Allergy or Intolerance?

A physical reaction after eating particular foods is very common, especially in children. However, how do you know if your child has food allergy or food intolerance? They share some of the same symptoms so deciphering can be difficult. Both allergies and intolerance’s to food may develop through-out life. The best thing to do is watch your child for symptoms after eating common allergy foods.

What is a food allergy?

1 in 13 children in the United States currently struggle with food allergies.

For no particular reason a person may be allergic to a food. If they consume this food their body will recognize it as an invader. This will cause an immune response in their body. This immune response is what triggers the bad and uncomfortable symptoms experienced. In the case of a food allergy, the response is often severe and can occur even when touching the allergen food.

What is food intolerance?

Unlike a food allergy, food intolerance does not cause an immune response in the body. Instead it occurs when your body lacks the proper proteins to break down a food. If the food cannot be digested it will cause a variety of GI related symptoms. Food intolerance is very uncomfortable but usually less severe and not life threatening.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that food allergies among children increased 50% between 1997 and 2011. A large leap with no clear answer why.

The Symptom Difference

Food Allergy


Food Intolerance
Immediate reaction after eating the food Symptoms may appear later
Eating a small amount or touching the food will cause symptoms A small amount can be consumed with little effect
Life-threatening Not life-threatening

Stomach pain



Rash, Hives, Itchy skin

Shortness of breath

Chest pain

Drop in blood pressure

Trouble swallowing or breathing


Stomach pain








The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends some effective tips for living with a food allergy or intolerance:


Read Labels Carefully: Double check labels every time you buy. Manufactures may change ingredient or items may contain unexpected foods. Don’t forget to check non-food items as well: cosmetics, soaps, and skin care.

Luckily the Food and Drug Administration has required food companies to specify if their food contains any of the eight most common allergens.

  • Milk
  • Egg
  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts (walnuts, cashews)
  • Fish (pollock, salmon, cod, tuna, snapper, eel and tilapia)
  • Shellfish (shrimp, lobster, crab)
  • Soy
  • Wheat

Talk with your daycare and school: Inform teachers, nurses, and administrators at your child daycare and school of any food allergies or intolerances. They can make accommodations to make sure your child is protected.

Chandler Unified School District and Allergies

CUSD Nutrition goes to extra lengths to make sure students suffering with allergies are safe.

Want to find out what foods are safe and allergen free for your child?


Select your child’s school menu

Hover over any food item to see if it contains any of the 8 allergens

Even better! Have everything containing the allergen crossed off the menu using the filter located on the right side of the menu.

If you would like a separate menu created for your child to accommodate their allergies click here for more information.


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