(NaturalHealth365) If you’re the parent of a school-aged child or someone who experiences learning difficulties, you understand first-hand how challenging they can be to manage. When concerned parents ask me if alternatives to strong pharmaceutical medications exist to help their child focus, the first question I ask is, “has your child been tested for food allergies?”
Approximately 6 million children in the United States experience food allergies. Experts like, Dr. Alessio Fasano, pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition specialist agree that undiagnosed food allergies largely contribute to learning difficulties and other serious health concerns in pediatric and adolescent populations.
Dr. Block, author of No More Ritalin has observed that food allergies may be one of the most pervasive culprits for learning challenges among kids today.
Is my child experiencing food allergies?
When continually exposed to a food allergy it can interfere with the brain’s ability to receive and process information. Along with trouble focusing at school or a learning disability your child has been labeled with, you may regularly observe fatigue, emotional or mental disorders and behavioral changes.
Tell-tale signs of delayed food allergies or sensitivities:
- Dark circles under the eyes
- Irritability or frustration
- Intermittent or ongoing digestive distress*
- Short-term memory and concentration issues
- Lack of appetite or no desire to eat a variety of foods
- Takes the child an excessive amount of time to complete homework and tasks around the house
*with delayed food sensitivities acute digestive concerns may not be present.
Get tested to discover food sensitivities
Most integrative health care providers know what it takes to objectively rule out food sensitivities and allergies. While the common offenders include wheat and other gluten containing grains, corn, soy and dairy, more obscure foods may still be responsible for your child’s delayed food allergies.
Recruiting an array of immunological assays, tissue biopsy and genetic testing will help you discover if your child’s learning difficulties could be improved with an allergy-elimination diet. Sometimes tests will come back negative for food allergies, but I’ve found that a strict allergy-elimination diet still offers significant improvement with learning issues.
Keep in mind, six to eight weeks without an ounce of the potentially offending foods is necessary to observe appreciable changes.
Eliminate allergy foods to improve mental focus and behavior
Once you’ve discovered which food allergies exist you can begin a well-balanced, allergy elimination diet. Before eliminating foods, ask your child to make a list of their favorites. This will allow you to help them choose healthy substitutes rather than focus on taking foods away.
If they’re old enough, take time to explain how they’ll be improving their wellness by incorporating new, healthier foods. Making children part of the process sets up the plan for success and builds confidence- a basic, yet easy to overlook step.
Tips to follow:
- Observe and keep a food journal to note changes in mood, behavior and focus.
- Ask your child engaging questions about school as well as feedback from advocates that will help you gauge progress.
- Remember that big changes to a child’s diet take time – be patient with them.
- Enlist the entire family to try new, healthier foods rather than single the child out.
- Get retested to track objective progress and improvements.
Adults experience learning difficulties due to food allergies too. Adult food allergies often fly under the radar because they’re not in a school-setting where teachers might observe learning difficulties. If you struggle with learning disorders, get tested to discover if food allergy elimination could help.
About the author: Christine M. Dionese L.Ac, MSTOM is an integrative health expert, medical journalist and food writer. She’s dedicated her career to helping others understand the science of happiness and its powerful effects on everyday human health. Christine practices, writes and speaks on environmental functional medicine, epigenetics, food therapy and sustainable living.