If your child complains about tummy aches and has bouts of constipation or diarrhoea it could well be a sign of food sensitivities.
Food sensitivities differ to food allergies even though intolerances can cause some of the same signs and symptoms as a food allergy, people often confuse the two.
Doctors at the Mayo Clinic describe the differences in the body’s reaction.
“A true food allergy causes an immune system reaction that affects numerous organs in the body. It can cause a range of symptoms.
In some cases, an allergic reaction to a food can be severe or life-threatening.
In contrast, food intolerance symptoms are generally less serious and often limited to digestive problems.”
It is also said that food sensitivities can lead to behavioural issues in children.
How can they get on with the business of childhood play, learning and growth if they are suffering discomfort in their gut?
Karina Francois is a naturopath at Infinite Health Practice who has helped hundreds of families says, “There are many pieces of a puzzle that we use in giving a family the solutions that a child may need. We look at digestion, anxiety, spinal issues as well as food sensitivities.”
A simple blood test can identify, elevated antibodies to food allergens and delayed food sensitivities (IgG). These allergies may be contributing to undue inflammation in the body and exhibit many symptoms such as persistent stomach aches, recurrent ear aches and infections, eczema, hyperactivity, reflux and diarrhoea.
From the test results, Karina formulates a strategy with the family to eliminate the offending foods and reduce the symptoms.
How do parents go about choosing healthy options for their kids if they are intolerant or allergic to certain foods?
In a consultation I would talk with the families through their child’s symptoms, analyse the results of any testing and work on a plan to eliminate the food causing the sensitivity from their diet.
If kids are allergic or intolerant to particular food how can parents make sure they aren’t missing out on important areas of nutrition?
Because there is such a vast difference between allergies and intolerances/sensitivities I would recommend seeking expert advice. The key is education. By eating a really wide variety of foods in a broad diet they won’t miss out; rice, meat veg. Many greens are very high in calcium for those who are sensitive to dairy.
What are some tips to keeping the grocery bill down when it comes to kids with dietary needs, I’ve noticed specialty ‘gluten free’ items are ridiculously expensive?!
I would keep those as occasional foods, treats for parties, not everyday healthy eating. Some of the ingredients are poor substitutes of the real thing and offer little nutritional value.
What about portion sizes for kids – and even adults?
Adults eat far too much, 5 meals a day. Often a poor diet results in being hungry for nutrients, not calorie hungry. When it comes to kids portion sizes for kids, it depends on their hormonal and growth development, so go by feel.
How can parents make sure their kids eat their lunch at school? I know it is a huge bug bear of many of our mums, kids coming home with half their lunch still in the containers and then they raid the cupboards! Grr!
Get them involved in the food prep and lunch packing, include them, it gives them a sense of ownership and will also help their self esteem. Focus on the things they like rather than putting too much emphasis on things they don’t.
For children that may be a little on the fussy side, how can parents introduce new foods without hearing the dreaded and whiney, ‘I don’t like iiiiiiiiiiitttttttttt’? (My 3yo is the best at it!)
The developmental stage of a 2.5 year-old is to behave directly contrary to how parents want them to, by 3 they start to conform. All you can do is keep trying.
What would you like to see parents encourage more of when it comes to kids and food?
I’d love to see people encourage more natural foods, less processing.
Teaching kids to cook, teaching of food sources and much more colour in the variety of foods eaten.
We parent until an age and then we become their coach.
For more info check out Karina’s website Infinite Health Practice.