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.
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.
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.
Some of Kulze's top snack picks for kids include instant oatmeal, granola bars, air-popped popcorn, hard-boiled omega-3 fortified eggs, stone ground tortilla chips, fruit smoothies with wheat germ, and dark chocolate.
She also recommends incorporating these foods into your children's diet:
If you're looking to satisfy your child's sweet tooth, Kulze suggests trying fresh fruit smoothies, or light ice cream topped with berries. Homemade "healthy" cookies are all good alternatives to store-bought pastries and candy.
Kulze suggests avoiding processed foods with additives, particularly food dyes and refined carbohydrates and sugars. "The worst choices here would be donuts, pastries, cupcakes, cake, candy (especially those with lots of food dye), sugary kids' cereals, Lunchables, pancakes (waffles [white flour-based]), soda and other sugar-fortified beverages (fruit drinks, sports drinks) and white bagels," says Kulze.
Consider these calming foods for kids next time your little one is craving something sweet:
Next time your hyperactive child wants a snack before bed, reach for one of these calming options:
If your nighttime routine is anything but dreamy, Cyrus Schwartz, father of three and president of Mountainside Farms and ZenSoy, says, "Before bed, children should always avoid caffeinated beverages, candy, high-sugar fruit juice and ice cream."
"In terms of caffeine intake for children, a safe bet is to limit your children to 45 milligrams per day, an equivalent of a 12-ounce soda," says Schwartz.
Schwartz's list of healthy nighttime snacks includes low-fat milk, soy products, peanut butter and cheeses.
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