Nutritional Strategies that support Hyperactivity and Disregulation
The diet to support hyperactivity or dys-regulation can (and does) include many things. BUT The number 1 thing to do if your child is hyperactive is Balance Blood Sugar. Did you know that the symptoms of hyperactivity are close to identical to symptoms of high and low blood sugar in many kids?
Balancing blood sugar should be the key of any nutritional or even medical intervention.
Trouble losing weight? Balance Blood Sugar? Having trouble with Focus? Balance Blood Sugar.
Issues with periods? Balance Blood Sugar. Diabetes or Insulin Resistance, of course balance blood sugar.
In fact, you may want to take a detour into the world of Hyperactivity, Diet, Picky Eating, Focus and Sugar.
I had a client, let’s call him Adam, who was one of the most hyperactive children I have ever worked with. Bouncing off the walls seemed like a phrase that was coined for him. I remember meeting with Adam and his parents and meeting was an overstatement, because none of us could get in a word with Adam jumping at everything around us.
If you have a hyperactive child, you may know the feeling. This is significantly compounded in Autistic children with Hyperactivity, perhaps because of overlapping gut issues, or difficulty with communication, or a mind-body gap, it is hard to say.
Adam was autistic AND hyperactive, and his parents were exhausted. Of course Adam was exhausted as well, he just couldn’t communicate it.
As I observed more kids like Adam, I noticed that exhaustion in children, fatigue in children often counterintuitively exhibited as more hyperactivity.
So the deduction that hyperactivity is excess energy is often not true. In fact a significant number of these kids might even have mitochondrial dysfunction, in other words, energy production issues.
Then it makes sense, that there is that much less energy available for active learning, Sitting still, for example, requires a lot of energy in the form of sensory integration. Sitting still, paying attention, and learning are not low energy activities, though they may seem so.
Anyone who has sat in a classroom for an hour can attest to this.
As I mentioned blood sugar to Adam’s completely fatigued mother, she told me that Adam did not eat that much sugar to begin with. Now, I have a secret for you:
Everyone thinks this about their child, unless their child is a super-picky eater and it is obvious that they only eat sugar, but even sometimes in these situations, there seems to be a huge mom misconception going around (and I do heartily include myself here) that our kids eat way less sugar than they actually eat.
Because we want our kids to eat less sugar.
Often a 5 day food journal can reveal trends that are not obvious otherwise. Balancing blood sugar is an easy process but like all easy processes, it is easier said than done.
The 3 step technique to balancing blood sugar is:
- Remove refined carbs and added sugar.
Note that I said remove not avoid. Both cold turkey and gradual crowding out work, though it diepends on your child which method is more successful.
2. Include fat, fiber and protein with your meal. Every meal, even a snack. Especially breakfast. Some people get protein in, but not a lot of people get fiber and fat in.
And I always want to remind moms and dads that fat means good fat, and good fat comes from nuts, seeds, avocados etc, but also from butter, ghee, coconut oil, olive oil and other non-vegetable cold-pressed oils. Also, lard is fine if you do that.
Nuts and seeds contain fiber too, as do whole fruits and veggies.
3. Add some blood sugar balancing supplements like chromium, ALA, berberine if needed and tolerated.
Like I said, it is easy to understand, but takes frameworks, diligence, recipes and effort to implement. It is certainly not impossible.
I have done it for Sid when he was 5, and did it change his life? It absolutely did. Most of my clients have done it too.
In the case of Adam, his diet for hyperactivity and disregulation included many arms: but we first balanced blood sugar and then we had to really fine tune his night snack to help sleep and morning moods, and he was a different child. He would sit at tables for 15 minutes for lessons, he could pay attention and he could finally give his energy to learning.
So should you be worrying about blood sugar? Is this an issue? My answer is likely. We live in a society with high amounts of processed foods – i.e., foods low in nutrition and pre-digested so they convert into sugar very easily and cause quick spikes in blood sugar which often become quick lows right after.
If you have a child that is miserable before meals or after meals, or both, track the timing and the type of the meal. Go back and use the 3 step strategy mentioned above and see what happens.
Let us review some signs of low and high blood sugar:
-craving for sweets
-mood worsens 1-2 hours after a meal.
-Craves caffeine (if in habit)
Can you see how many of these symptoms are quite indistinguishable from disregulation, hyperactivity, ADHD symptoms, focus issues, learning disabilities and so on…
Balancing blood sugar is a low-hanging fruit which must be tried first. In fact, in my upcoming course on increasing regulation through nutritional strategies (this course will be released in October), I will have an entire module with hand-held guidance on how to balance blood sugar.
In the meantime, I am currently accepting new clients and you can reach me HERE.
Or if you simply want to get started, grab a free guide at www.funcitonalnutritionforkids.com/autismsupports