How To Raise A Food Ninja – Emotional
If you think your child has ever behaved poorly after eating certain foods, you could be right. U.S. News and World Report Health reports that certain foods can affect mood. These foods can trigger chemical and physiological changes within the brain that alter your child’s behavior.
Often times, children do not eat regularly or get too much or not enough of a certain food group. This can lead to mood swings causing the child to be cranky and, therefore, have a harder time managing their behavior. In addition, a diet high in processed foods, sweets, refined flour, and caffeine can lead to anxiety and depression in children. To keep children emotionally healthy, parents can increase healthy foods, decrease unhealthy foods, and guide children in developing a positive relationship with food.
- Increase Nutrient Rich Foods: “Children who eat healthy are able to cope with stress and regulate their emotions better,” says the American Psychological Association. Consuming foods that have the right vitamins and minerals as well as protein and complex carbohydrates keeps children’s body properly fueled and their brain chemicals leveled out.
- Decrease Energy Dense Foods: These foods can be anything from processed and sugary to dried fruit and nuts. Although the latter have healthy fats, they are still high in calories so eating them in moderation is key. Processed and sugary foods should be limited since they provide no real nutritional value and actually hinder proper emotional regulation.
- Develop a Positive Relationship with Food: Just like babies, children know their bodies: they eat when they are hungry and don’t eat if they are not hungry. Parents often are to blame for the poor eating habits their children develop. Although the intention is good, parents who require a “clean plate” at meal time may be contributing to their child’s unhealthy relationship with food. Parents should also remember to set a positive example, at meal time, by choosing healthy foods and proper portions.
A healthy diet can have a huge effect on a child’s emotional development. Learning to choose healthy foods as a “normal” habit will make a child’s relationship with food positive. It will also help keep their brain chemicals leveled out and keep children from being moody. It will also help prevent conditions such as depression, anxiety, and ADHD. For children who are already diagnosed with a mental health problem, nutrient dense foods will help manage their symptoms, so they become more emotionally stable.
In our next blog, we will begin exploring, in depth, the effects of food choices on the social development of children. Stay tuned!