True food allergies usually have a quick onset of symptoms after consuming the problem food and are most often caused by the protein component of foods such as milk, wheat, eggs, fish and peanuts. Symptoms can include diarrhoea and vomiting, hives on the skin, swelling – including of the airways, and in the most severe cases anaphylactic shock or collapse.
Food Allergies can be medically diagnosed using skin prick tests (SPTS) or blood tests (eg RAST tests). These tests cannot be done by a Dietitian. If the food reaction is severe it is advisable to see an allergy specialist or immunologist for management advice including an allergy action plan. Often complete avoidance of the identified food is required.
When a young child needs to avoid major foods groups such as dairy foods or wheat products, it is important to see a Dietitian to look at the overall diet. The Dietitian will discuss alternative foods to supply the energy, protein and other nutrients that the problem food group provided and offer suggestions of alternative foods to support the growth and development of your child.
Social and safety aspects of allergy diets such as label reading and cooking are also covered in your consultation.
Food chemical intolerances can cause some of the same problems as food additives – headaches, skin rashes and tummy pain for example. They can also play a role in problems with concentration, behaviour and fatigue. Physical reactions from food chemicals may be delayed and can build up over time, so an appointment with a Dietitian can help you identify the offending food or foods.
There are no reliable diagnostic tests for food intolerances, thus an experimental “elimination” diet is used. Food Intolerances can occur in response to added food chemicals such as colours, preservatives and MSG and also to the natural food chemicals salicylates and amines. These occur in many fruits and vegetables and particularly in colourful, tasty foods such as tomatoes and cheese.
When clients are following the elimination diet process, Dietitian’s at The Nutrition Specialists provide you with support for meal-planning and cooking whilst ensuring nutritional adequacy is maintained. Our Dietitians will also teach you how to keep accurate food records for food dietary challenges and management of your symptoms.