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My DD7 has had a bad attitude for a while. Easily upset/angered, overly dramatic, etc. Constantly getting in trouble, growling in anger, frustrated, yelling, etc. And complaining of being tired a lot. To the point I was considering getting bloodwork done to check for anemia or something. 

 

But then we started eating more healthfully, and it was a night and day difference. My sweet girl came back. The thing is, I'm not sure what specific thing, if any, made the difference. Not sure if it is blood sugar, maybe wheat, some kind of preservative or flavoring, or what. But the difference was huge. She actually said she felt SO much better. 

 

Things that I noticed were good: eggs, apples, berries, carrots, turkey lunch meat, paleo almond meal muffins, paleo cookies

 

Things that I know are not good: doughnuts from Dunkin, pizza, cookies from the store, honey nut cheerios and milk, store-bought frozen pancaks with maple syrup, random processed junk food

 

Things that are maybe  fine at least in limited amounts: homemade half whole wheat apple muffin, homemade brownie (just had one), vanilla ice cream (one with limited, natural ingredients) given in the evening before bed 

 

Given the above, how would you shape the diet of this child? Homemade only, with no other parameters? Whole grain products but not white flour? Gluten free? Something else?

 

 

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My DD7 has had a bad attitude for a while. Easily upset/angered, overly dramatic, etc. Constantly getting in trouble, growling in anger, frustrated, yelling, etc. And complaining of being tired a lot. To the point I was considering getting bloodwork done to check for anemia or something.

 

But then we started eating more healthfully, and it was a night and day difference. My sweet girl came back. The thing is, I'm not sure what specific thing, if any, made the difference. Not sure if it is blood sugar, maybe wheat, some kind of preservative or flavoring, or what. But the difference was huge. She actually said she felt SO much better.

 

Things that I noticed were good: eggs, apples, berries, carrots, turkey lunch meat, paleo almond meal muffins, paleo cookies

 

Things that I know are not good: doughnuts from Dunkin, pizza, cookies from the store, honey nut cheerios and milk, store-bought frozen pancaks with maple syrup, random processed junk food

 

Things that are maybe fine at least in limited amounts: homemade half whole wheat apple muffin, homemade brownie (just had one), vanilla ice cream (one with limited, natural ingredients) given in the evening before bed

 

Given the above, how would you shape the diet of this child? Homemade only, with no other parameters? Whole grain products but not white flour? Gluten free? Something else?

I'm not sure, but I wouldn't do anything too extreme right away. Have your tried a little of everything, but in moderation, to see how that goes?

 

In the meantime, as a public service, I'm willing to take all of the offending items off your hands so feel free to send them to my house. ;)

 

Edited to add -- when I said "everything in moderation," I didn't mean the foods you already know aren't good, unless it's just as a special treat or something. :)

Edited by Catwoman
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Ah, that sounds like my 7 year old. Down to growling.

 

I think the greatest thing here is that your daughter noticed feeling better! I mean, I'm an adult, and I have a hard time being aware of my emotions/physical state and the things that affect it. It seems to me from what you wrote that perhaps she feels best when she has a certain amount of fresh/raw fruits and veggies, protein, and fiber at each meal (along with a moderate amount of healthy fats). And maybe she can deal with carbs and sugar as long as it's a moderate amount, not on an empty stomach? For instance, can she do pizza if it's accompanied by a salad (with chicken or chickpeas, avocado, nuts)? Are pancakes okay if she eats one or two after having some fresh fruit, yogurt, and a piece of sausage? If it's a blood sugar issue, this might help-- if it's an ingredient issue or the gluten, it wouldn't.

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Just wanted to say that I had my kid's blood checked recently, and it showed a significant vitamin D deficiency.  She is taking 3000 iu per day and it seems to help some.

 

She is a picky eater, but if I can get her to eat protein, that helps a lot.  Also milk products.

 

The frequency of meals is a factor also.  (More frequent is better.)  And trying not to fill up on junk between meals, which is an issue for my daughter.

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You are hitting on the same thing we did - the more processed food, the more the child turns into a beast.  I'm not sure what it is, exactly, though we've narrowed down that dyes make him nauseous. As for the rest, I'm not sure.

 

Our goal right now is simple foods.  We do use Blue Apron, because it exposes all of us to new techniques/prep methods and ingredients.  We shop the perimeter of the grocery store and cook 95% of our meals from scratch.  Snacks are simple affairs: apples, popcorn, cheese, and okay'd crackers.  When we bake we use less processed ingredients: unbleached sugar and flour.  That probably has no effect, LOL, but it does make me feel better.  Breakfast is eggs, oatmeal, or yogurt with jam or honey.  Lunch is dinner leftovers.

