Hunger in School – Food and Behaviour

Hunger in School – Food and Behaviour

It is funny what you remember.
I was in a reception classroom this week just as it was heading to lunchtime. The children all lined up at the door, and waited… and with the hubbub of their chatter, and the change in energy in the room as they became more and more hungry and wondering where their dinner lady was….I remembered.

I remembered times like that when I was a teacher, and I would help my class get through those painful minutes by distracting them with class games, Simon Says…, and jokes.

Beyond that though, I remembered my own feelings of waiting for lunch at school.

If you were hungry at home you could say so, maybe have something to keep you going and/or go do something to distract yourself. At school when you are just waiting neither of those are options.

I remembered how the biggest change for me going from primary to secondary, was not the size of school, or the moving around to different rooms for different lessons, or the amount of homework…. It was having to wait until 12.50 for the bell to go for lunch, when for the last 3 years it had been at 12.00! Those 50 mins were THE HARDEST MINUTES OF THE DAY.

I was quiet at school, not one of the children who were constantly being noticed, but just because nobody else noticed my hunger I DID!  I was so desperate to get food into me by 12.50, that I would go straight outside with my packed lunch and sit on the benches and EAT. Most of my class (and the rest of the school in all honesty) would go to the dining hall, queue up for a seat and eat in there. Not me.

E v e r y   s i n g l e   day of my first year, come rain, or shine I was out there….even in the snow.

I’m serious.

Nothing was going to stop me getting food in my body ASAP.

What I now know about bodies and fuel, brain function, hormones and blood sugar levels helps me understand this memory picture. I didn’t care that what I was doing was different to everyone else or a bit off-the-wall. All I cared about was re-fueling.
I recognised that same need to re-fuel in that classroom as those children waited. Some just stood and fiddled with lunch boxes, some got quiet and withdrew into themselves, some fidgety and less able to stand still, some could no longer find their ‘indoor voices’ and needed to raise the subconscious alarm with their ‘other’ voices.

keep-calm-its-lunch-time-4I wondered how long before their designated lunch time those tummies had been quietly rumbling; how long had they been distracted from their 5-year-old jobs; how long had they found it harder to ‘play nicely with kind hands’, because they were becoming driven by a different internal biochemical landscape?

It’s funny what you remember.
Food is so important, affecting attention, behaviour and social skills.

How we fuel our children has immediate impact…and potentially long lasting memories!

How a Dad Affected his Family through Drink

One of the children I used to work with, was part of a family of 5.  Through regular contact and updates with both parents I had a clear sense of the bigger picture they were all living with.
So imagine this :

  • going through multiple traumatic experiences as a family – and still struggling to re calibrate from those…whilst also
  • having one child who has a life- threatening condition, which means they could just stop breathing at any time whilst also
  • having another child who is really struggling with school because not only does he have PTSD, but the topic for the term is a constant reminder of the trauma he went through …

That is way more than enough for most families – or parents to cope with. But that wasn’t all…

  • One of the parents – Dad – who was big and strong, would just collapse.

It happened with no warning – and despite multiple trips to the doctor and hospital, tests of all sorts (including blood and brain scans) meant that there was no clear reason why.
Imagine the impact of that situation on the family : on the mum, who was smaller in frame and could not catch him or lift him once he had collapsed and blacked out…who was now living with more anxiety wondering if today was another day when it was going to happen again.
And the impact on the children … Who had to stand by and see their big strong dad ‘out for the count’ on the floor, the panic in their mum, and the ambulance people come and take him away.
A simple comment I made in a meeting one day led to a deeper conversation which led to 1 change in his lifestyle. From that day on this Dad made the decision to stop drinking fizzy drinks. No cans, no bottles, and nothing that said it was ‘diet’ anything.
He reported to me within 3 weeks he had not collapsed once. He was amazed. Before that he had been collapsing 2-3 times a week.
Several months later I checked with him again – he was still fizz-free and still no collapsing since that 1 change…and now his doctor was amazed.
He understood in a powerful way the havoc that the crazy sugar levels, and artificial sweeteners like aspartame were having on his body.
The kids were drinking a lot less fizz too now…
Some people refer to fizzy drinks as pure poison. I have to agree. You will have your own opinion.
I also believe that changes a parent makes to improve their health ALWAYS has a positive impact on the rest of their family.

