Food and Mood

June 17,2009
Sweet Pea Chef
Jessica Efird( )

Jessica, aka the Sweet Pea Chef, is a former U.S. Senate staffer/weekend gourmet turned full-time mom/family gourmet. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband and two sons.

Earlier this week I wrote about kids, summer and hydration. It got me thinking about how much food can also impact their moods, and if I have to look to a particular reason why my boys are so easily swayed by meals (or lackthereof), I need only find a mirror. Like most families, we are still adjusting to our new summer routine. I use the word “routine” very loosely because one of the things I am actually really enjoying thus far is the lack of mandatory scheduled items on our daily agenda. But there is still a rhythm to our days, and it is very different than the preschool year, when R was in school 4 mornings a week. The last few mornings at around 11:30, I have found myself feeling impatient and a bit more snippy than usual. You would think after thirty-something years I would realize that I get ornery when I am hungry, and that unless I eat a mammoth breakfast, I will not make it to lunch without needing a snack. But alas, I have had to stop, think and then realize, “Jessica, you need to eat something.” I eat, and I am a much happier mama. So it should be no surprise that my kids get downright crabby when their tummies are grumbling. My 5 year old R is a little more subtle in his need for food; he becomes a little less resilient, much more irritable and a bit dramatic when he’s hungry. But G, our two year old, well, he let’s us know front and center, he is hungry. He goes from easy going, happy-go-lucky to a temper-tantrum wielding toddler when his blood sugar drops. To help the boys go from meal to meal without having a pre-meal meltdown, we do some daily grazing to help bridge the time between meals. But my favorite trick pre-meal trick is one I learned from my friend Slacker Mama. She shared the idea to “let” my kids snack on vegetables if I am not done making dinner or lunch. The boys are usually so hungry they inhale whatever veggies are on the menu for the meal, sometimes so much that they end up eating a double helping. If you are doubtful this will work, try using hummus or another dip to make it a “special treat.” SPC