The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released guidelines on food safety and COVID-19 to help ease fears regarding food during this stressful time. Per the FDA, there is no evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted by food or food packaging as COVID-19 is a respiratory illness, not a sickness that affects the GI tract.
There has been no significant connection between food packaging and the transmission of COVID-19, whether it be from takeout or from grocery store packaging.
Consider these facts when grocery shopping and ordering takeout!
1. NCSU. Handling Groceries COVID-19. https://foodsafety.ces.ncsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Handling-Groceries_COVID-19_Flyer-1.pdf?fwd=no
2.FDA. Food Safety During Emergencies.https://www.fda.gov/food/food-safety-during-emergencies/food-safety-and-coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19
The five senses work together to provide both our minds and bodies with satisfying and nourishing meal experiences. Sight, sound, smell, taste and touch each add their own element to mealtime. Besides taste and smell, the sight of a food item sets certain expectations about things like intensity of flavor (e.g., a brighter colored food provides a more intense expectation of flavor). Touch contributes to detecting texture and temperature. Of less obvious understanding, is how sound is integrated into acceptance or rejection of certain foods. Sound helps one anticipate the feel of a food (e.g., the crunchiness of a carrot). Try these fun sensory games with your kids today:
Smelly Spicy Art by Mindful Littles
Five Senses Popcorn Mini Book by I Heart Crafty Things
Desalinization Experiment by STEAM Powered Family
Basic Biscuit Playdough Recipe
2 cups Bisquick (or other brand biscuit mix)
1 cup salt
2 cups water
1 TBSP cream of tartar
1 TBSP oil
Your choice of kool aid or cocoa (for sight and smell)
Pour and mix all ingredients into a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 3 minutes. Remove from microwave, scrape and stir the bowl. Next, microwave for another 3 minutes. Remove from microwave, stir, and let cool for 1-2 minutes. The final step is to knead the dough.
Recipe from: No Time for Flashcards
Providing meals for school-aged kids throughout the day is not entirely new to parents since weekends typically provide more family time. Reflecting on weekend days is a great place to start in terms of tackling homeschool eating habits. From there, it is helpful to follow a fairly set meal schedule. Having meals at regular intervals is a basic nutrition tip that helps establish many healthy lifestyle choices. Eating about every 3-4 hours keeps kids fueled for the day, prevents grazing and creates an ideal plan for meal planning and preparing. Ensuring meals and snacks are substantial and satisfying can be achieved by aiming for at least 2-3 food groups per meal. Including kids as part of the planning and preparing can be fun and helpful.
More on building healthy meals at Making the Grade at Lunchtime
Every day, we eat multiple times to provide fuel that will sustain all our planned work and activities. How do our bodies break down something like a peanut butter sandwich into the nutrients they can utilize to support normal daily needs?
The food we eat is broken down into one or a combination of 3 key macronutrients known as carbohydrates, protein and/or fats. Each of these nutrients is digested in a slightly different way, using different enzymes at different rates . Let’s walk through the process!
1. Mouth: Active chewing begins the mechanical digestion of our food. Some digestive enzymes are released directly into your mouth through saliva, and thus begins the digestion of carbohydrates and fat.
2. Stomach: After swallowing, the (bolus) of food passes down into the stomach. The food is combined with a mixture of stomach acid and digestive enzymes. The acid and digestive enzymes break down the protein in our food into amino acids, and the other digestive enzymes work to break down the fats into fatty acids.
3. Small intestine: From the stomach, the partially digested food (chyme) enters the small intestine, which is the main site of digestion and absorption. Other organs like the pancreas and liver secrete digestive enzymes into the small intestine to aid in the further breakdown of each of the macronutrients. After they are broken down into their simplest forms, the small intestine can absorb these macronutrients to be used by the body.
4. Large intestine: Finally, the large intestine is the main site of water absorption. After water is absorbed, what is left, the body gets rid of.
Each person's body digests and absorbs food somewhat differently, which may affect things such as an individual's blood glucose level. On average, it take 6-8 hours for food to pass through the stomach and small intestine. It then takes nearly 36 hours for undigested material to pass through the large intestine.
Eating a well-balanced variety of foods that include all macronutrients aids in optimal nutrition. Besides ensuring adequate vitamin and mineral intake (e.g., proteins boast zinc and iron while carbohydrates can provide fiber and energy), pairing foods increases satisfaction, slows digestion and aid in increasing absorption of nutrients.
