Children’s Food Allergy Checklist

Look below for information to help assess if your child has food allergies or intolerances, then find out what to do.

What constitutes a food allergy? A food allergy is an unnatural immune reaction to a specific substance in an otherwise harmless food. An allergy is diagnosed when antibodies are produced to combat the damage to tissues from substances that are perceived to be ‘foreign invaders’.  This in turn produces side effects that are felt as symptoms. If your child has a true allergy to a particular food, they have zero tolerance to it. Any time they consume any amount of it, an unnatural response is triggered in their body.

What is the difference between a food allergy and a food Intolerance? There is a difference between a food allergy and a food intolerance. Food intolerances have to do more with metabolism than immunity. With a food intolerance, the body does not have ability to produce a particular digestive enzyme needed to digest or metabolize a particular food constituent. There are different degrees of tolerance. If your child produces a little bit of lactase, for example, they may be able to tolerate a little bit of milk or cheese on occasion, with no symptoms at all.

Finding the level of tolerance by symptoms alone is not easy. Children who are lactose intolerant may not initially show obvious symptoms until they have reached their own particular threshold due to a thicker layer of mucus protecting the intestines.

Both food allergy and food intolerances are described as “food sensitivities”.

Hidden food sensitivities may be the leading cause of many undiagnosed symptoms. See “The 4 Most Common Food Sensitivities in Children” below.

Almost any food could be involved, depending on one’s unique biochemistry.

The 4 Most Common Food Sensitivities in Children

  1. milk products—milk, cheese, cottage cheese, ice cream and  yogurt.
  2. gluten grains—wheat, kamut, rye, triticale, spelt, barley and oats.
  3. refined and concentrated sugars—white sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar, sucrose and corn syrup.
  4. soy products – tofu, soy protein and soy cheese. Fermented soy products seem to be more easily tolerated (e.g. tempeh, natto and miso).
  5. If your child scores 6+ from any of these signs or symptoms, they may be suffering from food allergies or intolerances.

Common Signs or Symptoms [i]

  • Abdominal Pain/stomach aches
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Bed-wetting (after age eight)
  • Constipation
  • Chronic urinary tract infections
  • Diarrhea
  • Chronic ear infections
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Itchy ears
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Chronic tonsilitis
  • Heartburn
  • Canker sores
  • Excessive gas
  • Asthma
  • Vomiting
  • Catch colds easily
  • Nausea
  • Chronic respiratory infections
  • Headaches
  • Hay fever
  • Hyperactivity
  • Chronic runny nose
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Hives
  • Insomnia
  • Itchy skin
  • Nightmares
  • Skin rashes
  • Behavioral problems
  • Eczema
  • Learning disorders
  • Dark circles under eyes
  • Short attention span
  • Itchy eyes/eyelids
  • Drowsiness, sleepiness
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Awaken not feeling rested
  • Fidgeting/restlessness

What to do if your child has Food allergies or sensitivities? Eliminate the offending foods or substances for 14 days and reintroduce (testing one food or substance separately) the suspected food/substance 3 times a day for 3 days (a small amount will do) to see if there are any reactions (it can take up to 72 hours). This is called the ‘Elimination Diet’ and is used quite successfully. Keep a log of the foods that your child reacts to and eliminate them from the daily diet for 3 months. After 3 months, test again. A thorough explanation of the Elimination Diet is described for those who show high signs of Food Allergies from taking the Nutri-Body Questionnaire – comprehensive). The Nutri-Body Questionnaire -comprehensive tests for 65 nutritional and metabolic imbalances. For more information on the Nutri-Body Questionnaire, please visit the ‘Products/Services’ page and look under ‘Services-Membership Services’.

This information is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose disease, nor to engage in medical advice. For medical advise, please see a medical, health, or other competent professional.

Michale Hartte, BASc (Nutr), RNCP is a Registered Nutritional Consultant and offers Customized Online Nutritional Plans through her website.

[i] Hansen Debby, Nutrition in Practice, Parry Sound, Ont, Rowland Publications, pg 58