Food intolerances in children

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A food intolerance in children is generally not very severe is and often limited to digestive problems. Usually, there is something in the food such as a carbohydrate, food additive or something non-specific that causes symptoms in your child’s body; it is not a reaction to the protein in the food. It is recommended that the families only conduct an elimination diet when recommended by a physician, and under the guidance of a registered dietitian.

What is an elimination diet?

Healthcare providers most often employ elimination diets to manage a food allergy, or to diagnose or manage a food intolerance. In recent years, however, parents have been conducting elimination diets on their own to try to self-diagnose a child’s food intolerance. But while that might work for an adult, who might go carb-free or dairy-free, it’s different for a growing child. The biggest misinformation about elimination diets is that they are ‘healthier,’ but they are not necessarily safe for kids. Cutting out a major food group can significantly impact a child’s total nutrient intake and inhibit growth. This is why the expert advice and guidance of a nutritionist and dietician is necessary.

What are the usual symptoms of a food intolerance?

Symptoms of food intolerance vary by individual, the type of food that causes the reaction, and the amount of the food eaten. Problematic food eaten in small amounts may cause no symptoms, while larger portions may cause great discomfort. Symptoms may include:

• Nausea• Nausea
• Stomach pain or cramps
• Gas or bloating
• Vomiting
• Heartburn or acid reflux
• Diarrhea
• Constipation
• Headaches, migraines
• Skin rash or flushed skin
• Hives
• Fatigue
• Irritability or nervousness (from caffeine intolerance)
• Anemia

What could cause food intolerances?

There are several causes for food intolerances. Let’s take a look at some of them.

– The lack of an enzyme needed to digest a certain food group such as lactose, gluten or fructose. Sometimes gas could build up after eating vegetables like cabbage and beans.

– Sensitivity to certain chemicals in food such as Monosodium Glutamate (MSG used in enhancing flavors), Salicylates (natural chemicals that are produced by plants as a defense against insects and disease, and are found in fruits, vegetables, teas, coffee, nuts, spices and honey), Amines (produced by bacteria in food during storage or fermentation. Amines are found in bananas, pineapples, avocados, citrus fruits, chocolate, cured meat, smoked fish, aged cheese) and caffeine (coffee, tea, soda and energy drinks).

– IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). While this condition may not be prevalent in such young age groups, it is possible. The condition is not physically damaging, but can put one in a lot of discomfort and pain and also considerably restrict their diet.

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