Case Study: Boy’s behaviour problems
by Sue Kira, Naturopath & Clinical Nutritionist
From my many years of experience in clinic I could write a book about the profound differences made by clients who changed their diet to foods that suited their bodies. Here’s one to share with you.
A five-year-old boy had massive shifts in his behaviour. One day he would be ‘off the wall crazy’ and the next day he would be sweet as an angel. His mum couldn’t understand it. Doctors’ blood tests showed normal. She had been to a child behaviour specialist; in one session he would be an angel and in another session, he could not be controlled and wouldn’t listen or sit still.
Fortunately for me (and my clinic space) he was having a ‘good day’ when he saw me. But clever mum showed me a phone video of what he was like on those ‘other’ days so I could see what she was going through.
I asked her about his favourite foods, because people often crave and eat lots of the very things they shouldn’t have. She said, “That’s easy, all he will drink is milk with chocolate drink powder and eat cheese, chicken nuggets, sausages, potatoes and raw beans. He pretty much eats the same foods every day but his behaviour is different day-to-day”.
My first thought was that it must be the dairy products, as this is quite common. But I discovered that they used two different brands of chicken nuggets on different days (one with additives and one with no additives). Also, there were two different chocolate drink powders he liked.
I felt that his extreme behaviour was the reaction to a particular mix of the two foods. In other words, it appeared it was about combinations of the additives in the chicken nuggets and the chocolate drink mix.
The only way we could find out was by trying different combinations and monitoring his behaviour. We used a core diet that excluded additives of every type. I wanted to take out the milk first, but mum said that he could go for days drinking milk and eating cheese and be fine, so we initially we included the milk products.
His behaviour improved and after a few weeks of good behaviour he started to complain of tummy pains. When I questioned him, it seemed that he had always had these pains but it wasn’t so obvious when all the focus was on his behaviour.
So we talked and it was actually the boy who said he thought it might be milk. I think he had been carefully listening to what we had been talking about previously and he started to listen to his own body.
He wasn’t too worried about giving up dairy milk when we found a delicious coconut milk and added raw cacao powder and sweetened it slightly with rice malt syrup, which agreed very well with his little tummy.
Later, he decided that he didn’t want chicken nuggets anymore and was going to eat ‘big person’ chicken meat instead, which was great as he was then having less gluten and starch from the coating, which he said was also better for his tummy.
A clever boy, who not only felt better with his food choices, but also listened to his body and was the first to say he wasn’t going to eat something that didn’t suit him.
Simple dietary modifications made a remarkable difference to the young boy’s behavior problems and as a consequence, generated harmony for the family.