Food and nutrition play a vital role in your child’s development and growth. In a nutshell, childhood eating habits can affect brain development, mood and behavior.

Many parents find themselves struggling with their child’s challenging behavior, and wonder is there something in their diet causing their behavior to be out of control? One option you may try is the elimination of offending foods like red dye 40. It has been linked to attention and memory difficulties, impulsivity, hyperactivity, and temper tantrums.

Nutrient absorption through digestion of energy from carbs, protein, and fats support the growth and development of a child.  Micro- nutrients linked to brain function include proper amounts of choline, folic acid, zinc, B6, B12, and vitamin C. In my professional practice, I have experienced observational results in cognitive development utilizing adequate amounts of omega 3’s in the diet.

It is well known that some chemical components can cause allergic reactions or have significant effects on a child’s health and behavior. Therapeutic diets are prescribed for children with food sensitivities. There are also children who have allergic reactions to specific food components. These foods include peanuts, dairy, tree nuts, soy, eggs, and shellfish allergies. Children with celiac disease or wheat sensitivities are placed on a gluten free diet. Children with Autism may also try a GAPS diet to help with behavior.

The strategy most commonly used to eliminate or decrease challenging behaviors that may be caused from a food component, is finding what food item may be triggering your child’s behavior.  Suggestions include, offer the food item as tolerated into your child’s diet for a period of time, then monitor their reaction if any, to evaluate if this item is a food trigger in their behavior. Then re- introduce the suspecting food trigger to seek similar resulting behavior.

  • Children should eat less than 25grams of added sugar daily. Children ages 2-18 should eat less than 6 teaspoons of added sugar daily.
  • Offer whole grains, daily fiber and prebiotics. Gluten free breads: Rice millet Bread by Food for Life or Schar Products.
  • Include needed protein sources, dairy products, lean meat, fish, and legumes.
  • Encourage foods with natural probiotics: fermented pickles, Yakult, sourdough bread.
  • Ensure adequate daily intake of Omega 3 –fatty acids to promote brain development.
  • Apply dairy substitutes: Flax seed milk, (Good Karma), hemp, coconut, rice, almond or soy milk.
  • Alternative dairy: goat milk, a2Milk, (without- A1 protein) or lactose fee milk.
  • Increase intake of healthy whole foods that are unprocessed, like cooked or fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Avoid foods that have artificial colors, as they tend to be high in fat and sugar: exclude excess juice based sweetened beverages and nutrient poor snacks.
  • Offer adequate hydration and decrease high sugar drinks. Substitute water for flavored water, infuse water -fresh fruit mixed with water: non- artificial sweetened Capri Sun Roaring Waters, Sweetleaf water drops or True Citrus products.

What we feed our children and the eating habits they become familiar with can certainly affect their mood and behavior. Look into finding what may trigger your child’s behavior if you suspect a food item may be a factor. To help you become a food investigator for your child, work closely with a trained professional who specializes in identifying the triggers or chemicals that may clinical be affecting their behavior.