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Healthy Eating

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Healthy Eating

Food intolerance is known as a “hidden” condition for a reason. Causes are often difficult to pinpoint, especially when treating children. Food intolerance can really get in the way of your child’s or nursing infant’s day, and cause uncomfortable symptoms like bloating, diarrhea, headaches, and eczema. Diet has also been linked to poor concentration and learning disabilities among children. Taking a natural approach to curing these symptoms may seem like a difficult road but food intolerance testing and programs can help parents along.

“As a naturopathic physician I see many pediatric patients in my practice suffering from a variety of conditions such as asthma, eczema, ADHD, autism, baby colic and gastrointestinal complaints.  I find that many of my patient’s symptoms can be improved by identifying and eliminating intolerant foods from their diet. Historically, I have used elimination diets for these patients in the attempt to find offending foods, however this is extremely difficult especially in young patients,” says Michelle O’Neill, ND, Clinic Director at Elements Naturopathic & Wellness Centre. Using a food intolerance program can help diminish guess work and give parents a comprehensive plan for reversing symptoms. Here’s why food intolerances are difficult to detect:

You don’t know what food intolerance is: Food reactions are common, but most are caused by food intolerance rather than food allergy. Unlike food allergies, food intolerances are not life-threatening but they can cause ongoing and unnecessary pain that affect one’s quality of life. Food allergy symptoms have a short reaction time whereas food intolerance symptoms can take hours, or even days, to appear. Some common symptoms include bloating, headaches and migraines, eczema and fatigue, which can be attributed to any number of medical issues. This is where it gets tricky. When symptoms don’t occur right after eating, patients may attribute pain to the wrong foods or not even realize they are related to food.

There are so many trigger foods: Food triggers range from fruits and vegetables, to nuts, fish and meat. While lactose and gluten intolerance are well-known triggers, these are not the only avenues that parents should consider. “Programs like the YorkTest FoodScan simplify the process significantly.  Parents receive results quickly and the program is able to identify trigger foods that were previously unknown to them,” says O’Neill. To identify food intolerances, it only takes a few minutes to collect a simple finger-prick blood sample, which will be tested against a panel of over 100 different foods, creating an individual report that is sent directly to parents. “Most of my patients with private health plans see a portion or the entire program covered, which make it more attainable for parents” adds O’Neill.

It’s important to begin a food intolerance program that also includes counselling and nutrition sessions that teach parents how to put their child’s test results into action. A proper food intolerance program should guide parents as they implement the new diet plan and offer support along the way. Keeping a diary is also key to identifying when symptoms occur and linking them to certain foods.

Consider looking inside the lunch box and finding a natural solution that will improve your child’s daily quality of life. “Upon elimination of intolerant foods I have seen amelioration in skin conditions, regulation of bowel function, and lessened need for medications as well as improved concentration in both autistic and ADHD patients,” says O’Neill.

For more information about food intolerance and the YorkTest FoodScan Program visit