Food sensitivities are linked to skin issues like eczema, ADHD, bloating, IBS (and constipation), Autism, behavioral problems, developmental delay, epilepsy and more. So how do you figure out if and what foods are harming your child’s gut?
First, I must start with noting that there is a large difference between food allergies and food sensitivities. A true food allergy causes an immune system reaction that affects numerous organs in the body. It can cause a range of severe or life-threatening symptoms. Food intolerances (sensitivities) effect the gut and, in turn, can cause reactions throughout the body. Allergies can be found through IgE testing, and sensitivities can be found through elimination diet, food panels, and IgG testing. Let me clarify that this article is specific to food sensitivities.
35 years of research was studied to find that Artificial Food Colors, benzoate, and a laundry list of foods are all very much linked to causing ADHD, as well as the above mentioned challenges. It was found that a complete elimination diet was recommended to figure out the exact triggers for each child suffering. (For example, one study showed that after eliminating trigger foods, children who suffered from chronic eczema showed 100% signs of relief and improvement.)
What is an Elimination Diet?
The purpose of an elimination diet is to discover symptom-triggering foods. There are several well-known elimination diet, the most recommended (and extreme) being GAPS. ‘The Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS)’ is a wonderful book that I suggest you read as you journey through this challenging time. It will open your eyes to just how important it is to heal the gut, and how completely eliminating foods and beginning with a pure, whole foods’ bone broth aids to truly solving your chronic problems. While GAPS is extreme and very hard to stick to in the beginning, it is well worth the hard work.
Whole30, Feingold, FODMAP and many other elimination diets are slightly easier to follow and will also help pinpoint exact food intolerances. These diets will not heal the gut, but they are a great start and will give you answers.
The most common foods to cause reactions include:
- Dairy (lactose and casein)
- Corn (including corn meal and corn starch)
- Corn Syrup (in all forms and all names)
- Hydrogenated Oil
- Processed Foods
- All citrus fruits and juices
- Artificial sweeteners
Many of these foods are known to be highly inflammatory, which of course means they cause inflammation within the body and trigger chronic pain and problems that can be different in each individual.
An elimination diet is not instant relief. It takes weeks for foods to clear from the system. Once you are symptom free for 8-weeks, you begin to slowly reintroduce foods one at a time to look for reactions. When a reaction occurs, eliminate the trigger food and do not add in another until you are baseline again.
It is important to note:
- The offending foods can be your favorites, the foods you often crave.
- If you are affected by several foods, eliminating only one may make little difference with your symptoms.
- You may find that you can have a small amount of a trigger food without observing symptoms, while a larger amount causes a reaction. I call this the cup theory. Your gut is like an empty cup, it can only fill so full before overflowing and triggering symptoms.
- Your tolerance may be impacted by several factors; natural hormonal fluctuations may make you more sensitive.
- Your triggers can change over time.