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Special diets & medical conditions

Food-related behaviours, preferences and sensitivities


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Children and young people with developmental issues, disabilities or communication exceptionalities like autism may exhibit varying food-related behaviours, preferences and sensitivities.

It is not realistic to list every possible condition that might have an impact on a child’s health and food intake; further information is available from specific sites or support groups, however, some of the more common challenges are mentioned here.

Food intolerance & food allergies

Food intolerance is defined as an unpleasant reaction to a specific food or ingredient; a food allergy is a form of food intolerance. Common foods which can occasionally cause severe reactions include peanuts, shellfish, eggs, wheat and other cereals. If any child or young person living in a foster placement or a residential care establishment has a medically-diagnosed food allergy, appropriate medical advice and any dietary requirements to avoid specific foods or ingredients must be closely followed. Medical advice should always be sought before specific foods are excluded from the diet.   


Useful resources with more details can be accessed through British Dietetic Association (BDA) and British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) websites.

Food Allergies & Intolerances

Milk allergy

Lactose intolerance

Other medical conditions

Carers and residential staff should ensure that they are familiar with the conditions and with procedures for accessing a special diet, and ensure that these are followed. Useful resources with more details can be accessed through either the British Dietetic Association (BDA), British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) or National Health Service (NHS) websites. Medical advice should be sought if you are unsure about which foods are appropriate for a child or young person with a special diet or medical condition.


Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Iron deficiency – anaemia,%20health%20and%20schoolchildren_Iron%20deficiency%20anaemia%20factsheet.pdf



Coeliac disease

Other diets


Vegetarian diet

Vegan diet

More information from the 'Special diet' category

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Food in Care book cover

Download all the information on this website in one handy PDF.

The ‘Care for Something to Eat’ PDF provides a detailed insight into the needs of CiC, and a comprehensive understanding of practical tools and ideas that carers and other professionals can use in everyday situations when providing child care.

Download [4.2MB] >