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By Joanna K. Chodorowska, BA, NC, TPTH, METS
You and your kids are restless. You act out and you cannot get control, or you have trouble paying attention, learning, or completing projects. Did you ever wonder if there is a connection between what you eat and how you behave? The better the quality of foods you eat, the better your body will function. Clearing out the junk out of your diet may be a big step in a more productive, balanced and calm life.
We humans seem to be okay with eating almost anything. If we started to pay attention to how we really feel based on what we eat, we may notice our moods change based on our food. We may have sensitivity to wheat, soy, artificial additives (sweeteners, colors and preservatives), dairy and sugar. This can also include eggs, sugar, and dyes (food coloring). The digestive tract is hyper-sensitive and so is the brain’s reaction to toxins. So if you find you and your kids are hyperactive or are misbehaving, start by looking at what you are eating.
Don’t take an all-or-nothing approach right away, as that might be a challenge for you as well as your child. When I was preparing to work at the Institute for Achievement of Human Potential in Chestnut Hill (a facility that works exclusively with brain-damaged children), the diet was the first thing that clients needed to focus on with their children.
The first six months was about educating the parents on what to avoid in the diet that will help to calm down and minimize reactions. The foods to avoid were those to which most overexcited kids are allergic: dairy products, wheat, soy, corn, tomatoes, peanuts and citrus fruits. They were also instructed to avoid sugar, high fructose corn syrup, candy, and all artificial sweeteners, additives, preservatives and colors. Did you know that artificial colors, sweeteners and additives are known as excito-toxins? Those additives overexcite the brain so it will not function the way it is supposed to. There is a book called Excitotoxins, The Taste That Kills by Russell Blaylock, MD, which explains this in much more detail.
You want to start thinking about natural foods and natural food products. The more a food is processed, the more of the nutrients naturally found in foods are destroyed, and the more additives are included. Will you have to cook more? Probably, but that can be an exciting process, too, learning about new foods and how to prepare them. When you think natural, organic is the next thing to consider. I would not say that you have to do everything organic, but do the best you can.
With vegetables and fruits, it might not be as much of a necessity to purchase organic (although purchasing from a local farm or produce stand on the side of the road is the next best thing!). But when it comes to your protein sources, which can be full of additives, you want to choose organic if you can, and farm-raised, grass-fed, and free-range. Why? The animals are most happy when they eat grass and vegetation from the fields. They also enjoy being outdoors, moving around freely and in sunlight, just like humans! These free-range animal products have fewer injections and no antibiotics (they are less sick to start with) and they also produce a lot of beneficial essential fatty acids, which are not found in animals packed into their pens like sardines.
If you decide to start a more natural regiment, don’t do everything at one time. It is best to start with one or two items at a time. If you want to switch from a high-sugar cereal like Frosted Mini Wheats, your children probably won’t go directly to regular Mini Wheats happily. So start with mixing the two cereals for a couple of weeks at half frosted and half regular Mini Wheats. Then gradually increase the amount of regular Mini Wheats and decrease the Frosted ones until you end up with only the plain Mini Wheats. Then you may want to start to switch your children from a wheat-based cereal to something with quinoa, millet, or gluten-free oats as the base.
If you don’t eat vegetables, your child won’t eat them. Start with some easy items like one half cup of sugar snap peas. Then increase it gradually until you can get at least one half cup per meal; then one cup per meal. And do this as a family. You should have five to seven servings (a serving being one half cup) of vegetables per day for optimal health. And get creative here, too. You need to try a vegetable eight different ways before you can deem it something you don’t like to eat.
If you need help with changing your family’s eating habits, it might be wise to contact a nutritionist to help create a plan you can actually use and to help you modify the diet in a multi-step process. They can also offer a plan that fits your schedule and that your whole family can live with. So, if you want to have healthier and better-behaved adults and children who also learn better, start with clearing the junk out and adding in the real foods. Your family will love you for it.
Joanna K. Chodorowska, BA, NC is a nutritionist, energy healer, and competitive triathlete. She is the founder of Nutrition in Motion specializing in personalized nutrition programs for health-minded individuals, and athletes. Joanna helps you regain balance, speed and strength through real food nutrition, energy work and essential oils. Please visit www.nutrition-in-motion.net for more information.