Adding in plant-based meat extenders to a meat dish is a way to combine the best of both worlds! Plant based foods added into meat dishes boost flavor, add volume, and are budget-friendly.
Health at Every Size (HAES) may be a word or acronym floating around in the media, but this approach to mindful and healthful eating is gaining traction in the research world.
What it is: HAES encourages (1) body acceptance, (2) respect for diversities of body shapes and sizes, (3) finding joy in physical activity, and (4) promotion of eating habits that balance the individual’s nutritional needs with the feelings of hunger, satiety, appetite, and pleasure¹.
HAES is a very different message than what has been the recent social norm regarding diets as presented by popular media, whereby the only way to lose weight and be healthy are to calorie restrict, ignore hunger cues, detach pleasure from eating, and/or to excessively exercise.
A randomized clinical control study conducted an intervention in a sample of Brazilian women using HAES. Participants were randomly assigned to either a control or intervention group. Both groups were exposed to traditional HAES teachings, but the HAES intervention group had more in-depth lessons including philosophical workshops, group physical activities, and individual nutrition counseling.
Results: Participants from both groups had an increase in guiltlessness of eating pleasure, greater reflection on food desires, and better social eating experiences¹. Instead of becoming even further removed from thoughtfully making food choices and finding pleasure in eating, both groups were bridging the gaps between eating and listening to their bodies. The intervention group experienced even greater benefits through decreased emotional eating, greater perception of autonomy over food choices, and increased cooking¹.
HAES is one approach that offers a more well rounded and sustainable approach to healthy changes for both body and mind. It is a direct tool that can help address such easily spoken, but hard to manage tasks such as eating "all things in moderation."
As noted, HAES is also a movement, aiming to bring about social justice where social stigmas and disparities may lie. Visit https://haescommunity.com/haes-connections/ to learn more or take the pledge. You can also email us at info@NutritionRites.com for more information on HAES.
Sabatini, F., Ulian, D. M., Perez, I., Pinto, A. J., Vessoni, A., Aburad, L., … (2019). Eating Pleasure in a Sample of Obese Brazilian Women: A Qualitative Report of an Interdisciplinary Intervention Based on the Health at Every Size Approach. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Volume 119 (9), 1470-1482. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jand.2019.01.006
While food is not medicine, it can play a role in helping your immune system function optimally. At the very core, your immune system needs adequate energy and nutrients to respond to potential pathogens. During cold and flu season, you can focus on getting a balanced mix of protein and vitamins that help build up the body’s defenses. Specific vitamins to include in your diet are Vitamins A, C and E. Vitamin A helps nourish your skin, which acts as your body’s first line of resistance. Sources of Vitamin A include fish, cheese and eggs. Vitamin C helps your body form antigens and can be found in products that are typically acidic, such as citrus and tomatoes. Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant, which helps to slow potential body damage. Vitamin E can be found in various nuts and seeds.
With the holidays fast approaching, traditions may have you doing a little extra meal planning and preparing. With many dishes that require oven use, you may be planning to employ your stovetop. Understanding a little food science behind your cooking method of choice can go a long way in helping you plate a delicious meal. Cooktops afford us the options to pan-fry, sauté and sear foods. These cooking methods differ in their use of fat and heat. Pan-frying uses enough fat to partially submerge the food item being cooked. To cook it through, medium heat is used and one side at a time is cooked. Examples of items that are pan-fried include skin-on chicken thighs and latkes. Sautéing cooks food just until tender in a thin layer of fat over medium-high heat. Shrimp, mushrooms and leafy greens are items that sauté particularly well. Searing gives foods a caramelized outside while not completely cooking the inside. Oftentimes, recipes call for a pan sear, followed by an additional cooking method such as baking.
We have long understood that food can serve much more than just a nutritional need. Because it is so essential to life, individuals can relate and connect through food and nutrition. Culture includes the beliefs, customs and habits of a group of people, and each cultural group has access to its own food and creates its own food habits. Home cooking proves to be particularly beneficial in providing mental stimulation and creativity. It also provides additional stimuli, such as aromas, to the senses that aid in meal satisfaction. Preparing food gives people shared experiences, just as eating socially does.
