Back in June we had the pleasure of hosting Heather DeGeorge, CHC/AADP, PMP at the clinic talking about how what we eat really does matter. The information she shared with us brought new meaning to the old saying “you are what you eat.” I am looking forward to having Heather back in the future to talk more about this topic but for those of you who missed her presentation, here is an overview of how nutrition can impact development, learning, behaviors and health. I’ve used some of Heather’s information and added some from other sources. This information is provided as an educational tool only and you should consult with your physician before making any dietary changes for you or your child.
1. FOOD MATTERS!
Physical growth, development, emotional balance and well-being are driven by what we eat. How our body uses and responds to the food we ingest influences all aspects of our being. Some people experience reactions to food that may or not be true allergies but influence our health significantly. Food intolerance can trigger immune system responses and metabolic disorders or disruptions can result in the body’s inability to use food efficiently for energy and growth. Sometimes our bodies are unable to handle the food substance but sometimes it is related to what has been added to the foods when processed. Understanding how one’s body reacts to various foods or additives is imperative to understanding how to correct the issue. Allergy testing may be inconclusive or inaccurate and is not typically recommended for young children. Assessment through elimination diets can be helpful and other testing can be completed by your doctor.
2. Nutrition issues can produce or contribute a wide variety of symptoms.
The following behavioral and developmental challenges are worth attempting to correct through modifications to diet or nutritional supports. You should consult with your physician if you believe that any of these issues present in your child may be influenced by dietary concerns.
3. Changes to dietary intake and nutritional supports can sometimes improve symptoms. (Always consult with your physician prior to making dietary changes)
- Eliminate the problematic food ingredient, whether naturally occurring or added through processing. The most common irritants are diary, soy, gluten and food preservatives and dyes.
- Use dietary changes to balance blood sugar. Improve the balance of fats, carbohydrates and proteins in each meal (including snacks) for better metabolism and use of food energy.
- Use dietary supplements when appropriate to address nutritional deficits.
When we are trying to determine how to support behavioral, learning and developmental challenges, it is important to consider the food we eat as one possibility influencing these areas. While food allergies, sensitivities or intolerances are not always the answer for every case, they can be one part of the puzzle. Often overlooked and underestimated, the impact of food should always be considered when assessing our children’s developmental challenges. Changing diet and helping picky eaters is the next challenge. We’ll talk about that soon!