With so many studies shedding light on the ways in which food affects children’s moods, it’s important that parents pay close attention to what their children eat in order to identify which types of food affect them positively or negatively. When a child eats good food, they’ll experience an improved mood, memory and attention span. On the other hand, when a child eats unhealthy foods, their behavior may change and be disruptive in school or at home. We’ve put together our top tips to help you ensure that your children are consuming a well-balanced and healthy diet.
The only way you can implement good food strategies with your children is if you have good food knowledge and practice healthy eating habits yourself. Not only will your children model your food habits, but by reading and researching nutrition labels, you have the opportunity to become a positive role model in their lives.
Skip the Artificial Sweeteners
Foods that contain artificial sweeteners or sugar will cause your child’s blood sugar levels to increase after eating, resulting in a burst of energy. After an hour or so, your child’s energy levels will fall and they’ll feel more irritable, tired, and unfocused. We recommend that you steer clear of foods like candy, white bread, fruit juices, and sugary cereal as they’re often high in artificial sweeteners.
Processed and packaged foods tend to cause poor behavior in children such as hyperactivity, inattentiveness, and impulsiveness. For instance, ready-made meals are often high in MSG and nitrates. So, we suggest that you try replacing artificial sugars with natural alternatives like honey or maple syrup.
Give Them Healthy Snacks
You’ll often notice that after preschool, daycare, or school, your child wants to snack. While it may be easier to give them a chocolate bar or packet of chips, the best way to reduce their cravings for sugar is to offer healthy snacks like carrot sticks and peanut butter.
What Type of Behavior Is Impacted by Food?
While the type of behavior will depend significantly on your child’s personality, you may notice the following behaviors in your child if their diet is poor:
- Trouble getting to sleep or waking up
- Problems with their temper
- Poor concentration
- Frequent temper tantrums
- Inability to sit still
How Could I Minimize Behaviors That Are Influenced by Food?
As a parent, you can try the following to help reduce the poor behaviors in your child:
- Give your child a healthy breakfast
- Prevent hydration by giving them lots of fluids (ideally water)
- Minimise processed foods
- Read nutrition labels before you buy (go color and preservative-free if you can)