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How Parents Can Reverse Poor Diet, Emotional Reactions to Food

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The Best in Family Health by Karen Ranzi - Fruit-Powered Magazine

Tablespoon-of-sugar-350pxNutritional studies connect allergic reactions to allergens in certain foods and the excessive consumption of refined sugar as the two major causes of mood swings in children. These reactions to certain food substances can cause a chronic state of tension throughout the nervous system. Varying degrees of depression can also result from these allergic and addictive reactions to these foods. Research has demonstrated that people allergic to wheat can become depressed soon after eating it or even a few days afterward. It is well-known that processed and refined sugars increase the blood-sugar level too rapidly. The levels will inevitably soon drop, leaving one depressed, irritable, confused or angry.

Our society’s increased consumption of fast foods, usually cooked and processed, is another cause of anxiety, frustration and mood swings. These foods lack the nutritional density the body requires to feel truly satisfied. This deficient state has been termed “cellular starvation.” When an abundance of cooked and processed food is eaten, the body is malnourished, feeling empty and depleted. Since our emotional and physical states are closely connected, this physiological malnourishment is revealed in an unbalanced emotional state, displayed as irritability, anger or depression.

Fast-food french fries in a red carton
One fast-food chain wants its customers to view french fries as part of a “Happy Meal” when the reality is these foods produce anxiety and mood swings.

Foods are either acid- or alkaline-forming. Human blood is slightly alkaline and requires an alkaline pH. Ingestion of animal flesh and animal products, heated fats, glutinous grains, refined and processed foods, and most cooked foods cause an acidic condition. These foods are not easily assimilated and cause toxic waste to be formed. Research has shown that a more alkaline-forming diet results in a calmer, more serene person. Eating raw, living vegan foods results in a more alkaline pH level. When cooked and processed foods are significantly decreased and fresh plant foods are increased, chronic emotional, mental and/or physical problems can be reversed and eliminated.

After having eaten raw foods since ages 3 and 5, my children began experimenting with eating cooked vegan foods when they were 11 and 13. As an adolescent and young teenager, they were frequently confronted with conventional foods. Their friends and peers often coaxed and teased them about the healthful foods they were eating, and this made them want to be like their peers. What is perceived as “peer pressure” in their teen years was quite intense.


When children are young, their parents are the center of their universe. The parents’ model is key as “actions speak louder than words.” Parents need to exude confidence that the raw food lifestyle is nutritionally and scientifically sound. This conviction will have a profound effect on family life and whether the children will desire to follow their parents’ example when they mature.

Most children will eventually become influenced by the cultural values they perceive. As time goes on, their developing ecological awareness, coupled with the growth of the raw food movement internationally, will positively benefit families living a natural life. With increasing public awareness that disease need not be fought with drugs but prevented through healthful eating and lifestyle, I’m confident the raw vegan lifestyle will eventually be considered the norm.

Children who have been eating healthful vegan foods for many years will quickly react negatively to processed and refined foods. This provides an opportunity for the parent to lovingly discuss the consequences of eating unnatural foods with the child. Although I often found it difficult to remain calm after my children partook of the junk food party foods at birthday parties, I’ve learned from experience that children will react defensively to a parent who is out of emotional control. Showing interest in their feelings—even validating them—and listening to their interpretation of the situation proves most beneficial in gaining the child’s willingness to receive the parents’ views of health and wellness and its importance to the child’s proper development.

A mother feeds her young boy oranges by a kitchen sink

If a child is “acting out,” it’s best for the parents to react constructively and calmly. Make sure to make eye contact when speaking with the child to let him or her know that he or she is an important person, even in times of emotional instability. Coercion causes only anger and defiance. We love our children and want them to be emotionally and spiritually healthy as well as physically healthy. Creating the very delicate balance needed to bring this to fruition can sometimes be frustrating to a parent who believes strongly in the raw vegan lifestyle for a healthy future.

In letting our children make their own decisions regarding food choices when exposed to the conventional toxic fare, we have to realize these unhealthy foods may well contain opiates, monosodium glutamate, hydrogenated oils (trans fats), dangerous preservatives and colorings, aspartame and other poisonous substances, often hidden on ingredient labels. So far, despite the international efforts of the World Health Organization, acrylamide (a carcinogen) is never even mentioned on labels in the United States, even for foods loaded with acrylamide such as chips, pretzels and cookies.

The implementation of a healthy raw food lifestyle will be beneficial for the entire family. Begin with healthy snacks, replacing the processed and refined snacks with fruit or vegetables with dips. Kids love delicious homemade dips with sliced veggies. And the perfect fast food couldn’t be any easier and tastier than a bowl of colorful organic berries or a variety of sliced apples. Get your whole family involved in planting a garden, and later the children can participate in harvesting the abundance of delicious produce given to them directly by Nature. Nothing expresses the vibrancy of living foods more than harvesting from your very own garden.

Recipe for No Bean Hummus from Karen Ranzi
“Kids love delicious homemade dips with sliced veggies,” Karen Ranzi writes. Photographed is the writer’s own No Bean Hummus.

As you diminish serving cooked and processed foods and continue to augment fresh raw plant foods, the children’s tastebuds will gradually change and start to prefer fruits, leafy greens and vegetables over foods requiring sauces and spreads just to make them palatable. Have fruits and vegetables readily available in the room where everyone congregates, most often the kitchen. Place fruits and vegetables in pretty bowls and baskets and hang posters and pictures of fruits and vegetables on the walls to depict and emphasize the foods you value most.

There are enormous benefits to maintaining a raw food lifestyle. Ideally, it is quick and easy, dominated by whole fresh water-rich plant foods. Children raised this way who leave this path at some future date will inevitably return because of the energy, mental clarity and emotional balance they’ll remember when eating this way. My daughter, at age 21, decided to listen to her inner wisdom rather than simply following the crowd. She compared how she felt on raw vegan foods when growing up at home with the standard dietary indoctrination while away at college. She gained a deep insight: Fresh fruits and vegetables are the optimal “species-specific” food for humans.

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