My daughter doesn’t technically have an allergy, but she is restricted to not eating gluten because of her celiac disease.  I still found this new study very interesting about the impact food elimination can have on a child.

The study reported in the August issue of Clinical and Translational Allergy shows removing certain foods can  have an impact on behavior, attitudes around food and their social life!

Food Allergies’ Impact on Kids

107 food allergic patients and their mothers filled out a questionnaire (mean age of 4-6).  They were divided into two groups: ages 0-5 and 6-11.  Results of the questionnaire showed what many of us may know deep down– but don’t want to have happen. Most are pickier eaters, who only eat the same things over and over and avoid some social situations because of food.

“The results showed school-aged children are significantly less interested in tasting new foods…than younger children,” the study reported.

76% of the kids said they had a “monotonous” diet– the causes (according to the study)?

  • Strict avoidance
  • Difficulties in making traditional recipes
  • Limited choice of food industry-safe products
  • Low curiosity about food.

As for attending social events that involve food, here’s how they responded:

  • 17.5% of older children said they never attend parties
  • Of those who do attend — they always or sometimes eat only “safe foods”, bring foods from home or do both (results were similar for younger children)

Researchers concluded by saying, “The results underline the impact of food allergy in reducing interest about food and in influencing patients’ approach to social life. It is important to support families in arousing curiosity in children, suggesting recipes for a varied and stimulating diet.”

My Take

While I always hoped this kind of thing wouldn’t happen, this study confirms it –even in our house.  I know we get in a rut of eating the same things over and over– in part because it’s hard to translate those old family favorite recipes into new allergy free ones.  Or another thought I had was, it was YEARS before I had any inkling of interest in trying to make those cooking/recipe changes.  My issue was (and sometimes still is) that I am scared my cooking/baking attempts will just wind up being a waste of good (and expensive) ingredients! Anyone else??

Emma still isn’t very adventurous in eating (she doesn’t eat ketchup, no sauce on pizza, no toppings on pizza, no grilled cheeses…you get the picture. To her credit she did try quinoa and liked it).  I have always equated it to the fact that there were no flavorful options, especially for pizza when she was in those early years.  So now, she doesn’t really have the taste for it.

I really would hope this wouldn’t affect social lives where kids are avoiding parties because of food.  But this confirms it.  I understand food allergies, having an anaphylactic reaction any time is NOT something you would want to risk and it is a very real possibility at a party where you have no control.  And as parents, sometimes don’t you just think — “It’s not worth it.”  We’ve had those moments (even though she doesn’t have an anaphylactic reaction) Emma always brings her own cupcake to birthday parties.  But I usually will talk with the parent when I RSVP about Emma, what they’re eating, and if I can supply any additional food for her.

Dealing with celiac certainly wasn’t anything I thought I would be dealing with in my life (of course now not only does my daughter have it but so does my brother), I think we do the best we can. But noting a study like this, maybe it can impact our future decisions on how we look at the behavior and social life of kids with restricted diets.

 

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