Food Allergies and Kids 101

Children | | October 12, 2009 at 7:01 am
Photo by Martino

Photo by Martino.

No matter how hard they tried, little Johnny’s parents couldn’t convince him to eat his vegetables! Johnny only wanted to eat dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets, chocolate milk, and sugar bear cereal. In school he was lethargic, had trouble focusing on the chalk-board, and often talked out of turn. This concerned his teachers as they urged Johnny’s parents to visit the pediatrician. Johnny’s pediatrician thinks he has ADD.

Sound familiar? We all know kids who are finicky eaters. In the US alone, about 3 million kids have been diagnosed with food allergy related illnesses. Gone untested or mis-diagnosed, children can suffer from serious long term digestive, immune, endocrine, and learning-related illnesses.

Parents, you are your child’s number one advocate! Spotting the signs and symptoms of food allergies early on means you’ll be able to have your child properly tested and on the road to health faster.

 

How to spot an allergy

The most common food allergies include wheat, cow’s dairy, soy, eggs, corn, peanuts, and seafood. While the range of food allergy related signs and symptoms are vast, take note of these biggies, especially if you notice several in a pattern.

  • Difficulty listening, concentrating, and staying on task
  • Recurring ear and upper respiratory infections
  • Digestive concerns including chronic nausea, diarrhea, cramping, and constipation
  • Chronic post-nasal drip, itchy nose and throat, sore throat, and clear nasal discharge
  • Fidgeting around, inability to sit still
  • Fatigue even after having slept at least 8 hours
  • Moodiness, hyper-activity, and acting out
  • Chronic overall body aches, sometimes hives

Take action

Most allergists employ RAST testing. This is a skin prick test.  It looks at a singular chemical process that our immune system elicits in an acute allergic phase, similar to sneezing or coughing in response to an allergen. A more accurate determination of food allergies is through blood testing. A comprehensive blood test looks at specialized chemicals that the immune system develops over time. Along with addressing how food allergies affect the entire system, this test also includes a wider variety of foods. This covers grains, dairy, meat, seafood, herbs and spices.

Most naturopathic physicians, acupuncturists, and holistic MDs can help you procure this testing and develop an allergy elimination plan that’s right for your child.

Adding variety to your child’s diet can be fun!

Once you’ve determined which foods the body doesn’t like, it’s time to introduce new foods into your child’s diet. What was once challenging can now be an interactive experience. Include your child in the process allowing them to take part in the selection and preparation of food. Pressed for time? Build in a weekly food prep activity and ready some of your family’s snacks and meals ahead of time. On Sunday while you’re making a batch of homemade soup for the next 3 days, let your child make themselves some decorative snacks. They’ll love the project and get to spend time with you doing something really fun!

Dr. Gibran suggests eating as many colors as possible. Eating bright colorful foods gives our brain a boost of dopamine. This enhances mood and increases focus.

Create fun food shapes

Kids are more inclined to eat their fruits and veggies if they appeal to their senses. Grab some cookie cutters and mold your child’s fruit and veggies into their favorite shapes! Watermelon, mangoes, sweet potatoes, and bell peppers work best.

Go shopping together

Take your child to the health food store and guide them to kid-friendly products. You’ll be happy to find healthy, cereals, snacks, wheat and dairy free alternatives that are decorated with zoo animals and cartoon characters.

My younger patients suggest these favorites to get your tot started:

  • Ian’s wheat free chicken and fish sticks.  First timers can visit their site for money-saving coupons
  • Envirokidz wheat free Koala Krisp cereal and yummy animal crackers
  • Chews Better Fruit Chews providing antioxidants and essential omega 3s
  • Want to try a sample pack of healthy snacks for your child? Visit the Healthy Snack Store for some cool new treats!

Parents, please share your food allergy success experiences to help our other WellWire readers!

ChristineChristine M. Dionese L.Ac. specializes in integrative medicine, medical journalism and was the VP of marketing at WellWire LLC. Visit her wellness and lifestyle blog, Reaching Beyond Now.

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5 Comments

  1. One of my favorite ways to test for food allergies or sensitivites is through EAV (Electro-Acupuncture according to Voll) testing. Although controversial as to its efficacy, this is a non-invasive technique that uses an electrode applied to acupuncture points on the hand. In my experience, EAV method is just as effective, if not more so than some of the other allergy-testing methods. I especially find this system to be great for children as it eliminates the need for needles.

    In health,
    Dr. Igor Schwartzman

  2. Sarah Hill says:

    I just recently learned about preventing allergies for my kids (http://www.bettermedicine.com/topic/allergies/) and I swear they only sneeze half the time now. It’s crazy how many things kids get into – and how many of those they can be allergic too!