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The Better Behavior Show with Dr. Nicole Beurkens

Feb 19, 2020

My guest this week is Emily Cerda, a Board-Certified Nutrition Specialist with a LDN in the State of Maryland. Emily has an MS in Nutrition and Integrative Health from Maryland University of Integrative Health where she supports students in graduate-level Physiology and Pathophysiology when she is not busy with her private practice. Her passion for food and nutrition stems from her son’s diagnosis with multiple severe food allergies and her determination to see him thrive in the face of this challenge. Emily is passionate about the need for individualized nutrition and dreams of mobilizing an army of practitioners to cater to the integrative needs of this community.

In this episode, Emily and I discuss concepts and strategies to help parents navigate food allergies and food sensitivities while sharing ways they can directly impact children's behavior and development. Emily provides direction on testing and diagnosis, anaphylactic responses and provides invaluable tips on how parents can advocate for their children and empower them to make safe independent decisions with their food allergies as they transition into their teenage years and beyond. To learn more about Emily Cerda click here.


Episode Highlights

Food Reactions and Behavior Connection 

  • Food allergy = an immediate response in health or behavior 
    • This immediate shift can be seen in a behavioral response, anaphylactic response, or even a histamine-based response visible via a runny nose, clearing of throat, or hives on the skin
  • Food intolerance or food sensitivity
    • Can/may show up days later after ingesting something the body is sensitive or intolerant to


Testing and Diagnosis

  • Start with a board-certified allergist 
    • That allergist will then usually do a skin prick or blood test
    • The gold-standard is to do an oral food challenge in office with the practitioner present in case a negative reaction occurs
  • Results are not always precise - they take time, elimination testing and lots of patience


Anaphylactic Response 

  • Allergic reaction that constricts your airways from a swollen tongue or throat
    • Other symptoms include: weak and rapid pulse, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, low blood pressure, skin reactions (hives, itching, flushed and/or pale skin)
  • These reactions can be immediately life-threatening
    • Immediate use of an epinephrine auto-injector is vital, as well as, a visit to the emergency room to ensure safety and possible preparation for a second reaction called - biphasic anaphylaxis


Supporting Your Child’s Independence with Allergies 

  • As your children age, advocacy and awareness must occur as they venture into independence in handling their food allergies outside of their safe places
    • Transitions from elementary to middle school or middle school to high school when labels and bullying can arise can cause children to stray from communicating their allergy needs not wanting to stand out as “different”
    • Modeling good awareness and inclusiveness on part from the adults is crucial
  • Advocating for your child within school setting 
    • Section 504 plans- part of the American Disabilities Act provides an avenue for students who may have a diagnosed medical condition that requires accommodations but does not rise to the level of qualifying them as a special education student
    • IEP process - for those who qualify as a student with a disability for the purpose of their schooling 


Raising and Feeding Children with Food Allergies 

  • Simplify first
    • Instead of looking to replace go-to meals or packaged snacks that do not have an allergy-free alternative, look to what whole foods you can start with to create easy, simple meals for the entire family
    • Batch cooking more than what you will eat in one day so that there are some hearty leftovers for snacks or later meals
    • Pre-cut fruits and vegetables always on hand 
    • Double checking your ingredients always - even in organic processed foods and foods you have consistently purchased (companies change up ingredients with zero warning!)
  • Empowering your children in the process and teaching them what to look out for so they are equipped for safety


Integrative Approach 

  • Looking from an integrative approach allows parents to use essentials to help them tackle their children’s food allergies
    • Re-framing, empowerment, stress control, resilience building and the teaching of basic kitchen skills and cross-contamination rules
  • The integrative approach will always look to resolve underlying inflammation and will always stay on top of gut health 

Where to learn more about Emily Cerda...

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