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Diet and behaviour
  • Moose
    Posts: 1,843
    This discussion was created from comments split from: Daughters demands cause meltdowns.
  • mandymoo
    Posts: 38
    Sorry, I wasn't sure how to start a new topic!

    I was wondering if anyone has restricted their childs diet to see if there are any improvements?

    We have cut most of the sugar out of daughters diet for the last week, which hasn't really changed things until today when the children from school came out with cakes & our daughter had a huge meltdown outside of school. She refused to come home with me & ran off. I must admit that it scared me because I was worried she was going to run into the road. I ended up following her in my car & eventually got her to get in the car when I told her I was going to leave. It didn't end there. She continued to give me lots of abuse about how much much she hated me & I was the worst mother for not letting her have a cake. She has kicked my car to bits & last week she smashed a window because she didn't want to go to bed. I am frightend for the future as things are getting more out of control as the weeks go by. I'm so worried that she is going to end up hurt or hurting someone else. She is 9 soon & starting to get too big to protect her.

    Sorry for going on. I'm a stressed out mum today!
  • Moose
    Posts: 1,843
    There you go now a new topic. If you need to do this in the future use "start a new discussion" located near the top of the page just under the search box.

    Now to your question.
    Through our son's earlier years (3-8ish) we tried all sorts of diet restrictions. I would add that some of this was due to the constant tummy aches and not just attempts to improve behaviour.
    We tried dairy free, low sugar, avoided additives/colouring, banned chocolate, orange juice and went gluten free..........many other regimes tried and tested thoroughly.
    All were done on the basis of 'reasonable' levels of anecdotal evidence, accounts from friends, relatives etc who all laid claim to knowing of someone whose child had been turned around by a change in diet.
    At times we thought one or other of these might be an answer, we'd see a glimmer of hope.

    YES!!!! Perhaps orange juice is the problem after all.

    However, persistence with any of the diet changes proved they ( for our son) were ineffective. In some cases, the restrictions caused more hassle than they were worth:- banning chocolate in all forms was one case in point and lead to numerous meltdowns like you experienced through banning cake.

    I would not wish to state emphatically that the diets had no effect, but they did not really make any significant difference to behaviour. If there were benefits, certain restrictions slightly eased the tummy issues.

    Naturally, we do keep him away from high energy drinks and avoid Coke/Pepsi if we can, but otherwise we just try to adopt sensible/healthy diets. We are quite lucky, our boy is fairly good and enjoys a wide range of food. Mind you, he does have a sweet tooth and will 'pig out' on cakes/biscuits etc. We over come this by having few of these things in the cupboards, so opportunity to do this is limited.

    Tummy aches improved amazingly post diagnosis and joining his current school, much like the behaviour really. Both were/are a consequence of anxiety, treating the anxiety through support and understanding will have the biggest effect on behaviour.

  • mandymoo
    Posts: 38
    Thank you.
    I think we know deep down that this isn't going to make a huge difference but it will be something that we can say we've tried. She's got a fairly good diet but also has a very sweet tooth too! She has started to let go a little more when away from home but has also started to shut herself away in her room (she was always scared of being on her own before the last few weeks). Things are definitely changing. We try not to place too many demands on her but with other children needing our attention too, it can be hard to get the balace right.
    Thank you again for your post & for the help with starting a new topic!
  • Moose
    Posts: 1,843
    My pleasure.

    I do agree that you do have to try things, but I also know from experience that if these attempts don't work it can hit you quite hard, especially if others have sung the virtues of a certain diet regime.
    You can feel even more of a failure of a parent! It can pile on the guilt when something else does not work.

    Diet changes are fairly easy to do, manage and are mostly inexpensive. They are worth a chance, even if it is to eliminate the possibility.Where I get more concerned is when parents are seduced into trying expensive remedies, supplements or therapies on a promise of a transformed child. Since we are so desperate, we try anything with the thought that we have not got anything to lose. It is exactly this phsyche that is preyed on and can lead you to spend time and money chasing rainbows.
    ( been there too)

    You mention that things are changing with your daughter. New phases do come and go and they are often down to changes in the child. Trying to do anything too differently may not be so wise until she is settled ( as in not changing). When they are going through a period of change, it can be that these are the very times they need least change from you.

    And your are right, balance is not just difficult, it's near impossible.

  • sinkorswim
    Posts: 565
    My son appeared to crave sugar and began to binge eat when he was at his most anxious .
    If we ignored him and tried to manage him by managing the environment (ie limiting the sugary foods available) we survived. If we tried to stop him when he had his sight on something he was dreadful. If he did have a binge we noticed he was very calm afterwards and then could cope with life a lot better for a while. Years ago I came across 2 books; one is called potatoes not Prozac the other might have been called the serotonin diet . Both had been written by people with PhD s in these subjects. They were similar in that they had looked at which foods released neurotransmitters in the brain. if I recall correctly one had done some research that showed approx. 200kcal of carbs (no fat or protein ) had the same effect as eating Prozac tablet....the potato book looked at more transmitters so in some ways may be more complete.
    if anyone is interested I can find the author of the potato not Prozac book. The other book might take more tracking down...(I passed it on years ago) but might be able to find a reference to it on line.

    My son put on a lot of weight during this phase which has caused more problems. He still can be funny at food times if stressed but we are managing most meals as a family at the moment.

  • elve
    Posts: 182
    that's so interesting sinkorswim! It backs up my own experience that sugar calmed my son down if he was getting showing signs of bad mood - invariably this happened when he was hungry, so high sugar/carbs (like potato crisps) would get into his bloodstream faster.

    He too put on weight during our 'feeding the animal' stage (who would withhold food from a tiger, when trapped in its cage?!) I bought an exercise machine but it stood neglected of course - I used to challenge him to go up and down stairs 3 times in a row though, several times a day (at this phase of his teens he was very much glued to the internet or video games) The stairclimbing worked, and we started to just go for a walk around the block too (he had dog phobia at the time, which made it hard for him to go out anywhere residential) just a 15 minute walk once a day soon makes the weight drop off.

    I have never restricted my son's diet in any way though - in spite of the psych. from CAMHS advising it (I've never respected authority unfortunately!) I knew his problems weren't diet related, probably because I'm also on 'the spectrum' with ADHD. When I was married, and working my way up towards a total meltdown, my husband would bring me a jam sandwich!
  • Moose
    Posts: 1,843
    I have got to admit that our son has a sweet tooth too and will binge on anything high sugar.
    He is also a 'high energy' child, very active and restless. Even when he is 'chilling out' he does not seem to do this in a relaxed manner. As a result he does burn a lot of calories, if he is hungry/blood sugar is low, his mood will be more fragile.
    So in this sense I would agree that sugar can impact on mood. However, I don't think that this is anything particularly unusual, who does not get techy when 'starving', especially children.
    I would also feel that it would be common sense that foods that give a quick energy hit, will help over come a blood sugar plunge. However, 'quickly in' also means 'quickly out'. Surely a better solution is to encourage more slower release food that reduce the risks of sugar highs and lows. So oats, whole grain foods, brown rice, non starchy veg, fruit will help, basically anything that has more complex carbohydrates that are more complex for the body to convert into sugar.
    I don't really think of any of it a special diet, but just a common sense approach. A good balance of healthy foods, but not being too concerned over a sweet tooth and recognising that a sugar boost is needed sometimes.
    Our son does have more biscuits than I would like and cakes can disappear as if by magic ( I hardly get a look in), but he also eats healthily at main meals.

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