When it comes to a child’s behaviour, food plays a big role. A balanced diet is important for proper brain growth and development, and while deficiencies in certain nutrients can affect a child’s mood and behaviour, keeping their blood sugar levels stable is equally important.
When a child consumes a lot of high-carbohydrate and sugary foods, such as sweets, chocolate, pastries, ice cream, white bread, white rice and fruit juice, their blood sugar will spike. This can cause hyperactivity, irritability and impulsiveness.
After eating these foods, the pancreas releases insulin to stabilise blood sugar. But this can result in blood sugar falling too low, which can lead to irritability, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating.
Have you ever noticed at children’s parties, kids often go wild after hours of eating sweets, candy and cake? And then they are often really grumpy later when you take them home? Of course, there are other factors that play a part in a child’s mood day to day, but their blood sugar plays a huge part.
I’m not against sugar (as long as it’s in moderation) and children do need carbohydrates. As readily-available energy for the body, glucose from carbohydrates provides nutrients to the brain, organs, muscles, and nervous system. But carbohydrates in the form of whole grains, fruit and vegetables contain fibre, which slows down the rate the sugar enters the blood stream. This doesn’t have the same effect as plain fruit juice, as an example.
It’s important to ensure that children have stable blood sugar levels by eating regular meals which include protein and fibre, which slow down the rate the sugar enters the bloodstream.
A day of balancing your child’s blood sugar might look something like this;
- Breakfast – Eggs or beans with wholewheat toast and a glass of milk
- Lunch – Oat crackers, hummus, cheese, cucumber and carrot sticks, plus plain greek yoghurt
- Snack – Apple or banana with nut butter
- Dinner – Wholewheat spaghetti Bolognese
All of these meals contain protein, fibre, carbohydrates and healthy fats which, when combined, keep your child’s blood sugar and energy levels stable.
Unfortunately, the impact of food on a child’s behaviour can often be overlooked. We live in a culture that relies on “kids food”, which doesn’t always provide the right nutrients for a child’s growing body and can often be the culprit in poor behaviour.
It’s worth noting that every child is different and some children are more sensitive to sugar than others. But by keeping our child’s blood sugar in mind, we can exclude food as just one of the 99 other reasons they might throw a tantrum.
Have you noticed your child reacts in a certain way when they consume a lot of sugar? Comment below!