I thought I just had a high spirited energetic little boy, one that I could handle but it seems others struggled with. It was when I moved him to a new daycare lady (the previous one asked me to find a new one) that I first heard about the impact of food on children’s behaviour. I was a single mum struggling to make ends meet and this home daycare lady gentle encouraged me to stop putting certain things into his daily food and to get him tested for ADHD. My whole family were perplexed because Ben was the first grandchild and the first boy in my family too so we just naturally thought that all little boys ran everywhere and were bold and strong willed.
It seems not. So rather than lose another childcare place I began to take certain foods out of his diet and began to see that he wasn’t such a strong willed devil child at all. He calmed right down! He could be reasoned with! He could listen to me and actually follow through on instructions. When I finally got him into the local child and adolescent assessment unit, sure enough he had ADHD but by that time the psychologist advised it was quite mild. Then again, she met a much calmer child than he was just weeks before!
That was 22 years ago and that child is now a man and he still remembers that time because it was such a shock to be taken off all of his favourite foods and some very common ones at that. Things most mothers wouldn’t have thought twice about. It wasn’t easy for him or me to do that because the market for alternatives was very confined and limited. When he hit big school it all fell apart because he would swap his home made food for something he craved at school. We had him tested for a variety of foods to work out the worst culprits and we ended up introducing some of the foods back in because it became obvious that he would get in some way from school. We aimed for the best possible replacements in the end but stuck our guns on some very obvious mood and behaviour changes. He did struggle at school academically and socially but we resolved that with more intensive interaction with a new school (the old one wouldn’t work with me so we moved him) and he repeated and got on top of school work.
Now days, as an adult, he avoids everything that was on the original intolerance list and some because he’s recognised how it affects his moods and clarity of mind.
I was much more careful introducing food with my second child and she’s never had a behavioural issue, no struggle with school and no social problems.
Time and time again when clients come in with behaviour problems I ask what the child’s diet is like. There is so much more information now than there was 22 years ago thanks to Dr Google and yet some parents either have blind spots or are too afraid to make the changes.
That’s why I’ve invited Psychologist Monique (the Nourished Psychologist) to join me in a webinar on this very topic. She’s also done the same journey with her children and coaches parents on how to transition children off the common culprits. It’s exciting to be talking to her about this subject because knowledge is power! The more you know, the more compelling it is to make the move and yet it can be quite scary. Many parents rely on the ease of buying store bought snacks and lunch items and to transition from what seems to be convenience to a more thoughtful approach can seem daunting. So I will promise you that this will be one of the topics we’ll cover on this webinar.
Join us, or if you can’t, register anyway and you can ask us a question and download the recording for listening to at your convenience.