Summer vacations are here and, needless to say, you’ll be spending a lot more time with your children. Your family is probably going on a vacation where nutrition takes a backseat and junk food is the staple diet. Chips, soft drinks, cakes, ice cream… the demand list goes on and you’ve promised yourself to indulge your children this time, it is after all, a vacation.
During this cosy family time, you may notice your child may have mood swings, making you wonder why. Well known nutritionist and dietician Pooja Makhija, in Eat Delete Junior — her follow-up to the bestseller Eat Delete — touches upon this acquired attitude amongst children.
Think about it. You know your child’s face anywhere. Or, rather, you know your child’s faces anywhere. His many moods have been etched into your heart and you recall them, sometimes with fondness and sometimes with not so much fondness. Fond or not, your child has his phases like any human being. But if you do see a decidedly long period of grump and slump, could it be the food he is eating? In a portion of the book titled ‘Nutrition for Attitude’, Pooja touches upon those foods which could be causing your kids to become gloomy.
It is a well-established fact that sugar is a maverick pilot, making you soar and then sending you crashing down to earth even before the seat-belt sign has come on. Sugary foods are notorious for providing a quick burst of energy, but making you feel more tired, sluggish and grumpy in the end.
Savoury processed foods could also have as much sugar as their more insidious sugary bedfellows. A diet which is high in sugary/processed foods has been associated with depression, sleep issues and cognitive delay; doesn’t look so sweet after all!
MSG (monosodium glutamate) is a flavour enhancer used mainly in Chinese cooking – although keep a lookout for it in other cuisines. It is guilty of causing changes in mood and behaviour. Other preservatives include anything in the nitrate or nitrite family as well as sodium benzoate, which, I must add, is found in juices targeted towards children.
Artificial colouring is another red flag that causes kids to see, umm, red. Often tucked away in relatively innocuous foods like bread and dairy products, this particular substance causes anxiety, headaches and mood swings in children. Stay as far away as you can from products which are ‘coloured’ with Yellow No. 5, Red No. 40 and Blue No. 1. Products containing artificial colouring have been banned in most countries. It is now your turn to ban it too.
The last on the hit list is allergens. When a child is allergic or intolerant of certain foods like nuts, dairy, corn, soy and eggs, it does bring about changes in his behaviour. So it is best to rule out any problem regarding allergies with the help of a qualified professional to check if the cause is nutritional.
Before you brand your ward a problem child (owing to his mood swings), put on your deerstalker hat like Sherlock Holmes did and become a detective. He or she could, in fact, simply be in nutritional distress. And while unhealthy foods can wreak havoc on a child’s physiological and psychological make-up, the resulting tsunami of chemicals can be a very curable imbalance.
(Excerpted with permission from Eat Delete Junior by Pooja Makhija. Buy the book here: http://amzn.to/2rwKHVC)