Food Cravings Can Be Harmful to Your Child

Girl eating a food she craves

My son recently left our neighborhood public school for a special school for children with learning disabilities.  In the few short months that we have been there, I have noticed some quirky eating habits of the students. Many families don’t realize that the diet that our children consumes can be connected to their learning challenges and their behavior. It got me thinking about food allergies and how difficult it can be for families to notice that certain foods aren’t good for our children.

Why do some kids have cravings to foods they are allergic to?

I asked my friends Dawn (a Speech Therapist and Certified Feeding Therapist) and Alana (Registered Holistic Nutritionist) about this phenomenon.  It just seems cruel that the body would crave something that isn’t good for it.

Dawn told me about several of her diabetic patients who would sneak candy, even though their disease had resulted in the amputation of their limbs.  If that wouldn’t alarm someone into changing their diet, I don’t know what will.  It is clear that this is a disease, which results in an insulin and sugar imbalance, and being motivated isn’t all it takes to get well.

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Food allergies are a different picture.  When the body consumes an allergen (something it is allergic to), the body has an immune response and produces histamines.  But Alana also tells me that endorphins are also released, which has a soothing effect on the body. Alana explains it this way.

When you crave an allergen, you are craving that soothing effect that the histamines release. You are unknowingly seeking out foods that are causing your antibodies to release histamines. That is why cravings can seem uncontrollable at times. There is a physical craving as well as an emotional craving for theseallergenic foods.  It happens all of the time, which is part of the reason that a lot of people don’t realize they have food intolerances, or that their symptoms they may be experiencing are coming from something they are eating every day.

Dawn suggests that if your child seems “addicted” to certain foods, you should be suspicious of food intolerance. We will discuss this in much greater depth in our upcoming post: Picky Eaters vs. Problem Feeders – Does Your Child Need a Feeding Therapist?

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9 Responses to Food Cravings Can Be Harmful to Your Child

  1. Kaella says:

    I can relate. Before I knew the source of my stomach ailments, I craved Ice Cream whenever I got sick. I never understood why. When diagnosed with gluten and dairy intolerance, it seemed even more bizarre. However, my Naturopath RD explained I was self soothing, and Alana’s explanation further validates this. Thank you for researching this. I find it fascinating and hope people take a closer look at the affects/effects of their eating habits.

  2. Heather says:

    When I was diagnosed with all of my allergies as a child my poor Mother was so sad. It was everything I craved. Potatoes, strawberries, tomatoes, soy, dairy. Food allergies are the pits. I have recently adopted the primal lifestyle. (Primal Blueprint on Amazon) I highly recommend it especially to people with multiple food intolerances/allergies.

    • Michelle Stern says:

      Oh gosh, Heather – I bet food allergies are so difficult to cope with at first…luckily there are lots of options for most people. Fruit allergies would be a big bummer, though – full of vitamins and appealing to kids. Sigh…

  3. This is the reason they say that autistic children will only eat wheat and dairy. It makes it so difficult to break these habits, but in the end it is better for them.

    I, too, have come across the phenomenon you describe, but interestingly, I rejected gluten-filled foods as a child and even an adult until I was finally diagnosed with celiac disease. I didn’t like cereal, donuts, bread, etc. I preferred a bowl of steamed rice for breakfast and just the middles of sandwiches! So it can work the other way too!

  4. I’ve read this before and it’s such an interesting subject. It’s a scary thought that some of the foods we love could be harming up and yet we have such a strong desire for them.

  5. Wow this is eye opening. I’m lactose intolerant and crave dairy like you wouldn’t believe. I also have a very high-level of histamines in my system but the docs told me it was from pesticide exposure from food plus the Medfly spraying when I was a teen. I’m going to rethink things here.

    • Michelle Stern says:

      Wow Heather – it would be amazing if your body was still reacting with histamines to an experience in your teens. I wonder if it’s from dairy…(scratching my head…)

  6. Pingback: 6 Kids Craving Sites

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