More than Words

Wordle3Just a few of the words that flow through everything that CHEW Initiatives is about. The reason it exists … the vision and the values are all in there. Enjoy pondering them.
I have tried lots of times, but have to say it is impossible for me to consider these words and not be stirred, challenged, inspired… do let me know if you connect with them too.
If you want to find out a bit more about CHEW Initiatives then you can read more here.

Running Lighter

Jo R. is a mum in the Midlands. Although she is a runner, she still felt the ‘weight’ of carrying too much excess around with her, and was a self-confessed sugar addict. She allowed a friend’s journey to inspire her and started out on her own road to better health. This is her story, we love how she tells it…

running photoI live in Kenilworth, Warwickshire with my husband and 2 gorgeous children (aged (almost!) 9 and 7). We’ve recently returned from 3 1/2 years living in New Jersey. I haven’t worked since having my firstborn and I keep fairly active. I ran regularly (I’ve completed 7 half marathons in the last 3 years) and went to the gym. I also ate…. Too much and the wrong foods!
I have always been ‘heavy’
Since returning to the UK last August I was determined to regain control of my weight gain. I have always, as far back as I can remember, been ‘heavy’. For too many years I have been overweight and not at all happy with this fact! I didn’t let my weight affect the things that I did but I was always very self-conscious walking around on a beach or at the pool in my swimsuit.
I feel like I’ve been trying to lose weight for most of my adult life! I was a comfort food eater, eating when I was bored, sad, happy, angry, anytime really! Also, because I ran I thought I was entitled to eat whatever I wanted. After all, I had just exercised! I would stick to a diet religiously for a couple of weeks, lose a few pounds and then get bored and/or hungry. I would eat some ‘forbidden’ food and that would be me back at square 1. The weight would soon pile back on, and a couple of pounds more for good measure!


Clair. H and I are friends from years ago and I had been following some of her posts on facebook about the success she was having with a weight loss programme she was on. She had been introduced to it by (another) Claire. I plucked up the courage to ring Claire W to find out more, and I am so glad I did. We re-connected straight away. Claire listened to my story and explained the way RESET works and it all seemed to make complete sense. One thing I have always struggled with is my cravings for high fat, sugary foods. I just didn’t crave carrot sticks and apple boats as much as that large bar of chocolate or that over-sized baguette!

Here we go…

So, I committed to do the RESET programme. How hard could it be to replace 5 days worth of meals with nutritious shakes?? Of course, I could snack too (carrot sticks, apple slices)! The children wanted to take me out for a meal on Mothering Sunday so I planned to start the following day. I ate that Sunday meal like it was going to be my last with the biggest sundae you have ever seen.

  • On Monday morning I had my cup of hot water with slice of lemon, walked the children to school and returned for shake 1. I had a mid-morning snack of apple and nuts. Shake 2 at lunchtime. More apple mid-afternoon and shake 3 at teatime. I drank plenty of water all day. I also managed to make dinner for Mike and the kids without succumbing to ‘proper food’!
  • Day 2 was much the same as day 1. Except for the headaches! WOW! I was grumpy, achy and miserable. I was also snappy with Mike. I didn’t much like this side of me but I am putting it down to my body being in withdrawal. I became aware just how addicted my body was – and the reality of breaking addiction hit hard.
  • At this time, and well into day 3 (same pattern of shakes and snacks) I was committed to completing this 5 Day RESET and never drinking another protein shake again! There was no way I was going to continue on the 21 day maintenance programme.
  • However, by day 4 I was feeling so much better. I was already seeing a difference when I put my clothes on, my energy levels were high (energy levels had always dropped considerably on previous diets) and I was running stronger than I had been previously.
  • I finished day 5 and when I stepped on the scales I found that I had lost 10 pounds. I committed myself to a further 21 days…

Free to resist temptation

During the 21 day Transform phase the children had their Easter holidays. We went on holiday to Cornwall for a few days to visit my parents. Food temptations were all around me but I remained strong and focused. I was in a much different place, mentally and physically, that I did not want to break my newly forming habits. My mum was skeptical at first but when I explained that my body was coping so much better now that it wasn’t having to deal with the sugar highs and lows, that I was feeling more energised and that I was a lot calmer with the children, she wanted to know more! I’ve also had lots of opportunity to explain to my children what I’m doing. We eat our meals together at the kitchen table and it just seemed very natural to drink my shake while they were eating their tea while explaining the benefits of my food.

