The short answer is yes. While we are big proponents of teaching our kids about their emotions and giving them tools to effectively self-regulate, diet plays a big role in children's behavior.
Here are a couple of tips:
- Try to reduce sugars as much as possible, including hidden sugars in products you wouldn't believe have it added. Read your labels, and try to cook your own food as much as you can. I'm always super busy but I have found that batch-cooking on Sunday afternoons really helps me get ahead of the week, especially with the help of an electric pressure cooker.
- Try to reduce synthetic food coloring, especially red and yellow (also found in purple, green, orange-colored items...). There's research that links food coloring to bad behavior in children - and from my own experience, I can tell you Emi gets nightmares every time she eats candy, it is crazy (thanks, grandparents...! 😔).
- Add probiotics. Numerous studies link gut health with mood and behavior, (here's a good one from Harvard University). While there are powders and even gummies to add beneficial bacteria to our kids' diet, I have found that yogurt is the easiest way. And be careful with antibiotics... they kill all bacteria, good and bad. If your child gets sick and your pediatrician prescribes antibiotics, always give them probiotics with them to counteract.
- Every 2-3 hours, offer your children a snack or a satisfying meal. Here are some easy ideas: (HINT: always keep non-perishable snacks in their calm down corner!)
- String Cheese
- Hummus with pita chips and/or carrots
- Pop corn
- Whole wheat crackers
- Granola bars
My own little ones are quite picky, sadly, so lately I've been incorporating protein shakes made for children. I buy mine from WelleCo, but I've seen some nice (and less pricey) alternatives at Target.
If your child is having a tantrum, and you realize that they haven't eaten in a while and that could have been the culprit, we recommend you first help them reset in their calm down corner, and once they are out of it, offer them an easy snack.
You got this!