With spring right around the corner, many of us gear up to cleanse. Cleansing has traditionally been done in the spring to clear our bodies from a winter diet that is often quite a bit heavier in fats, grains, and proteins. There is a plethora of cleanses to choose from and many of them are specific to certain results one would like to achieve, whether it be to lose weight, simply clear out the system, or to test oneself for food allergies. Cleansing, however, can be hard on our bodies and is not recommended for children. Yet children suffer from food allergies and seasonal allergies as much, if not more, than adults.

Seasonal allergies can be miserable, and many of us attempting to live a natural lifestyle prefer to stay away from over-the-counter allergy medicine. There are some natural ways to help minimize seasonal allergies for both adults and children.

* Local honey- eating a teaspoon of local honey a day can help the body get homeopathic doses of the pollens in their area. This can sometimes help the body get used to them, and most children are happy to take it!

* Nettle tea- Nettles have been found to contain natural antihistamine compounds that can soothe common seasonal comlplaints. It makes a mild tea that can be mixed with other teas or drunk alone.

* Neti pots- These little teapots flush the nasal passages and keep them clear of mucus.

* Omega 3s-Found in cold-water fish, flax and chia seeds, Omega 3s have been linked to reducing allergies.

* Of course, a clean, healthy diet is the best way to support the ┬ábody and its natural defenses. It’s best to avoid processed foods, especially simple carbs (such as white flours and sugars), and too much sugar. Plenty of vegetables and fruits is always recommended.

Food allergies in children have certainly increased in recent years, and although many parents and doctors are catching on, they are still often overlooked. Food sensitivity is tricky to discover, but symptoms can include dark circles under eyes, recurring ear aches, chronic stuffiness/mucus buildup, stomach aches, skin rashes, bladder (bed wetting) issues, and even oversensitivity in the emotional realm. While one can be tested for these at the doctor, there are ways to test it at home too. With my children, I’ve used the elimination diet, where the most common allergenic foods (such as gluten, dairy, corn, sugar, tomatoes, eggs, and soy) are removed from the diet for a certain time and added back in one at a time, while monitoring any changes. Luckily, there are many alternatives available these days, so one can supplement crackers, pasta, and bread with gluten free, and there are many non-dairy and alternatively sweetened products. Eliminating foods that cause sensitivities in ourselves and our children can help us feel so much better, both physically and emotionally.

Reconditioning our diets is not easy, yet so worth it when we see how much more energy we have when we cut out the foods that irritate us. With children, who are often times already picky, it can seem like quite a task, but if we can teach them to listen to their bodies at an early age, we are setting them up for health and wellness for their whole lives.

Tessa Munson Wood, Children’s Category Manager

For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.