Katherine - posted on 02/18/2011 ( 1 mom has responded )
For many of us, parenthood involves passage through the “The Big Meltdown.” It’s the stage of parenting where you observe your adorable young child develop a sudden and explosive personality change that leaves you feeling helpless and in some cases, quite embarrassed.
The turning point for me was when I noticed the causal relationship between my son’s meltdowns and his diet. If he didn’t eat foods that sustained his energy, or if the period between meals was too long, watch out.
Young children eat smaller meals. They metabolize food quickly. This means that their blood sugar levels drop faster. And when blood sugar levels are low, irritability in the form of meltdowns can result. Armed with this nutrition knowledge, the following anti-meltdown plan emerged:
■Include a quality source of protein and complex carbohydrates in every meal (breakfast, lunch and dinner) to maintain blood glucose levels for a longer period of time. Quality sources of protein are lean meats, poultry, fish, legumes, nuts and nut butters (when age appropriate), eggs, milk, yogurt, and cheese. Examples of complex carbohydrates are whole grain pastas, breads and cereals, buckwheat, barley, millet, oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, wheat berries, and bulgur wheat.
■Read all package labels. Breakfast cereals, in particular, tend to be low in protein and high in simple sugars. The best breakfast choices are whole grain cereals.
■Incorporate small, nutrient-dense morning and afternoon snacks into the daily schedule to maintain a steady flow of quality calories. Good choices include smoothies made with yogurt and fresh or frozen fruit, a few cubes of cheese with whole grain crackers, trail mix with nuts and seeds, and peanut butter on celery sticks topped with raisins.
Other tips include:
■Avoid fruit juice as a snack drink. Although it’s easy and portable, it’s a concentrated source of sugar (fructose). Milk or yogurt (organic, if possible) is a much better choice for protein and calcium.
■Include several servings of vegetables and fruits daily. They provide an important source of fiber and vitamins.
■Minimize consumption of baked goods and chips.
■Pack ‘good’ for your child whenever you leave home. One of the best ways to prevent a young child’s meltdown is to have a ready source of protein and complex carbohydrates.
My plan for making meltdowns disappear worked. Through meals and snacks inclusive of quality protein and complex carbohydrates, my son’s even-tempered personality returned – every day, all day long.
What about you? Have you noticed a correlation between your child’s diet and the frequency of meltdowns? Please share your experiences.
NOTE: This is Kimberly, one of the Co-Founders of ecomom.com, and I must say, I love this post. It brought back some strong memories of my son’s toddler years. I too learned from some horrible melt downs to keep a steady supply of healthy snack food available for my son so as to avoid what I came to call, the Low Blood Sugar Blues. Some of our favorites are now EcoMom Approved snacks such as these by Plum and Revolution Foods. Thank you so much Natalie, for your wonderful suggestions! For more of Natalie’s tips and recipes, be sure to visit her at Ambrolio Foods.