How Diet Affects Your Kids Mentally and Physically

Kids get eating habits from their parents and never has it been more important to model healthy eating to your kids.  It is often harder to eat healthy in this day and age — fast food and processed food is cheaper and easier. 

The average American child’s diet is filled with things like sugary breakfast cereals, sweetened fruit drinks, hot dogs, chicken nuggets, french fries, white bread, cookies, chips, cake, ice cream and donuts.  A lot of sugar and starches but lacking nutrients a growing body needs.  These foods can lead to obesity, heart disease, diabetes, asthma and depression.

Depression from food?

It is a well known fact that foods affect your physical well being but emerging research is suggesting that what you eat also affects you mentally.  In the Journal of Nature Reviews Neuroscience, UCLA Neurosurgery Professor Fernando Gómez-Pinillaa reported on what he found by reviewing 160 recent studies about foods affect on the brain. 

“Dietary deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids in humans has been associated with increased risk of several mental disorders, including attention-deficit disorder, dyslexia, dementia, depression bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.”

Foods to Cut Back On:

  •  Sugar

Americans consume more sugar per person then they ever have before.  Estimates are twice the amount that was eaten a hundred years ago.  Sugar gives the body an instant boost and then a crash.  This up and down affects mood, energy and mental clarity.  Though most people understand that sugar is bad for them it is hard to get off this roller coaster because of sugar cravings.   Often high fructose corn sugar is substituted for sugar because it is cheaper and now high fructose corn syrup is added to everything.  Glucose can be used in almost all of the bodies cells while fructose can only be processed in the liver, making it harder on the body and people who eat it often are that much more susceptible to an array of health problems. 

  • Processed Foods

Processed food refers to the process or processes a whole food goes through before it reaches your table.  These foods become harder to digest and void of most of the nutrition your body needs.  A bologna and American cheese sandwich on white with chips and a juicebox is a highly processed meal that is high in fat, sodium and sugar. 

Healthy Foods to Offer more Often

  • Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Produce is best when it is closest to being picked and when it has been planted in nutrient rich soil.  It is always better to have fresh fruits and veggies than canned, because the process of canning loses nutrients.  It is best to eat a variety of fruits and veggies to get the nutrition you need.

  • Healthy Proteins/ Omega 3 Fatty acids

Omega 3 fatty acid is essential to our health and something our bodies doesn’t make.  The best ways to get them are fish, egg, nuts and some fruits and veggies. 

5 Tips to Help a Child Develop Healthy Eating Habits

  1. Guide choices by having a healthy variety of foods in the house, but don’t dictate foods.  Children learn to make healthy choices that they feel are their own. 
  2. Have children help with shopping and preparing healthy food.  If they pick it out or prepare it they are more likely to want to eat it. 
  3. Plan for snacks during the day, if you have something ready when they get hungry they will likely eat it, even if it is healthy.
  4. Have meal time be a relaxed fun time you spend with your family.  Children will develop a positive association with eating healthy.
  5. Don’t have sweet fruit juice and colas available, encourage milk and water instead.

Online Resources

Junk food and ADHD

The American diet

Omega 3Fatty Acids

What do you do to help your kids eat healthy? Have you seen that diet affects your kids mood? Share here!


About agnesrobl

I have worked as a case manager for Youth Services for two and a half years. I facilitate an anger management group, a girl’s empowerment and support group and a life skills group that focuses on drug recovery. I also help individual clients work on personal goals.
This entry was posted in Family Activities, Parenting Tips, Safe Place, SLCO and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to How Diet Affects Your Kids Mentally and Physically

  1. Annamarie Jobe says:

    Healthy eating is really necessary so that we can live longer. ..

    Look at the most recently released write-up at our own web portal

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