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How food contributes to toddler troubles

A cute toddler is yelling and having a tantrumDo you feel like you have hit the terrible twos with your one-year old cherub?

Perhaps you have a little one with major skin issues causing constant pain, irritability and frustration.

Or possibly things just aren’t as calm as you would prefer, especially at mealtime or sleep time.

As any parent knows, quite a few hurdles can arise while your little one changes from being a dependent baby to a ‘grown-up’ toddler. One of the most frustrating things for a toddler or a parent is not being able to understand or fix a problem that’s causing everyone grief.

Toddlers are just beginning to learn how to communicate, express themselves and understand their world, which means it can be hard for parents to decipher a toddler’s life, let alone find the cause of their problems!

We all know too well, a toddler’s first port of call when misunderstood or frustrated is to throw a tantrum. So how do you decode your toddler and tame your toddler tantrums?

The key to finding balance and calm with your toddler is in the food they eat.

Now I’m not suggesting food is the only solution to all toddler issues, but knowing food is a trigger and acting on this knowledge, can help make things manageable.

No matter what you’re dealing with in your child’s formative years, almost everything extreme and unwanted can be diminished or even disappear by looking at this one contributing influence – food.

So how does food contributes to toddler troubles

Food additives

Certain unnatural food additives can affect people of all ages, resulting in what’s usually called a food sensitivity, intolerance or allergy. Food additives can cause havoc for kids in particular, as their pure little bodies are far more susceptible to the effects.

The nasty ones to look out for are artificial colourings, preservatives, artificial sweeteners and flavour enhancers, as they can create a wide variety of problems, such as:

  • behaviour and mood issues (including sleep problems, anger, defiance, mood swings and hyperactivity)
  • skin issues (including eczema)*
  • stomach/digestive problems (including reflux)*
  • respiratory concerns (including asthma)*.

Where do you find these food additives? Quite often, any ‘easy-to-grab’ processed or packaged food will contain them. But they are also found in foods as simple as the humble bread or bread roll, crackers, flavoured yoghurt, muesli bars or breakfast cereals. Additives can even be lurking in sauces and stocks used for basic cooking.

Natural foods

Most parents are aware that natural foods (such as nuts and eggs) can be triggers for physical allergic reactions.Yet quite often, the behavioural or emotional effects caused by food can go unnoticed, or are not attributed to food and simply passed off as medical issues (such as asthma or eczema) or ‘normal toddler’ behaviour.

Wheat, dairy and natural elements of food such as salicylates, amines and glutamates can have an effect on behaviour and contribute greatly to a child’s mood, turning a tiny toddler issue into a tantrum.

How will food stop unwanted tantrums and health problems?

If you want to tame the tantrum in your toddler, the first step is to eliminate additives from their food. This will help stop the unnatural mood swings, defiance and even the health issues that may be causing discomfort and irritability in your toddler and create a level of calm everyone can manage. To eliminate additives, stick to fresh whole foods – fruits and vegetables in their purest form – natural yoghurts, preservative free or organic breads, organic dairy and sauces and make your meals from scratch as much as possible.

Yes, but will it work?

All toddlers will test boundaries and have outbursts as they learn to express themselves and understand what is acceptable. When following an additive-free lifestyle, the remarkable and noticeable difference will be in their ability to learn how to control their emotions and express them appropriately. If things still seem extreme after avoiding additives, take it up a notch and investigate food intolerances or sensitivities to salicylates and other natural food elements. This may mean, in it’s simplest form, cutting back on the fruits and breads and increasing the vegetables.

Get proactive!

As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure. And the best way to avoid ever experiencing the effects of additives is to create good eating habits at an early age. If you have a toddler, now is the prime time for doing so. What do I mean by good habits? I mean re-igniting the learnings instilled by our great grandparents – introducing clean, fresh, food and teaching our toddlers to create natural and instinctive choices for life.

Undesired behaviours and illnesses in toddlers are often diagnosed as lifelong problems requiring medication, yet they all have something in common that is often overlooked. Change the way they eat and you might just find you have taken the tantrum out of your toddler, making it much easier to help them express themselves and understand the world around them in a calm and balanced manner.

Happy tantrum taming!

Loren x

Image credit: soupstock/123RF Stock Photo


For more toddler information, advice and support visit our toddler information hub.

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