The Ministries of our Church
Berean Health & Temperance
Foods Affects Behavior
by Tracy B. McGinnis
Which foods help calm hyperactive kids?
Experts recommend taking a look at the foods your kids are eating to find out why certain foods make them hyper, cranky or irritable. Find out which foods should be avoided and which foods you should incorporate into their daily diet.
How can foods affect your child's behavior? Kids that eat foods high in sugar or refined carbs, such as white rice and white flour products can experience a drop in blood glucose which can affect their mood.
"These foods can trigger the release of regulatory counter "stress" hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. These are the "fight or flight" hormones that make us fidgety, irritable and anxious — certainly not something that we want to occur in our young children who are already rambunctious by nature," explains Dr. Ann Kulze, M.D. of www.dranns10steps.com.
Kulze says that of all the organs in the body, "The brain is the most sensitive and the most discriminating in terms of its nutritional needs." She says that in order to get the most out of your brain you need to give it a constant and steady supply of blood sugar as well as amino acids, vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids.
"Food additives and colors plus artificial sweeteners make the nervous system overactive. That's in addition to what too much sugar can do," explains Dr. Jennifer Greenfield, Center for Chiropractic Wellness. "Foods that have calcium and magnesium, like vegetables, nuts and seeds, can be calming," adds Greenfield.
"Food additives and colors plus artificial sweeteners make the nervous system overactive."
Researchers are continually looking at how food coloring and preservatives influence hyperactivity in children and experts like Kulze suggest eating as many natural foods as possible and avoiding "factory made" food choices.
Calming food choices:
- Some of Kulze's top snack picks for kids include instant oatmeal, granola bars, air-popped popcorn, stone ground tortilla chips, fruit smoothies with wheat germ, and dark chocolate.
- She also recommends incorporating these foods into your children's diet:
- Cut fresh veggies (baby carrots, celery sticks, bell pepper strips, broccoli/cauliflower florets, etc.) – serve along with a "healthy dip" like hummus, low-fat salad dressing, guacamole or salsa.
- Low-fat yogurt or low-fat cottage cheese – plain, sweetened with blended fruit or a bit of frozen concentrated fruit juice is best. If you use low-fat fruit flavored yogurts, cut in half with plain to reduce their sugar content.
- Nuts or seeds – almonds, cashews, walnuts, peanuts, etc. Don't forget about sunflower seeds and toasted pumpkin seeds. Try roasted soy nuts.
- Fresh, frozen or dried fruit – serve cut up in an interesting cup or bowl. Even better, create a "healthful" fruit/yogurt parfait by alternating layers of fruit with low-fat yogurt and granola.
- Whole grain crackers, like Ak-mak, Kashi TLC, or Triscuits with peanut butter, almond nut butter, hummus, salsa or spreadable fruit.
- Healthy cereals – dry or with soy or almond milk. To select a healthy cereal, be sure it contains at least 3 grams of fiber per serving and that you see the word "whole" as the first word in the ingredients list.