Do I need to add milk to his meals? He reacts to milk a lot, I think he’s allergic to milk. Can you create a meal combination that doesn’t require milk because my baby doesn’t like milk?
The questions above are two different moms with similar requests and concerns. The words; Allergy, Intolerance and even outright hatred is used interchangeably by moms when it comes to describing their children’s reactions to food.
Media exposure on food allergies have been on the rise making it easier for moms to get confused however, what is really very common is FOOD INTOLERANCE.
While the symptoms of these two words might appear to be similar, they are entirely different conditions. Food Intolerance can make life very miserable for parents because it’s hard to pinpoint what exactly is causing intolerance. Symptoms are usually slower and may even take up to days to show up.
So is your child allergic or intolerant to a food?
WHAT IS FOOD INTOLERANCE?
Food intolerance refers to difficulty in digesting certain foods. Also known as delayed food allergies. They do not trigger the immune system but are a digestive system response to a particular ingredient in food. Also worthy of note is the fact that intolerance is dose related. Your child might be able to tolerate some foods in small quantities but won’t be able to handle it in higher quantity. Foods most commonly associated with intolerances include dairy products, soy, grains containing gluten, etc.
HOW DO I KNOW IF MY CHILD IS HAVING AN INTOLERANCE
- Colic syndrome (fussiness, inconsolable ear piercing screams
- Skin Rashes around the mouth
- Interrupted Sleep
- Green frothy stools
- Blood & Mucus in the stools
- Bringing the knees up in pain
Not an exhaustive list but if any of these symptoms starts hours after or days after a particular meal, then your child might be having an intolerance.
In toddlers and older kids, symptoms may include;
1. Headaches and Migraines
2. Runny Nose
HOW CAN I DETERMINE WHICH FOOD MY BABY IS INTOLERANT TO?
Determining the cause of an intolerance might be confusing for some mums chiefly because it takes a while before symptoms appear. However, there are non-medical ways of determining intolerances. These include;
- Trial and Error: – take a look at your little one ate at the last meal before the reactions and decide possible foods which might cause reactions especially if the possible intolerant foods are among. For a more accurate guess, it might help to keep a food diary.
- Elimination Diet: – here, you eliminate all suspected foods from the last meal before the reaction for at least 2 weeks or more. Then re-introduce them one at a time watching for reactions and tolerance.
HOW DO I TREAT INTOLERANCE?
The symptoms of intolerance are usually mild and non-life threatening.
However, it’s best to visit your doctor to determine the best course of treatment for the symptoms. With time, as your child grows, you will know how best to treat each symptom.
HOW CAN I PREVENT A RECURRENCE
- Learn which foods and what amounts can cause your baby to develop symptoms and limit intake to the amounts they can handle. You can do this by serving foods in small amounts.
- Know food groups. If your baby reacted to a particular food in a group, chances are he will react to another food in the same group. Avoid all foods in that group. Eg. If your baby is intolerant of one grain that has gluten, there’s possibilities of reactions with other gluten containing grains.
- Learn to read food labels, check ingredients and quantities used.
- Be cautious when at parties. Don’t be afraid to ask questions on what is being served and ingredients for your baby’s sakes.
This article was contributed by
De-healthystart Foods Nigeria
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