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Is the cure for your child's behaviour in their diet?

Posted by Rita Texeira on 22 September 2014
Is the cure for your child's behaviour in their diet?
With an increase in the diagnosis of behavioural and learning difficulties like ADHD, ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder) and CD (Conduct Disorder) and an increase in processed and packaged foods, it’s hard to look past the fact that these two may be linked.

More and more research is suggesting that allergies and intolerances play a large role in children’s behavioural problems. To ensure you are informed, here are some of the common foods and food habits that might be causing behavioural issues in your children.

1. Sugar

Sugar is a given. While you may limit the intake of sugary foods like chocolate, ice cream, cakes and soft drinks, what many parents don’t realise is that sugar is a common ingredient in many other foods children have on a regular basis. Fruit juices, some cereals and many packaged kids snacks all contain high amounts of sugar.

While the obvious behavioural reaction to sugar is hyperactivity, it can also cause children to become irritable, angry and tired.

2. Additives, preservatives and colouring

With so many additives, preservatives and colours being added to the foods we eat, these can often be harder to avoid then sugar. This is why it pays to read the label of the food you are buying, particularly when it comes to snacks for your children. If you can’t understand what you are reading chances are it will be an additive or preservative.

Research has shown additives can cause hyperactivity, irritability and learning difficulties in children, affecting their ability to concentrate.

3. Salicylates

Salicylates are chemicals that occur naturally in most fruits, particularly oranges, berries, apricots rockmelons and plums. They also occur in vegetables such as corn, tomato, gherkins, button mushrooms, radishes, olives, capsicums and cucumber. As well as wheat, milk, soy, eggs, chocolate, dried fruits, honey, liquorice, peppermints and chewing gum.

Salicylates have been known to create intolerances and can cause irritability and restlessness.

4. Skipping meals

This destructive food habit can have a huge impact on a child’s behaviour, particularly if it is breakfast.

With most children sleeping for 10-12 hours this is a long fast without food. Blood sugars can be depleted and with limited energy, they can become irritable, tired, disruptive and moody, not to mention struggle to concentrate. Breakfast and regular eating corrects this and helps the body to function properly.

5. Allergies and intolerances

While we often associate rashes, digestive issues and anaphylactic shock with allergies and intolerances, symptoms can also show through behaviour. A food allergy or intolerance upsets the system of the sufferer, which also changes their behaviour.

The real challenge is though with many of the foods and habits causing similar behavioural reactions it can be hard to know which one is the true cause, or at least a contributing factor.

The only way to really discover which chemicals or foods could be responsible is to do an elimination diet, and speak with your medical practitioner to organise allergy testing.
That frustrating behaviour might be a quicker fix than you thought!

Have you found certain foods set off certain behaviours in your children?

Author: Rita Texeira
Tags: Wellbeing Food Allergy Food Intolerance Tiredness Allergies Children Children's Behavior Healthy Eating Diet Health

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