Food Sensitivity vs. Allergy vs. Intolerance

Igor Klibanov
7 min readAug 17, 2023

Should I get a food sensitivity test?” My clients, readers and audiences will frequently ask me. To which I’ll answer that question with another question (yeah, it’s a Jewish thing): “what do you hope to get out of the test?

Why do I ask this question? A couple of reasons:

  1. I can’t give a straight answer.
  2. I want to see if the test that they want to get is indeed testing what they want to test.

And that’s what we’ll talk about in this newsletter — the difference between food allergies, food sensitivities and food intolerances, as well as what they do and don’t tell you.

Original source: here.


These 3 terms are often used interchangeably, but they are different things. So let’s give some definitions.

Food allergies are the most well-known. They’re severe and immediate. For instance, if you have a peanut allergy, within a matter of seconds of eating that peanut, your throat may shut. Or if you have a shellfish allergy, in a matter of minutes to hours, your skin breaks out in hives.

Food sensitivities, by contrast are subtle and delayed. For instance, you eat gluten (found in wheat, rye and barley), and in a few days your joints are…



Igor Klibanov

Igor Klibanov is the author 7 books on exercise and nutrition, including 2 bestsellers. Read more of his articles at