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How to Recognize Food Allergies in Children

Food allergies in children are more common than we think. The human body is amazing! This is especially true if you consider the way children’s bodies try and warn them about foods that aren’t safe for them. Hives and red rashes are two of the most common ways to recognize food allergies. You can also look for recurring headaches, changes in your child’s bowel habits or upset or hurting stomachs. Other ways on recognizing food allergies are paying attention to what your child is saying and how they are behaving.

For instance, a child who doesn’t want to eat tomatoes because it “feels funny” or makes their tongue itch may not be trying to get out of eating this food. It could very well be a sign of an allergic reaction to this food, as was the case with a friend of mine. When she was little, she always complained about eating tomatoes but was made to finish them if they were on her plate. A few years later, she had allergy testing performed and it was discovered she was, indeed, allergic to tomatoes!

Although this is a more controversial means of detecting food allergies, there is more and more evidence supporting behavioral problems being linked to food allergies. My 10-year-old son was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome when he was 4-1/2. Instead of going the medication route with him (due to his young age) we chose to experiment with dietary and behavioral options. We have discovered he has gluten and casein allergies and is most affected by gluten in his diet (wheat, oat, bran, barley, modified food starch, etcetera). His teachers at school know when he has had wheat due to the drastic change in his behavior.

My son still has Aspergers Syndrome, and always will, however, by removing gluten and casein from his diet we have been able to help him control some of the more negative behaviors associated with his disorder (non-stop talking, humming, aggressiveness, flapping, spinning and not being able to focus on anything other then his special area of interest – in which he obsesses about).

Although it is important to speak with your doctor about changes in your child’s health, I have found many doctors are not as familiar with the impact a correct diet can have on people. It may be helpful for you to speak with a dietitian as well as your doctor when researching food allergies and dietary changes for your child. Elimination diets are a great option for discovering food allergies, especially if your child would not sit through a standard allergy test.

Identifying food allergies your child may have can greatly improve their quality of life while making your life easier too!