Information for Teachers
What does diet have to do with learning?
As teachers in the public school setting, we may not necessarily have much control about what our students are eating at home or even for lunch. However, you can be key in preventing students from consuming something in the classroom that may cause further physical stress during the school day.
It is important to first be aware of the role that different foods play in learning. More and more children have sensitivities to common foods, such as gluten, soy, corn, dairy, artificial colors/flavors, and MSG. These sensitivities are most often undetected. They are different than allergies in that sensitivities cause delayed reactions whereas allergies will cause an immediate and more severe histamine-based reactions. Sensitivities and allergies are tested differently because different antibodies are being isolated in the testing.
More than likely there are many students in your classroom with food sensitivities. Sensitivity to gluten, for example, causes inflammation in the brain, particularly the cerebellum. This can lead to difficulties with balance, rhythm, speech, and language. Children with autism most always have an issue with this. Some sensitivities can lead to aggression or impulsive behaviors. Dr. Harold Blomberg, a psychiatrist from Sweden, recently told me of when he learned that he had a sensitivity to gluten a few years ago. He said that all of a sudden he was experiencing problems with his balance and his words were getting all mixed up and out of order. Movements and exercises that are targeted at helping to stimulate the cerebellum may not work, or children may regress after they stop, if the food sensitivities are not addressed.
Red Flags for food intolerances or imbalances:
•Inconsistent or unusual stools
-Our digestive track is a huge indicator to the
well-being of the rest of the body. Stools should
occur daily and be about the diameter of a
half-dollar and the consistency of peanut butter.
•Any issues with acid reflux or frequent vomiting
-This is almost always due to food intolerance, typically dairy.
-Indicates poor digestion of food and an imbalance in the gut flora. This could either be from eating too fast or not having enough enzymes. Gas with odor is usually
undigested carbohydrates, whereas odorless gas
is undigested protein.
•Red ears or cheeks
-Indicator for phenol sensitivity
•Dark circles under the eyes
-Indicates food sensitivities or allergies
•Dry patches on the skin or straw-like hair
-Often indicating a lack of essential fatty acids
•Brain fog or inconsistencies in mental performance
-Can be caused by proteins, such as gluten or
heavy metals, such as mercury, that cross the
blood-brain barrier. An example is having
increased brain fog when eating tuna fish, which