 

On top of that, I've noticed that his need for exercise increased a LOT this year.  The more he plays, bikes, and runs, the better behaved he is.  We have to make the time for p.e. every single day and make sure he gets at least a full hour of hard activity along with moving all the rest of the day. 

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Ah, that sounds like my 7 year old. Down to growling.

 

I think the greatest thing here is that your daughter noticed feeling better! I mean, I'm an adult, and I have a hard time being aware of my emotions/physical state and the things that affect it. It seems to me from what you wrote that perhaps she feels best when she has a certain amount of fresh/raw fruits and veggies, protein, and fiber at each meal (along with a moderate amount of healthy fats). And maybe she can deal with carbs and sugar as long as it's a moderate amount, not on an empty stomach? For instance, can she do pizza if it's accompanied by a salad (with chicken or chickpeas, avocado, nuts)? Are pancakes okay if she eats one or two after having some fresh fruit, yogurt, and a piece of sausage? If it's a blood sugar issue, this might help-- if it's an ingredient issue or the gluten, it wouldn't.

 

I can say that the pancakes were always served with sausages and often with whole milk, but still make her crazy. 

 

But somehow the homemade whole wheat apple sauce muffin (with no other protein) didn't. 

 

Not sure if it is the extra fiber in the whole wheat maybe? 

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I would first try to cut out processed store bought foods since you know she reacts to those, and simply go for natural and home made foods where you know exactly what's in them. I would also limit sugar, since she seems to react to high sugar foods (and it's a good idea to limit sugar anyway)

If she does fine with home baked muffins, it's not gluten or wheat, so I see no benefit in eliminating those.

 

Edited by regentrude
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On top of that, I've noticed that his need for exercise increased a LOT this year.  The more he plays, bikes, and runs, the better behaved he is.  We have to make the time for p.e. every single day and make sure he gets at least a full hour of hard activity along with moving all the rest of the day. 

 

Yes, I noticed that with mine too. And with myself as well.

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I can say that the pancakes were always served with sausages and often with whole milk, but still make her crazy. 

 

But somehow the homemade whole wheat apple sauce muffin (with no other protein) didn't. 

 

Not sure if it is the extra fiber in the whole wheat maybe? 

 

Pancakes+maple syrup would have a lot more sugar than a muffin sweetened with apple sauce right?

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I can say that the pancakes were always served with sausages and often with whole milk, but still make her crazy. 

 

But somehow the homemade whole wheat apple sauce muffin (with no other protein) didn't. 

 

Not sure if it is the extra fiber in the whole wheat maybe? 

 

You could make pancakes with whole wheat flour - we use whole wheat pastry flour exclusively for pancakes and waffles - and omit or drastically cut down sugar.  My husband is the pancake-maker here, but I think he just skips the sugar in his recipe.   They are delicious - though it  might take some getting used to for people who are accustomed to fluffy white flour pancakes.  We use pure maple syrup - which is still sugar, of course, but free of other things that might be in imitation syrup. 

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I would first focus on severely limiting refine flours and sugar. Definitely no HFCS. My toddler son would be fine for days. As soon as we went to IHOP and he ate that pancake syrup, I couldn't get the kid to behave or stop hitting his older sister. Now I know he was a toddler, but it was a pattern I picked up on after about three trips to IHOP.

 

I do believe in moderation and we do eat junk sometimes. However, my family really does do better when we focus on whole grains, lean meats, and lots of produce.

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I would first focus on severely limiting refine flours and sugar. Definitely no HFCS. My toddler son would be fine for days. As soon as we went to IHOP and he ate that pancake syrup, I couldn't get the kid to behave or stop hitting his older sister. Now I know he was a toddler, but it was a pattern I picked up on after about three trips to IHOP.

 

I do believe in moderation and we do eat junk sometimes. However, my family really does do better when we focus on whole grains, lean meats, and lots of produce.

This is what works well here too. HFCs is horrible for me and the kids.

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My DD7 has had a bad attitude for a while. Easily upset/angered, overly dramatic, etc. Constantly getting in trouble, growling in anger, frustrated, yelling, etc. And complaining of being tired a lot. To the point I was considering getting bloodwork done to check for anemia or something. 

 

But then we started eating more healthfully, and it was a night and day difference. My sweet girl came back. The thing is, I'm not sure what specific thing, if any, made the difference. Not sure if it is blood sugar, maybe wheat, some kind of preservative or flavoring, or what. But the difference was huge. She actually said she felt SO much better. 

 

Things that I noticed were good: eggs, apples, berries, carrots, turkey lunch meat, paleo almond meal muffins, paleo cookies

 

Things that I know are not good: doughnuts from Dunkin, pizza, cookies from the store, honey nut cheerios and milk, store-bought frozen pancaks with maple syrup, random processed junk food

 

Things that are maybe  fine at least in limited amounts: homemade half whole wheat apple muffin, homemade brownie (just had one), vanilla ice cream (one with limited, natural ingredients) given in the evening before bed 

 

Given the above, how would you shape the diet of this child? Homemade only, with no other parameters? Whole grain products but not white flour? Gluten free? Something else?