How we eat is also a derivative of our cultures, and table manners can be one of the earliest teaching opportunities for parents. Kids can be receptive to learning table manners as soon as they can sit and eat independently. Some of the more basic etiquettes include washing hands prior to sitting down, sitting up straight with a napkin placed in ones lap and waiting for other before beginning to eat. Family meals offer opportunities to not only model good table manners, but they also offer times to try new foods and practice appropriate responses to those things that kids may not particularly like. While cultural influences may afford some mealtime differences, using proper utensils, chewing with ones mouth closed and not reaching across the table are all still standard behaviors to follow.
Teaching Good Table Manners to Kids
10 Tables Manners Rules to Teach Children
Recently there has been more attention given to the idea of “intuitive eating.” There are even hashtags galore for this underlying healthy eating philosophy, but what exactly is it? Paraphrasing, we see intuitive eating as a process that helps individuals learn to trust their own bodies again and to eat foods that make them feel good both mentally and physically without using a lot of valuable brain space.
As dietitians, we often hear an initial bout of frustration from clients as they quickly try to sum up intuitive eating as a plan to “eat whatever you want whenever you want whenever you want.” This habitual act of seeking out a quick fix immediately diminishes the intuitive eating journey.
Again, intuitive eating is a journey and it is made up of the following ten principles:
In general, our culture is so diet focused that it’s hard to trust our own bodies because of all the external messages we are constantly bombarded with. We believe the doctor, celebrity or even the dietitian should know exactly what we should eat (but nobody knows you like YOU!). We scour the internet for meal plans that we think are in our calorie range and eat only those foods over and over again all in the name of health, wellness and/or weight loss.
Here’s what we know about dieting*:
Despite knowing these things about dieting we continue to look for “the answer” with the newest fad diet. If you’re ready to ditch the diet mentality and want to learn more about Intuitive Eating drop us a line at email@example.com.
*Kayla Fitzgerald,RD LD is in the process of becoming a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor which means she has undergone hours of additional training specializing in this topic
Pumpkins pack a nutritious punch, their varying parts containing vitamins and nutrients such as calcium, potassium, iron and vitamin A. While fresh fruits and vegetables yield the highest nutrient contents, canned pumpkin purees are not far behind so do not hesitate to use these for recipes like this Healthy Pumpkin Pie Dip from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. However, never underestimate a good roasted pumpkin recipe. Since pumpkins are from the winter squash family, it is no surprise they cook up similar to the acorn and spaghetti squash varieties. If you are aiming to get in additional iron and fiber, you will want to go for the pumpkin’s seeds.
We love this Roasted Pumpkin recipe from @SteamyKitchen.
@Jessica_Gavin provides step by step instructions on how to roast those pumpkin seeds.
Vegetarian options are continually expanding, making it easier for vegetarians to meet their nutritional needs through food sources. Leveraging all food groups including vegetables, fruits, grains, dairy, protein and fats aids in more easily achieving nutrients needs on a daily basis. For example, the inclusion of dairy provides Vitamin B12, which is necessary to prevent anemia. If a vegetarian is not yet routinely achieving the vegetarian intake requirements as recommended in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, additional supplementation may be suggested until adequate intake is achieved.
For example, if a vegetarian does not get adequate dairy, soymilk, rice milk or fortified cereals, they may need to supplement Vitamin D and Vitamin B12. If fish or eggs are missing from a vegetarian diet, supplementation of Omega-3 fatty acids may be required as plant-based fatty acid intake in insufficient for human needs. If there are certain food groups that are more difficult to include on a daily basis, the key is slowly adding more in (e.g., one additional time per week, then two additional times, and so on). Ultimately you’ll most likely have to try new products and plan ahead.
There is a lot of nutrition information out there, and while you may be eager to set your child up for healthy lifestyle choices, it is important to understand the age appropriateness of certain teachings.
Specifically, children ages three to five years typically learn best with hands on tasks that involve tearing, mashing and washing. They will not be extensively using utensils, but they will still be practicing some motor skills. They will learn most about nutrition through observance of the other tasks going on around them.
Kids ages five to seven years will have much improved motor skills, and safe and appropriate cooking utensils can be used. There are kid friendly products such as knives, graters and mixing sets. Think ahead and prepare for additional tasks that can easily be incorporated with just a bit of prep (e.g., have your child crack the egg in a small separate dish and then add it to the other ingredients). Additionally, at this age, kids can begin incorporating newly acquired school-based skills in the kitchen. For example, a recipe may be practice for reading.
