Kids have allergies? I blame Wonder Bread. And Twinkies. And Fruit Snacks.

by brenda on March 14, 2013

If you’re a parent of 2 or more children, I am guessing that at least one of your children has allergies. Or asthma? Your kids have asthma, don’t they? Or at least, you know someone (or a lot of people) whose kids have allergies. I’m right, right? 🙂

I was dining out with 2 of my friends recently, and we were talking about our kids’ allergies. 2 out of 3 of us have kids with allergies. One of my friends has kids who do not have any allergies. I have a theory about why this happens, so I asked my friends the following question:

“What did you eat as a child? Were you allowed to eat processed junk food?”

The answers?

Friend 1 (who has kids with no food allergies): Pretty much everything homemade. Lots of veggies. Worst food she ate? Spam. Have you looked at the ingredients of Spam? It’s 90% pork shoulder, then ham, then salt, then a little sugar & sodium nitrate. I don’t like the last 2 ingredients, but it’s mostly decent stuff. I personally don’t want to eat it ;), but in the way of “processed foods,” this villainized food really isn’t a villain.

Friend 2 (who has kids with food allergies): Consumed junk food and processed foods as a kid.

Me (who has kids with food allergies): Our pantry was stocked with Ding Dongs, Twinkies, Fruit Roll Ups, Doritos and candy. Rice-a-Roni and Top Ramen were regular side dishes. I seriously didn’t “get” why my friends’ parents restricted their consumption of sugar cereals–I could eat it freely, and I did. Often times, I had 8 bowls full at one sitting!

So what’s my theory?

I believe that feeding processed food to a child will negatively impact the health of their future children.

(Or, their ability to reproduce…that’s another epidemic these days, but we can talk about that later!).

I don’t have statistics or studies to back up my theory. I think it is true, but that doesn’t make it true.

What did you eat as a child? Do your kids have allergies? Do you believe that the way you ate as a child has impacted your child’s health?

photo credits: Christian Cable, Phillip Pessar, SweetfixNYC

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Joy March 14, 2013 at 11:09 am

Very interesting! I think you’re onto something. I have children with food allergies/sensitivities as well as seasonal allergies. Looking back, I was a picky eater as a child. A lot of macaroni and cheese, sugary cereal, and many more processed junk foods! Yuck!

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Becky H. March 14, 2013 at 11:36 am

Yes! We ate a bunch of processed crap growing up and all three of my children deal with allergies in some form. I never remember drinking water a child (and when it was suggested, it seemed like someone was asking me to cut off my own arm. lol!) so that means I drank a TON of Kool-aid. There were home-cooked meals too but usually on the weekends (my mom worked full time most of the time when I was growing up), but I shudder at some of the stuff I ate as a child, and especially as a teen. My go-to breakfast in high school was a Twix candy bar and Dr Pepper, lunch was Taco Bell or “cheese” fries from the cafeteria, and I would make top ramen as a snack when I got home.

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Heidi March 15, 2013 at 11:22 am

I’m not disagreeing with your theory, but the opposite is true for my children and me. I grew up in a house where my mom kept processed food out of our diet and healty, whole foods in them, we were not vaccinated, I was never on an antibiotic, and rarely took medicine. I did not eat perfect from the cafeteria in college, but ate a fairly balanced diet, married right out of college, and had kids right away. Two of my three children have food allergies. If I could do it all over again, I would eat zero processed foods during pregnancy just to know that I gave my developing baby the best possible start. Many of my friends took no precautions with food while pregnant and feed their children mostly processed foods and deal with zero food allergies. I do think it’s a combination of many things, and the food we eat does play a role in this problem.

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Christina March 28, 2013 at 9:49 pm

I think the problem I have with this theory is that it is nearly impossible to find people in our age range who didn’t eat many processed foods as kids. Even if you didn’t eat “junk food” as a kid, which I didn’t, I still ate a lot of things that weren’t traditional foods. I ate margarine instead of butter, cheap white bread instead of whole wheat and/or sourdough breads, I ate grain-fed animal products and pasteurized dairy and Saltine crackers and white rice. My grandmother grew up on a rural farm in southern Texas eating nourishing traditional meals. I have food allergies and so does my husband and so do our kids and so does almost every family I know. I didn’t even know I had food allergies until last summer (age 30). I think that a lot of people are developing allergies to foods they wouldn’t have been sensitive to at all in the past because of a number of factors, including our bodies being over-burdened by all the nasty things we have to process. We can’t handle it all. In the past, food allergies may not have meant you couldn’t eat the food. It might have meant you were a sickly child and nothing more, as you eventually figured out what you could eat and what you “didn’t like.”

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Leena1021 June 3, 2014 at 3:49 am

Omg a blogger who finally articulated what I have been thinking! I also think maternal and paternal diet prior to conception and mother’s diet during pregnancy also play a big role. I’m no scientist, but I believe food affects our gene expression and this is passed on to our kids.

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Leena1021 June 3, 2014 at 3:52 am

I should add that I ate nothing but junk and processed food growing up. We had free range over the pantry. I ate horribly during my first pregnancy too. My oldest child has eczema, respiratory allergies and mild food allergies.

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Leena1021 June 3, 2014 at 3:53 am

Range = reign

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