How many times have we heard that saying "you are what you eat"? I know it's exhausting, but I have found over the last decade that it could not be more true. This discovery came first with my own health, then watching my son slowly recovering from autism over time. And it wasn't until my daughter that the phrase took a deeper meaning.
You see with my daughter I was so hell bent on preventing autism that nutrition became my weapon to combat chronic illness. I started using it years before I got pregnant with her, while I was cleaning out my body preconception. Then I developed an even deeper relationship with nutrition during my pregnancy, which continued after she was born.
Nutrition became the antidote when I battled through her leaky gut, food allergies and eczema. All her classmates mom could not understand the connection from food to her eczema. They were all happy just to slather on the steroid cream that would not continue working once you stopped using it and never got to the route of the problem. It also had the lovely side effect of thinning the skin. I chose to go a different route.
I diligently gave her nutritional supplements and paid extremely close attention to what she ate. The pleasant side effect I got from all this paid off handsomely with much better overall behavior and less out of control emotions. This revelation cinched the deal, I had discovered something better then our endless talks and punishment. I was hooked on using nutrition to control behavior and emotions.
There are times when I loosen the reigns and allow her more junk or processed food if it's a holiday or a special celebration. It may be hard to believe but I notice the difference quite quickly. The same goes for my son. It's different with him, since he has autism. The work is harder and more uphill but like with her it needs to be carried out each day. Here are some simple tips that I live by:
1. If your kids are acting out badly then by all means take an accounting of how they have been eating lately and by all means MAKE SOME SWIFT CHANGES! Take out the processed food, sugar and heavy load of carbs.
2. Make sure your children are eating fresh fruits and vegetables at a minimum of 2 x's a day. If they won't do it then you may consider taking away something they like or want to get then to eat the desired food. You have to use the method that works for you. I personally started with bribery. But if they are older then try to talk to them about the way food will make them feel.
3. Give them a probiotic or fermented food every day as insurance for their gut.
4. Feed them as much organic produce as possible. The pesticides and chemicals used to treat the food can really interfere with brain function.
5. Consider using nutritional supplements to help get their brain back on track if behavior is starting to become a more constant problem. Some good basic supplements are fish oil, Vitamin D3, multivitamin and probiotic. Some others I use are 5-MTHF (folate), B12, B complex, and magnesium as these can help calm the nervous system. It is always good to work with a qualified practitioner who can advise you on which supplements might be good to take and specific dosages. I also use a lot of herbal supplements that are antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory as well as Vitamin C, A and E.
5. If their emotions are getting in the way of day to day functioning or activities then consider bringing them to a functional medicine doctor or nutritionist who can do specialized testing to help create an individualized protocol that can help you target making some bigger changes that may need to be made.
Sometimes negative behavior is of course just about being a kid, but other times it can be about nutritional deficiencies, food sensitivities, sub-par food that feeds the bad bacteria in our guts, processed food with too many chemicals and preservatives that get in the way of us feeling good and thinking clearly.
There is no down side to improving nutrition to see if it makes a difference in your child's behavior. So why not give it a try!
You can find more information on preventing chronic illness in children with Dara Berger's new book: HOW TO PREVENT AUTISM.