Food Allergies Testing for Anger Management in Children
"Why is my child so angry?"
Some children have a right to be angry. It's not hard to see why a child who has suffered abuse, trauma or bereavement might be angry with the world and everyone in it.
But what's the answer when a child in a loving home is angry about 'nothing' and, at the same time, 'everything'? Are they simply being rude and disagreeable - or is there some hidden trauma that you, the parent, remain unaware of?
Anger Management Without Therapy or Medication
The obvious options when considering anger management today revolve around therapy or medication. Nobody ever suggests food allergy testing to a parent tearing their hair out while trying to calm an angry child and restore peace in their home.
But anger, it seems, may be as red and raw a reaction to some foods as the welts that appear around the lips of other allergy sufferers.
One of my children could be charming and laughing one minute, but unhappy and sullen and seemingly furious about all kinds of unidentifiable issues the next. During her teenage years I would intervene in defence of a younger sibling who seemed to be unjustifiably persecuted. Their personalities were poles apart and, even as young adults, the two seemed to have come from different planets.
I watched the younger one reach out occasionally, more often than not to be shot down in flames. No member of our family could ever accurately predict just when or why my daughter would fly into a rage.
All those years ago there was no talk of anger management for children. I can't recall anyone suggesting anger management therapy but there was certainly the option of medication to 'pacify' angry kids.
I never considered medication to be an option. And sadly, it never crossed my mind that my child's angry outbursts could be linked to food allergies.
Answers to questions about allergy testing
This comprehensive resource, created by three leading authorities in dietetics, nutrition, and vegetarian cooking, offers a unique blend of scientific researach, practical advice, and culinary expertise that will show you how to: know the difference between food allergy, food intolerance and food sensitivity; test for allergies; avoid the foods and ingredients that trigger reactions; maintain a healthy intestinal boundary; understand the latest food labeling regulations; and create menus that meet your nutritional requirements.
Food Allergy Testing
It was only relatively recently that a doctor suggested food allergy testing in response to an unrelated medical issue. It seemed unlikely there'd be any useful outcome from such a test because she'd never had rashes or tingling lips or difficulty breathing or any of the other common symptoms associated with food allergies.
But, in the spirit of eliminating all possible contributing factors to her health dilemma, she was tested by her doctor for a plethora of food items.
The results surprised us all. She was allergic (to varying degrees) to a range of foods including some grains, dairy products, malt, yeast, honey and potatoes. At that time, I'd never heard of anyone being allergic to potatoes!
She was also allergic to a few of the common additives to prepared food products.
Less anger and other positive changes
I have enormous respect for my daughter's self discipline and determination to eliminate all the nominated foods from her diet. She adheres to the safe foods and sources fresh, organic foods whenever possible and refuses to eat any foods out of a jar or packet.
The most surprising outcome of her dietary change is her dramatic change in personality. She's no longer seething with anger. She has also commented on a subtle change in sensations in her skin, but that's not something immediately obvious to us as onlookers.
Of course I have scolded myself for not being alert enough to spot the food problems during her childhood, but she graciously observes that she didn't suspect any food allergies either - and she's been an adult responsible for her own diet for many years now.
Suddenly I can understand why she might have sat down at the dinner table with a smile on her face, but ended the evening with an angry eruption. I can see why some days were good days, but others were bad from beginning to end. Honey on toast, a cheese sandwich, and a baked potato with sour cream at various times throughout the day may well have been enough to keep her in a foul mood from start to finish.
Even organic foods can trigger allergies
Your child's diet may be responsible for their anger
I urge every parent with a child seething with inexplicable anger to request food allergy testing for as many foods as possible. I wish I had, years ago.
Please don't assume that an absence of rashes and other common reactions at mealtimes indicates the foods your child eats are as healthy as we'd like to believe.
I grow organic fruits and vegetables at my home - but it is the foods themselves that cause a bad reaction in my daughter. Even without chemicals, a plate containing one or more foods she is allergic to can trigger anger.
Let's be clear here. I am not talking about a tantrum objecting to my choice of dinner. She loves sitting down to an organic meal harvested the same day from my garden.
