Food Sensitivities and Children, What are the Signs?


Food Sensitivities and Kids

By Kathryn Kos, NTP – Primal Bliss Nutrition

Often times as parents we get that “hunch” that something may be wrong with our child. We can’t pinpoint exactly what may be going on. They may be moody or withdrawn. They may have dark circles under their eyes, or dry itchy skin. Often times the child is reacting to a certain food in their diet. Children can react to a food in so many different ways. This guide is to help you determine if your child might be sensitive a certain food, and how to handle it.

What is the difference between a food allergy and a food sensitivity or intolerance?

People can only be truly allergic to a protein. An allergy is a normal immune response to an unfamiliar protein. Some allergies are inherited, MOST however, are the result of digestive problems and dietary stressors. Sensitivities and intolerances are an allergic-like reaction to a food that is not protein based. Food allergies usually come on suddenly when small amounts of the food have been ingested. Food intolerances usually come on gradually and are not life threatening. Often times we aren’t aware that it is a food causing our child is reacting to a food.

The most common foods children react to are gluten, corn, soy, nitrates, dairy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish/shellfish, seseme, and sulfites.

There are many other foods that children may react to, but these are the most common. In some of these foods the child is reacting to a mold. For example, peanuts are a high mold food, as are grapes and commercial fruit juices. Sinus type allergies like congestion are usually due to a dairy intolerance. Dairy can be very mucous producing. “Chicken skin” (that rough bumpy skin on the arms and legs) is usually associated with a wheat/gluten intolerance.

What are some of the signs/symptoms that your child might be reacting to a food?

  • iStock_000017790784Medium.jpgdifficulty swallowing
  • stomach aches (especially after eating)
  • skin rashes
  • diarrhea
  • constipation
  • irritability/moodiness/tired (especially after eating)
  • dark circles under eyes
  • acid reflux
  • congestion
  • frequent bed wetting in older children
  • rashes
  • eczema
  • dry skin patches
  • “chicken skin” on arms and legs (raised little bumps)
  • mood changes after eating such as hyperactive, jittery, depressed
  • shortness of breath
  • vomiting

It is important to recognize these signs, and then try to determine which food your child might be reacting to, so you can remove it from their diet. The best way to do this is to keep a food journal for your child, and record changes after each meal. Write the food, your child’s mood after eating it and any complaints as well. Sometimes you can notice a pattern. For example, every time my son has dairy, he gets amped up afterward. Once you notice a pattern you can try to remove the food you think he/she may be reacting too for several days. Then reintroduce it to see if your child reacts the same way. If they do react, you have your answer! You can also try the Coca’s Pulse test. Check your childs pulse for a full minute. Have them hold the food in question in their mouth for 30 seconds, then re-check their pulse.  If the pulse goes up 6 beats or more, they are probably sensitive to that food. There are food allergy skin tests that medical Doctor’s can do. These tests will pick up true allergies, and might not pick up a sensitivity/or intolerance. Some Doctors (mostly alternative) will order IgG food sensitivity blood testing. This will give a list of foods that the child might be reacting to. Another thing you can do is try an elimination diet. There are several out there. Usually it involves avoiding all highly allergenic foods like those I listed above for a period of time, and slowly reintroducing the foods one at a time to see how your child reacts to it.

Seasonal and pet allergies are often times caused by a permeable gut. What that means is the child may be reacting to certain foods in their diet. When the proteins of some foods are difficult to digest, these can pass through the gut and cause what is known as “leaky gut.” In a very summed up nutshell, the immune system then gets amped up to deal with these foreign proteins, and also may begin to fight other airborne invaders (like seasonal and pet allergies). Often times by healing the junctions in the gut (by removing offending foods), seasonal allergies may clear up as well.

I hope you found this helpful and informative!

Kathryn Kos

Kathryn Kos

~Kathryn Kos, NTP

If you have further questions feel free to e-mail me at

I am also taking on Nutritional Therapy clients locally in Ballston Spa, NY and I offer worldwide phone and skype consultations as well. You can reach me at (518) 260-9749 to schedule a consultation.

Stay In Touch with Primal Bliss Nutrition:  

Primal Bliss Nutrition
Living Well Spa
18 Low Street, Ballston Spa, NY 12020
(518) 260-9749

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