With typical atopy you already know what the symptoms are and the degree of discomfort they may cause.  The discovery that needs to be made is the determining cause of those symptoms and the cause is, very often, something in the diet or something that gets into the alimentary canal through being breathed in and then swallowed in the mucous that flows from the lungs and nasal membranes.

Most of us eat a very wide range of food elements.  When we add a sauce or flavouring to a dish we are usually adding a complex premix of ingredients – flavours, stabilisers and preservatives.

For some, the causative food element is difficult to pin down. For others, their behaviour is a good indicator of the source of their illness.  If a person with atopic symptoms is also a fridge raider, or pantry raider, check what is being consistently selected by them in their raids.  Some go for dairy-based foods – cheese, milk chocolate, ice cream.  Others may focus more on bread and cereal snacks.  Their key choices will often be the foods causing their atopic symptoms.

It helps to understand a bit of biology to get to grips with food families.  The author considers dairy produce and beef and its derivatives – suet, dripping and gelatine – to represent one food family: ‘foods of bovine origin’.  If the packet label says ‘gelatine’, suspect bovine origin.  If the label says pork gelatine or pig gelatine, it is not likely to bring about a reaction that may have occurred with beef gelatine.  On the other hand, many who react to foods of bovine origin also react to foods derived from sheep and/or goat.  This is because these animals may have evolved from a common ancestral form.  Also, once reactions to any foods have occurred, there is the strong likelihood of new food intolerances towards foods that are eaten very frequently.

Similarly with vegetable foods, it helps to realise that tomatoes, potatoes, chillies, aubergines and peppers, for example, are all in one botanical grouping that is known as the Solanaceae, or nightshade family; this family also includes the very poisonous nightshades, henbanes and angels trumpets, or thorn apples, that are not part of our normal diet.

The great secret in the process of discovery is to remember that there are foods that, immediately they are eaten, make you feel unwell in some way.  There are also foodstuffs that give you a false sense of well-being, but cause a range of unpleasant symptoms when their consumption is halted for a day or so – the most unpleasant symptoms arising after about 3 days.  These latter foods are the ones that provoke addictive eating and tend to cause the most harm to many body systems.  It pays to follow a simple and carefully recorded daily diet to help you decide which foods may be causing you damage.  Always suspect foods of bovine origin first.  When these are removed completely from the diet you have more chance of quickly finding other provocative foods.