Eat Something!

November 28 2018

One of the foundational principles of Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI), a trauma-informed care model, is Empowerment. Empowerment involves teaching self-regulation and empowering people to meet their specific needs. One of the easiest ways to help your students (and yourself!) meet their own needs is ensuring that their blood sugars are regulated (are they eating enough?). If you have ever heard the term “Hangry” then you understand that our mood is often affected by our hunger. This Psychology Today article explains it perfectly, “Humans are built like all the other animals—and animals get very unhappy when blood sugar is low. It is an evolutionary mechanism that is designed to make finding food a priority. This priority is important, for it helps to avoid starvation. But in us humans, low blood sugar can have a very negative effect on mood. While the primitive animal goes into food-finding mode, sometimes our more complex human brain doesn’t realize it is a food issue, and instead simply feels anxious, depressed, angry, or even all three. That primitive part of us starts to stress about other issues (work, relationships) and the real culprit—low blood sugar—is not addressed.”

So, how can you apply this knowledge to your classroom? The next time a student (or you!) is feeling agitated, stressed, or frustrated simply asking them “when was the last time you ate something?” might be all you have to do. Some students choose not to eat breakfast and/or lunch (or due to issues at home they may arrive to school late without eating breakfast, and may not have even eaten dinner the night before) but these students likely don’t understand the link between blood sugar and emotional regulation. Find the time to teach and empower your students to take care of their own needs. If possible, have a supply of small, healthy snacks in your desk available to provide to your students who need to eat something in order to help regulate their mood.

This Tip of the Week is the main reason I have a steady supply of snacks available to YOU in my office. If you ever feel like your own emotional regulation is affected by your hunger, come visit with me in room M118 and I will provide you with a snack! If you are interested in learning more about Empowerment and Trauma-Informed Care, let me know. Happy snacking!

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