Is It the Diet?
The Roots of Violence
● An interview with chief probation officer Barbara Reed of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio (USA), reveals that for over ten years she has been treating offenders of minor crimes, including domestic violence, by adjusting their diet.
How successful is your work?
We did a five-year statistical workup with about 1,000 cases that our department handled. After checking with four courts and our own, we found that 89 percent had not been back in trouble.
What is different about your approach?
In addition to regular counseling, we probe into an offender’s diet and exercise habits and make recommendations.
What do you usually find wrong?
Most do not eat breakfast. Usually they consume from 30 to 150 teaspoons of sugar a day through doughnuts, sweet rolls, candy, ice cream and soda pop. They average three to sixteen sixteen-ounce (.50 L) bottles of soda a day. They rarely eat vegetables. At times there are allergies to milk or certain foods.
How are diet and crime connected?
Criminal acts are not caused by one factor. But a constant diet containing refined sugar, caffeine or alcohol causes a stressful reaction in the body. The adrenal glands, which respond with a surge of adrenaline, in time become nearly exhausted. But when a person is committing a crime or is fighting, the adrenaline flows. I feel that some turn to criminal or hostile activity to get this surge of energy. Also, a bad diet can make one irritable and more prone to violence.
Can a violent person blame his diet?
We are responsible for keeping our minds clear. If a person knows that certain foods will cause problems and yet he still eats them, he is just as responsible as an alcoholic who takes a drink. He knows what will happen. Of course, most persons are ignorant of the problem.
Why do some on the same diet not become criminals?
We are all different. Some can drink alcohol for years and not become alcoholic. Some are more sensitive to sugar or caffeine. There may be inherited dependency. The parents or grandparents of 50 of 150 of our cases were diagnosed as diabetic or hypoglycemic.
Will a better diet lessen home violence?
Definitely. We have never had a case of domestic violence where a terrible diet was not a primary problem. Of course, this includes alcohol abuse, but there have been many cases where they consumed enormous amounts of “junk food.” One couple who regularly fought practically lived on coffee, soda pop and ice cream. I got them on a healthful diet of fresh vegetables, fresh fruits, whole-grain breads and cereals, six glasses of water daily and encouraged them to take walks together. Matters improved in two weeks. Good diet and exercise are excellent tools for handling stress.
To what extent is your approach used in the field of rehabilitation?
The vast majority do not know about it. However, those who try it know it works. At present there are similar programs in at least seven other states.