Last week my daughter went to an after school activity with my husband. When she came home she was a bear... Everything I asked her to do was met with attitude. She was mean to her brothers, and complained about dinner.
Finally, I asked, "What did you have for a snack at the meeting?" "A chocolate chip muffin (the pre-packaged all sugar and white flour kind) and Capris Sun," she answered. Then she looked at my husband and yelled, "You said I could have it!!"
I told her that it wasn't her fault. That's what the snack was, and she was allowed to have it, but she needs to be aware that it affected her mood and the way she feels. We've had this discussion multiple times, and she is well aware of the way sugary foods, particularly on their own without any fat or protein to help absorb or balance the sugar. She was still in a "mood," though, so she was not interested in discussing it at this point.
The next day, however, she asked if she could bring her own snack to the next meeting.
When kids are aware of how food makes them feel they are more likely to make good choices on their own. It doesn't mean that they'll do it all them time, but they are more likely to be self limiting and over time, they are more likely to make better choices.
If your child eats too much at a meal or overindulges at a party or holiday meal, talk about how you feel and how they might feel and help them to understand that it is the food that is making them feel that way.
I remember my mom talking about how pancakes always made her feel tired and that she was always hungry again an hour later. It didn't mean that she never ate pancakes, but she did have them less often, or she balanced them with some protein. That awareness helped me to make better choices. Often I'd order a breakfast of eggs and meat and ask for one pancake on the side instead of eating a whole plate of pancakes. Now we make our pancakes with all whole wheat flour and they don't seem to have the same effect.
*Beyond just sugar it's important to pay attention to behavior changes in your children that are out of the ordinary.
- When my brother was younger he would become violent after eating potatoes. It turned out that he was allergic to them.
- If my daughter has soy her behavior changes drastically, we call it "Soy Rage." My poor brother and father learned this the hard way when they decided to give her sushi and seaweed salad...
- About 10 years ago, I realized that when I have oranges I get very agitated and irritable. As much as I love oranges and even though they are generally a healthy food, they don't make me feel "good," so I've learned to avoid them most of the time, and if I do give in to temptation, I at least am aware that it's the oranges making me feel like I want to scream at everyone!
Have you noticed changes in behavior when your kids eat certain foods?