Deconstructing Industrial Food Sickness

by Sarah Healthy LivingComments: 43

My whole family ate dinner last night at Beef O’Brady’s with a bunch of friends after a soccer game..   I hate Beefs because everytime I eat there I usually leave feeling pretty rotten.   And, if I don’t feel terrible when I walk out of the place, it is a pretty good bet that I will feel terrible within a few hours or the next morning when I wake up.

It certainly wasn’t my choice to go to Beef O’Bradys.   If it was up to me, I would have chosen some other restaurant that wasn’t a chain.

Chain restaurants serve the worst quality food, have you noticed?  To get a decent meal, you really need to go to a sole proprietorship type of restaurant where the cook is usually the owner (or at least milling around the kitchen area) and there is some degree of pride in the quality of the food that is served.

But, you can’t live in a bubble, especially if you have children.   When a bunch of friends want to go to Beef O’Brady’s to hang out after the big game, you go along and try to eat whatever will cause the least amount of pain and suffering later.

I’ve tried the “I’m going home to eat” approach and found that it just doesn’t work very well.   Socializing with friends over a meal is a big part of getting to know folks and enjoying their company.   Figuring out how to navigate the processed food landmines at a place like Beefs is just part of learning how to stay healthy in a world of garbage food.   It isn’t easy, but it’s just part of the challenge.

All this blah blah blah about Beef O’Brady’s is a roundabout way of bringing me to the main point of this blog:    Industrial Food Sickness, also known as IFS.

What is Industrial Food Sickness anyway?

Anyone who has embarked upon an unprocessed, Real Food lifestyle instinctively knows exactly what I’m talking about here.

Food That Will Cause Industrial Food Sickness

Industrial Food Sickness is the short term illness folks experience when they eat highly processed, msg and additive laden food when their diet is unprocessed, nutrient dense, and whole foods based the majority of the time.


Dealing with IFS is one of the biggest concerns folks express to me when they transition to the unprocessed, Real Food way of life to experience their best health.

“Why can’t I eat out anymore without feeling terrible for 2 days afterward?”


“Church and school potlucks make me feel ill and I find that I don’t enjoy going anymore, why is that?”

Why do folks suddenly become prone to IFS?   Why do foods that never seemed to bother you before you began to eat healthy suddenly keep you up all night with any combination of IFS symptoms:   stomach cramps, headache, vomiting, diarrhea, joint pain, dizziness, and the most common symptom:  absolute exhaustion (note:  I zonked out on the couch for about an hour after getting home from Beefs).

The reason is because when you start eating whole, unprocessed Real Food the majority of the time, your gut begins to heal.    Beneficial bacteria begin to re-establish dominance over the gut pathogens that have been ruling the roost for years, maybe even decades.    Nutrient absorption improves tremendously as the perforations in the gut wall begin to heal and the enterocytes that are responsible for breaking down our food into particles that can be absorbed into the blood grow stronger with each passing day.

Throw some highly processed, additive laden food into this improving gut environment and suddenly, the entire healing process takes a violent step or two backwards.   Processed food does not nourish beneficial gut flora;  it encourages the growth of pathogens.   This is why even a single meal of highly processed foods can cause a rapid surge of the gut pathogens at the expense of the beneficial flora.   This battle between good and bad bacteria in your gut is what makes you feel so tired and sick after a meal at a typical American style restaurant, a potluck, or a birthday party with supermarket cake and high fructose corn syrup juice boxes.

Industrial Food Sickness can be compared to a teetotaler drinking a fifth of vodka and ending up in the Hospital Emergency Room with alcohol poisoning whereas a drunk doing the same thing would show little signs of drunkeness.

The difference is that the drunk is used to it!  


Does being “used to it” mean that the fifth of vodka isn’t harming the drunk?

Absolutely not!   The drunk’s liver is still getting slammed every time he drinks a fifth of vodka.

Similarly, just because you used to be able to go to Beef O’Brady’s and eat whatever you wanted and not feel sick for 2 days does not mean that it wasn’t devastating your insides!

Be thankful that now your body has healed enough from your Real Food lifestyle to tell you that it is in distress from the garbage you just fed it!

Industrial Food Sickness is your canary in the mine that what you just ate wasn’t the best of choices.

I used to detest Industrial Food Sickness.   It used to bother me that I couldn’t eat garbage food anymore without feeling terrible.

Now I realize that IFS is just a signal that my body is so much healthier than before.   My body is well enough to feel sick when it is assaulted by processed food instead of just numb.   That is a very good thing!

If you are reading this and you haven’t ever experienced Industrial Food Sickness, I would recommend that you change over to the Real Food Lifestyle as quickly as possible.   You are like the drunk drinking a fifth of vodka and not feeling a thing.   Your body is so messed up it has become numb to the pain.

Industrial Food Sickness is the one illness you want to experience as it is a very strong deterrent to eating the foods that will bring you chronic ill health.  It’s also a very good sign that your health is improving!

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

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