 

Her irritability could be caused in part by gluten sensitivity which can lead to inflammation of the gut and interfere with the production of serotonin in her gut, where most serotonin is made.

 

For diet, you might want to

-- keep substituting nut and coconut flours for grains that contain gluten

-- make sure she is getting enough protein/tryptophan-rich foods

-- try quinoa recipes -- high in protein and easy to make

-- try to eat a bit of prebiotic foods, like jicama sticks

-- take a good quality fish oil

-- check her vitamin D which is needed to make serotonin and also reduces neuroinflammation

-- make sure she's getting enough of her B vitamins

-- try using a magnesium gel on her skin because most people are deficient in it

-- keep sugar on the low side

 

Lifestyle changes that might help:

-- pitch black room at night so her body will make a lot of melatonin

-- bright, blue spectrum light in morning when she wakes up or sitting in the sun outdoors.

-- earlier bedtime when possible

-- aerobic exercise to help balance neurotransmitters

-- learning relaxation techniques

-- before bedtime listen to Marconi Union's 'Weightless' song or ASMR sounds -- crinkling noises relax me a lot :)

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We know a lot about macronutrients but actually very little about micronutrients. Eating a variety of foods including grains, fruits, vegetables, and meats and dairy if tolerated is the best way to ensure a diet of balanced micronutrients. Processing food strips it of micronutrients as well as fiber and vitamins by grinding, separating, chemicals treating, boiling, frying, steaming, etc and then adding back in a handful of synthetic vitamins to make it "healthy."

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Milk is the (or "one of the", depending on the source you read) most common food allergen for children, so I'd recommend being careful of that one, and taking note of how it affects her.  My daughter developed a milk allergy around age 5 or so if I remember correctly, and it took me awhile to figure it out because it didn't present the way I thought allergies would present.  It made her tired and listless, and made her eyes red and puffy.  But different people react differently.  Yogurt and cheese didn't seem to affect her as badly, but we still cut them out for quite awhile once I figured it out.  Like most kids, she eventually "outgrew" that particular allergy (though she is still somewhat lactose intolerant, as her father and I are).

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Did my husband write the OP about me?

 

GF, low dairy, low sugar and quality fats with avocados and coconut fats and lots of veggies/salads works well for me. I'm also clearer headed and less fatigued off caffeine, but your dd probably doesn't have a black tea addiction. ;-) Hope this helps! (And I'm so glad you're seeing such obvious changes, takes a week to kick in for good or ill for me.)

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We saw a night and day difference in our daughter's behavior when we removed additives from her diet. My husband is a natural skeptic and boy is he a believer now. The effect has been sustained over years, and if she has offending ingredients, the behavior comes right back. She recognizes it herself and doesn't want to eat the things that make her feel terrible. 

 

This is a long list, but I'm just going to paste my personal cheat sheet here:

 

Food Additives to Avoid

 

Colors

All artificial colors, including Red 2, Red 3, Red 40, Blue 1, Blue 2, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Green 3

Annatto (a natural color)

 

Preservatives and Synthetic Antioxidants

Benzoates: any ingredient ending in benzoate; also benzoic acid

Butylates: BHA, BHT, and TBHQ

Gallates: any ingredient ending in gallate

Nitrates & nitrites: any ingredient ending in nitrate or nitrite

Parabens: any ingredient containing the word paraben

Propionates: any ingredient ending in propionate; also propionic acid

Sorbates: any ingredient ending in sorbate; also sorbic acid

Sulphites: any ingredient ending in sulphite, bisulphite, or metabisulphite; also sulphur dioxide

 

Note: Low-fat and skim milk contain added vitamin A, which is preserved by BHA. Use whole milk instead.

 

Flavors and Flavor Enhancers

All artificial flavors

Vanillin (artificial vanilla)

Disodium salts: disodium EDTA, disodium guanylate, disodium inosinate, disodium 5'-ribonucleotides

Glutamates: any ingredient ending in glutamate or diglutamate; also glutamic acid and MSG

 

Artificial Sweeteners

Aspartame (Nutrasweet, Equal, AminoSweet)

Sucralose (Splenda)

 

Hidden sources of processed free glutamic acid: see http://www.truthinlabeling.org/hiddensources.html (we just try to avoid the ones in the first and second columns)

 

We basically do a modified version of the Feingold diet. (We don't avoid salicylates, found in some fruits.) See also fedup.com.au.

