If you read my last post on getting children sufficient sleep, you’d see that insufficient sleep can be a major contributory factor to tantrums in children. However, let’s say you have handled the sleep issue but you are still experiencing tantrums at home. So now let’s look at the next most basic cause of this situation: diet.
Lack of a Balanced Diet & Tantrums
The next thing I find most “out” that is also the most unknown has to do with diet.
“The largest cause of upset in a baby’s early life is just rations. The baby might be fed, yes. But with what?” — LRH
Most people I work with have an idea of what a “balanced diet” is. I also know that with the hectic pace of our modern, busy lives and the temptations of packaged foods, what appears to be a “balanced diet” often is not so.
Let me explain further: Besides the fact that most canned and packaged foods are loaded with preservatives and chemicals, they are often “enhanced” flavor-wise with High Fructose Corn Syrup, fructose, dextrose, glucose, aspartame, sucrolose and other sweeteners. The only sweeter I know of that does not raise the glycemic (blood sugar) index at all is Stevia extract. Agave syrup is another sweetener that is notable in that its glycemic index and gycemic load is not very high. The syrup naturally contains quantities of iron, calcium, potassium & magnesium which contribute to the resulting color (plus, there are couple best potassium supplements options on the market now, if needed).
Otherwise all other sweeteners raise the blood sugar levels rapidly causing a flood of insulin to be dumped into the body, frequently more than is needed. The result is an immediate peak of energy (sometimes appearing to be hyper-activity) and about 45 minutes to an hour later, there is a dramatic drop in blood sugar which can make a person feel bad and act cranky!
The next and most important factor of diet has to do with the amount of protein a human body needs to grow, build, rebuild and heal. We have a tendency to go through our day and if we eat some eggs in the morning, a burger mid day and some form of meat during our dinner, we are good to go. Some prefer to ”cover” their need for protein with milk and cheese and assume they have eaten enough. However, if you or your child is eating a sugary cereal, pop tart, toaster strudel, pancake etc. for breakfast and fries and carbs at lunch, followed by spaghetti at dinner, then there is a problem.
Calculating the Protein Needs of Your Children
Once again, the exact amounts of how much protein is actually needed and how to figure out how to get the sufficient amount is known to very few people. A friend of mine pointed that out to me when I was having a little trouble with my daughter. He passed some information to me which I will share with you now. This data I am providing came from the “About.com” site on the Internet but you can search for Protein Daily Requirements to do your own research. Here is the abbreviated data below:
How to Calculate Your Protein Needs:
- Weight in pounds divided by 2.2 = weight in kg.
- Weight in kg x 0.8-1.8 gm/kg = protein gm.
- Use a lower number if you are in good health and are sedentary. Use a higher number (between 1 and 1.8) if you are under stress, are pregnant, are recovering from an illness, or if you are involved in consistent and intense weight or endurance training.Example: 154 lb male who is a regular exerciser and lifts weights:154 lbs/2.2 = 70kg
70kg x 1.5 = 105 gm protein/day
Now how would you figure out if you were getting this amount? You would have to read the package for how many grams of protein per serving there are in the item you are eating, multiply that by the number of servings and there you have it. Also there are articles and books that have this data for foods like an egg or for so many ounces of fish or meat, etc. Just keep track through the day. Of course keep in mind that red meat and eggs are the only two sources of B12 therefore if you do not eat red meat or at least one egg a day you need to supplement this vitamin.
The reason I am bringing this up is that most children and teens coming to me often are eating all kinds of things and few know the exact amount of protein they are getting. When I get them or their parents to list out what they eat in a day, I find they are eating a lot of carbs, sweeteners, some protein and some dairy. When we add up the amount of protein, it is often not enough for their growing bodies.
To give you a more graphic idea, one brand of cereal (not too sugary) that I looked at had 8 grams of sugar but only 2 grams of protein per serving. A 25 oz serving of Macaroni & Cheese had 6 grams of sugar and 9 grams of protein. A serving of chicken nuggets (4 nuggets) had no sugar and 14 grams of protein. That’s not bad since most kids I know eat eight or more nuggets. A cup of spinach has 1 gram of sugar and 2 grams of protein. Green beans (1 cup) have 1 gram of sugar and 2 grams of protein. One package of Oatmeal (pre-prepared with sugar) had 14 grams of sugar to 4 grams of protein.
There is more data on why protein is so important to keeping a stable, happier emotional tone that you can request on the Mace-Kingsley Family Center Site. I encourage you to request this data.
By ensuring your child’s body is getting all the necessary requirements needed to keep it energized and growing well, you are thereby ensuring that their body will not be nagging at them, making them feel uncomfortable and irritable, resulting in tantrums.
Wishing you joy with your family,
Diane DiGregorio Norgard
Mace-Kingsley Family Center