Sugar Shack Attack In Children From Difficult Beginnings

Dear Parents,

Tonight, I met with some great parents who are dealing with the insanity of what I call the sugar shack attack. Their young children will not eat real food–just sweet stuff.  They have pared the sugar down to healthy sweet this and organic fruity sweet that, but they are having a sugar shack attack all the same, and there is full-on food refusal at their dinner table…breakfast table…and even school lunch table.

When they were talking, I was harkening back to the time when hoarding candy, amongst plenty of other stuff, was a major force in my house.  Where did all the candy come from?  I watched so closely, and yet candy wrappers magically appeared by the dozens–stuffed into every nook, drawer, vent, pillowcase, and behind every bed, dresser, and door.  Amazing really.

Sweets, like alcohol, crack, and heroin, jingle the reward systems in children (and adults for that matter.)  Dopamine is the reward system’s candyman. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that makes all of us humans feel GOOOOOOOD. Soothed. Happy. Too much dopamine, however, can lead to addictive, and even psychotic, behavior.

You can see why our attachment challenged children, who often have deficits in the happy neurotransmitters, would be seeking sweets–eventually moving on to other substances to make all the pain in their hearts go away. Unfortunately, no substance works long-term and the urgency for more amps up. Most traumatized children are sweet-seeking missiles.

A big part of dealing with this is managing diet. Yep, you have to withhold sweets and natural alternatives, too.  Those are just sugar hits in disguise.  Fruit is sugar and should be eaten only as a dessert after all the other food has been consumed.

The Attach Place

The Attach Place
Center for Strengthening Relationships

One of the best things you can do is get your children on a Whole 30 Diet.  Cut out carbs (which metabolize into sugar), and when necessary, cut out excessive fruits (dried and otherwise.)  Give your children a clean palate, so that real, healthy, clean food tastes sweet.  If you don’t know that most clean food tastes sweet, then the Whole 30 Diet will enlighten your reward systems, too.

When your kids don’t get sugar to soothe, they will need a replacement. Let it be you. Hold your babies (even if they are 18) when they ache.  If they cannot tolerate touch because of complex trauma, sit close, use soft eyes, and talk sweetly. Isn’t that term funny–talk sweetly? The positive neurochemical cascade can be ignited those ways, too.

Sweet talk is a love language.  Broken hearts need a whole lot of sweetness to heal.

Love matters,


Sacramento Local Events: 

CAFA’s FREE Respite Program provides temporary relief for adoptive families living in or who have adopted through Sacramento County. Respite provides a positive experience for both the parent and the child. While families may take great joy in providing care for their loved ones, the physical and emotional consequences for the family caregiver can be overwhelming without some support, such as respite. Respite provides a break for the whole family, which research shows, is beneficial for everyone involved. Respite is available to kids aged 4-17.Children will be supervised by staff experienced in teaching social skills and positive peer interaction. Children will get the opportunity to participate in activities like sports, playing team building games, art, crafts and more.
Lunch is provided!
When: November 11th, 2017 (New Date)
Time: 10am-3pm
More details and to Register go

NEW!  AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER (ASD) CO-ED SOCIAL GROUP for Tweens (older 11-years-old through younger 15-years-old) at The Attach Place. November 6th, 2017 from 5:30 to 7:30 pm will be the first social group for ASD tweens. Pizza and drinks will be provided. Please RSVP to This is a no-cost monthly social group for the children, and parents will have an opportunity to socialize, chill, or maybe read a book in a separate space, too.

NEW!  FRIENDSHIP SOCIAL SKILLS GROUPS FOR CHILDREN WITH DEVELOPMENTAL TRAUMA.  The groups will be low-cost, CALVCP payment eligible, structured and fun, too.  Details coming soon.

UPCOMING ADOPTION SUPPORT GROUP facilitated by Ce Eshelman, LMFT:  Join our monthly Adoptive/Foster Parent Support Group on November 8th, 2017! Open to all parents/caregivers at no cost. Support Group is every 2nd Wednesday of every month from 6 pm to 8 pm at 3336 Bradshaw Road, Ste 175, Sacramento, CA 95827.

TRY MY BOOK FOR DAILY SUPPORT: Drowning With My Hair On Fire: Insanity Relief For Adoptive Parents by Ce Eshelman, LMFT.  Daily inspirational reading for those who sometimes find it hard to keep hope alive. There is hope for healing.

FOLLOW US:  Twitter @lovingradkids and @Attachmenthelp or Facebook.

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