 

Almost anything homemade and unprocessed is fine for us. Sugar is fine. Wheat is fine. 100% maple syrup is fine. You get the idea. :)

 

If you want to start small, try cutting out all dyes, artificial sweeteners, and preservatives as a start. It's difficult to find preservative free bread. They have some at Whole Foods, or you can make your own. 

 

Hope this helps! It's made a huge difference for us. 

Edited by MercyA
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The only way to pinpoint it for sure would be to do an elimination diet. For us, the problem is Red 40, Yellows 5 and 6, and caramel coloring, and there's a delay of about 12-18 hours in the impact it has on DD's temperament, which made it very hard to connect the dots. I cleaned up her diet thinking Red 40 was the only problem, and then one day, without thinking much about it, let her have Kraft mac and cheese at Target. The next day she nearly lost her mind, almost taking a chunk out of my arm and breaking away from me and running across a parking lot. Turns out the yellows are WAAAAY worse than the red! 

 

Except for the cheerios, everything you listed as bad could easily have had colors in it. Caramel coloring in particular is a sneaky one, because it's often in things we think of as wholesome because it's a way for manufacturers to give foods a baked, "golden" tone. I discovered that problem when I accidentally bought "healthy," whole wheat bread that had caramel coloring in it and DD's temperament went all haywire again after months of being normal. 

 

Because we know the problem here, we either make homemade or opt for convenience food with no colors and few ingredients overall. When we can't (or choose not to) avoid colors--one of our big pitfalls is Chinese food--I remind DD that she'll need to watch her emotions over the next day or so, and don't be surprised if I send her to her room to rest and recover if things get bad. She's finally old enough now that she's good about managing that herself, for the most part.

 

In your case, I'd definitely spend some time experimenting with her diet. Clean out it (sounds like you're already there), and then maybe allow her to have something with a suspicious ingredient and see what happens. Watch for effects over the next 36 hours. And so on. My primary concern is that, while the outward effects are unpleasant, the unseen effects make be far more significant. I mean, it's literally messing with a kid's brain!

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We saw a night and day difference in our daughter's behavior when we removed additives from her diet. My husband is a natural skeptic and boy is he a believer now. The effect has been sustained over years, and if she has offending ingredients, the behavior comes right back. She recognizes it herself and doesn't want to eat the things that make her feel terrible. 

 

This is a long list, but I'm just going to paste my personal cheat sheet here:

 

Food Additives to Avoid

 

Colors

All artificial colors, including Red 2, Red 3, Red 40, Blue 1, Blue 2, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Green 3

Annatto (a natural color)

 

Preservatives and Synthetic Antioxidants

Benzoates: any ingredient ending in benzoate; also benzoic acid

Butylates: BHA, BHT, and TBHQ

Gallates: any ingredient ending in gallate

Nitrates & nitrites: any ingredient ending in nitrate or nitrite

Parabens: any ingredient containing the word paraben

Propionates: any ingredient ending in propionate; also propionic acid

Sorbates: any ingredient ending in sorbate; also sorbic acid

Sulphites: any ingredient ending in sulphite, bisulphite, or metabisulphite; also sulphur dioxide

 

Note: Low-fat and skim milk contain added vitamin A, which is preserved by BHA. Use whole milk instead.

 

Flavors and Flavor Enhancers

All artificial flavors

Vanillin (artificial vanilla)

Disodium salts: disodium EDTA, disodium guanylate, disodium inosinate, disodium 5'-ribonucleotides

Glutamates: any ingredient ending in glutamate or diglutamate; also glutamic acid and MSG

 

Artificial Sweeteners

Aspartame (Nutrasweet, Equal, AminoSweet)

Sucralose (Splenda)

 

Hidden sources of processed free glutamic acid: see http://www.truthinlabeling.org/hiddensources.html (we just try to avoid the ones in the first and second columns)

 

We basically do a modified version of the Feingold diet. (We don't avoid salicylates, found in some fruits.) See also fedup.com.au.

 

Almost anything homemade and unprocessed is fine for us. Sugar is fine. Wheat is fine. 100% maple syrup is fine. You get the idea. :)

 

If you want to start small, try cutting out all dyes, artificial sweeteners, and preservatives as a start. It's difficult to find preservative free bread. They have some at Whole Foods, or you can make your own. 

 

Hope this helps! It's made a huge difference for us. 

 

We put our most food-sensitive child on Feingold's elimination diet years ago when we noticed this child would act out of control depending on what foods/drinks were consumed. As we brought back different foods/drinks into the child's diet, we ended up with basically what Mercy has listed here. It has made a huge, positive difference not only for the child we made the change for, but for our whole family. And it's not super difficult or expensive to eat this way--it just mostly involves being diligent about reading labels and planning ahead (for instance making extra pancakes from scratch and freezing them instead of buying frozen ones from the store).

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