Reducing behavior meltdowns with good nutrition — tips for the holidays

The holidays can be stressful and as an adult I can’t yell and scream at the top of my lungs or pout the afternoon away even though I may want to. However my preschooler can. Our children can be on their worst behavior during this season and it is not always their fault. Hectic schedules, interrupted sleep and stressed out parents all trigger bad behavior.


Behavior meltdowns are not entirely unavoidable but there are a few simple things you can do to minimize their frequency.


  1. Minimize sugary starts to the day:  Breakfast dominated by sugary foods will trigger an insulin spike in your child. The energy boost she receives is short-lived, may cause hyperactivity and won’t sustain her until lunch. Instead try serving her an omelet with whole-wheat toast or if you are short on time prepare hard-boiled eggs the evening before. An egg breakfast is packed with protein, which is good for your child’s growing brain and body.


  1. Support your child’s immune system: A sick child is a grumpy child but supporting your child’s immune system with nutrition is easy. Add citrus fruits as well as vegetables high in Vitamin C (red/yellow bell peppers) to their dinner or snack. Consider a child-friendly Zinc supplement or add a children’s multivitamin to their regimen. Lastly, I will repeat that your child should avoid excess sugar. Sugar suppresses the immune system.


  1. Bring Snacks:  Your children will act out more readily if they are hungry or thirsty. Great snacks to have on hand are almonds (un-salted) and organic beef /turkey jerky as well as fresh fruit (apples and bananas are the least messy). Make sure to pack extra water because children often forget to drink.


  1. Feed yourself:  You may have the kids all taken care of but its 5pm and you haven’t eaten since breakfast. It is important to keep yourself hydrated and fueled using the same tips I’ve listed above. Children are very sensitive and can mirror their parent’s moods and behavior. Keeping your stress level down will go a long way to minimize your child’s.



Meltdowns, your own or your children’s, will happen. Hopefully the tips listed above will help limit their number and make your holidays that much more enjoyable.


Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas & Happy 2012!