Lost weight but gained even more

I have completed the 21 day transform program now and I have lost a total of 21 pounds. However, I prefer to think about this weight loss journey in the things that I have gained, rather than what I have lost! I have gained better health (no more sugar highs or lows), a body that is comfortable wearing a swimsuit (especially now that I’ve dropped 2 dress sizes) and a lighter, more efficient running frame. My running times are getting faster. I’m less fatigued and so much stronger – both mentally and physically. I have also gained loads of education and the confidence that this weight is completely sustainable – something I’ve never felt before.

I am positive I can sustain this new weight

Looking back it’s hard to understand how well my body performed (especially at running) given its poor diet! Thank you so much for all you’ve done to help me so far. I can’t believe the results I’ve achieved. Friends have also commented on my disappearing waistline and trim figure. This gives me such a huge confidence boost and an opportunity to explain how and why I’ve done it. I’ve just got a few more pounds to go but I remain focused and very positive. I also feel that it’s completely sustainable – something I’ve never felt before.
6 Weeks – down 21 lbs
Wowsers lady – what a great turn around! Next stop… London Marathon?? Thanks for being so real. We love how you have really grasped what this is all about, so you can pass it on to others too. We are wondering who will be inspired by your story…


Faith G had already tried ‘all those types of things’ before. She eventually gave our program a go…and has discovered 2 things – it’s different and it works! We have been so impressed with her tenacity over the long term to stay focused on what she wanted and why. She is currently down 3 stone and is still on track for her healthy weight. This is what she had to share with us…


Where do you live?


Do you have or work with children – if so doing what?

Yes, I have two boys 13 and 15 and I work with children and young people on weekends doing youth work.

How did your weight affect you/and how you were around the children you work with?

I was very inactive and always feeling tired and aching in my joints especially my hips and knees. I was always feeling ill and continuously visited my doctor. Very often I would become emotional as I felt that I was not able to do a lot of activities with my kids.

Have you ever tried to lose weight before?

I tried umpteen times on various diets, I spent large amounts of money in order to loose weight.

So why did you choose this program?

This program was highly recommended to me by Claire, but at first I thought not another one of those, so I left it for a while. Then she came again and asked me had I thought about the weight loss program. Curiosity got the better of me, so I decided to give it a try, to be honest half-heartedly really, not truly believing that this would work or even satisfy my hunger pangs, I ventured into the program.

What is your favourite new product so far?

That’s easy. The strawberry Nutrimeal shake will always remain my favourite.

What has it been like losing weight this way?

It’s been so different to anything I tried before. I am feeling much more confident about myself. I am a lot fitter, healthier and much more agile. Most importantly I have dropped two dress sizes which is my biggest achievement! [woo hoo!-Ed]

What has surprised you so far?

That the one and only program which I thought would not help me, has in fact helped me to lose the weight. It really is the healthy way to do it…

What was your biggest challenge?

My biggest challenge was having to prepare dinner for my family and learning to think differently about the ingredients that I used. I wanted to use stuff which was wholesome and healthy for everyone, not just myself.

How helpful / supportive were the people around you?

My family especially were extremely supportive as they realised the importance of being healthy and staying healthy. They have watched me stick to my commitment to get healthy, and I know they have benefited too. I started noticing my Peanut Butter bars were going down faster than I was eating them 😉

Have you noticed any changes other than weight loss / shrinking!?

Yes. There are a number of changes as I started to use the products and get into the program. It was wonderful being able to move more easily, and as my joint pain went I could get in the gym and start exercising. Relatively quickly I found that I was much more alert, energetic and flexible.

How are you feeling about the next phase?

I am not quite where I want/need to be but I’m on route. I still need to lose one more dress size but I am very confident that I will get there soon.

What do your children think of your weight loss journey so far?

They are very pleased about my weight loss. They have a more active Mum. It’s good for them that I’m happier, healthier and more confident.

Anything else you think other people should know about this experience?

