About a month ago we caved and finally got my daughter a box of the sugary cereal she always asked for. She couldn’t wait to get ready for breakfast and every day was eager to eat her bowl of cereal. We eat pretty healthy in our house, and after an entire year of exemplary work and behavior we thought this little treat was a much-needed reward that we could turn a blind eye to, at least until the box ran out.
As the school year began to wind down, we saw little bits and pieces of a different child. She would be cranky when she came home from school, and on the weekends we would have entire days where there was nothing but bickering in the house. I just chalked up the behavior to her getting older and beginning to “check out” as the school year came to a close.
She would mention little tiffs that she had with classmates, and I just brushed it off as something pretty normal that all of them were going through. It wasn’t until our end of the school year conference that I realized it was a little more complicated than that. The teacher explained to us that my daughter was just not paying attention in class and off task more often than not. This was especially troubling as it just wasn’t like her. Something had changed. Granted she is preparing to be a big sister, but I was starting to notice a little of the behavior myself at home and knew it had to be something more.
I asked the teacher when she first noticed the change and she said it was about four weeks prior. I couldn’t for the life of me put my finger on what would cause such a drastic change, and then it hit me. I told the teacher to give me a day and let me know if her behavior didn’t change drastically toward the positive the very next day. I got an update halfway through the morning that my daughter was working diligently on some work she had missed, and had moved onto the next task with incredible determination. It was such a simple fix, and I can’t believe that of all people, I was the one to let the ball drop.
Her teacher seemed interested to know what had changed and it felt silly and almost unbelievable to have to explain. She was having a sugar crash midmorning from her breakfast cereal. As I mentioned before, we eat pretty healthy in our house. Sugar isn’t on the menu that often and my daughter does not get a great deal of it in her diet. When we switched to the highly sugared cereal, it wasn’t just a treat, it was detrimental to her well-being, physically and emotionally. At that moment I threw out the cereal. Her breakfast was replaced with our normal standard of some slow digesting carbs, like her favorite oatmeal and I made sure to stick to our regimen of Vitamins, including her children’s fish oil gummies.
As an adult, it’s easier for me to get away with sweets from time to time but I forget how much of a sugar shock some things are to a small child’s system. Instead of fueling her for a good day at school, I was the one that was setting her up for failure. From that moment on, I made sure that she was getting a healthy and nutritious breakfast to give her sustained energy through the morning without a crash. With the evidence of how much fish and oil can help our mind, body, and mood I also made sure our morning started with that. She always takes a food based vitamin to fill in the gaps, and occasionally takes a probiotic, which also is showing promising evidence of a positive effect on a child’s mind. I want to give her every advantage, not set her up to fail.
In retrospect, it’s funny to think that a “sugar high” was the culprit, but just as quickly as it started, her attitude changed back into the girl that I remember. Kids have a lot of energy, and naturally, young kids don’t always want to pay attention, but before we consider that they have an attention problem, or some sort of serious issue, it’s been said that most of our ailments can be cured via diet. This little experiment proved that to be true. That said, the proof is in the pudding, or lack thereof.