Good kid = good actions
“Bad” kid = bad actions
Good kid + bad food = bad kid
What if “bad” kid = bad actions = bad food?
Is there anything to it or is it a bunch of baloney?
If you read my post yesterday then you know that we have been through some tough times with our kids. We think we have learned a thing or two about how food acts in our kids’ bodies. You can read the background about how we found success in our family here.
Kids inherently want to be good, and kids will be kids. They will have their share of meltdowns and demonstrate irrational behavior. No loving parent would knowingly feed their kids bad food, but kids can seldom put into words the way their body feels. Instead they act out.
It’s our job as parents to teach them how to act and help them grow up to be productive members of society. How do we know when kids are being kids, or if kids are acting out as a reaction to what we feed them? Over the last six years I have come to think diet first and ask, “What has she eaten today?”
Sometimes it is obvious she had too much sugar, dye, or gluten. If there is no reasonable answer, then my backup question becomes, “Was there a birthday party or snack at school today?” If there is no error in diet then we’re going to have a come to Jesus meeting on the other side of this incident, and appropriate consequences will be issued. If diet is to blame we revisit the actions after everyone has had a chance to calm down and regain composure. There is no free pass, but a little more grace is given as we establish tools and talk through how to act in these situations.
A British TV series The Food Hospital did an experiment on how food affects behavior. If you’ve read this far and still believe that food has nothing to do with behavior allow me to set the stage. Kids ages 5-9 went attended a birthday party and were split into two groups.
Group One: was fed healthy options such as apple slices, carrot sticks, sandwiches, hummus, etc. and was given water to drink.
Group Two: received the usual party fare: candy, potato chips, and soda all containing loads of sugar, artificial coloring, and other additives.
If seeing is believing this 2:36 minute video shows how each group reacted.
Here are the results after play and party games:
The conclusion is evident in the chart. Kids behave better, follow instructions better, and have a better memory when they eat healthier food.
The difficult task is figuring out which additives affect which child. My girls are different, both are affected by dye, but one is severely affected by gluten. Trial, error, and time are the best components to developing a healthy balance.
Don’t forget to love, laugh, and play between the tantrums while finding what meets your needs.
My youngest loves to play in the dirt. She enjoys making mud pies and she loves to talk about poop. Two of the simplest things to help improve gut health are top on her list-and they help her gut. If there is still doubt that food affects the gut and behavior, then let’s take some first steps as simple solutions.
The Specific Carbohydrate Diet is quite complex, so we’ll simplify to say it that it helps people with bowel and gut issues. SCD Lifestyle suggests three steps to improve your gut:
- Study your poop
- Keep fermented foods on hand
- Let kids play in the dirt
Examining poop is easy with my 4 year old. “Mom, come look at my poop. I have new poop!” It isn’t for polite conversation, but it might be worth a look. The Bristol chart can help. In our house we talk about poop a lot.
Keeping fermented foods on hand is easier said than done at my house. I don’t even know where to find goat yogurt. When I make sauerkraut and sausage I add a little sugar, and apple juice. The kids barely nibble at it. If your kids eat fermented foods then you are doing something well. I like probiotic tablets instead.
Do you remember making mud pies as a child? I do. I loved squishing my fingers through the dirt. Sad to say I even ate some. When kids roll in the dirt and play in allergens they are less susceptible to them.
Food has more to do with kids’ behavior than parents realize. Parents want to give their kids tools to succeed, but never considered food as a harmful option. The British study shows how heavily food can affect behavior. A healthy kid has a healthy gut. Don’t forget to let kids play in the dirt, and keep talking about poop, maybe just not at the table.