Managing Your Child’s Food Allergies

If your child has a food allergy, it is important to plan meal and snack times in a way that keeps your child safe. Whether it is at home cooking dinner, at school eating lunch or at a friend’s house for a birthday party, there are many considerations that need to be made to create a safe food environment for your child. Knowing the signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction and how to treat them can help you better manage your child’s allergy. 

What is a Food Allergy? 

A food allergy occurs when the body mistakenly identifies a food as harmful and causes an immune response. Symptoms and severity of reactions in response to a food allergy will vary among children, ranging from mild to severe. Anaphylaxis is a severe and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction in which the body triggers an immune response. Strict avoidance of foods that trigger an allergic reaction is the only way to prevent a reaction. Reactions can worsen each time the child is exposed to the food.  

Food Allergy vs. Food Intolerance2 

Food allergies and food intolerances are sometimes confused with each other, but they differ in a few ways. Though some of the symptoms can be similar, they actually involve different body systems and reactions to different parts of a food. A food allergy involves an immune system response to the protein in a food. A food intolerance involves a digestive system response to the sugars present in a food. The most important difference is that food allergies can be life-threatening and they must be completely removed from the person’s diet to prevent a fatal reaction.