Like most moms whose children have food allergies, I am always trying to make sure that the limited foods my daughter eats are nutritious enough to make up for the foods she cannot have. For this reason, we met with a dietitian, and I have continued to experiment with many recipes to try and make foods my daughter can not only eat, but enjoy–hence the reason that I blog and share what I have learned.
But one very important piece has been lacking in my daughter’s diet puzzle; something I did not know about, and our dietitian did not even mention to us. Of all the doctor’s we have seen, it was Dr. Google–of all places–that finally brought up the importance of vitamin D and Calcium in a child’s diet, and the consequences when these needs are not met. I found this out after my daughter began complaining about pain in her knees, and then woke up screaming and crying in pain, holding onto her knees.
What Is Rickets?
According to the American Family Physician’s website, “Rickets is a bone problem that affects children. It happens when your child’s bones do not form correctly. Rickets can make your child’s bones hurt, and the bones can bend and break easily”. And it affects many kids in the knees.
The cause, according to the same site, can either be genetic or due to a nutritional deficiency–specifically of vitamin D and calcium. Nutritional rickets can presumably be treated by fixing a child’s diet, but that of course would take time while your child is in pain. So, it is obviously best to just try to avoid it in the first place.
How Can I Prevent My Child From Getting Rickets?
If there is a family history of rickets, I do not have an answer for that. But if your child is on a special diet and cannot have things like dairy and eggs, then it is very important to ensure that your child has enough calcium and vitamin D.
Some allergy-friendly sources of calcium according to Webmd, include spinach, kale, okra, collard greens, salmon and other fish, white beans, fortified orange juice, and cereals fortified with calcium (and vitamin D).
Allergy friendly sources of vitamin D are harder to come by, however. Dairy and eggs are the main sources other than the sun for most children. But for a child like mine with developmental allergic colitis, who cannot have dairy or eggs, the sources are very limited. The only allergy friendly sources of vitamin D that I have found are salmon, shrimp, fortified orange juice, and fortified rice milk.
Take Away Lessons
So, if your child has food allergies, should you be concerned about rickets? Well, I like to go by the “better safe than sorry” motto. My daughter’s doctor believes she is a little young to be experiencing growing pains, but since vitamin deficient rickets is cured by diet change anyway, we are giving it time to get better before going any further medically.
But that woke me up to the reality of how important it is to make sure your child has a balanced diet; and that scared me. The last thing any of us want is for our children to be in pain or to have serious health issues. If my daughter did not have food allergies, I would not have to worry about this because milk and eggs for breakfast and cheese sticks for snacks would fill most of the nutritional needs that she is now lacking.
But when a child has food allergies, essential nutrients become much more of a reality, and it is imperative that parents think outside that box and provide their child with the things they need to grow and develop normally. It is a lot of work. It takes a lot of planning. It is not easy. But our children are worth it. And if you need ideas to get these important vitamins (and others) in your child’s diet, please keep reading and check our my other blogs with recipes and information.
Toddler Food Ideas Rich in Calcium and Vitamin D
These are foods things that I now make sure my daughter gets:
- Fortified rice milk at least a couple times a day
- Fortified orange juice in the morning with breakfast
- Salmon at least twice a week
- See my recipe for salmon tacos here.
- Salmon is great because it is also high in fat, which is so important for a growing child, and unlike many types of fish, it is low in mercury.
- Fried shrimp a few times a month
- Bread thawed, raw shrimp in GF all-purpose flour mixed with fair amounts of Old Bay seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper for flavoring. Fry in avocado or canola oil.
- Fried okra at least once a week.
- Bread halfway frozen okra okra with GF all-purpose flour & cornmeal (3-1 ratio), mixed with a fair amount of onion powder, garlic powder, and paprika. You will not need an egg-replacer because the okra itself is slimy. And if it is only halfway thawed, it will be just slimy enough for the breading to stick, but not so slimy that it makes a mess. Fry in avocado or canola oil.
- My daughter will eat fried okra dipped in (allergy friendly) ranch like she’s eating Pringles; she can’t stop.
- Spinach and other leafy greens at least 3 times a week.
- I add spinach and romaine or other lettuce to all of her tacos and wraps. And since she cannot have normal bread, she eats tacos and wraps regularly throughout the week.
- Another way to add leafy greens is to add them in a soup. Try my Winter Comfort Soup and replace half of the Swiss chard with spinach (or all of it, if you’d rather). Just add the spinach closer to the end of cooking since it wilts much faster than Swiss chard.
- Homemade hummus with navy beans and garbanzo beans
- I do not have a recipe for that online yet, but I have in the past just blended navy beans, garbanzo beans, avocado oil, lemon juice, herbs, and paprika together to make a hummus for my daughter to dip her veggie crisps in.
- Navy beans are a white bean, so they are high in calcium.
- Indian Fry Bread tacos occasionally
- See my blog here, for the recipe.
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