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In the book Bad Attitude: Reverse Your Child's Rudeness In 1 Week - With Food!, authors Audrey Ricker, Ph.D. and Brian Cabin, M.D. describe these behavioral symptoms as ones often related to food: backtalk , fixation with Snack Food , rudeness when Eating, split Personalities, aggressiveness, sullenness, paranoia , sleepy, rudeness, pessimism, belligerent, cravings, hyper/sluggish. We know that every time the child talks back it’s not related to food. But, kids aren’t supposed to be unhappy, grumpy and rude all the time. Healthy kids are happy, resilient and morecollaborative. If your child experiences the above symptoms too frequently or you notice a pattern of any of those behaviors, there’s a good chance his/her diet is playing a role. In fact your child’s tummy and brain are more closely related than you might realize. Our second brain, or the gut, literally contains its own nervous system. In fact, the ‘brain’ in our gut contains more neurotransmitters than the brain in our head! This means that what your child is eating, drinking and how well he/she’s digesting it impacts his/her mood and behavior. Just in Bhagwad Gita the Lord says, the food we eat are in 3 different modes. If goodness is the mode of our food, so will be our mood.
Casey Seidenberg, co-founder of an educational program called Nourish Schools, wrote an article in The Washington Post about certain foods that can potentially help with downer days. Specifically, Seidenberg says, foods rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids are great for fueling the brain’s “happy chemicals.”
Protein is broken down into amino acids — these are the building blocks of the brain’s neurotransmitters that can induce feelings of relaxation, contentment, happiness, and wellbeing. Our bodies use omega-3 fatty acids to build a healthy brain. These fats may also slow down the enzymes that destroy neurotransmitters.
Some of the best mood foods are beans, legumes, nuts, chia seeds, walnuts, protein-rich whole grains, and flaxseed. On the flip side, some foods are known to be mood-lowering. Sugar, refined carbohydrates, and caffeine can lend quick flashes of energy, but later lead to a “crash” that leaves a person feeling more drained than before. Many food additives, such as aspartame and food colorings, can negatively affect mood and behavior in children. Of course, food doesn’t necessarily cure or create moods, but it can certainly play a role in emotional health especially in kids.
What should be the food depending on your child's mood?
Given below are the scoops of experts' researches, on what to eat to make the child feel better depending on his/her mood:
When your child is Sluggish: Give a Spinach treat
Your child is unable to concentrate? Does he/she appear very inactive and dull? Then give him/her a spinich treat. Joanna Dolgoff, MD, author of Red Light, Green Light, Eat Right says “Folic acid, or folate, helps your body to process and lower homocysteine levels, high levels of homocysteine are associated with damage to blood vessels, in addition to interfering with the flow of blood and nutrients to the brain. Impaired blood flow may leave you feeling sluggish or slow to process or recall information.” What’s the best way to get a boost? Eat folate-rich foods like spinach and other leafy green vegetables as well as potatoes, fortified breads and cereals, beans, peas.
When your child is Cranky: Give an Apple with Peanut Butter
Crankiness can be a sign your child needs fuel. Just be sure to refuel in the right way: with foods that don’t leave them with a blood sugar crash an hour later, setting the crankiness cycle in motion all over again. To blast irritability, “eat combination foods at each meal and snack,” says Dr. Dolgoff. “Combination foods contain a carbohydrate in combination with either some protein or some fat. Carbohydrates are a great source of energy that quickly burns out. Adding some fat or protein will slow the digestion process, causing your sugar and energy levels to remain stable for a longer amount of time. A great example of a combination snack is an apple with peanut butter. The apple is your healthy complex carbohydrate and the peanut butter is a healthy fat. Combining these powerhouse foods tastes delicious and gives you energy that lasts for hours!”
When your child is Anxious: Give something rich in omega-3
If anxiety and worries are consuming your child's day, consider giving him/her a snack that is rich in omega-3, a nutrient that may help tame his/her anxiety. "Regular consumption of omega-3s has extensive research support for both the prevention and treatment of clinical depression. And there's growing evidence that omega-3s also help reduce anger and irritability,” says Stephen Ilardi, PhD, author of The Depression Cure. Well, you are thinking a non-vegetarian food like fish is very rich in omega then what should I give my child? Fortunately, animal foods aren't the only sources of these precious fats. Flaxseed is rich in omega-3s, addition to this olive oil and nuts such as almonds, pecans, macadamias and walnuts are other omega rich choices.
When your child is Sad: Give a Whole-Grain Cereal with Low fat Milk
Think your child needs a happiness boost? While the source of the child's sadness could be study-related or something else, it also may have something to do with a deficiency of vitamin D in his/her diet. “This nutrient has many different roles in the body, one of which is to help in the production of serotonin,” says Dr. Dolgoff, explaining that serotonin is a neurotransmitter known as the “feel-good hormone” that can help you feel calm, relaxed and happy. To boost your child's intake of vitamin D, turn to low fat fortified milk, fortified cereals. “Depending on your diet, you may also need to take a calcium and vitamin D supplement,” adds Dr. Dolgoff.
Some extra handy tips!
Monitor Your child's Nutrition.Avoid junk food! Yes some children are more sensitive to the effects of junk food than others. You may not know his/her immunity. Hence, give him/her more of fresh foods and homemade ones.
Have him/her start the day with a brainy breakfast. This sets the nutritional tone of the day. If your child eats a high protein, high fiber, healthy-carb breakfast, such as a bowl of oatmeal topped with yogurt and fruit, the child will begin the day with stable blood sugar.
Have the child graze on good foods. Going without food for more than a few hours can cause her blood sugar, and consequently her moods, to go out of whack. Offer snacks that are high in fiber, protein and healthy fats, such as peanut butter, fruit, and yogurt. Make homemade whole-grain cookies or muffins that are high in fiber. Above all, avoid sweetened and artificially-sweetened beverages and snacks. Eating frequent mini meals throughout the day also helps keep the body in biochemical balance.
Make the child drink plenty of water. Food and water are our body’s fuel for running smoothly. To keep your child's mood stable, it's quite helpful to make him/her intake plenty of water.
Avoid chocolate as much as possible! I bet this one is as tough as lifting mountain. Then I also bet you'd probably never consider handing your young one a cup of coffee. You must know that chocolate contains caffeine (also found in tea and coffee) and kids' smaller bodies are more sensitive to the effects of caffeine, which can cause jumpiness, nervousness, sleep loss, hyperactivity, headache or stomach ache. Addition to caffeine, chocolate also contains theanine. Sufficient amount of theanine can send your child to into angry rage! Furthermore, being Krishna devotees, you must know that according to ISKCON Law Book (1997) 8.5.1: Prohibition of Chocolate. As it contains various stimulants like caffeine (contained in coffee), theine/theanine (contained in black tea) and theobromine (contained in cocoa), chocolate should not be eaten by ISKCON devotees.
Do Not Underestimate
Kids always like something creamy, smooth, crispy, colourful...and certainly most of these are not always healthy. So substituting your child's diet won't be easy. Yet don’t assume your child won’t go along with the changes. He/she might resist at first but with a little education and consistency you’ll be surprised how quickly he/she will get on board with changes in his diet. And, when he/she does, you will also be surprised by some of the changes in behavior. That whiney, snarky, complaining behavior may just start to fade away. And you’ll get that sweet collaborative kiddo back in your life more often, and that’s sweeter than sugar! Haribol