematic experimentation. Action plans are the backbone of systematic experimentation.

Action plans help you make decisions and move forward. When people are overwhelmed, they usually make haphazard decisions or no decisions (often going back and forth between these extremes).

You may feel…...

Action plans help because you….

Haphazard Decisions

...frantic. You are trying many different treatments at once and are constantly wondering if it the treatments are helping your symptoms.

…try one treatment at a time and give it a chance to work before trying the next treatment.

No Decisions

...frozen.  You are overwhelmed by so many choices that you do not take any action.

… objectively consider each treatment and decide where to start. Action planning helps you take the first step.

Action Planning Steps
Step #1: Decide what changes you want to try.  The first step is to write down all the different treatments that you’ve been considering. Then list the potential advantages and disadvantages of each treatment. Here’s an example:



Potential Benefits


Overall health

Estimated time*

Gentle, rhythmic breathing

May reduce symptoms

Excellent for overall health and stress management

Within-in a few days, but benefits increase over time.

Supplement XXX

No scientific evidence, but some people say it helps.


Advertisment says one month.

Low histamine diet

No scientific evidence, but some people say it helps.

More home-made foods will improve general nutrition

Within 3 weeks




Potential Disadvantages


Overall health

Estimated time*

Gentle, rhythmic breathing


Easy to do, but needs consistent commitment


Supplement XXX


Remembering to take it.

May make symptoms worse. Unknown side effects.

Low histamine diet

About $50/month for special foods

Increased time and effort. Will have to give up yoga to make time.

Won’t be able to eat out and may become malnourished on a more restricted diet.

*Note: The “estimated time” is the amount of time the new treatment needs to be followed before deciding if it is helping or not. Treatments that make a difference quickly are often the best place to start. If you are only making one change, you probably don’t want to start with a treatment that will take a year to know if it is helping!

Step #2: Create an action plan. Once you have decided on the changes that you would like to try, write an action plan. Here’s an example:

Change (treatment)


Estimated Time

Start date

Evaluation date

Supplement XX

Start with ¼ tablet and work up to a full tablet over one week. Take with breakfast.

Four weeks, after working up to a full tablet

Sept 4

Oct 9

Low histamine diet

Follow guidelines here

Three weeks

Oct 16

Nov 3

Step #3: Follow through with the action plan. This is the challenging part! Here are a few tips to make it easier.

  • Don’t judge the change until the evaluation date. It can be exhausting to constantly wonder if the change is helping. I experienced this with a treatment for a family member. Her symptoms went up and down through the days and weeks. On days when her symptoms improved, we felt hopeful and excited. But our spirits were crushed on the bad days. The stress was worse than the symptoms!! We decided not to (or at least try not to) judge the treatment until it was finished, which was in two months. We got off the emotional roller coaster and felt much better.
  • Once you have done your research (the internet, consulting with practitioners, etc.) and made your action plan, try and take a break from additional research until you have finished your action plan. Give yourself a research holiday!
  • If you learn about a new treatment, don’t interrupt your action plan. Continue with your current change and add the new treatment to your action plan.

Action Planning Tips

Calm your mind with breathing “self-care breaks” throughout the day. Action planning is a lot easier if your mind is calm. Rhythmic, deep breathing and bringing your attention to your breath (feeling it leave or enter the body) calms the nervous system and refreshes the mind. There are many different breathing techniques and instructional videos on the internet. Yoga teachers can be a great help.

Get help from a coach. If you are struggling, action planning can seem like an impossible goal. A health coach can make this journey easier.  Ideally, your coach should be a professional. A registered dietitian is the best choice if you are making changes to your diet. If you don’t have access to a professional coach, ask a caring friend or family member.

Wendy Busse is a registered dietitian and nationally recognized expert in food sensitivity nutrition care. She specializes in helping food sensitivity clients expand their diet and eat healthy, enjoyable meals.  Her specialized nutrition consultative services are provided through videoconference allowing her to work with clients regardless of their location. Learn more at WendyBusse.com.

February 2018

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