But a short time after enjoying the meal and complimenting me on how lovely, fresh and tasty the vegetables are, it was not uncommon for her mood to change dramatically. Almost as though a dark cloud of gloom had lowered itself over her previously smiling face.
I could never understand it when she was a child, and I still failed to understand it when she became an adult. When you serve fresh, home-grown produce to your family there is no reason to suspect your child's diet is a problem.
Nobody could be more surprised than I was when we discovered she was allergic to common foods. However, I have to stress, it was a HUGE relief to finally have some light cast on an ongoing problem. Changes in her diet seemed a relatively easy solution.
If you and your family members are suffering the effects of angry outbursts from a child, the investment in food allergy testing may be money well spent.
There are many publications about diet options for people with food allergies, but first you need to establish just which foods are causing your child grief.
Need help understanding allergies in children?
Dr. Scott H. Sicherer, a specialist in pediatric food allergies, gives parents the information they need to manage their children’s health and quality of life. He describes why children develop food allergy, the symptoms of food allergy (affecting the skin, the gastrointestinal tract, and the respiratory system), and the role of food allergy in behavioral problems and developmental disabilities.
Parents are told how to recognize emergency situations, how to get the most out of a visit with an allergist, what allergy test results mean, and how to protect their children—at home, at school, at summer camp, and in restaurants.
More interesting reading about food allergies ...
- The Food Allergy Epidemic And How We Can Avoid It: My Personal Story
This hub is worth reading if you are trying to get your head around your child's allergies. I also believe it is essential reading if you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy. The author raises some very interesting questions. :) LTM
Why is your child angry?
There are many reasons why a child may demonstrate behavioral problems. Your responsibility as a parent is to do your best to identify and resolve them.
Instead of punishing a child who demonstrates an unexplained outburst, take note of the time the problem became evident, what you had been doing in the time leading up to the outburst, and any foods your child ate during that period.
Obviously a good starting point is to talk with your child and ask questions, but it might be appropriate to wait until their mood calms before trying to communicate effectively.
Don't dismiss the answer, "I don't know" as being unhelpful or uncooperative.
I regret not accepting that my daughter genuinely didn't know why she was angry. How could she be expected to know she was angry because she had eaten a potato? It never occurred to me, and I'm sure it never occurred to her.
Gluten is a common allergy trigger
How to help your angry child
Children have no option but to ride the tide of emotions that overwhelm them. We are the adults. They rely on us to help them.
If you cannot afford to have extensive formal allergy testing undertaken through your doctor, or if your doctor does not agree or arrange for comprehensive testing, I suggest you purchase books like the ones listed above and do your own research.
There are many reviews available for the books l have provided links for. Just scroll down the webpage and see what other parents say. You might get a few valuable hints just from the reviews, and enough feedback to decide whether or not these publications can realistically help you assess your own child's possible allergies.
Good luck. I sincerely hope, for your child's sake as well as your own, that you find a solution to managing your child's anger. Please explore the food allergy angle before turning to mental health options.
Diet changes are nowhere near as dramatic as some of the other options for anger management. Please, explore the food issues first.
Allergic to dairy?
Please spread the word to help other parents!
Since my daughter's food allergy testing I have shared my thoughts with friends in the real world, as well as here online. I am getting interesting feedback from my friends that indicates we might be onto something.
Please share this article with other parents.
This is not 'standard' advice that parents receive when seeking help to cope with angry children. However if we can accumulate enough feedback to indicate whether or not there is value in my observations, perhaps it might provide parents and their children with an unexpected solution to their anger management problems.
Update: August 2013
My daughter has had further food allergy testing using a completely different process - and again the results clearly indicate allergies.
She continues to make every effort to avoid the nominated foods and we continue to appreciate the difference. Some offending foods, however, sneak into her diet occasionally (because it is sometimes hard to identify all the ingredients used in a meal's creation when eating out) and then the effect is obvious.
I am increasingly certain that food allergy testing should be recommended for all angry children.
© 2012 LongTimeMother