What Can a Food Allergy Nutritionist Do for Your Family?

Dr. Maria Rivera

The folks at Fooblie want to help make your life easier. If you are the parent of a child with a food allergy you are probably used to a heavy mental load that feels never ending. We’ve got an idea for you, how about having some help in the FOOD department? At Fooblie, we believe a Registered Dietitian, or a food allergy nutritionist, is who you need on your team!

Many people don’t know what a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist does or how they can be helpful. When most people hear nutrition we think of diets and weight loss. This is just a tiny part of the equation. So let’s talk about what a Registered Dietitian does, especially those who specialize in food allergy nutrition and how one can help a family managing a food allergy.

A RD = a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. Great, what do they do?

A registered dietitian (RD) is an expert in food and feeding. They have gone to college and studied nutrition AND they have done a full year of practice in nutrition/dietetics. Next, a RD must pass a test to get certified. These professionals are true experts and are different than health coaches. Also, not everyone who calls themselves a nutritionist is also an RD.

So are all RD’s the same?

No. So just like doctors have different specialties (some see only kids, some are surgeons)  RD’s usually subspecialize too. Food allergies are super specific and not all RD’s have experience in them. Also, not all RD’s have experience with kids! All of Fooblie’s coaches are RD’s with specific pediatrics expertise. Those that list food allergy as a sub expertise have been vetted further to make sure they actually have food allergy training or experience!

Why a food allergy nutritionist is a good for your family

We have several reasons for you to see a food allergy nutritionist but these are our top 3:

  1. Many professional groups including the American Academy of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology actually recommend it (scroll all the way down to see which others do too)!
  2. The main medical reason is that multiple studies have shown that kids with food allergies are at risk for poor growth compared to kids without food allergies. This is because the mainstay treatment for food allergies is an elimination diet and that can put you at risk for nutritional deficiencies. If your child has both food allergies and eczema they may especially benefit from dietary guidance. Especially if they have multiple food allergies. More food allergies in kids with eczema has been linked to worse growth. In more extreme cases seizures due to low calcium have been reported in food allergic kids as well as rickets (vitamin D deficiency) and protein deficiencies.
  3. We believe the most compelling reason is that parents take on a lot. Further, many parents with food allergies have told us they want to become an expert in their child’s allergy. A dietitian can help get you there! Remember, a registered dietitian is an expert in food and special diets and they are uniquely positioned to help with food allergies.

Are there any kids at higher risk for growth problems?

Yes, these kids are at higher risk:

  • Kids with a milk allergy are at higher risk.
  • Children with multiple food allergies. As the number of allergies goes up, so does the risk of poor growth.
  • If your child does not outgrow their food allergies when they are young kids and they persist through adolescence
  • Kids that also have eczema
  • If your child has Eosinophilic Esophagitis

Ok so now you have peaked my interest about getting in touch with a food allergy nutritionist. What can they actually do for me?

  1. Figure out if you’re missing any big nutrients your kid needs to grow.
  2. Help you mix up what you eat so it’s not boring, but is practical to your situation.
  3. Make a plan to eat the right foods so your kiddo doesn’t lose weight or gain too much weight
  4. Teach you how to read labels and identify foods that are no-go’s to prevent accidental reactions
  5. Find substitutions for those foods you have to eliminate so your kid still gets the right nutrients
  6. Give you recipe ideas, cookbook ideas, internet resources, and point you to support groups
  7. Take you through different stages: from introducing solid foods and what that means for your food allergic kid to tackling picky eating in toddlerhood
  8. Support your diet if you are breastfeeding a food allergic child
  9. Many more!!

More importantly, a RD will personalize all the support to your specific situation. You don’t need to take the burden of all of the above all by yourself.

Does meeting with one actually make a difference?

Kids that work with a dietitian through their elimination diets may have better growth outcomes. When compared head to head, specifically in the case of an egg allergy, it was also found that consulting with a dietitian can help reduce your risk of accidentally exposing your child to the allergen.

But my pediatrician follows my child’s growth and nutrition. Isn’t this enough?

For some kids it is. But as a pediatrician myself I say this- as your child gets older we see them in clinic less and less frequently. By the time they are 3 years old we only see them once a year. A lot could happen in that time! Also, even though we know a lot, we do not have the same expertise as RD’s do when it comes to food and feeding.

So where does Fooblie come in?

We’ve heard that these first appointments with Registered Dietitians and allergists in clinic are totally overwhelming and scary. At Fooblie we try to break down the advice into small pieces so you are not so overwhelmed. Beyond just getting up to speed with information, RDs can help you figure out what your new normal will be. Connect with one of our Fooblie coaches today, they have personal and professional food allergy experience!

Bottom line

It is really scary to try new foods in a child with a food allergy. A registered dietitian can help you with the elimination diet, making sure you are not eliminating too many things and that you are making substitutions that will help your kids get the nutrients they need. This relationship is important over time, as they become toddlers and picky eating becomes a thing, if they refuse some of the substitutions, develop new allergies, or some of the allergies persist. Every child is different, what they like to eat is different, and their allergies are different. That is why each needs personalized support. You’ve got this!