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Kids with Psoriasis: Eating Healthy

Why it’s never too early for kids with psoriasis to build a healthy relationship with food.

Medically reviewed in August 2021

As a parent, it’s important to help your kids build a healthy relationship with food. Establishing healthy eating habits at a young age can benefit children and teens throughout their lives. For kids who have psoriasis, good nutrition and eating habits may help them better manage the condition.

Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin disorder that can cause a variety of symptoms. The most common type of psoriasis is plaque psoriasis, though there are other types—and the symptoms and type of psoriasis a person has can change throughout their lifetime. There is no cure for psoriasis, and treatment focuses on reducing symptoms and minimizing the impact psoriasis has a on a person’s life.

While there is no specific diet recommended for people with psoriasis, nutrition is recognized as an important aspect of psoriasis management.

Keep reading to learn what the research says about psoriasis and nutrition, along with some tips on how to help kids with psoriasis establish a good relationship with the foods they eat.

Food and psoriasis
Our understanding of psoriasis has increased dramatically over the years. However, there are still many unanswered questions. Among those questions—how does food impact things like disease activity, flares, and response to treatment?

Here’s a summary of what researchers know and don’t know:

  • It’s recommended that people with psoriasis focus on eating an overall healthy diet that includes fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats.
  • Any changes to a diet should be made under the guidance of a pediatrician. Different people have different nutritional needs and different psoriasis triggers, and a diet should be tailored to an individual.
  • There is some evidence that good nutrition can help improve psoriasis management (though it needs to be stressed that psoriasis cannot be managed with diet alone).
  • There is a lot of evidence that a healthy diet can help people maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of diseases like type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure (which are more prevalent among people with psoriasis, including people under the age of 18).
  • Avoiding foods that promote inflammation is also important. Foods high in saturated fats, red meat, sugary foods, and alcohol can promote inflammation.
  • Some people with psoriasis have reported that nightshades make psoriasis symptoms worse. Nightshades are plants that contain solanine (eggplant, peppers, white potatoes, and tomatoes). This is not supported by research, but people should pay attention to their individual food sensitivities.
  • Gluten is a topic to discuss with your child’s pediatrician. Celiac disease—an autoimmune disease where eating gluten causes damage to the small intestine—is more prevalent among people who have psoriasis. Gluten is a protein found in foods like bread, pasta, and other baked goods. Celiac disease can be diagnosed with a blood test.

You should also ask your pediatrician about your child’s nutritional needs, and whether they should be taking any vitamins or nutritional supplements.

Encouraging healthy eating habits
As a parent, there is plenty that you can do to help a child or children with psoriasis build a healthy relationship with food. Some strategies to consider:

  • Set a good example. Be a role model for the habits you want to encourage in your kids by making good food choices, paying attention to portion size, and limiting unhealthy foods and unhealthy eating habits (such as late-night snacking).
  • Involve kids in planning and preparation. Teach your kids the steps that go into finding recipes, making a shopping list, and preparing a meal by involving them in the process and letting them make choices.
  • Eat meals together. It can be tough to fit a meal into a busy schedule, but you should be in the habit of eating together whenever you can.
  • Don’t stress too much. Food should be something that you and your family enjoy, not a source of stress. Keep things as simple as possible.
  • Allow the occasional treat. The focus should be on making good food choices the majority of the time—not feeling guilty over the occasional treat.

You may also want to encourage kids with psoriasis to keep a journal that tracks their symptoms, how they feel each day, and the foods they eat. Keeping a journal can help identify triggers and track patterns in symptoms, and can be a useful tool for managing psoriasis at any age.

Medically reviewed in August 2021.

Sources:
Naoko Kanda, Toshihiko Hoashi, and Hidehisa Saeki. "Nutrition and Psoriasis." International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 2020. Vol. 21, No. 15.
American Academy of Dermatology Association. "Healthy Diet and Other Lifestyle Changes that can Improve Psoriasis."
UpToDate. "Patient education: Psoriasis (Beyond the Basics)."
National Psoriasis Foundation. Psoriasis and Diet: Researchers Examine the Relationship Between Food and Disease."
Mayo Clinic. "Psoriasis diet: Can changing your diet treat psoriasis?" 
American Academy of Dermatology Association. "What Should I Eat if I Have Psoriasis?"
Morgan Meissner. "Expert perspectives: Anti-inflammatory diet for psoriasis." Medical News Today. March 5, 2021.
I. M. G. J. Bronckers, A. S. Paller, et al. "Psoriasis in Children and Adolescents: Diagnosis, Management and Comorbidities." Paediatric Drugs, 2015. Vol. 17.
Michael Traub. "Psoriasis." Textbook of Natural Medicine. Fifth Edition, 2021.
Lori Smith. "Do nightshade vegetables make arthritis worse?" Medical News Today. December 2, 2020.
MedlinePlus. "Celiac Disease."
Bhavnit K. Bhatia, Jillian W. Millsop, et al. "Diet and Psoriasis: Part 2. Celiac Disease and Role of a Gluten-Free Diet." Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 2014. Vol. 71, No. 2.
Stanford Children's Health. "Kids Need Their Nutrients."
Cleveland Clinic healthessentials. "5 Do’s and Don’ts for Raising a Healthy Eater."

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