Dr Julie Durnan

Q: Dear Dr. Julie – My 7 year old daughter does not have any digestive complaints, but I’m wondering if food allergies may be affecting her. She seems to have low energy, suffers from recurrent colds, and has attention difficulties. Could foods be to blame? Please help! Sincerely, Mama Frustrated by Foods

Thank you, Mama Frustrated with Foods, for your great question. I’m so happy you asked. Food allergies are often misunderstood and in my opinion, are often under-diagnosed.

So let’s clear a few things up right now.

When parents are on the lookout for food allergies in children, they usually search for obvious symptoms like tummy aches, vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation.

But food allergy symptoms come in many shapes, sizes, and disguises.

Honey Intolerance Cartoon

Many food allergy symptoms are vague and they are not always related to digestive complaints.

Over 200 conditions and symptoms are caused or worsened by foods.

And this makes sense. Food is what we use to constantly fuel our bodies, every few hours, all day long.

So if we are feeding our bodies the wrong foods on a regular basis, we will suffer the consequences and reactions will occur.

Even if your child isn’t displaying any digestive disturbances, it’s very possible she may be showing signs of food allergies in other parts of her body.

Parents are often surprised by this list. Here are five signs of food allergies in children that are often overlooked:

1)    Growing pains

Most children experience growing pains at some point. Parents often treat these pains as something that needs to be accepted and moved through. Often children suffering with muscle and joint pains are treated with Tylenol, Advil or other pain relief.

But there is a reason why some children get these pains and others do not.

Food allergy is a major cause and exacerbating factor for leg pains in the night.  Once children’s food allergens are detected and the culprits cleared from their diet, tremendous relief can be found from these night-time aches.

2)    Bedwetting

Recurrent bedwetting is most certainly affected by food allergies. Irritated bladders, bladder infections and inability to control night-time urination are all conditions that are caused and aggravated by food allergies. Removing the culprit foods and soothing the bladder with specific herbal medicines (Chamomile, Marshmallow, Corn Silk teas) can bring relief and stop the cycle of bedwetting.

3)    Attention and Hyperactivity

Focus, fidgeting, interrupting, and the constant need to move characterize most diagnoses of ADD and ADHD. But these same symptoms are caused and exacerbated by food allergies.

Children who remove common allergens such as gluten and dairy often find they are better able to focus in class, follow instructions, and sit for longer periods of time.

4)    Runny nose

That constantly dripping nose in your child – it’s probably not from a recurrent cold. It’s most likely symptomatic of something in your child’s diet. Certain foods are mucous forming, especially milk and other dairy products.

Does your child have a crease or line above her nose from constant nose wiping? If yes, then she is probably wiping her nose in an upward motion with her hand or sleeve, resulting in a wrinkle setting in above her nose. Consider the possibility that instead of a viral response, your child may have a food allergy and be reacting to something she is exposed to on a daily basis.

5)    Obesity

Sure, eating high calorie foods can increase weight in children, but eating the wrong types of foods can wreak havoc on their metabolisms. Food allergies can destroy the beneficial bacteria in children’s guts and slow their metabolisms down for years to come.

Many studies have examined the link between food allergies and obesity in children. One of the most impressive studies was done in Europe. The researchers found that overweight children had a 300% higher level of an inflammatory marker (known as CRP, or C-reactive protein) and a 250% higher level food allergies (IgG antibodies to foods). Keeping children free from allergens and in a healthy weight range can do wonders for their health and overall immune function.

Clearing aggravating food allergens from children’s diets can improve their gut bacteria balance, boost metabolism, enhance hormonal function, and allow for optimal growth.

I encourage all parents to look for foods that may be adversely affecting their children. Figuring this out early is important and can allow your child to thrive in all areas of her life!

How about you? Can you relate to this mama and any of these symptoms? If this resonated with you, please share it using the buttons below. We can all benefit from learning about these hidden allergies.


Dr Julie Signature BLACK