When it comes to raising Kula Baby, I figure the easier I make it on myself the better. Being a stay-at-home mom is the hardest J-O-B I’ve ever had (even though my boss is super cute). I know I’m not alone here, all mamas (whether they stay at home or not) have days they would gladly resign from their position as assistant to Mr. Poopy Pants who requires you to find a new and interesting toy at every diaper change before he agrees to hold still.
Maybe it’s just me.
Balanced meals, believe it or not, can make your job as a mom much easier because they make your child happier. Why? Balanced meals equals balanced blood sugar equals balanced behavior. Did I just solve the mystery of temper tantrums everywhere? Well, I really can’t take ALL the credit because let’s not forget the terrible twos, but I do think I’m on to something here. My sister didn’t nickname me Nancy Drew for nothing.
Blood sugar regulation isn’t just for diabetics. We all need it. When we skip meals, eat a carbohydrate-only snack or meal, drink caffeine like it should be on an IV drip, etc., we disrupt our internal hormone balance and make it hard for the body to function properly. Why? Our hormones guide the regulation of biochemical reactions and metabolism. Does that sound vague and complicated? In simpler terms: when our hormones are out of balance due to blood sugar issues, we feel ICKY (read: agitated, forgetful, moody, shaky, light headed, lethargic, etc.). In a child, this might look like fatigue, a temper tantrum, or an emotional roller coaster. I’m not saying these behaviors from your child ALWAYS mean they need a balanced meal, but it’s something to consider when your child is having a breakdown and you’re consulting your mama checklist. (Sleep? Check. Healthy? Check. Balanced meal? No? Hmmmm!)
So how do you balance meals for your child? By including a protein, carbohydrate (the unprocessed kind) and healthy fat. Meals too high in carbohydrates raise insulin levels and meals too high in protein raise stress hormones (the Atkins diet really DOES stress you out!). By serving up balanced meals, you ensure your child’s blood sugar levels stay ... well ... level. As a result, your child will probably feel better, too.
Is it always possible to include a protein, carbohydrate, and fat with every meal? No. Will your child suffer GREATLY if you give them fruit alone as a snack? Not at all. However, if you feel like your child has any of these symptoms: a short fuse, trouble concentrating, overly hyperactive or overly tired, moodiness, always craves sweets, or gets shaky and irritable if meals are missed ... it might be worth putting balanced meals and snacks on the family menu. (Reminder: these symptoms may indicate several other conditions as well, so check with your doctor if you are concerned about your child’s health.)
To make things easier I’ve put together some dietary recommendations that will put your child on the path to balanced blood sugar levels. Oh, and these tips are good for mamas too!
Dietary Recommendations at a Glance:
- Eat smaller meals more frequently. Three balanced meals a day and two snacks are recommended. Never let more than three hours go by without meal or snack.
- Try to eat first meal within an hour of waking.
- Don’t skip meals.
- Don’t eat carbohydrates alone.
- Balance meal with protein, healthy fat, and carbohydrate.
- Drink plenty of filtered water.
- Increase foods with beneficial vitamins and minerals for blood sugar stabilization (see list below).
- Decrease or eliminate these foods: caffeine, refined flour, sugar, damaged fats, additives and preservatives.
- If your child suffers from carbohydrate cravings, make sure to include a healthy fat at every meal to stop the cravings and feel satisfied. Try these healthy fats: olive oil, natural peanut butter, raw nuts and seeds, avocado, ground flax seeds or flax oil, and salmon.
Vitamins and Minerals to Support Blood Sugar Stabilization:
B Complex (regulates blood sugar)
Torula and brewer’s (nutritional) yeast, sunflower seeds, wheat germ, walnuts, rice bran, wheat bran, peanuts, sesame seeds, mushrooms, split peas.
Vitamin C (regulates blood sugar)
Guava, kale, parsley, collard leaves, broccoli, sweet red peppers.
Vitamin E (improves effectiveness of insulin)
Wheat germ oil, sunflower seeds, almonds, wheat germ.
Zinc (regulates blood sugar)
Oysters, pumpkin seeds, ginger root, pecans.
Magnesium (can be deficient if blood sugar is unregulated)
Kelp, wheat bran, wheat germ, almonds, cashews, molasses, brewer’s yeast, buckwheat, brazil nuts, dulse.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids (raises metabolism and supports insulin function)
Flaxseeds, walnuts, salmon.
Chromium (eliminates carbohydrate cravings and regulates blood sugar)
Brewer’s yeast, whole wheat bread, wheat bran, rye bread, potatoes, apples.
Biotin (specific B vitamin that regulates blood sugar and eliminates cravings)
Brewer’s yeast, rice bran, peanut butter, and walnuts.
Realistically, balanced meals aren’t always possible when you’re on the go with children. I’m the first to admit I often serve Kula Baby a solo banana snack when our schedule gets busy. We do what we can, right? Knowing about balanced meals (when possible) is just another tool in our mama toolbox.