Once your child becomes a teen, they should be able to participate in almost any part of meal preparation. This may also be a great time to begin introduction of more formal nutrition education. Eatright.org offers lessons on Teaching Your Teen about Nutrition Facts Panels. This is a unique opportunity for you to help your kids forgo many of the nutrition myths out there.
If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” While it is good to ensure that we are fueling our days, a typical breakfast at seven or eight in the morning may not be the answer for you. Everyone is different and this includes hunger cues and food preferences. If you find that you just aren't hungry in the morning, explore why. From there, you can implement possible solutions to make your first meal complete and convenient.
To accomplish this, you’ll first want to ensure that mealtimes in general are prioritized and that distractions are minimized. My favorite hashtag is #cookingisalifeskill. No matter who you are, you need to know how to feed yourself! What you do prepare may depend upon your schedule, desire to cook and taste preferences. You can find a solution that fits you and a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist can help. Keep in mind that you may need to leverage a weekend day where you can pay attention to routines including eating, restroom use and physical activity. There may be some connections between bowel movements and mealtime readiness, for example.
If you feel confident that you truly are not hungry until after it’s time to head out the door, get prepared. Perhaps a higher fat milk or yogurt drink is a quick solution just before you leave the house. This is especially key if a morning snack is may not be feasible. Remember that your body has been fasting all night long.
Overall, here are a few things to keep in mind:
There is significant science associating sleep and nutrition. While food choices can affect sleep, there’s evidence that suggests sleep can also influence diet.
Weight change has been associated with inadequate sleep, whereby appetite-regulating hormones are altered.
Imagine waking up after a restless sleep. You are tired, and you realize you are craving carbohydrate-rich foods. In this scenario, your body is looking for an immediate energy source. In order to properly fuel such a day, it is recommended that your pair those needed carbohydrates with fat and protein. The goal is to give your body the fuel it needs while avoiding a carb-induced sleepiness. While carbohydrates may not be labeled as “snooze foods,” they actually make tryptophan (a protein that causes sleepiness) more readily available to the brain. Ensuring each meal has a mixture of protein, carbohydrates and fat is ideal.
Read more on Nutrition and Sleep from the National Sleep Foundation.
EatRight.org also boasts a great article How Sleep Habits Affect Healthy Weight.
Macronutrient Ratios in a Diet
There's a lot of press on additives. While ingredients are usually top of mind, one of the main points The American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement regards is that of containers. Some of the biggest additive "offenders" were nitrites used to cure meats, BPA which is used to line most cans, and phthalates used in plastics. The statement also called for action on the part of our government for tighter regulations on these chemicals so that we don’t have to be afraid of the food we put in our body and the products our food gets packaged and stored in. Does this mean you should never eat bacon again? Or throw away everything in your kitchen made of plastic? Of course not! However, you can make a few small changes to improve your family’s health.
While it is always a good idea to get be familiar with food safety guidelines, summer is an especially good time to get a refresher on such rules. Temperatures outside rise and family travel picks up, which means food transport and storage will take a little more consideration. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that approximately 1 in 6 Americans get sick from food-borne illnesses each year, so pack your beach or road trip snacks cautiously.
Some key points to note include not leaving food sitting out for more than two hours, or one hour after temperatures reach 90°F. If you are packing a cooler, be sure to clean it out first with soap and warm water to minimize bacteria growth. In general, you want cold food to remain cold (<40°F) so be sure to include ice on your packing list. Some public beaches, parks or rest areas may lack fresh water facilities, so ensuring you have
hand sanitizer is also a good idea. Basic Food Safety Standards can be found here.
There are SO many summer camps out there that it can be hard to pick which ones you want to send your kids to! But of course not as hard as it is to make the spreadsheet for each kid and try to fill in the blanks, pick camps that aren’t too far from each other and then say a prayer that they get into all of the camps making your perfect summer camp spreadsheet complete! #momproblems See below for some of our favorite local summer camps that provide kids with an opportunity to learn cooking and baking skills. Teaching kids these skills now will help them build confidence in the kitchen and enjoy cooking. If you aren’t local to Charleston we recommend checking out your local kids museum, culinary or technical school, and recreation centers.
Amanda Cain | May 27, 2019
Routine during the summer? Isn’t that the whole point – to escape the routine? Whether you’re out of school for the summer, home from college, or have kids on summer break, summer can throw people and families out of their usual flow.
