I am sure we all agree that diet and physical development are directly linked. But how many of us have a strong opinion that a child’s behaviour and food are closely linked too?
The discussion about the rise in number of children who are struggling with learning, behaviour or social problems is becoming common these days. Has it crossed your mind that food intolerance could be what these children are suffering from? Well then you are on the right track because food intolerance and a child’s behaviour go hand in hand. Before we deep dive into this discussion let us understand what is meant by food intolerance. To put it in simple words: food intolerance appears because a person is unable to digest that specific food. One of the most common food intolerance is lactose and now known cases of Gluten intolerance are also on the rise.
Such intolerance can cause many unpleasant symptoms like gas, bloating, diarrhoea or constipation basically symptoms that everyone would want to avoid. But those are just the physical symptoms other symptoms could include irritability, depression, anxiety, and inability to concentrate. Experts opine that food intolerance tends to appear more when toddlers start their formal school.
Being a teacher as well as a parent of a toddler, I try to figure out how to best navigate this issue in kids so that everyone is able to learn in a safe space. Here I share the result of my experiments with managing food intolerance. Parents and teacher might find these tips handy when they need to support kids with food intolerance/insensitivities.
The rise of awareness:
I have always believed “Knowledge is power”. I prefer to educate my children in the classroom about food intolerance. Identifying and eliminating foods that a child is sensitive to is very important. I read food labels of whatever food item I bring into the classroom and I tell my children to do the same when they bring food items in the classroom. More related seminars, more awareness can help in fixing healthier diets that cater to individual needs. Reading labels and understanding food intolerance risks can help children to understand the significant role diet can play.
A Teacher’s perspective:
As a teacher I make sure that I’m always aware of my students’ medical background. I want my classroom to be a space where everyone can express their ideas and learn in a supportive environment, then it’s essential that I consider my students’ medical needs just as seriously as their academic needs. I always encourage my children to be mindful of each other’s needs and to be careful for themselves as well as for their friends in the classroom.
How can parents help?
By teaching children, the danger of sharing foods and explaining how some foods can be harmful to others. Parents have mastered the conversation about “stranger-danger,” now we can add another social awareness to the list. Secondly, Scheduling time to talk to your child’s teacher about concerns and clearly communicating advice you may have throughout the year, especially if anything changes in your child’s medical history. This will help to provide safe environment not only in the classroom but also in the schools which provide day care facilities.
This quote truly fits in my classroom: “a healthy outside starts from the inside”. What do you think? Following these simple steps, helps me to maintain a safe environment for my children during the school. I hope these steps will help educators and parents to handle such food issues among children so that our children can be healthy and happy.