How to test for food sensitivities
The question everyone is asking! In short, allergies, usually appear immediately. For food intolerances, the ‘gold standard’ is to remove the food for a period of time (depending which). Fast forward three days, if the symptoms disappear and then reappear on introduction (up to three days later…!), your child has a food intolerance.
Food intolerances are quite different to food allergies. Get to know the differences, so you know whether you are testing for allergies or intolerances or both. With intolerances and allergies, you can be sure your child is sensitive. And if your child has one food sensitivity, they possibly have more… both allergies and intolerances. It is very useful to know what your child is sensitive to. This can allow you to cater to those sensitivities and avoid inflammation, which can lead to disease and cancer later in life.
Here are some options for testing your child. The interesting thing is that no two professionals will definitely give you the same advice. Please note that this is general advice and opinions so you can know which direction you are interested in taking. Consult your doctor, specialist or holistic health professional to make an informed decision.
|Allergies – food and other|
|Skin prick test
Common allergens are presented to a child’s arm that has been pricked, to open the skin. Readings are taken as to the skin’s reaction to these.
|Immediate results||Somewhat invasive for a child|
|Some places cheaper than others depending whether done through a specialist or a specialist GP||Can be confusing as it does not give readings for intolerances – results may be negative (but family does not know about intolerances) or families may think there are only allergies to worry about & not consider intolerances also|
|Allergies – food and other|
|IgE blood test
Blood test, testing a range of common allergens.
|Immediate results||Invasive for most children|
|Useful if life-threatening allergy, to avoid skin contact|
Remove a particular food for 3 days or longer. If the child’s symptoms appear better and then worse, up to 3 days after re-introduction, this indicates a food intolerance. Gluten & dairy require longer. A dietitian should be consulted if removing several foods at once (eg. FODMAPS, RPAH Failsafe diet)
|Gold standard as far as diagnosing food intolerance – no ‘false negatives’||It can be stressful for both child & parent to eliminate beloved foods, particularly if too young to understand (which may not be necessary, if not the culprit)|
|Non invasive, not expensive||It can feel like stabbing around in the dark, if no one to guide you|
|The child and family members can see the results firsthand||It can get tricky to identify culprits if removing more than one food. It has to be done quite strictly.|
This approach is not backed by research however is claimed to be exact by many. Some of the pros make it worth a try for some. Food testing is mostly done by naturopath/kinesiologists.
|Results are rapid||Some find it too hard to fathom how the ‘muscle testing’ works|
|Can test for differences between foods – brands, organic vs conventional & even non-food items (eg. sunscreen, soaps)|
|You can test for as many or as few items – this will change the price depending how many sessions you spend|
|Can be a good start towards an elimination diet|
|MSAS biodermal screening
Computerized health analysis, giving you a print out of ~150 common allergens.
|Non invasive||Not well known|
|Provides extra health information eg. parasites, state of organ health, infections|
|Provides a range of reactivity for each item|
|IgG blood test
Whilst this blood test does exist, it is not researched to be completely accurate. Other means would be desirable to use first.
|Results are more rapid than elimination diet||Can be expensive – the more foods tested|
|Can give a place to start (even to elimination diet from there), but may give an incorrect lead to begin with||Can give false negatives|
|Invasive for most children|
Of course, once you have decided which might be an option for you and your child, you will then need to go and research the options in your local area. Remember to put the word out for recommendations!
And say you do get sent off with a sensitive child with several food sensitivities…it can be overwhelming. This is where I come in, to be the stepping stone for families as they transition to a new lifestyle with different foods and different challenges in negotiating your child’s ‘food events’ (aka tuckshop, birthday parties, family gatherings). Not only do you need to get your head around where the allergens may be hiding, but also in convincing your child of new foods at the same time researching what to cook and where to buy it. So make contact and we can book a FREE Direction Session to see what your next best steps are. I would love to help you and take the guesswork out of it all. It does not have to be stressful, I promise!
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