How do identify hidden food sensitivities in toddlers and children

A few weeks ago, I posted a series of questions on Facebook about signs of possible food sensitivities. It resulted in several personal messages to me. I thought I would post more on the relation between hidden food sensitivities in toddlers and what that looks like in terms of behavior and digestive problems. First let us take a look at the major physical symptoms:

  • Red, rosy cheeks, often cracked, sometimes just looks like they have blush (in Chinese medicine, the cheeks is associated to the stomach)
  • Dark circles under the eyes, often related to environment and/or food
  • Little bags under the eyes, despite the amount of sleep one gets. I call them baggies
  • Wiggly, restless legs, often squirmy, fidgety, cannot sit still
  • Red earlobes, often flushed after eating certain foods
  • Dislikes being touched, will push away or loves to be cuddled or often VERY clingly
  • Chronic runny noses, these kids constantly have snot coming out of their noses (we’ve seen those kids)
  • Nose rubbing and picking
  • Gas, foul smelling gas, nausea, constipation, diarrhea

Now, an allergist, naturopathic doctor or other alternative medical provider can often look at a child’s face and immediately see their allergies. I can see many allergic children on my personal Facebook account (and yes I do keep quiet unless I have been reached out too).

I recall as a child whenever my peditrician walked into the room, she would say, “Oh you have dark circles under your eyes, are you still having all of those allergies?” We did allergy tests and mine were environmental at the time. She was progressive back then, but not enough to relate it to food as scratch tests came out negative (understand that scratch and blood tests are all not 100% conclusive, a food elimination diet is the best way to determine what is ailing you and your family).

I can often tell by a child’s behavior now how that can be related to food sensitivities and blood sugar issues. They are very emotional children, chronic whiners, periods of hyperactivity and aggression soon after eating the offending foods. They are also sensory seekers and have mild to moderate Sensory Processing Disorders. Other behavior characteristics:

  • Temper tantrums, often lasting longer than 5-minutes
  • Excessive whining
  • Screaming, banging head against wall or other hard objects
  • Clingy
  • Hyperactivity
  • Aggression in the form of biting, hitting, spitting, pinching, punching, kicking

Well isn’t that just part of toddler behavior and them exploring their independence? Yes to a degree, but violent behavior that wears the parent out is out of the norm. If we think about how food affects our own behavior, it is ten times worse in a child whose brain has not yet fully developed to cognitively be aware of their behavior and control their behavior. Think about the side effects of food additives such as MSG, which is considered a neurotoxin (often associated with headaches, but also effects the brain in different ways) In fact many years ago, Gerber added MSG to baby foods after studies showed to cause harm in the hypothalamus of the brains of infant mice. Disgusting, I know.

So what is ailing your child?

Make a list of the top five foods you and your child eat the most. Take a good hard look and look for patterns of what food groups they eat the most. Is it gluten, dairy, soy, corn, sugar and/or artificial sugars? Are there food additives, food dyes or preservatives that are questionable? If it is high in carbs, then it may be a blood sugar issue. Balance each meal and snack with a protein and good fat. Try that route first.

Perhaps they LOVE bananas or another fruit or fruit juice ( which they don’t need anyway). It is often the foods we love and eat the most are the ones that cause us the most issues. If you decide to remove the offending food, try it for 21 days, however a complete elimination diet is important to really determine what foods are setting you and your children off not just one particular food group. The elimination diet could be a useful tool if many of your issues go away after eliminating certain foods. Just be sure to go to a qualified nutritionist to help you properly go through this elimination diet program.

Now ask yourself: Do I want to feel better for life? Do I want to help my kids feel better? What is stopping you from making those changes? Permanently? Remember, it is not a 30 day program, it is a program for life.

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