How A Dietitian Can Help With Dietary Concerns, Food Allergies And Food Intolerances
Dietitians are experts in nutrition and an integral part of your journey with a child with food allergy or food intolerance. After first diagnosis of a food allergy it can feel overwhelming and hard to know how to alter your family foods and what foods to bake with.
You also may worry how your child will grow and develop with food restrictions. Some roles for the Dietitian in your child’s care are:
A Dietitian will assess your child’s growth and ensure your child is getting adequate calories and protein to grow well. This involves looking at weight and length/height of your child, which are plotted on growth charts. These and other assessments such as looking at your child’s skin, hair, eyes, energy levels will give me an understanding on whether we need to increase or decrease the calories for your child. Children with food allergy have been shown to have slower growth rates than those without due to dietary restrictions not meeting nutritional requirements. Therefore a Dietitian will you give advice on how food can be used to support growth and development.
Altering family foods to make them allergen free
Dietitians look at and discuss the foods that your family enjoy eating and help you find ways to change the recipe to allow for a food allergy/intolerance. For example if you want to make a roux (white) sauce for a dairy free child you would make up 1T margarine with 1T flour and mix with 1 cup soy/almond/oat milk to make a white sauce.
Advice on alternative milks
There are a huge variety of babies formulas and alternative milks on the market, but finding the right one can be challenging. A Dietitian help you find the right formula for your baby, or the right milk alternative for your older child or you Many alternative milks are low in calories and in protein, and may have inadequate calcium, so using them may affect growth and development. A dietitian can help you choose the right alternative milk to suit your child.
Identifying allergens on packaging and finding allergen-free foods
Reading food labels to identify allergens is very important to prevent an allergic reaction. A Dietitian can help people with food allergies to identify food allergens in a packaged food and whether ‘contains’ or ‘may contain’ allergens are a concern. The food industry has changed vastly over the past 5-10 years in the foods that can be offered to help those with food avoidance. The growth of gluten free, dairy free, soy free and egg free options is fantastic. Dietitians are experts at knowing about foods that would be suitable for your child.
A Dietitian can analyse your child’s diet to see if they are meeting their nutritional requirements. It is also important to look at nutrients, such as calcium in breastfeeding mothers who may not be meeting their needs for breastfeeding if they have to restrict dairy, egg, soy etc. A Dietitian will look at a diary of food and fluid intake over a week or ask you questions about usual diet to identify if your or your child is meeting their calcium, iron, zinc and vitamin needs. A Dietitian will also calculate what your child’s energy and protein requirements are to see if they are being met and give you advice on how to meet these with food.
Introducing allergens into your baby or child’s diet
For a healthy infant it is important to introduce all allergen foods around 6 months of age, and before 12 months to help reduce the risk of food allergy. If you are unsure how to do this, then a Dietitian can help you. Many children with food allergy and intolerance will outgrow their food restriction by 4-5 years old. Your Dietitian will work closely with your specialist to identify when the right time to introduce the foods your child is allergic to and do this using a stepwise approach.
When to See our Dietitian
If your child has food restrictions of major food groups such as milk, soy, egg, wheat, fish etc, then booking in to see the Dietitian online is a good way to start you on your journey. It is also good to have regular check-ups with the Dietitian to check your child’s diet supports growth and development for your child as they get older.
At Childrensonlineclinic we offer the Team of Allergy Paediatric Specialist and Dietitian To address your Childs Need.