How to know if your Child has Food Allergies or Intolerances
By Nadia Shaw, Naturopath, Flannerys Organic & Wholefood Market
We see on a daily basis customers shopping with us or seeking more advice on food allergies and intolerances, in particular, we have a lot of parent who are unsure if their child has a food intolerance. With Food Allergy Week on May 13th – 19th we wanted to highlight some more information around this common area that families face.
Food Allergies are a condition where the body creates antibodies (immunoglobulin E (IgE)) in reaction to certain allergens (proteins) in some foods. The antibodies react to the allergen and this generates histamine and other inflammatory chemicals causing an allergic reaction. Symptoms can come on rapidly and can include nausea, rashes, swelling of the mouth and breathing difficulties. When this reaction is severe it is called anaphylaxis, and will require urgent medical attention. Parents of children with food allergies will need to create an action plan with their child’s GP and notify the childcare centre or school. Common food allergens include: eggs, milk, tree-nuts, soy, peanuts, wheat, rye, oats and barley.
Food hypersensitivities also involve the immune system reacting to foods, but do not involve making IgE antibodies. Coeliac disease falls into this category. Symptoms of coeliac disease can include gut symptoms such as diarrhoea, constipation, flatulence, cramping, bloating, abdominal pain, nausea and nutritional deficiencies. When gluten, the protein found in wheat, oats, barley and rye is ingested by people with coeliac disease their immune system reacts badly and causes damage to the lining of their small bowel. This is a lifelong disease that needs to be diagnosed and monitored by a doctor and requires a strict adherence to a gluten-free diet.
Food intolerances do not involve the immune system and reactions are often mild and can occur over a few days after ingesting offending foods. A dietician, nutritionist and/or naturopath may assist parents to find food triggers usually using a food diary to journal food intake and monitor symptoms. Symptoms may include headaches and fatigue and gut symptoms such as bloating and diarrhoea. Lactose intolerance is well known, but food intolerances can be linked to a wide variety of foods including wheat, rye, barley, oats, soy, milk, chocolate, certain fruits and vegetables and food additives and chemicals such as preservatives and colourings.
In store we have a huge selection of foods to use for preparing delicious meals for children with food allergies, coeliac disease and food intolerances. We have a wide variety of gluten-free brands, dairy-free foods such as vegan ice-creams, cheeses and spreads and options which cater for people with multiple allergies and intolerances. Our selection of alternative flours and unique ingredients are great in recipes catering for dietary changes and restrictions.
Helpful Tips for Parents of Children with Food allergies and intolerances
- Educate your childcare centre or school about your child’s food requirements.
- Prepare snacks for birthday parties and school events so your child doesn’t miss out.
- Make variations of foods your kids already love.
- Include your child in the shopping and food preparation experience.
- Eat together as a family as regularly as possible.
- Focus on all the variety of foods you can eat in a positive manner.
This article is for educational purposes only. Always seek health advice from your healthcare professional.
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