Have you ever heard of “milk and cookie disease?” I hadn’t. But you might be surprised to learn that it affects nearly half of all children in North America. 

According to ear, nose, and throat specialist Dr. Julie Wei, symptoms include chronic runny nose, cough, sore throat and fatigue. And, as the name suggests, it’s caused by eating lots of dairy and sugar, especially at night. The reason: Because dairy and sugar are hard to digest, they stay in the stomach longer, and the liquid backs up into the esophagus when kids lie down causing acid reflux and sleep disturbances. On top of that, kids who suffer from milk and cookie disease often have trouble swallowing because their throat is sore. So they tend to prefer softer foods like yogurt, smoothies and mushy cheese. But those foods just fuel the problem and make the symptoms worse. 
If your child’s doctor has ruled out issues like swollen tonsils or adenoids, and you think your child has milk and cookie disease, try cutting down on nighttime snacks. If your kid’s still hungry after dinner, stick with easy-to-digest foods like a banana or whole wheat crackers. You should see an improvement in their symptoms and energy levels in just a few weeks.