It seems unlikely that eliminating one or two foods from an allergic child’s diet could have a significant effect on their growth and development, but research suggests it does.
Studies have revealed that kids with food allergies tend to be smaller than other children, and those allergic to more than a couple foods are generally smaller than kids allergic to one or two.
That’s why it’s important to regularly talk with your child’s doctor or allergist not only about what foods to avoid, but what foods to include in their diet for complete nutrition. To prepare for this discussion, consider writing down everything your child eats for several days prior to an office visit.
Ensuring Balanced Nutrition
Once you know which foods are important to include in your child’s diet, the focus should not be on making each meal perfectly balanced, but instead on providing a variety of nutritious foods throughout each day. To simplify this process here are some suggestions from registered dietitian Deb Indorato:
- First, list all the foods your child can eat—you might be amazed at the many food options still available.
- Second, separate the listed foods into meal categories (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks), and then separate each meal category’s foods into food groups (e.g. meats, veggies, fruits, dairy).
- Third, when planning or preparing a meal, choose a food from each food group to make sure you have a balance of nutrients.
- Use colored highlighters to mark your allergic-child’s favorite foods. You can also have other family members put initials next to their favorite items.
- For variety, add-in some unusual foods, or food from other countries.
- Regularly check the pantry and fridge to see how many “can eat” and “favorite foods” are on hand, and make a shopping list to restock items that are absent or in low supply.
“It is important to get familiar with the nutritional implications of removing foods from the diet. These tips will help you and your family eat right, your way, every day, even when your child has food allergies.” ~ Deb Indorato, RD