Here’s Why Healthy Food Is The Key To Healthy Mind In Children

Mood swings in children are not uncommon. While there could be various factors that might contribute to the mental health of children, the primary factor is food. The food system that your child is on certainly affects his mood and mental health.

Food can work as the worst enemy when of unhealthy quality. With the many artificial and junk foods available that invite children, there are generally laden with unhealthy fats and sweeteners plus they are low in vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, and minerals.

Omega-3 fatty acids are very important to healthy brain development in children. But what are the foods that your child needs to take or stay away from for a happy and healthy mind? Read on for more:

1.    Too much sugar can affect the mood of children:

Excess sugar can play around with the blood glucose levels in children as well. The fluctuation of blood glucose between high and low can accelerate mood disorders in children.

Sugars affect the hormones that in turn lead to mood disorders. Besides, sugar-laden diets can impede the proteins that are crucial for the right development of the brain. Foods that are rich in fiber and low in sugar improve a child’s mood and develop short-term attention and memory.

What you could do to avoid too much sugar? Curb your child’s intake of soda, candy, concentrated juices, high-sugar foods, ketchup, bakery items, and other processed foods. Serve whole wheat bread in place of white bread. Swap fruits for its fiber in place of fruit syrups.

2.    Dairy products might not fit every child:

Quite a few children can be intolerant to lactose. Besides lactose, a few children can also be allergic to a milk protein called casein that might affect their mood. Casein is a protein that is hard to digest.

Once the protein is in the gut, the receptors react by producing antibodies which kicks off the immune system and raises the stress alarm within the body. If you think your child is erratic or aggressive with dairy intake, you will not be surprised that such children will be prone to ear infections and common cold too. In certain cases, milk allergy can worsen autism in a few children.

You also need to remember that most dairy in the modern world is obtained by hormone and antibiotic fed cattle and the milk obtained is usually devoid of the necessary nutrients.
What you can do to avoid heavy dairy intake in children: Look at milk substitutes such as oats, broccoli, coconut, mushrooms, collards, and kale which are rich in vitamin B and D.

3.    Refined grains directly impact brain health:

Mental health has a direct correlation with the gut. When there is an inflammation of the gut, the mood also deteriorates. Refined grains trigger gut inflammation. At the same time, the happy hormone called serotonin is produced in the gut.

With inflammation, there can also be mood issues. Studies have also confirmed a link between refined grains and depression and that whole grains displayed a lower risk of depression in children.

What you can include in your grain-based foods? Include whole grains that are not devoid of the endosperm. Feed your child brown rice, millets, quinoa, barley, vegetables, and fruits. Your child might also want to have a popcorn feast which is healthier than processed snack bars.

4.    Fast food and other processed foods:

Fast foods are very addictive for children. The reason is when kids have fast foods they also experience a dopamine rush. Most processed foods also have hidden salt and sugars with artificial flavours and trans fats that make children hog over these foods.

But none of these foods have healthy fats or antioxidants that fruits and vegetables and nuts can offer. With processed foods also come deficiencies which lead to depression, insomnia, and poor gut health. Trans fats lead to 48% more depression and a few cardiovascular diseases.

What you can do to prevent your child from indulging in fast foods? Home-made meals are the best. The internet is full of healthy food ideas for your child. Make sure you include a lot of green vegetables, berries, eggs, oats, millets, legumes, vegetables and fruits, sprouts, and nuts such as walnuts and almonds in your child’s meals. Also, encourage taking plenty of water.

5.    Avoid emotional eating:

Many children are known to eating too many junk foods because of their low mood. While unhealthy foods lead to low moods, it becomes a vicious cycle. A study in 2010 led by Felice and the Murdoch Children’s Research concluded that among the seven thousand adolescent participants, the rates of depression of directly proportional to the number of unhealthy foods they ate. At the same time, the number of unhealthy foods depended on personal and social factors.

What to do to avoid emotional eating in children? Make sure you spend quality time with your child and address their issues and needs. Counsel your child and encourage mindful eating. Tell them how hazardous junk foods can be.

Healthy eating not only promotes mental health but also works well in your pockets. Teach your children that eating healthy is the way to a sound mind. Tell them how happy they look. With reward-based encouragement, your child will surely take to a diet that is good for him.


written by
Dr. Anuj Rastogi

Dr. Anuj Rastogi is a prominent childcare specialist who comes with 26+ years of experience as a Sen...