Mealtime disputes over eating vegetables are common to every family but for parents of children with SJIA, ensuring your child maintains a healthy diet can be even more challenging.
A child affected by SJIA may experience a suppressed appetite, especially during flares. This could be as a result of the disease itself or perhaps a side-effect of a medication they are taking. When a child feels sick and is experiencing symptoms such as joint pain, fatigue, fever or stomach pain, they may find eating difficult. It could also be physically difficult for them to eat, as arthritis in their hands may make using utensils much harder.
On the other hand, some medications could increase their appetite, meaning they feel hungry a lot of the time and perhaps eat more unhealthy food than they should.
All this can make it hard to ensure your child is getting all of the nutrients they need in order to grow and be healthy. But there are steps you can take to make food less of a struggle for you and your child.
A dietician or nutritional expert can work with you and your child to figure out ways to combat any food-related issues. This could be through behavioural changes such as altering mealtime routines, or it could be through dietary changes and suggestions on types of food to buy and cook.
It could also involve working with the dietician to educate your child about their diet and why it’s important to eat certain foods and get the nutrients they need to help their body grow strong and ready to deal with their flares.
There is currently no evidence to support a special diet for children with SJIA and simply following a balanced diet is recommended. But there has been research into foods which may have a beneficial effect on arthritis symptoms, through fighting inflammation, strengthening bones and supporting the immune system:
These are just some suggestions, but simply doing what you can to help them keep a balanced diet and ensuring that they are receiving the right medical treatment are the most important ways to help them stay healthy with their condition.
1) Kidsgetarthritistoo.org. (2018). Juvenile Arthritis Diet | Nutritional Therapy | Arthritis Today. [online] Available at: http://www.kidsgetarthritistoo.org/living-with-ja/daily-life/healthy-eating/juvenile-arthritis-nutrition.php
2) Kidsgetarthritistoo.org. (2018). Juvenile Arthritis | Diet | Kids Get Arthritis Too. [online] Available at: http://www.kidsgetarthritistoo.org/kids-and-teens/teens/every-day-with-ja/healthy-eating-ja-diet.php
3) Jia.org.uk. (2018). Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis. [online] Available at: https://www.jia.org.uk/diet-and-jia