In an effort to be more health conscious I found a really yummy homemade blueberry muffin recipe. No, normally blueberry muffins are not usually healthy, but these are made from almond flour, organic blueberries, and gluten free sugar replacement that also tastes really good. Other than the taste, I noticed on the packaging a seal that said “Autism Approved”. This got me to thinking about how the way we eat significantly impacts our bodies as well as our minds. There are many ways that we can improve our mental health by limiting or restructuring the foods that we eat. Here are 3 ways that we can improve our minds while making our mouths happy.
1. Limit sugar.
As my wonderful sugarless sweetener explicitly stated, natural sugarless alternatives can be helpful in ameliorating symptoms of Autism and ADHD as well as behavioral issues. Low-glycemic foods do not usually produce a spike in blood sugar and make it easier to control behaviors, such as repetitive movements. Surges in blood sugar have also been correlated with hyperactivity. Limiting artificial sugar intake also encourages higher levels of doublecortin, which is a protein associated with newly developed neurons. Try reaching for a natural sugarless alternative for your favorite recipe the next time you visit the grocery store. Some parents reported a behavioral child with this switch in as little as two weeks.
2. Reduce gluten.
Poor gluten. Gluten has gotten a bad rap for the past couples of years. With more recent prominent research on the way that gluten impacts ADHD symptoms as well as other behaviors many people have started grabbing gluten free alternatives. Gluten is a protein substance found in most grains (think wheat, barley, and rye). Foods created from these grains (we’re talking cereals, breads, processed and packaged foods) are a significant part of our typical everyday diet. However, those that are gluten sensitive have difficulty processing this protein, which can lead to lower executive functioning among other things. What exactly is executive functioning? It’s essentially our powerhouse in our brain. It’s the area that controls short term memory, planning, and controlling behaviors. Individuals with ADHD that have cut down (or out) on gluten in their diets report feeling more mentally sharp and having emotional clarity. Talk with your doctor about ways to test for gluten sensitivity.
3. Lay off of the dyes.
All of those pretty colors that come in cereals, juices and other products can be really fun to look at, but what is hidden underneath? Studies have found that some children with mental health diagnoses might be more affected by additives than others. The artificial food coloring and dyes have a hyperactive effect in children with ADHD as well as other diagnoses. This is a tough one! Those dyes are in most products that we can purchase to make and serve to our families. Consider a cereal that does not have the artificial dyes or juice that is clear in color. If all else fails read the Nutrition Facts and see what dyes exist in your daily indulgences and look for less colorful alternatives.
Ultimately, my muffins turned out to be really good. While it has taken some adjusting to get used to these changes, I know that they are changes that will impact my family and me physically as well as emotionally. What change are you open to trying?
Disclaimer: I do not claim to be a nutritionist or a medical doctor. I’m just a therapist that has found some alternative methods to help the people I enjoy working with. You should always consult your doctor or your child’s pediatrician when considering dietary changes.