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You Are What You Eat: How Food Can Affect Your Child’s Mood

 

The terrible twos don’t always subside after the toddler years, and sometimes it can be hard to understand the cause of your child’s latest tantrum.

It may not just be down to coincidence that your child’s mood changes shortly after a snack – here are the most common mood-changing foods:

 

Sugar

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The number one culprit that doesn’t need an introduction. From diabetes to obesity, sugar is notorious for causing trouble when not consumed in reasonable amounts.

Sugar to an extent is unavoidable, as it is in just about everything the average child eats. Sugar can be found in ketchup, salad dressing, yogurts (one of the biggest culprits) and cereals to name a few. Things that are labeled fat free or low fat are usually jam packed with added sugar to make up for the loss of flavour from the removed fat.

Monitoring sugar intake is extremely important, as consuming large amount spikes insulin levels and sets the liver on over-drive. This process will throw off your child’s system, first making him/her extremely hyperactive before leading to the downward spiral of irritability and lethargy.

And if the mood-swings weren’t enough, sugar has been shown to cause long-term health damage, and a diet high in processed foods has been linked to depression, cognitive delay, and sleep problems.

Food Colouring

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This one isn’t quite as obvious as sugar. Food colouring has been linked to causing mood changes in kids. Recent studies suggest that food dyes, such as those found in sweets like Skittles and certain breakfast cereals can have a dramatic affect on child’s cognitive function, causing hyperactivity and loss of focus.

Surprisingly, artificial colouring is also often hidden in unexpected foods like bread and yogurt.

Sodium Benzoate

Sodium Benzoate is a preservative found in many foods and sodas. In the very same study that found that food dyes were mood-altering, sodium benzoate was also noted as a culprit that was linked to causing kid’s to lose focus. Look out for Sodium Benzoate in juices and soft drinks.

Dairy

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Not necessarily a mood-changing food, but it can have negative affects on your child’s behaviour or mood if your child is either lactose intolerant or allergic to the proteins found in dairy. Many children become irritable, cranky, or aggressive. Children with dairy allergies or intolerance also tend to suffer from frequent colds and ear infections.

The Good Stuff

Whilst some foods can have a negative impact on your child’s mood, others can do the opposite by boosting cognitive function and helping to maintain a steady insulin level in the body.

High Fibre Foods & Complex Carbohydrates:

Be sure to feed your children foods that wont break down into sugars instantly, such as slow-to-digest oatmeal. Foods that are high in fibre and packed with complex carbs digest slower, which means no more spikes and crashes in energy for your children, and a happier, more consistent mood throughout the day.

Adding flaxseed and chia seeds to their morning oatmeal is a good way to promote this. Also, try substituting white rice and pastas for their healthier brown alternatives.

Omega-3:

Studies suggest that foods high in Omega-3 promote better moods. Foods such as salmon, broccoli, blueberries, avocado and kidney beans can help maintain a healthy brain and keep your kids smiling.

 

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YOU DON’T HAVE TO STOP ARGUING, JUST ‘DO IT BETTER’, RELATIONSHIP EXPERTS SAY

Arguing doesn’t have to mean that children suffer if couples take action to ‘argue better’, research suggests. Conflict and feuds are a normal part of being in a relationship and research shows that family relationship patterns can be passed on from one generation to the next, so it’s important to be aware of ways to ensure they are less harmful.

The review, Parental Conflict: Outcomes and Interventions for Children and Families examines the differences between ‘destructive’ and ‘constructive’ conflict and how both kinds affect children, why some children are more adversely affected than others. It features the latest evidence on how conflicts impacts on child physiology and interventions to help couples in conflict.

It shows that conflict can affect family life by influencing the way couples parent, as well as how children understand and make sense of this conflict. Destructive conflict such as sulking, walking away, slamming doors or making children the focus of an argument can have a detrimental impact on their development.

Children exposed to such conflict between parents are at a greater risk of a range of negative outcomes including social, emotional and behavioural difficulties.  However, children react better when parents can relate to each other more positively during arguments, and when conflicts are resolved.

Co-author, Dr Catherine Houlston, from OnePlusOne said: ‘We know that conflict is a normal and necessary part of family life.  ‘It’s not whether you argue but how you argue which matters most to kids.  ‘Evidence suggests that working with couples at an early stage in their relationship or during times of change we can modify destructive patterns of conflict behaviour. ‘Practitioners and those working regularly with parents are in a key position to identify families in need’

Co-author Professor Gordon Harold, Andrew and Virginia Rudd Professor of Psychology at the University of Sussex said: ‘Today’s children are tomorrow’s parents.

‘The psychological fallout from homes marked by high levels of inter-parental conflict can lead to negative behaviour and long-term mental health problems that repeat across generations.

‘Effective intervention can help to break this cycle, improving outcomes in the short and long term.’

OnePlusOne offers training for health professionals and a free online course for couples and health professionals called ‘How to Argue Better’. The course will help you stop arguments from getting worse and sort out issues.

For more information on the course go to: http://thecoupleconnection.net/users/sign_in

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Posted by Lauren Oliver

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Burns On Keeping Pets Calm On Bonfire Night

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©iStockphoto.com/edenexposed

As many of us know, our pets can be stressed by the sight and sound of fireworks going off, Burns suggests the following measures you can take to try and reduce their anxiety. Firstly, consider your pet’s food, some contain additives that can affect behaviour. It may be beneficial to consider an alternative diet. Burns adult diets contain controlled protein levels and are free from sugars and chemicals such as colourings.

Keep your animals inside and spend time with them to soothe their anxiety. Different people let fireworks off at different times throughout this period. It can be difficult to avoid the noise and stress as it is unpredictable. But keeping your dogs and cats in after dark in the run up to Bonfire Night and for a week or so afterwards can help avoid the majority of it.

Make sure all windows are closed and lock cat flaps so that the pets cannot run away and put themselves in harm’s way. A typical reaction is to flee, so make sure there is somewhere they can hide themselves away if needed, if a dog is crate trained setting the crate up in their favourite place may help.  Closing the curtains and keeping the TV or radio on will muffle some of the noise as will double glazing, ensure the windows are closed to achieve the full benefit.

Don’t leave a scared animal alone if at all possible but try to ignore fearful behaviour, unless it is putting your pet at risk of harming themselves, to avoid reinforcing it. Using an Adaptil diffuser for a dog which may help them feel calmer through the release of pheromones or a Feliway diffuser for a cat, which helps it in times of stress and stops irrational behaviour. Never punish them for being scared, this could heighten your pet’s insecurity.

Burns adult diets contain controlled protein levels and are free from sugars and chemicals such as colourings. Based on whole grains the food promotes stable mental and physical health. Alongside Burns an additional meal of cooked porridge (without milk) may help calm your dog. Oats are rich in nutrients such as B Vitamins which are great for supporting mental well-being.

Outdoor pets such as rabbits and guinea pigs may also be scared by fireworks. It will help to make sure they are shut in their hutch with plenty of bedding to hide away in. Covering it with some old carpet could also help muffle the noise and prevent them from seeing flashes that may distress them. You could also consider moving the hutch indoors, into a garage or shed during firework season.

For nutritional advice or to find out more about Burns Pet Nutrition please visit the Burns website: www.burnspet.co.uk/index.html 

Posted by Amy Moylan