Little Sugar Addicts

Healing bad behavior with nutrition

The Problem

Your troubled child may be sugar sensitive.

Boy in orange sweater

This means his brain is wired differently and what and when he eats has a HUGE effect on his behavior.

She can have a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde personality and you may be at your wits end in trying to figure out what to do. Sugar sensitive children can be both darling and obnoxious. 

It's not a personality defect - they simply inherited this chemistry. It does not mean that they or you are bad people. It only means that when their biochemistry is off, their behavior will be off.

If you have a child like these children, the ones who are gifted and funny and who can become little monsters, and you don’t know about the biochemistry, their behavior can be terrifying.

It is almost as if these children enter an altered state, something you cannot reason them out of. All the "calming" tips from the experts do not work.

The fits embarrass you. When it happens in church, you feel as if the entire congregation is watching and wondering what is the matter with you as a parent. Your ex-husband is sure that your parenting skills cause it, since he “controls” it and your child does not act out at his house.

He, like some of your friends, tells you to “just discipline that behavior out of him,” and that your beloved three year old has you ”tied around his finger.”

Now, in your heart of hearts, you know the behavior is not just manipulation, but everything you have tried is not working, so you question everything you trusted about your skills as a parent.

You are not alone.

Many of our parents had tried different approaches to discipline when their children exhibited these types of behaviors. These approaches include all the typical interventions you have heard: time outs, warnings, taking away privileges, negotiating – all the things the experts tell you to do.

They also sometimes included the things that the experts tell you not to do, like yelling and smacking. But like you, they didn’t know about sugar sensitivity.  They were just focused on the behavior and did not know the biochemistry.  

But we know that unless you address the food issues, neither discipline nor punishment will work with sugar sensitive children. These children are in an altered state when their chemistry is off. They are not rational. 

What does low blood sugar and sugar sensitivity look like in a child?

Amazingly, the symptoms of low blood sugar look a lot like the criteria for children who are diagnosed as having “Oppositional Defiance Disorder” and are put on medication. Here are the criteria:

  • often loses temper
  • often argues with adults
  • often actively defies or refuses to comply with adults’ requests or rules
  • often deliberately annoys people
  • often blames others for his or her mistakes or misbehavior
  • is often touchy or easily annoyed by others
  • is often angry and resentful
  • is often spiteful or vindictive.

Let's take a look at the characteristics for the behaviors of a child with low blood sugar:

  • has trouble concentrating
  • is easily frustrated
  • is more irritable than usual
  • gets angry unexpectedly
  • is restless and can't keep still
  • becomes almost irrational and cannot be talked out of it

You can see the similarities between the two. We believe the behavior dynamic described in Oppositional Defiance Disorder can well be untreated sugar sensitivity at its worst.

What does this mean for my child?

Blood sugar curveThese children have a very, very small tolerance for blood sugar drops. And they go from okay to empty in 10 minutes, have no reserves and go into an altered state. As your child's blood sugar plummets, they head for the danger zone. 

The “hulk” emerges and you all are in big trouble.  As their blood sugar drops, they unravel and get cranky, crabby, and whiny. 

In the last ten years, the increase in junk food, soda and sugar has climbed astronomically.It is no wonder that diagnoses like ODD are becomming more prevalent - or that we are seeing more sugar sensitive kids acting out.  If you don’t know that your child’s behavior is biochemically based and you are told this is a serious psychological problem, you are going to be one overwhelmed parent.

If you did not know about this biochemical connection to food and sought professional help that just focused on the behavior, you may not have been given a complete answer.

If your health care practitioners or counselors do not have a sugar sensitive frame of reference, they will say that medication is the solution. They will say your child has no impulse control and needs to be on Prozac or Ritalin. 

Your child will be boxed into a diagnostic behavioral category that will shape how he is treated for his entire school years. Your child will be branded as a bad child who is oppositional and defiant, stubborn and willful. It will affect his entire life.

The good news is that medication for a child labeled with ODD or another disorder does not have to be your first response. Before you go there, treat the sugar sensitivity and feed this child. 

How do I start?

We have a set of tools that can balance this biochemistry and totally alter the direction of your child’s life.  It has helped many of our parents sort out the issues with their kids.  It may help you.   

Visit our Solutions page to find out more.

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