Could changing your child’s diet help with managing behaviour?

Could changing your child’s diet help with managing behaviour?

The connection between food intolerances and behaviour is an evolving area of research. There is a growing body of evidence that dietary changes can have a significant impact for children who have ADHD, frequent tantrums and other behavioural problems.

Food reactions can be dose dependant, meaning that a small amount of the food may not cause a reaction. However if a trigger food is regularly consumed, the chemical build up can cause symptoms to develop after a few days, or even a few hours. This is why it is so important to work with an experienced practitioner, as we can conduct Food Intolerance testing and work with you to implement a suitable elimination diet, if necessary. Changing what you eat can result in remarkable changes, and an improved quality of life for many families.

Dinner time or tantrum time?

The most widely recognised connection between food and behaviour apart from Food Intolerances, relates to salicylates, preservatives, artificial colours and other additives. Food additives have been linked to behavioural and mood issues including tantrums, irritability, depression, mood swings, anxiety, panic attacks, and difficulty concentrating. It is estimated that at least half, if not more, of children with ADHD have food sensitivities or intolerances which impact their behaviour.

With the ever growing number of processed foods available in supermarkets across the country, it’s not surprising that many feel that behavioural problems are increasingly common.

The most common offender for negatively influencing a child’s behaviour after food intolerances have been ruled out is salicylates, followed by preservatives, then colours. Salicylates are present in most fruit and some vegetables. Foods containing high levels of salicylates include:

  • Vegetables: tomato and tomato products, gherkins, button mushrooms, radish, olives, capsicum and cucumber.
  • Fruits: Dried fruits, most berries, oranges, apricot, rockmelon and plum.
  • Sweet foods: Honey, liquorice, peppermints and chewing gum.

Gut-brain connections

Connections are now starting to be established between the gut and other behavioural issues including depression, anxiety, ADHD and even autism. As many food intolerances are a result of poor gut health, eliminating these foods and allowing the gut to heal is having a positive impact for many families.