Back to school: Tips for kids with digestive issues

Back to school: Tips for kids with digestive issues

Sending your child back to school each fall can make any parent a little nervous. But it can be particularly difficult for parents who have a child with a digestive issue. Lunch time can be challenging.  The most common digestive problem for kids is irritable bowel syndrome or IBS, a disorder which affects the lower gastrointestinal system.

So what can a parent do? What are the best foods to send for lunch?

“There are certain foods that you can avoid packing for lunch if your child has problems with irritable bowel syndrome,” says Dr. Michele ChoDorado, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Advocate Children’s Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill. “You can avoid fermentable sugars. These tend to cause bloating and gassiness in people with IBS.  Other foods that are common triggers for digestive problems include spicy, fried or heavy foods.”

Dr. Cho-Dorado also advises parents to make sure to manage portion sizes. Don’t pack too much and keep meals simple. Also, she says it is a good idea to talk with children to see what types of foods make him/her feel poorly, as his or her input is important.

“My advice to parents is to be creative with nutritious food options,” says Dr. Cho-Dorado. “Not all healthy snacks need to taste badly. Unfortunately, when meals are too “boring” for children, they sometimes will end up not eating it at all.” Dr. Cho-Dorado recommends keeping meals interesting and somewhat different from day to day, making sure that your child is still getting the nutrients he or she needs.

Digestive issues in children are very common and come at all ages. However, there are certain red flags when you should seek help for his/her digestive issues. They include:

  • Persistent and/or worsening abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloody stools
  • Weight loss

Finally, remember that as children and families begin to identify specific food triggers, symptoms will usually be managed better over time.

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About the Author

Evonne Woloshyn
Evonne Woloshyn

Evonne Woloshyn, health enews contributor, is director of public affairs at Advocate Children's Hospital. Evonne began her career as an anchor and reporter in broadcast news. Over the past 20 years, she has worked in health care marketing in both Ohio and Illinois. Evonne loves to travel, spend time with family and is an avid Pittsburgh Steelers fan!