Olivia has always been a high energy child. She zips around you at the speed you wish you could manage. She gets so visibly excited that she vibrates. She talks a mile a minute and she goes from one thing to another quicker than you can run after her. It’s fantastic, and I’m not going to quell the energy of a precarious five year old – but I started to notice that behavior seemed to get a lot worse when she ate certain things. There were times when she would completely tune out, and be so full of hyper that she could barely stop for a moment to talk, unable to listen, to absorb what we were saying.
Cutting the Refined Sugar + Dyes
We cut out the fruit snacks. We stopped buying granola bars. We switched to fresh pressed or fresh squeezed juice (the small fortune is well worth the costs) and we’ve started to use natural sweeteners like honey and maple syrup when we’re baking. We changed the way that we shopped for food, started looking at ingredients and focused on ‘real food’, changing the way that we eat.
Over the course of three months we’ve learned that the crazy inducing foods include: juice boxes, kraft dinner, ketchup and anything with a significant amount of refined sugar.
She eats a lot more fruit. It’s expensive. Now that fruit is the main source of snacks we go through a ridiculous amount, like ten bananas, a container of raspberries, a Costco container of blueberries, 6 oranges, 3 pears, a pineapple, a bag of apples and a mini watermelon over the course of a week.
She drinks fresh squeezed juices at the price of $2.99/250 ml or $11.89/2.89L.
Cutting out the sugar is expensive.
But Is There Even a Point?
I wasn’t sure that the changes were working. Until a few eye-opening moments crept up on us.
Two Thursdays ago, when I caved and succumbed to a craving, texting Jamie to pick up cream soda when he was at the grocery store.
He made her school snack the next day, and since he’s wrapped around a tiny little finger, he filled her up with a thermos of cream soda, compared to the usual ice water or fresh squeezed, refined sugar free juice.
She got in trouble on the bus. She was jumping on seats, wouldn’t sit still and came off the bus screaming that she’s just sooooo excited.
Or when she slept over at Grandma’s and requested kraft dinner, from a box, because Mom won’t make it for her. She had it breakfast. Then, she had it for lunch.
That was the day-after-sleepover-from-hell, and made me realize that maybe, just maybe, being sensitive to refined sugar and dyes is indeed a thing. It can be managed without jumping to medications to quell that child like energy, it can be channeled and it’s our jobs, as parents to make sure we’re doing just that.
Or today, when we snacked on the Halloween candy while Violet was asleep. Three pieces of candy turned my adorable, gracious, five year old into a monster that kicked me on the way up the stairs as I carried her to her room after trying to bite a toy out of her sisters hands, and screamed for a half hour, kicking her door after I put her in her room until her Dad got home.
Violet could eat candy for every meal of the day, and live on chocolate chips and marshmallows without any effect to her behavior, aside from an obvious sugar hangover – but I’ve experienced it first hand that there are indeed some people with a higher sensitivity to refined sugar and dyes, and I’ve got one of them.
Three months later? She’s more balanced, there are fewer epic temper tantrums, fewer power struggles, fewer ‘crazy’ moments and though she’s got a healthy of five year old energy, it’s now under control (until cream soda breaks our kid). Her teacher has even seen a marked improvement in focus since the beginning of the school year. Yeah, it’s working.