This definitely isn’t all bad – spontaneous trips to the pool or frozen fruit pops are part of what make the summer fun and interesting! However, there are advantages to having some sort of routine.
There’s no need to be overly rigid (deviation is normal and okay!) – but having at least a rough routine to take care of yourself can help you feel your best and make the most of your summer!
1. Keep a regular bedtime routine.
Feel free to deviate from the school year’s usual 8pm to 6am bedtime (or whatever your usual is). Exceptions, vacations, and sleepovers may occur, but if you want to move bedtimes and wake-up times a little later, just try to keep it somewhat regular. If you go to bed and wake up at roughly the same times each day, you can better plan your meals and activities, and may feel a little more energy.
2. Plan your summer meals.
Without a normal routine, it can be easy to either a) skip meals, b) not have meals planned, and/or c) just graze on snacks throughout the day. Try to listen to your hunger cues – grab a snack if you’re hungry, and don’t just eat every hour or so out of boredom.
If you’re doing an activity, consider whether you should eat a meal/snack before you head out, pack a meal/snack, or if it would be reasonable to wait until afterwards. If you’re at home more, take advantage of this! Without the need to pack a lunchbox every day, weekday meals and snacks could include fresh-made items like smoothies, oven-baked vegetables, etc.!
The days may look different, but think ahead - consider continuing to make meal plans, to figure out what food you’ll need and how to nourish your body for the week.
3. Keep it active!
The blessing and the curse of having nowhere to be is the tendency to stay in bed, play video games, or watch TV far longer than we would ordinarily. No matter what your schedule each day, schedule something active. It can even change each day, but set aside a time to do something where you move your body – your body in turn will thank you!
Ever find yourself saying, “I have nothing in my fridge!” Or maybe you just have a pantry full of items that you’ve never gotten around to eating? Sometimes it can be hard to think of pantry meals as opportunities to still get in a balanced meal but if you know us you know that we love them for multiple reasons!
Below are some items that can be helpful to have stocked in your pantry:
We have just a few short weeks left before school is out for the summer. Whether the kids are going to be home or at camp all summer this likely means you’re going to have to start thinking about food a little more! Here are some tips to help keep everyone fueled up for summer fun:
Are you using gentle nutrition to help you live your best life?
What makes a food “healthy?” Ever wondered what foods or styles of eating are “good” or “bad?” While there are some similarities in nutrition recommendations that are generally applicable to most people, like eating more fruits and vegetables, the reality is that the way each person “eats healthy” may be a little different from person to person.
For instance, while whole wheat toast is something that someone with celiac disease might avoid because of its gluten, for another, it’s a great way to get in whole grains, with its carbohydrates, fiber, and folic acid among other nutritional benefits. Likewise, while one person may find switching to black coffee is an easy way to limit added sugars, another may find that much less enjoyable, and might choose to limit his or her added sugars by just using less sweetener, or by decreasing sugar somewhere else during the day.
The point is – you have to find a way to use nutrition guidelines that works for you. Not only does healthy eating look different based on any medical conditions and your taste preferences, but also based on emotions, personality, and lifestyle.
Another example - one person may enjoy the challenge of following nutritional recommendations very closely, and thrive off having accountability to help reach his or her goals. This person may tell friends and family about new nutrition information, or certain “nutritional challenges” they are following. Doing so may motivate him or her to continue towards those goals in a healthy way. Meanwhile, for someone else struggling with disordered eating, hearing negative talk about certain foods in the workplace or with friends could discourage him or her from eating some of the nutritious foods that he or she is already struggling to feel “okay” about eating.
Lastly, remember that nutrition is just one part of health, and that it is not all-or-nothing (nutritional indifference vs nutritional perfection). It’s important to keep nutrition in mind, but for the sake of quality of life, learn how to strive for nutritional progress while making peace with nutritional imperfection.
Here are some questions to ask yourself to determine what “healthy eating” might look like for you:
1. Do you have any medical conditions? What are your nutrition priorities?
If someone has a severe peanut allergy, the first thing they check on the nutrition label is probably not going to be the saturated fat content. It’s likely the ingredients – to make sure there are no peanuts. That’s not to say people can or should only consider one aspect of nutrition when looking at food, but some issues may be more important for you.
With all the nutrition “advice” out there, some of which may not always even be accurate, it can get overwhelming. If you followed ALL the nutrition “advice” out there, you couldn’t eat anything, which isn’t good either. Think of what nutrition priorities might be most important for you, and focus on those. If you’re not sure, seeing a registered dietitian nutritionist is a great start.
