Toddler tantrums can strike at any point – in the grocery store, in the shopping centre or even just as you’re lounging around at home.
There can be many different causes for a tantrum too. Lack of sleep is normally one of the first things to spring to mind, along with being uncomfortable or upset in a situation. But have you ever thought your toddler might be having a tantrum because of their hunger and nutrition?
Ah yes, hangry. I bet you’ve felt hangry before (that awful combination when hungry turns into anger) and welcome to one of the biggest influencing factors to toddler tantrums that I see frequently in my clinic.
The food we eat and the nutrients we choose to sustain ourselves and our children has a big impact on our emotions. I go into depth in my book about how sugar, for example, can contribute to a range of long-term health problems such as diabetes, obesity and immune deficiency, but what about the short-term issues?
The almost instant impact of the sweet stuff is a sugar rush (we’ve all been there). This is when blood sugar levels spike and children experience an energy increase. Following this, is the dreaded come down – the crash and burn – and this is where the tantrums often kick-in.
Speaking of kids and nutrition, what do you do when the grandparents won’t stop feeding the kids unhealthy food? We speak to Butterfly Foundation Founder, Christine Morgan. Post continues after audio.
For this reason, it’s important to try and ensure your child’s diet contains a wide variety of nutrient-dense and calm-inducing foods. Here are my top tips on how to tackle those hunger tantrums – before they hit:
Ensure your child is satiated.
Avoiding hunger-induced tantrums doesn’t start when your child begins to get grizzly, it starts by ensuring your child is properly satiated at mealtimes. Mealtimes and snacks should be both filling and nutritious, packed with a variety of healthy fats, proteins and veggies so there’s less room for tantrums to sneak their way into your day.
In my book, Wholesome Child: A Complete Nutrition Guide and Cookbook, I have dedicated chapters on how to boost protein and increase healthy fats, as well as many family-friendly recipes that include a delicious combo of the two food groups. Try these tasty Salmon and Millet Rissoles or my Coconut Lamb Meatloaf which will ensure your child is firing on all cylinders.
Not only do these meals work wonders to control your child’s appetite, but they’re also packed full of nutrients and fat-soluble vitamins to improve bone strength and boost immune function. Win, win.
Preempt hunger attacks.
Often children don’t register their hunger, so it pays to know the warning signs of a hunger attack and address it before it escalates. While you know your child better than anyone, some of the most common signs to look out for are…
- Continual whining which is out of character,
- Aggression towards other children or toys,
- Signs of tiredness – yawning, rubbing their eyes,
- Asking for food or snacks in between their normal eating routine.
Once you can identify these signs for your child, it’s a lot easier to remedy the situation with snacks or their next meal before it turns into a tantrum.
Always arm yourself with nutritious snacks.
Mums are magicians at packing a fool-proof bag that contains everything you could possibly need for any situation. With that in mind, don’t let snacks slip. If you know your child is prone to tantrums when you’re out at the shops or in the car, make sure you have healthy snacks on hand.
Some of my favourite and easily transportable snacks are…