How is a child’s concentration improved on a low-carb diet?

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It is becoming apparent as more research surfaces and more anecdotal evidence arises that there is indeed a massive correlation between a child’s diet and his or her ability to concentrate.

In our industry, we get to interact with many parents who are following the guidelines and recipes from Superfood for Superchildren and this is what they have to say:

Lynette says, “If parents and teachers could only see the difference in behaviour that results from eating (Low Carb, high fats) LCHF, they would refuse to let their children eat otherwise.”

Once, the teacher gave the food Lynette packed for her toddler one glance and decided to give her mashed potatoes instead. Lynette says that her child instantly turned into a “purple minion”. The teachers couldn’t believe it, but know now never to make the same mistake again.

“I started Banting (a Low Carb, high fat diet)  in May 2015 as I heard it could help my migraines,” says Sara Hands from Australia, “In July, my daughter’s teacher called me in to speak about her behaviour. She had been having major meltdowns and tantrums in class. I knew that LCHF had cured my depression and anxiety so I figured it must be able to help her too. She has no tantrums or meltdowns anymore and she’s loving her first week of high school. She eats LCHF 95% of the time with the occasional handful of chips or sandwich when at a friend’s or other family member’s house.”

Christina’s family relocated and her son started a new school and learnt a new language all at the same time. She said that cutting out sugar and wheat helped him concentrate better, improved his mood and gave him energy.

“His focus and concentration have risen to a level where he now consistently beats his golf group every week. He’s seven years old and plays with the 9-12 year olds. He was put in that class due to talent, but since cutting out sugar and wheat, it’s improved considerably to the point where he now beats them every week.”

Gillian told us that a year ago, her son Jaime, then 12 years old struggled to focus in class and his teachers would keep writing incomplete at the bottom of his tasks. He was diagnosed with ADHD after reports from parents, teachers and paediatrician.

Their entire family embarked on the LCHF journey and the results were amazing.

“I have not had one meeting this year with a teacher regarding his schoolwork or behaviour. His tasks are complete, his handwriting has improved, his results have improved and his hand-eye coordination had also improved.”

M.D Peter Attia feeds his daughter a diet free from all sugar and processed foods and he says, “If you can only make one intervention in the dietary pattern of your child, make it this one.  It seems the longer you wait to make changes in this area, the more difficult it can be.  Not always, but often.  Sugar is very habit forming, and from a neurochemical standpoint, an addiction to sugar is not unlike an addiction to gambling or alcohol.  Yes, they all have nuanced differences, but each of these addictive patterns or behaviours results in stimulation of the dopaminergic pathways of the brain.”

Prof Noakes, co-author of Super Food for Superchildren, says with the guidelines the way they are currently, the wrong advice on paediatric nutrition has been given because we now have three-year-olds with type 2 diabetes, which is likely because they were weaned onto a high-carb diet. “If they were to see protein and fat in their lunch box then, in my opinion, they would be less hungry. Mothers have told us that a reduction in hunger has helped their children concentrate much better at school and their performances went up. My daughter is a teacher and she tells me that the children go mad after lunch break, because they’ve had so much carbohydrate, and they’re difficult to control.”

Dr Ann Childers, psychiatrist and nutrition expert, says, “If I can get a child on a moderate protein, high-fat breakfast they are going to do very well, in fact, they may not even need the 10am snack that many schools provide. When a child is on this kind of a strong breakfast, when carbohydrates are introduced later they don’t tend to lead to a hypoglycaemic event where the child is low on blood sugar, getting cranky, kind of spinning up or falling asleep at their desk. These sorts of breakfasts can do wonders. I remember doing this for a child who had ADHD, and a couple of days later the teacher asked me if I could give this child an afternoon dose of the drug I had given him in the morning. When all we had done was changed his diet from fruit loops and skim milk to bacon and eggs.”

Bridget Surtees, dietitian and co-author of Super Food for Superchildren, says that preservatives and very sugary foods affect concentration and mood. It’s the rollercoaster effect on blood sugar levels that sugar and processed foods elicit that cause this.

“Getting rid of the processed, packaged sugary foods, definitely, can have a beneficial effect on a child’s concentration and development. A low carbohydrate diet of protein foods, healthy fats and nutrient-dense carbohydrates, especially vegetables, at every meal, has shown to provide a more stable, slower release of energy.”

A breakfast of protein, healthy fats and nutrient-dense carbohydrates, predominantly vegetables, keeps a

Superfoof and concentration

child fuller for longer and also provides a slow, stable release of energy which is beneficial for a child’s over-all disposition and concentration. It is our belief and the experience of a large number of scientists, doctors and dietitians that a diet filled with real food, free from additives, preservatives and sugar is the best way to raise a happy, healthy, well-rounded child.

Superfoods_homeblogShare your tips for how to reduce sugar and increase fat in your child’s diet in comments below to WIN 1 of 3 Super Food for Superchildren books. UK residents only.