Can digestive health affect children’s behavior?

Carrot face web

Could your child’s digestive system be linked to their behaviors?  After spending the last 9 months studying nutritional therapy and our bodies basic foundations to good health, digestion is one of the primary systems we investigate and repeatedly recognize the need for support for many health concerns and issues. Our digestive system is a remarkable process that starts north (brain) and ends south (elimination).  In our stressful lives our digestive process from north to south can end up in a state of dysfunction due to simply not RELAXING and chewing our food enough to the over consumption of refined carbohydrates and sugars that weakens our stomach acid production (hydrochloric acid).  This doesn’t just affect adults, but children also.

Here’s a fun video describing how the digestive system works, and I encourage you to watch it with your children.


When our digestive system is healthy, as you can see from the video above, it provides our bodies with amazing abilities.  It helps fight off bad bacteria that could make you sick, and absorb and break down foods to provide us with all the beautiful nutrients, minerals and vitamins we need to be healthy.  When our digestive system is in dysfunction then this process is weakened, and that can affect our entire body, including behavior.

Digestive dysfunction can result in discomfort for anyone, and especially children who may not be able to verbalize what might be going on.  Sometimes these behaviors could begin right before snacks or meal times or right after eating.  In the book, “Why Stomach Acid Is Good For You”, by Dr. Wright and Dr. Lenard, they discuss the many reasons why stomach acid is your friend, and a diet high in processed foods, refined sugar and carbohydrates, and stress disrupts the production of stomach acid.  So, even if you are now eating a highly nutrient dense diet with whole foods, “the lack of stomach acid, you may still  wind up with serious nutritional deficiencies,” due to the lack of absorption of those vital nutrients.  When our bodies aren’t absorbing enough nutrients it can effect how we think, feel and behave.  When children aren’t getting the adequate amount of nutrients they can experience many different behavioral shifts like: being cranky, tired or frustrated.  So, a first step would be avoiding processed foods, refined sugars and carbohydrates to allow the digestive system to heal and begin to promote stomach acid.

When we realize the importance of the North (brain) to South (elimination) digestive process, and the key elements to healthy digestion, then we can practice how to eat to nourish our bodies and minds. One of the best ways to start healing your digestive tract is to start with the Northern most end: the brain! Practice relaxing when eating a meal or snack.  Sit down, turn off the TV, and take a couple deep breathes.  Allow your mind to prepare to digest.  Chew your food and take your time.  You could make it a counting game with your child.  Like “let’s count our chews.”  When we allow our bodies to relax when eating then our body will be able to prepare and absorb the yummy food you’re offering it.

When we prepare and eat a diet rich in nutrient dense whole foods we will begin to heal our digestive system.



Here are few other ways to keep you and your child’s digestion on the right track:

  • Keep hydrated with water
  • Eat fermented foods and cultured foods
  • Manage stress
  • Listen to your body, and try and observe your child’s behaviors around meals/snacks

Eat therapeutic foods for your digestion:

  • Pineapple
  • Beets
  • Garlic
  • Radishes
  • Ginger
  • Lemon water
  • Kale & spinach
  • Broth

Incorporating all these key elements into our daily lives will promote digestive health, and establish valuable life long habits for yourself, and your child’s health.  When our bodies are healthy, our minds are healthy.  Often when we avoid processed foods and refined sugars and offer nutrient dense whole foods, children will shift many behaviors that could be related to the effects of those junk foods on the body.  My children love sugar, and what I’ve found in both of my children after the consumption of processed and refined sugary foods are: severe mood changes, anger, anxiety, feeling tired and having upset stomachs.  My 11 year old actually now can recognize when he’s had a food his body doesn’t like with feelings like: bloating, “yucky feelings”, and feeling tired.  So, providing words to possibly describe how they may feel after eating a food that changes their behavior may help them start to tune into their bodies innate abilities to know what is good and bad for them.  Just a thought…

Nutrition is a wonderful starting point you can do on your own at home for any behavioral concerns.  If your child displays behavior problems, and you can’t get at the root of them, consult with their pediatrician for further evaluation.

Here are a few recipes we love to make:


soaked oats

Soaked Oats

Soaking oats help break down the starches and naturally occurring phytic acid which in return makes them easier to digest and absorb.

1/2 C Organic Old Fashioned Oats

1/2 C. unsweetened Almond, Coconut or Whole milk (any works)

1/2 tsp vanilla

1 tsp maple syrup

1 TBS chia seeds

Add Blueberries, raspberries

Mix  and put in fridge overnight

In the morning heat up and enjoy!  Add a little more maple syrup if needed.


gluten free minestrone soup

Minestrone Soup w/ parmesan crisps 

1/2 cup White Beans

1 cup celery, diced

1 cup carrots, diced

1 cup zucchini, diced

1 cup cabbage, chopped

1 cup green beans

3/4 cup onion, diced

1 cup diced tomatoes

2 teaspoons sea salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1/2-1 teaspoon fresh and/or granulated garlic

4 cups chicken stock

6 cups water

Place soaked beans in water/broth and bring to a boil for 20 minutes.

Cut veggies into small pieces while beans are boiling. Add to beans and stock when beans have boiled 20 minutes.

Add spices

Bring to boil, and simmer for at least an hour until beans are soft.

parmesan crisps

Parmesan Crisps

Preheat 400 degrees

You’ll just need about 8 oz. shredded parmesan

Put 1 heaping teaspoon onto baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Spread them out about 2 inches apart.  Lightly press the parmesan down with fingers until it’s flat.

Bake 5 – 6 minutes


Cashew Bread

Cashew Bread

Here’s my new go to Grain Free Cashew Bread for school lunches. It’s super easy to make and my son loves it!


Chai Seed Pudding

Chai Seed Pudding

1/2 C coconut milk

1/2 C almond milk

3-4 TBLS chai seeds

1 tsp. vanilla

2-3 tsp. pur maple syrup

Mix all ingredients into mason jar, and let sit in fridge for 2-4 hours.  Stirring once.  Add dried coconut, berries, nuts on top and yum there’s a great breakfast or snack!


Thank you for reading and I hope you learned a few new things that will support you and your families journey to a even more healthful way of living!


Helpful resources:



“Why Stomach Acid Is Good For You”

“Gut and Psychology Syndrome”



Yours in health,