We all want to make sure our kids are happy, healthy & getting the best start to their little lives however sometimes this can be more challenging than we anticipated.
Some of the more common health challenges parents face include behavioral (ADHD, Autism), mental health (depression and anxiety) low immunity and constantly getting sick, food allergies and intolerances and obesity or food aversions. Our child’s diet can have a huge impact positively or negatively on these and many other health concerns but where do we start…
Kids and food… it has been the bane of many parents existence! We want the best for them but they can also be master negotiators and stubborn to boot. But what is best for our kids and how does what they eat really affect their everyday life?
Brain health and concentration
Most of us are aware that energy is used up with physical activities but performing mental tasks also uses energy and that is something our kids are doing on the regular. You know yourself if you haven’t consumed enough nutrient dense foods it affects your cognition and concentration significantly, same goes for our children.
- Nutrient dense carbohydrates, the brains number 1 fuel of choice is glucose however choosing the wrong kinds can have undesirable effects. See below for examples
- Take fruit breaks
- Don’t skip breakfast
Fuel for fitness
Another important part of a child’s life is movement and physical activities. Whether your child wants to be part of every sporting team or competition or would just like to be more fit to run around with their friends physical activity improves the quality of their lives and they need proper nutrition to sustain this.
- Carbohydrates are just as important as proteins to prevent muscle loss.
- Simple carbohydrates to refuel around periods of high exercise including fruits, nuts and seeds
- Plenty of water and you can add some freshly squeezed orange, 1/2tsp of honey and a little salt, if they have a big event where they will be losing a lot of fluids.
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Mental health and behaviour
In the last few years it is starting to be more recognised that food affects your mood and this only makes sense being that 90% of our serotonin is made in our guts. Many mental health conditions have also shone a light on the gut brain axis. Unidentified food intolerances not only have physical symptoms but mental health and behaviour ones as well. It can also be as simple as having the ‘hangries’ from not eating enough or eating low nutrient foods.
- Avoid processed sugars and food additives.
- Identify any food intolerances
- Get in plenty of good healthy snacks
We all know vitamin C is great for the immune system, so are many other nutrients including zinc and good quality proteins.There are also foods that decrease immune health, medium – high sugar intake down-regulates immune responses for up to 6hrs.
- Reduce processed sugar intake and processed simple carbohydrates
- Increase zinc containing foods in the diet including seafood, good quality meats, pumpkin and sunflower seeds
- Eat a variety of colourful fruits and vegetables
Go for nutrient dense
- Carbohydrates – Go for more complex carbohydrates including whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, seeds, nuts, legumes
- Proteins – Avoid processed meats, try leftovers from dinner, pre-cooked and portioned meats, Beans, dairy, nuts, seeds
- Fats – Avocado, dairy, seeds, oily fish, homemade salad dressings (olive oil)
- Processed foods – deplete nutrients, fortified nutrients, high sat fat, high sugar
- Sugar – Table or raw sugar steal nutrients from the body to be processed, including b-vitamins
If you would like to have happy, healthy kids, we do have a healthy kids support package. If you have any questions about how you can best support your children, please reach out – we are here to help you and your family!