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Child meltdowns, ADHD, and nutrition.

Child meltdowns, ADHD, and nutrition.

I don’t know about you guys, but my son has a tendency toward massive emotional and sometimes even aggressive, meltdowns. He is seven and is a lovely, sweet, gorgeous boy. However, at the age of five, he started having anger outbursts where he would throw things, shout, and hit things with sticks…

I would collect him from school and the teachers would say he had been good as gold all day but before we even got off the school grounds, he would lose the plot and struggle to cope. He even lashed out and kicked some people as we walked past.

My initial reaction was a feeling of overwhelmed embarrassment. I would tell him off or try to talk to him and ask what’s wrong. I even tried putting him in his room to calm him down, but nothing was working, and I was dreading the walk home from school. 

These anger outbursts were becoming more frequent and made it difficult to take him anywhere.  I thought a lot about my boy and what was going on with him. I knew there was a solution or something I was overlooking. I learned two things, firstly, it happened when he was tired or hungry (most commonly). Secondly, I suspected he had ADHD (it turns out he does and so do I). I started looking for effective emotion management for him. Just telling him off doesn’t work because he is a sensory seeker. In short, getting me wound up gives him sensation and is rewarding for him, and trying to get through to him when he is losing the plot is like trying to talk to the possessed.


My logic told me that prevention is better than a cure. So, what are the problems we needed to tackle? What was making things hard for him? 

He is at school all day and hasn’t eaten a meal since 12 pm. He has been in a controlled environment for six hours in which he needs to be well-behaved and focused. By the time he comes out of school, he is desperate to throw himself around and let go of his self-control. I am his safe place, so he sees me and just releases all his pent-up energy. On top of that, he is losing focus due to a lack of efficient fuel.

Taking the time to consider my son carefully I realised that physical contact (hugs, backstrokes, head rubs) helps him feel calm and regular energy top-ups through healthy snacks give him the fuel he needs to stay focused. So, armed with this knowledge, I have found a routine that has changed our lives and allows us to live in a much more harmonious and stress-free environment. 


This is what it looks like.

When he wakes in the morning, I fuel him up with loads of morning hugs and positive affirmations about his loving kind nature, his intelligence, and that he is loved and perfect. I also fuel him up with slow-burning carbs and high-energy foods to boost him through the day. 


The perfect breakfast for him looks like this:

Oats with live yoghurt and honey: The oats offer slow-release energy for hours; they are also prebiotic which helps create a good environment in the gut for healthy bacteria to grow. The live yoghurt is high in protein and has live probiotic cultures to help maintain a healthy gut. 

A HEALTHY GUT IS KEY to an effective immune system and contributes to a healthy mind. Good bacteria are now known to be essential to healthy brain function. The raw honey makes it taste delicious and is another prebiotic. It is also healing and soothing for throats and is antibacterial. Well done bees! Maple syrup is also a great option and it's vegan.


Marvellous superfood wellbeing blend in orange juice: My kids Love the wellbeing blend as do I. We have noticed a huge boost in our energy on days that start with wellbeing. We like it best in orange juice which also gives us some extra vitamin c to get us going. Giving them a teaspoon of well-being in the morning is the equivalent of getting them to eat a bowl of raw greens for breakfast. It’s a nutrient-dense spoon of vitamins and minerals ready to power the body and mind.


After having this breakfast my boy is full of energy and level-headed with humorous conversation whilst we march off to school. To help keep him going for the day I give him either a protein shake or a protein bar in his backpack. The shake takes minutes to make in the morning and is completely plant-based. And the protein bars I make about once a week when I can, they last all week in my cake tin. Recipes for both are below. 


He loves the shakes and the bars and reminds me every morning to pack him one in his bag.  When I collect my kids from school, I bring snacks!   We have to wait around for half an hour for his big sister and we spend that time sitting on the grass having hugs and eating something that delivers some energy. Usually, fruit and crisps.


When it comes to non-school days, trips out and supermarket excursions my son stays calm as long as I have prepared him mentally for what is going to happen. I tell him where we’re going and what to expect. I also come repaired


This combination of understanding, physical contact, and nutrition has made our life together enjoyable and lovely. These tricks don’t only work on children with ADHD. All my children benefit from well-balanced nutrition, understanding, and hugs, especially my teenagers!  But that’s a whole other topic…



Chocolate chip protein bar recipe

Makes 18 bars, 230 kcal, and 7.5 grams of protein per bar. A good source of omega 3


Ingredients

  • 130g pea protein
  • 100g rolled oats
  • 130g milled flax and nut mix
  • 200g chocolate chips
  • 225g maple syrup
  • 2/3 cup of melted coconut oil
  • 1 egg or (1⁄2 tsp of psyllium husk in 1tbs water. If vegan)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1tsp of vanilla extract
  • 1⁄2 tsp of good salt

Method

  • Preheat oven to 160
  • Line a 9” square baking tray with baking paper
  • Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly
  • Scoop the mixture into the prepared baking tray and smooth out evenly

  • Bake the bars for about 20 minutes or until golden and cooked through
  • Cool completely and then slice into 18 pieces

Easy Chocolate protein shake

6.5g protein per cup, 115 kcal per cup.


Method

  • Add all ingredients into a bottle or a jar with a lid and shake shake shake!
  • Pour into a smoothy bottle and enjoy

Bibliography

Gut bacteria and brain function:

Azab Ph.D., Marwa, "Gut Bacteria Can Influence Your Mood, Thoughts, And Brain", Psychology Today, 2022 <https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/neuroscience-in-everyday-life/201908/gut-bacteria-can-influence-your-mood-thoughts-and-brain#:~:text=Exposure%20and%20consumption%20of%20good%20bacteria%20are%20necessary,cytokines%20in%20depressed%20people%20compared%20to%20non-depressed%20ones.> [Accessed 6 July 2022]


Gut bacteria and immune system:

Azab Ph.D., Marwa, "Gut Bacteria Can Influence Your Mood, Thoughts, And Brain", Psychology Today, 2022 <https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/neuroscience-in-everyday-life/201908/gut-bacteria-can-influence-your-mood-thoughts-and-brain#:~:text=Exposure%20and%20consumption%20of%20good%20bacteria%20are%20necessary,cytokines%20in%20depressed%20people%20compared%20to%20non-depressed%20ones.> [Accessed 6 July 2022]

Comments

Absolutely amazing article, I love how you explained the need for the physical side not just the nutrition side too as this is as equally important ❤️

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