Nutrition and Your Child’s Behavior: The Link and 5 Easy Action Steps
Your child’s nutrition and behavior are strongly linked, placing a great importance on healthy eating habits that can impact their wellbeing. Learn more from guest expert Rebecca Kristene and 5 easy action steps that can benefit both your child and you!
If you’ve ever thought your child behaves differently after eating certain foods, you’re more than likely spot-on. The ingredients in the foods your child consumes fuel many factors that affect behavior.
In fact, there’s a direct correlation that’s undeniable. And not enough people are talking about it.
Parents are busy. But do we take enough time to really think about what our kids are grabbing for breakfast, lunch, and snacks? How that granola bar is loaded with corn syrup, sugar, and artificial ingredients—or how about what’s in those fruit snacks, chips, or popsicles? Artificial dye, chemicals, and so much sugar!
Why is Good Nutrition So Important?
Nutrition – it’s a critical part of health and development. Nourishing foods provide proper nutrients for our bodies that are essential for growing strong and maintaining bodily functions.
We live in a society where we eat so much processed and manufactured food, that we’ve lost sight of what good nutrition looks like. It’s can be quite simple. Think back to before microwaves, ovens, and packaged goods. Think back to simpler times. When eating whole real foods wasn’t a diet, it was truly a lifestyle.
What do I mean by eating whole real foods? Eating whole foods is simply eating foods in their natural state.
Here are a few of my favorites:
- Fruits & Vegetables: Enjoy abundantly with no pesticides or sprays, because yes… even what’s sprayed on our food has a detrimental effect on our bodies. Eat the rainbow to give your body a wide range of nutrients and vitamins.
- Meat: Chicken, beef, and fish are wonderful choices packed with protein and essential vitamins and minerals. Always go for organic, grass-fed, and pasture-raised meat. The healthier the animal, the healthier the meat that goes into your body.
- Whole Grains: Despite what everyone is saying around us, grains and carbs are not the enemies. Grains are important sources of B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and folate) and minerals (iron, magnesium, and selenium). People who eat plenty of whole grains as part of a healthy diet have a reduced risk of chronic diseases.
- Water: It seems silly to list this. I know. We’ve heard it a million times. Drink your water! But are your kids really getting how much water they need? Dehydration is a real thing, and most of our kids are walking around feeling the effects and don’t know how to tell us. There are many signs to look for: difficulty focusing, light-headedness, tired, circles under their eyes. This is a great opportunity to toss all those juice boxes, sodas, and sweetened drinks in the trash and replace them with simple, clean water.
- Healthy Fats: Swap out oils such as vegetable, canola, sunflower, and safflower oil with coconut, olive, and avocado oil. This simple swap reduces inflammation immediately, and as we know, inflammation is the root of all sickness.
I know it’s hard, but it truly is so simple. Every single thing you put in your body has the power to nourish – or the power to damage. It’s blunt. It’s scary. But it’s a simple truth.
How Nutrition Affects Your Child’s Health and Behavior
Most people know how important it is to eat a healthy diet. But do we really understand how it affects behavior?
Adults typically think about eating healthy as a way to trim their waistline, lose a few pounds and look better in that bikini this summer. But nutrition is so much more than that. Especially for our children, who are going through big changes—both their bodies and brains developing at a rapid rate.
So we tell our children to eat healthy so they can grow up to be big and strong right? That’s partially true. The whole truth is that they need to eat healthy to grow and also be healthy along that journey.
I don’t know about you, but I want my children happy. I want them to enjoy life. I don’t want them sick, in trouble for misbehaving, or struggling to concentrate. Watching a child have meltdowns and not understanding why breaks my heart because in so many cases, this is truly out of their control.
Make Easy Changes Today
Our children may not have any control over their behavior when these toxic foods take hold, but as parents, we have some control. We can control what goes into their little bodies in the first place.
By making simple diet changes, you can drastically impact your child’s life, starting today! Here are a few tips for easy changes that go a long way:
1. Never Skip Breakfast
Eating a balanced breakfast with protein is a great way to help your child start their day. Mornings can be hectic, but your children can still have a healthy breakfast even if you don’t have time to cook. Some of my favorite go-to’s are:
- Greek yogurt with fruit or nuts
- Peanut butter toast on sprouted bread
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Overnight oats
2. Make Easy Swaps
Sometimes, too many changes too fast can be very stressful for your child. Especially if they are already dealing with challenges in their behavior. So start gradually. Some of the best easy swaps I’ve tried are:
- Coconut milk instead of cows milk
- Honey instead of sugar
- Whole wheat or sprouted bread instead of white bread
- Smoothie bowls instead of ice cream
- Popcorn instead of chips
3. Limit Sugar Intake
Sugar is sneaky! It’s in almost everything on the shelves today. It’s dangerous and the biggest factor behind behavior issues in children. Excessive sugar leads to disease and disorders. The scary part is, we don’t even realize how much sugar our children are consuming.
We need to take a closer look at the ingredients on labels. We need to understand how quickly it adds up and start limiting the amount. Over time, the goal should be to completely eliminate all added sugars. Try to replace white and brown sugars with:
- Pure Maple Syrup
- Fresh fruit
4. Snack Smart
It’s easy to let your child chose snacks such as chips, granola bars, and processed foods. By eliminating these foods in your home altogether and replacing them with healthy alternatives, you are ahead of the game.
For those kiddos that are snackers, I love to have these choices sliced up and ready to eat in my fridge:
- Vegetables: Carrots, cucumbers, celery
- Apples: Apples, blueberries, raspberries, nectarines, oranges
- Nuts: Pistachios, cashews, walnuts, almonds
- Smoothie popsicles: Make a smoothie and freeze in popsicle molds
5. Cut Out Soda and Sweetened Beverages
Soda is a very obvious one to cut out. But what about sparkling water? A lot of parents don’t realize what’s lurking inside. Even if it’s advertised as zero-sugar, when examining the ingredients list a little closer, you’ll see several words you probably can’t even pronounce. Not a good sign.
Some of these words might be:
All of these have been reported to produce hyperactivity and other behavioral problems in children.
You Are Your Child’s Biggest Influence
You are hands down the biggest influence on your child! Teaching your child the importance of healthy eating is one of the best things you can do for your child’s healthy growth and development. And it’s so easy to start these changes today.
Just remember, one step at a time in the right direction leads to change and growth beyond what you can imagine. Just keep moving. Keep teaching your child one new habit a day, and see what the compound effect does to your child’s life! You may even learn a few new things yourself!
Meet The Expert
Rebecca is a professional health & wellness copywriter. So… what is copywriting? Copywriting is an art – the craft and field of writing persuasive messages that inspire people to take action. It’s what turns readers into loyal customers. With her background in early childhood education, psychology, counseling, and nutrition – she’s on a mission to help businesses organically reach their ideal customers with authentic, captivating, personality-packed content. Rebecca frees up a business owner’s time and energy by creating rock-solid content – so they can focus on what they do best, helping others! To learn more visit rebeccakristeneagency.com