2. What might some of my loved ones be struggling with regarding food?
I personally think there is something very special about sharing food and meals with the people you love – it’s like nourishing your body and your soul at the same time. Yet sometimes, eating with others can become a source of stress. Practice being present and mindful; slow down and enjoy not only the food, but the time with loved ones.
Especially in your immediate family, consider in what ways you’d like your diet to match and differ from other family members. Maybe you choose to go vegetarian alongside a spouse, or you try new foods together every night with a picky eater. On the other hand, maybe you need a different amount of food at each meal than another family member based on your age or activity level, etc.
Try also to be aware of how you talk about food with others. It can be a good thing to find a support system, but especially in larger groups of people, consider your audience. You may not know who is struggling with their own dietary restrictions, weight, disordered eating, etc.
3. Just because this works for this person, will it work for me?
One person’s nutrition goals may look very different from another’s, and one person’s way of eating may not work for another. That’s okay – we’re all different. Sometimes we can draw inspiration from others – a new snack idea, a new recipe, etc.
And while how we eat may evolve with us throughout life, consider how your nutritional choices will make you feel physically, mentally, emotionally. And if you’re not sure whether it’s something that is good for your body, or that you could enjoy and be okay with, don’t stress – eating healthy has more than one look. Meeting with a dietitian can help you strategize what ideas might work best for you.
[Spanish version here]
Amanda Cain, Medical University of South Carolina Dietetic Intern
Author: Morgan Curless
It’s Spring and gardens all over are popping up. We love the beautiful flowers and fresh produce that come from our garden, however, it's key we ensure that the soil used is nutrient-dense enough to grow bountiful products. Compost soil is an amazing way to minimize food waste, while also adding a variety of nutrients needed into the soil.
What Can be composted:
All of these items can be broken down and used for soil. Composting can be done directly in the back yard and turned daily to promote breakdown. Composting has not only growing benefits, but also earthly benefits. Typically, waste is sent to a landfill when not composted. During decomposition in the landfill a toxic gas, methane, is released into the air. Composting is a biological process that does not release methane, reducing the toxicity in the air we breathe. Composting is an excellent way to improve the quality of our garden, while also improving our environment.
Each time I cut the top off of a carrot or dump my coffee grounds into the trash I consider the possibility of composting, and potential for my waste to become something more than just trash. I currently live on the second floor of an apartment complex and have no way to build a compost pile, nor the time to maintain it even if I did. There was once very little one could do with their compostable waste in this type of living situation. Now, there are multiple solutions from community gardens to services like CompostNow, that offers composting services.
We can’t help but geek out over the idea of nutrient-cycling and replenishing lost nutrients back into the soil. Composting our waste products is a great way to not only reduce our carbon foot print, but also ensure the nutrient profile is maximized in the produce we are feeding ourselves and our families.
Author: Savannah Weeks
According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID), “a food allergy is defined as an adverse health effect arising from a specific immune response that occurs reproducibly on exposure to a given food.” Prevalence of food allergies has increased significantly over the past decade and is an important health issue for millions of Americans. However, false or clinically irrelevant positive allergy tests for foods are common. Indiscriminate and non-evidence-based screenings often lead to unnecessary dietary restriction.
Specifically, tests such as allergen-specific IgG are not supported by evidence and should not be used to diagnose food allergies. Only serum IgE tests and double-blind, placebo-controlled food challenges can be used to diagnose food allergies. Many serum samples show positive IgG results for foods that cause no clinical symptoms in patients. There are no controlled studies demonstrating the diagnostic value of IgG testing in food allergy. IgG results indicate that someone has been repeatedly exposed to food components, recognized as foreign proteins by the immune system. This does not mean that the person is hypersensitive to the food component, but rather that there is immunological tolerance. It merely shows a normal physiological response of the immune system after exposure to food components.
Food allergies can be frightening and serious, but they are still rare. It’s estimated that >20% of the population is modifying their diet due to a perceived food allergy, but it is estimated that only 4% of adults have true food allergies. Unnecessary dietary restriction can lead to nutrient deficiencies, lower quality of life, and decreased enjoyment of food. If you suspect you might have a food allergy, talk to your doctor and avoid testing from any non-medical professional.
Cheyenne is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist located in the Charleston, SC area.