The life changing impact of addressing food sensitivities in children
by Margaret Evans, RN, BScN, CPCC
How do you know if the symptoms your child is experiencing are related to something they are eating? How do you distinguish the normal illnesses and behaviors of childhood from the ones being caused by a hidden trigger food in their diet?
The list of symptoms potentially related to food sensitivities is long and varied. Almost any and every part of the body can be affected and the impact on the lives of children and their family can sometimes be overwhelming. This chapter contains a check list that enables you to determine if food is likely at the root of your child’s health, behavior, or learning challenges. Many parents come to understand, often for the first time, that the wide range of symptoms their child and other members of their family are experiencing may all be related to a single trigger food that is being eaten on a regular basis. Once you have determined if food is the likely cause of your child’s challenges, the remaining chapters of the book help you identify the offending food and successfully remove it from your child’s diet. Ask A Question About This Topic…Return to top
Why does your child seem to develop colic, diarrhea, hyperactive behavior, chronic ear infections, asthma and learning challenges when they eat certain foods? Why do other people’s children seem to be able to eat a diet loaded with junk food while, despite your attempts to feed your child a healthy diet, they are plagued by chronic symptoms?
This chapter discusses the physiology behind food sensitivities in a simple and easy to understand format. The reasons that children develop the multitude of symptoms related to food sensitivities are explained as is the importance of the bowel in the immune function of the body. Definitions are given and the important distinction is made between food allergies and food intolerances – a topic crucial to both the understanding and treatment of your child’s symptoms. Ask A Question About This Topic…Return to top
Even if you do believe your child’s symptoms may be related to food, how do you ever figure out what the culprit might be? What do you do if your doctor has suggested that you remove the 10 most common offending foods from your child’s diet but you have no idea at all how to do it or if your family will cooperate?
It is common for parents to seek the help of a wide range of health care practitioners in an effort to improve their child’s symptoms. Whether the diagnostic tools these doctors use are elimination diets or other types of blood or skin allergy tests, the results are very often inaccurate or inconclusive. The complete family history and medical questionnaire in this chapter enables you to quickly identify the trigger food that is causing your child’s symptoms without the need for expensive and unpleasant tests. The remainder of the book then leads you though the process to successfully remove it from your child’s diet and to dramatically improve their health and behavior. Ask A Question About This Topic…Return to top
What if you know that a food in your child’s diet is causing their symptoms but you just can’t bring yourself to make the necessary menu changes? What if you really would like to try and remove an offending food but you are discouraged by all the criticism and resistance from other people in your life?
Change is difficult for all of us and resistance to change is normal. Unless we are highly motivated by a reason that is significant and important to us, we rarely change. This chapter identifies the stages of change and helps you determine how ready you really are to take on the challenge of adjusting your child’s diet. It also addresses the topic of grief and loss because the removal of favorite comfort foods from your family’s diet often produces a significant sense of sadness. These responses are normal and strategies are offered to make this process easier. Ask A Question About This Topic…Return to top
What excuses are you using to prevent yourself from taking on the challenge of removing the offending trigger food from your child’s diet – your over busy life, your high stress level, the negativity and criticism of others, your lack of support and help or your fear of standing up for yourself? What plans and strategies do you need to have in place before you begin in order to ensure your success?
Change is difficult for us all and the secret to successful change is planning. This chapter offers 10 different topics that impact your ability to be successful in addressing your child’s food sensitivities. Each section includes questions to help you get clear on how to address these issues in your own life. If you plan ahead and anticipate the places where you will feel challenged and temped to give in or give up, your chance of success is greatly increased. Ask A Question About This Topic…Return to top
Is your heart willing and are you anxious to begin the diet change but have no idea where or how to start? Does your family life seem so overwhelming that the idea of removing a commonly eaten food makes it seem impossible to figure out what to cook?
This chapter offers practical, real life solutions to the places where most parents struggle in changing the diet of their family. There is a list of things to do before you begin and a multitude of tips to help you along the way. Information is provided on how to add the trigger food back to your child’s diet so you can see if the removal of this food made any significant difference in your child’s symptoms. Parenting tips are also offered to support your efforts to maintain peace and harmony in your family in the midst of the changes you are undertaking. The chapter ends with a list of substitutions for common foods such as gluten and dairy to allow you to adjust your family’s favorite foods rather than introduce many new and unfamiliar tastes. There are also menu suggestions for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks to help you get started. Ask A Question About This Topic…Return to top
Are you curious whether or not a change in diet might improve your child’s autistic behaviors but afraid to try it because of their already limited diet and sensitivity to textures and tastes? Are you already so overwhelmed with your child’s challenges that you can’t imagine adding one more thing to your already run away life?
This chapter offers information on the current research related to the potential impact of diet change in children on the autism spectrum. While many parents consider trying a gluten-free/dairy-free diet or the specific carbohydrate diet, the concept often feels overwhelming due to the limited food choices of many of these children. Chapter seven summarizes the individualized approach to the identification of the offending trigger food that allows parents to maximize their child’s improvement while minimizing the number of foods that need to be removed from their diet. This chapter also encourages parents of children with other disabilities and diseases to complete the food sensitivity signs and symptom check list in chapter one. Parents may be able to dramatically improve their child’s quality of life by determining if the child’s diet may be contributing to the challenges already posed by their illness.Return to top
This chapter offers solutions to the most common challenges and situations posed by a change in the diet of a child or family. These solutions are organized by topic and offer everything from ideas on how to deal with the criticism of others to how to manage your child when they cheat. The ideas are practical and help you to realize you are not alone in sometimes finding these changes difficult. Ask A Question About This Topic…Return to top
This section contains my own personal story and that of my family. It is offered here in the hope it will inspire you to take your child’s problems seriously and step up to make the changes that may be required. Removal of the trigger food was life changing for both myself and my children and my story explores the real life challenges I faced along the way.Return to top