If there is a history of food allergies in the family, can the single mom help her baby avoid the need of a special diet by introducing solid foods at an earlier age? The controversy goes on and parents trying to avoid special needs diets for their babies find that while studies indicate the timing of the introduction of cow’s milk and solid foods may signify the sensitivity to food allergens later, no one is coming forward with specific information.
Peanut allergies in children are growing at a fast rate, and no one seems to know why. A reaction to peanuts is one of the most dangerous of all of the food allergies, and parents of children with special needs diets often have a hard time finding products that won’t make their children ill. It’s advised that packaged foods that come from a facility that also processes peanut products be avoided completely. Peanuts are a popular additive in parent provided snacks at school, and the further risk of kids swapping tempting lunches when outside of the home makes it vital that even young children understand the risks involved and the necessity of strictly following the special needs diet.
Most experts agree that infants get the best nutrition if they are fed breast milk exclusively until they are six months old, but a new study suggests that food allergies, especially a peanut allergy, can be reduced if they are introduced to solid foods before four months of age.
Researchers are quick to point out that their results only suggest that the risk of later food allergies is reduced when solid food is introduced early. Christine Joseph of the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit says that the study can’t prove cause and effect, even though it shows an association. While the study showed a difference in allergy to peanuts, no difference was shown is the risk of milk and egg allergies.
Studying 2 and 3 year old children whose parents had allergies, the researchers found that the kids were five times less likely to have peanut immune system antibodies that were directed at peanut proteins. If a child is sensitized to peanuts, they have an increased risk of developing an allergy.
Before 2008, the American academy of Pediatrics recommendation was that cow’s milk shouldn’t be given to kids before their first birthday to reduce the risk of allergy. They also advised that parents wait until their children turn two before they were given eggs, and that peanuts not be fed until the toddler was three. They have since found that there was no evidence to prove that these guidelines reduced the risk of food allergies.
If someone in your family has a food allergy, discuss the introduction of solid food with your pediatrician. Each special needs and potential special needs child is different. Your child’s doctor should have the most recent information on the continuing research about food allergies or be able to point you in the right direction to find the information you need to make your decision.
It’s hard enough preparing special food for a child with a health condition that requires a special diet. It can often be expensive, and sometimes favorite foods have to be given up by the child. It’s always a worry that the child may inadvertently be given a food that will harm him.
Planning a nutritious diet around the foods that will keep your child healthy takes a lot of time, but once it’s prepared, the single mom shouldn’t have to worry that it’s not being eaten or that it’s being traded for unhealthy foods just because the child wants to fit in.
Once your child becomes more social at school, they don’t want to seem different from all of the other kids. An illness or food intolerance can often make your child stand out in a group of children because of special requirements. When the need is a special diet, take steps early in the child’s life to give him the understanding that may keep him from jeopardizing his health in order to be just like other kids.
There is no such thing as a single diet for all people, and the quicker your child realizes that every family follows certain diets unique to them, the easier it will be for him to accept his own special diet. A diet is, after all, the word that is used for the daily intake of food.
Once the child realizes that diets are often chosen by healthy individuals according to personal preference and lifestyle the more normal his own special diet will seem. Discuss nutrition with the child when the opportunity presents itself. Explain that there are people who choose diets without meat or even wheat simply because they believe it is a healthier diet. Some people go on diets to lose weight, while others use diets to gain weight. There are diets for athletes and diets for acne.
When your child starts school and eats with other kids, ask him about the food preferences of his classmates. Point out that some moms sent sweet snacks in the lunch bag while others send fruits and vegetables. It’s all just a matter of dietary preference of the family.
By no means teach the child that his diet is of little consequence. Make sure he understands the need for his special diet and the problems it could cause if it wasn’t followed. The important thing is to let the child know that even though his diet is based on health issues, a special diet doesn’t set him apart from everyone else.
Kids don’t like to be different, but kids with juvenile diabetes have specialized dietary needs. A single mom armed with information from the pediatrician and nutritionist can easily change her menu planning to promote healthy eating habits at her table. Most problems arise from the food the child eats outside of the home.
Schools usually send home a monthly lunch program menu that shows that most of the meals are not appropriate for children with special diets. Packing a lunch for the child to eat during the mid day recess is a step toward helping your child follow the special diet, but how can the mom who is not there to watch her child know that he’s not trading his apple for a cupcake?
A child with a lunch of his favorite, healthy foods is less likely to trade treats. Don’t pack the foods that are best for him if he will be tempted to trade them away. Pack the foods that are within the dietary guidelines that he will actually eat.
Make sure that the child understands why he should not trade foods with other kids. It’s a big responsibility for a child to choose portion size and content when opportunities arise. As the child gets older and spends more of his free time at the homes of other friends, at the mall or meeting after school at the fast food restaurant, peer pressure can often cloud the judgment of the child with diabetes as his friends gobble down unhealthy snacks and drinks.
When a child knows that trans fats and saturated fats should be limited in his diet and understands why, he will have added ammunition to use in his defense of succumbing to the super sized order of fries or onion rings. He’ll also be more likely to choose a sugar free drink over a milk shake.
Little things, like ordering baked chicken instead of fried, removing the chicken skin and avoiding condiments that are loaded with sugar can help the child realize that his diet, although restricted, isn’t really that much different from that of his friends.
Help your child learn how to find out how many carbohydrates are in different types of foods so that they can judge how much of the food to eat. The more they do it, the easier it will be.
The single mom has to realize that her child with diabetes will often choose a treat that is not on his diet. Counteract these little indiscretions by paying special attention to planning the family meals and purchasing the food items kept in the home.
One of the basic goals of parenting is to make sure mom can provide a healthy diet to her kids. With all of the other responsibilities of a single mom, planning and preparing a healthy diet is a task that is not only time consuming but can be expensive. It becomes more difficult as children go through the different phases and their likes and dislikes for foods change quickly. If a special diet has to be prepared because of health a single mom can easily feel overwhelmed.
Many times special diets mean that the single mom can’t take advantage of the prepackaged meal choices that have saved so much time in the past. It also might eliminate some of the child’s favorite foods.
Before mealtime becomes a fight with the kids who are picky eaters and rebel against the new special diet, take some steps to make the process go smoother.
Speak to the pediatrician and a registered dietitian about special diets. Make sure you understand not only the new diet, but the benefits and risks associated with the changed diet.
Depending on the age and maturity level of your kids, make sure that they understand why the diet has been introduced and the importance of following the diet. Invite them to suggest healthy meal and treat options that the whole family will enjoy. Kids are more likely to accept changes that they feel they are a part of.
When a healthy menu is devised that the whole family will eat, prepare enough of the meal so that you can freeze portions for a future meal. Single moms need to find a break wherever they can, and the knowledge that a meal is already prepared can keep a stressful day from becoming a mealtime crisis.
Be an advocate for your child who needs to follow a special diet. If the child goes on play dates, make sure dietary needs are discussed. Discuss the diet with care givers and teachers. If the policy of the classroom or day care providers allows children to bring in special treats for the entire class for special occasions, ask what steps you can take to eliminate the risk of your child eating something that could be dangerous to his or her health. You don’t want your child left out of the sharing of the treat, but you certainly don’t want to endanger the child.
As children mature, they want to make more of their own decisions. Limit the number of time you have to tell them they can’t have something by offering healthy diet choices to them right from the start. If they learn to make the proper choices in your kitchen, they’ll be better equipped to make the proper choices when mom isn’t there.