you are what you eat…
Recently, I discovered the origin of the phrase “you are what you eat”, and who is given credit for creating it. His name is Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, a Paris attorney turned politician in the early 1800’s. He wrote:
“Dis-moi ce que tu manges, je te dirai ce que tu es.” [Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are].
While Brillat-Savarin probably never heard of Vision Therapists, his mindset suggests that had he chosen, he could have been one. He did, at the very least, give way to the idea that what comes out of a child’s mouth is directly related to what they’re putting in it.
Obviously, I am not a Nutritionalist, nor a medical doctor, nor a specialist in the area of children’s diets; but I am a parent myself, and I have been working with kids most of my adult life. I have seen the incredible difference that slight adjustments in diets can make. Simple things like balancing wheat and dairy intake, regulating the amounts and types of sugars your child intakes, and keeping caffeine consumption to a bare minimum. Kids are wound up enough – one of the benefits of youth – they don’t need the outside chemicals to start their engine like most adults do.
It always makes me a little crazy to hear a parent say that they have no idea why their child is constantly in trouble at school because they cannot sit still or pay attention; only to find out the child’s breakfast ritual consists of coffee and donuts, and lunch includes soda and a candy bar. Quick, someone give me a crayon so I can circle the slow learner in this picture. Try a day without the sugar and caffeine and see how your child does. I’d bet money you’ll notice a difference.
My latest experience with this is a young man I tested this morning – who has been doing VT in our office for several months – and progressing nicely. His afternoon visits are calm, pleasant and he is definitely a “pleaser”. I saw a different side of him this morning though. He was agitated, had trouble following simple instructions, and could not sit still for more than 4 seconds. When I asked him what he had for breakfast, he answered “two cups of coffee and a bagel”. He is 10. He followed that with “it’s the same thing I always have”. Now may be a good time to mention that he’s being retested because his parents are concerned that he may not pass 5th grade. His teachers have noted his performance has significantly declined this year, especially when it comes to behavior and directions given verbally in the classroom. Since I normally see him in late the afternoon, the caffeine “buzz” most likely has passed and his performance is wonderful. During the day, he is one big ball of caffeine and sugar burning away. We were having trouble connecting the dots as to why he was successful in the therapy room but continued to struggle in school. Not anymore.
So parents, if you’re on the fence with ADD medications for a child that cannot sit still, or concerned about the ability to learn or pay attention in class, I implore you to consider your child’s diet first.
A small adjustment may go a long way.