Feeding kids a nutritious diet is downright difficult for most parents, myself included. Children might choose to eat heartily one day and not the next. While we all understand the old adage “You are what you eat,” we tend to lose sight of the fact that we also feel what we eat. What our children eat affects their thinking patterns, ability to sleep and especially their emotional well-being. Some key changes to what and when our kids eat can help to trigger powerful chemical and physiological changes in their brain, altering their behaviour and emotions for the better.
Here are some quick tips to keeping children’s mind-body system in working order!
1. Eat regularly
Food is fuel. If our children skip meals altogether, we know we will find ourselves with tired and cranky youngsters on our hands. Nutritious snacks such as carrots and hummus dip, or apple slices and peanut butter every four hours will help ensure their blood sugar level doesn’t sink, and their mood right along with it.
2. Include carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are the most misunderstood element in our diet. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, carbs should make up 50 percent of our kids’ overall daily food intake. Foods high in simple carbs such as white flour, soda, packaged cereal and candy add very little nutritional value to the body and should be avoided. In contrast, complex carbs, such as whole grains, vegetables and beans, are rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals, and act as the body’s fuel or energy production.
3. Balance the nutrients
Nutrients are the vitamins, minerals, fats, carbs and proteins the body uses as fuel. A shortage of nutrients in the body can cause mood and anxiety troubles. Eggs, cereal grains and cauliflower are packed with thiamine (vitamin B1) which is linked to self-confidence and energy. Red meat, beans, spinach and soybeans are full of iron which helps kids steer clear of fatigue and irritability. Also, foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, such as peanut butter, walnuts and homemade granola bars help to improve memory and mood!
Fruit and veggie smoothies, oatmeal with fresh berries or mixed-grain waffles or pancakes are fast and easy foods that kids actually love! While providing staying power for a long day of school, the ingredients found within have been proven to lift moods, calm the mind and stabilize appetite.