Prepare for Your Nutrition Visit
The Food Allergy Center team works together to ensure your child’s particular food allergy is clearly understood, and the impact it may have on your child’s diet and nutrition status. At your nutrition appointment, the Registered Dietitian will have any previous food allergy history from the Allergist, but will also take a detailed history of the foods your family typically eats, meal patterns, and any cultural factors that may influence how you choose to feed your child.
Keep in mind that the RD will ask about what your child eats on a daily basis, and it may be helpful to bring a list of your child’s “typical day” of foods eaten and beverages consumed.
Children have different nutritional needs for each age group, and also interact with their foods differently as they grow. Below we have a snapshot of what role nutrition plays and the considerations your RD appointments may cover:
- School-aged Kids
From Birth to 6 Months
- Energy/calorie needs in comparison to body weight are the highest during the entire lifecycle during infancy, because it is a period of such rapid growth and development.
- Infants require only breastmilk or formula as it contains the right combination and amounts of nutrients. Protein is used to build healthy muscle and tissue, fat is essential to brain development, energy, and transport of fat soluble vitamins. Calcium and Vitamin D are required for bone growth, Vitamin A plays a big role in vision and healthy immune function, Iron is essential for growth and to prevent anemia, Zinc for the immune system, general development, countless metabolic processes and taste perception.
After 6 Months of Age
- Purees and solids are offered as a complement to breast milk and formula – although there are many theories regarding the order of foods introduced, there is no evidence that introducing solid foods in any particular order has an advantage unless recommended by your Allergist.
Between the Ages of 1 and 3 years
- Kids are striving to be independent and self-feeding can be very important.
- Food preferences and selectivity may become apparent, in the case of allergy this may become very frustrating when concerned for your child’s nutrition and wondering if they are getting plenty of the right nutrients for growth.
- Expanding variety of foods is important, including all textures, flavors and colors. Structured mealtimes and enjoying the social aspect of sharing food is just as important to childhood development as the variety of food eaten.
- As kids spend more time away from primary caregivers, they have increased freedom over food choices and increased access to less nutritious foods and potential allergens outside the home.
- At this age, children are ready to learn basic concepts about good nutrition and allergen avoidance in the classroom, with friends and other social settings. It is important to be aware of food sharing and talk with your child about what’s allowed.
- A well-balanced diet is the key to good nutrition and your child’s need for energy will rise during growth spurts – a special drawer or cubby with allergen-safe snack foods may be helpful to have at home for your child to help themselves.
- Teens must help manage their food allergy with caregivers, checking labels on foods, understanding how to recognize allergens, which may be listed clearly or “hidden” on an ingredient label. Teens can help modifying recipes and know how to substitute ingredients when cooking or baking.
- A vital skill is handling peer interactions with food, and keeping themselves safe.
- Over-nutrition can also be an issue; it can result from too much snacking and grazing on nutrient poor options. Focus on what healthy options your teenager can eat instead of what they can’t eat.