Little Sugar Addicts

Healing bad behavior with nutrition


How can I help my child?

As we discussed in the Problem, the most important issue for these children is keeping the blood sugar from plummeting.   

But what is the best way to do that?

You probably have heard lots of food ideas for your kids – from taking them off of sugar and off of gluten or doing special diets.You may have even tried these things with disastrous results and angry, cranky children.  Many of our parents had!

However, while we are still talking about making dietary adjustments to help change your child’s behavior, our process for healing the behavior is a little different. 

The main difference is that we actually have a process.  We take it slow.  We do not stop anything right away.  We try not to shock your child’s system, and to introduce dietary change in a way that it sticks, keeps you sane, and allows a “buy in” from your child.

We break down the process in such a way that it is doable and that making these changes does not make everything harder for all of you. You will hear us talking about “nano steps”  - very small changes made one at a time. By doing the process this way, it actually changes the brain, so there is no need for “willpower.”

What's the process?

The key principle we work with is called “enough, on time”.

Boy in black shirtThis is shorthand for making sure that your child’s blood sugar does not drop into a “danger” zone – the place that makes the tantrums or tears or rages come out.

We have found that our troubled kids have highly volatile blood sugar levels, so it is extremely important that we do what we can to help their blood sugar levels stay stable throughtout the day.  We do this by making sure that they eat enough food, and at regular intervals.

This means that kids need to eat a meal or a snack every three hours.  But for many of our parents, even this change sounded daunting.  To make it easier to handle, we’ve broken it into phases.  The key components of Phase I are:

  • Breakfast
  • Snacks between meals 

What's all this about breakfast?

Having breakfast right away is the foundation to maintaining a steady blood sugar level throughout the day. It stops the blood sugar drop that your child’s body is experiencing from not eating overnight, and it provides them with a good base level for the rest of the day.

Breakfast sounds easy enough, but often takes some planning with kids. To make sure that kids are getting everything for breakfast that they need to get the best foundation for the day, we break “breakfast” into four parts:

  1. The right amount of protein for the child’s age, weight and activity
  2. As soon as possible after getting up
  3. With a carbohydrate
  4. Every day

This may still sound daunting.  But again, we are taking this slowly.  Take a deep breath and we will discuss some specifics about how to get there.  Remember, this isn’t something that has to be done all at once.  This is a process.  It’s going to take some time, but it doesn’t have to be stressful.  

How do I determine how much protein my child needs?

There are two parts to this

  • figure out the amount of protein your child needs to eat at breakfast, and 
  • figure out how much protein is in the foods your child eats.

The amount of protein your child needs depends on her age, weight and activity level. The formula for figuring out the basic amount based on weight is as follows, but keep in mind that if you have an active child, it is ok to feed them more.  We are trying to avoid them being hungry:    

  1. Divide your child's weight in pounds by half to get the total grams of protein for the day.
  2. Divide that number by 3 (for the number of meals in a day) to determine the amount they need for breakfast.

 So a child who weighs 40 pounds needs about 7 grams of protein at breakfast, as determined by using the formula:

              40 pounds divided by 2 = 20 grams of protein per day

              20 divided by 3 = 6.6 (rounded up to 7 grams per meal)

What are good, easy protein sources?

Simple proteins are the easiest way to start since it is easy to figure out how much is in each serving.

Using our previous example of 7 grams for breakfast, any of the following would work great:

  • a large egg
  • one 8-ounce glass of milk
  • one cheese stick
  • a protein shake with whey protein isolate

Most of our parents do use a shake to start out, and many never quit! It is quick and easy and the possibilities for a tasty, kid-friendly shake are truly endless.  Some kids like chocolate, others like fruit.  You can make it with varieties of milks, and any whey protein isolate, though we do recommend that you research and find a good protein powder. 

We formulated one just for kids called George’s® Restore. It’s microfiltered, has no sugar or additives and is safe for kids to use. (For more ideas on shakes, or to read more about George’s® Restore, visit the Resources section.)

If your child isn't a shake person, it is also helpful to have a few premade options on hand for quick breakfasts like breakfast burritos, or left over casserole. Another easy option is  make "power milk" with milk and protein powder and put it on cereal.

oatmeal and bananaWhat are some good, easy carbohydrates?

Good carbs come in many shapes and sizes. Start with any kind of carbohydrate and see if you can move from high sugar ones to more whole grain. Encourage your children to find carbs they like. Do not scare them by bringing home heavy duty, serious whole grains. Be creative and get their input. Here are some of the things our parents and kids like:

  • whole grain toast
  • oatmeal
  • bagels 
  • potatoes
  • low-sugar cereal (under 10 grams per serving)
  • fruit

As an aside, many of our parents have found that moving to gluten free carbs makes a huge difference with their children. This idea may be daunting at first, but come talk with our parents and learn that it can be easier than you think.

How soon is "as soon as possible?"

Feeding your child as soon as they wake up will stabilize his or her blood sugar levels right away and will avoid morning meltdowns.  For some of our parents starting out this meant taking their child a shake in bed.  For others it means once they dress and come to the kitchen.  But don’t wait any longer than 30 minutes.  The longer they are up without stopping that post-sleep blood sugar drop, the more likely it is that they will get into the danger zone. 

And if they have a hard time getting up, it does NOT mean they are lazy. It means they need a snack before bed. It is a clue that blood sugar is even more important for this child.

What happens after breakfast?

Since this is a process, you have probably figured out that breakfast is just the beginning. But it is worth it.

And as you continue the process, we have a whole, online Group dedicated to parents like you to help you navigate the best way to start making little changes to meals and snacks.

It is a free, private group, moderated by Dr. Kathleen DesMaisons so that you have a safe place to talk about your struggles and your journey.  We use Yahoo! to insure that the conversations are open only to those in the group. Your email will not be sold and your name will not be given out to anyone. If you are worried or embarassed you can even use a fake name and no one will have any idea.  It is just a place to connect with other parents like you.

Additionally, aside from that group of parents, we have a huge, 50,000 member community that has used this process over the last 15 years to heal their sugar sensitivity. In other words, you have a world of information, experience, and  – most importantly – support at your fingergtips. We have information, expertise, and other parents just like you to help. Come over to Radiant Recovery to learn more.