I did it and if there ever was a skeptic, truly I was one! But I am glad that I eventually stopped to listen, and gave it a proper try.
faith-117x1221 Year : down 3 stone 8 lbs so far… that’s 2 dress sizes in real money!!
Thanks for sharing your story with us Faith. You are looking great – and we know you are enjoying your new wardrobe too 😉 We know you will be a real inspiration to other Mums…and what an amazing example you have set for your family. That’s leadership in our book!

5 DAY DETOX ~ Maxine S

5 DAY DETOX ~ Maxine S

Maxine S decided it was time for change…and let a friend’s recommendation help her start her journey back to health after a few years that have been really emotionally tough. This is how she found the 5 Day Detox…


Where do you live?

In Droylsden, Manchester.

Do you have or work with children – if so doing what?

Not only do I have 2 children, but for my sins, I am an Assistant Beaver Scout Leader!

How did your weight affect you/and how you were around the children you work with?

Even though I am tall (5″7) the weight was not visible to the naked eye, however, having sat down at work for most of the day, when I looked down at my feet, it was as though I was sharing my chair with another person. The later in the day, the more the gravity took hold. Knowing this, I would deliberately chose an outfit every morning, that would hide my shape. To make matters worst, on an evening when I would go to scouts, I found it difficult to keep up with the Beavers – not surprisingly, they are aged 4 – 8 years! That sluggish feeling, at the end of the day, was taking a hold.

Have you ever tried to loose weight before?

Yes and I was successful. But I’ve been through a lot in the last few years, and it has all crept back on again.

So why did you choose this program?

I was at the stage where I had convinced myself I was suffering from the SAD syndrome. My friend saw straight through this and suggested I take some supplements to give my body back what it was lacking, alongside this weight programme. I did not have an illness, I was just tired – like most people – but instead of trying to find out why, I just self-diagnosed myself with something that was closest to the way I was feeling. After just 5 days, I found myself with a new lease on life and so she suggested I go to the gym to utilize this extra energy. To my surprise, I enjoy it! I have started to feel healthier – running around with Beavers isn’t such a chore! I have seen first hand how these products work as my friend has been using them for some time, and she looks good!

What is your favourite new product so far?

The strawberry nutrimeal is (and probably always will be!) my favourite. It is so easy to make. A few ounces of water, 3 scoops of shake and result! For the busy lifestyle I am leading, this is ideal.

What was it like starting to loose weight this way?

I think it’s the best way. I know exactly what I am putting into my body, and exactly what it is doing for my body. I know that everything is science-based and top quality – which is why it works.

What has surprised you so far?

The speed at which I started to feel the difference. The lack of tiredness. That sluggish feeling. It all went away so quickly.

What was your biggest challenge?

Getting used to the idea of not eating, but mainly drinking for a few days! Sounds strange, but it is a hard habit to break. I think it’s just habit though…because all food ends up as liquid inside us eventually!

How helpful / supportive were the people around you?

At no point did I ever feel I was on my own. Not only did I work with my friend who put me on the programme, but I knew there was a wider team available for support, should I need any.

Have you noticed any changes other than weight loss / shrinking!?

Yes, the energy. I feel like I could take on the world – I even registered to run the Manchester half marathon.

What have your learned so far?

So much about health and wellness. To be aware of what you’re putting into your body, but most importantly, you cannot put a cost on your health.

How are you feeling about the next phase?

Scared out of my wits! I know it can work, but I don’t know if I have the sticking power. It’s more about me really. I know loads of others have been able to do it, so I guess I should too. I’ll just keep setting short term goals – anything longer scares me.

How do you think this journey might affect the way you are around the children you know?

Massive awareness. I don’t buy my children sugary cereal anymore and I limit the amount of sweets they have. Education is a good thing, and I’m passing it on to them too.

What do your children think of you and your weight loss journey so far?

They are pleased for me. I have more time and energy to spend with them. I do things now I could not be bothered to do before. The kind of things that would involve me using my legs for walking rather than just pushing the pedals in my car!

Anything else you think other people should know about this experience?

Yes. It is well worth it, but they should be warned about possible headaches. I know these don’t happen to everyone, and they can be controlled easily by drinking plenty of water, but lack of experience and being ‘hard of hearing’ (I just didn’t listen to the advice when I was given it), made me find out the hard way.
5 DAYS in : down 6 lbs so far…
Thanks for that Maxine. What a great start to getting back in control again. Keep going like this and those Beavers will be finding it hard to keep up with you!