5 Ways Nutrition Affects Your Child’s Mood

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cute black girl chewing sweet baked dessert
Photo by Amina Filkins on Pexels.com

Are you under the impression that your kids are too moody? As a parent, you know how vital proper nutrition is for your child’s physical development! But did you know that food has a potent effect on a child’s mood, as well?

Food your kids eat will affect how they feel!

Last summer, we were visiting our sister, who has three kids. Now, she is a clinical nutritionist working for a gym-expert.com, so as you can imagine, she pays a lot of attention to what kind of food her family is eating. In our opinion, she was exaggerating a bit! So, as we don’t visit often we decided to be good aunts, and we bought loads of sweets for the little ones! We had candy, chocolate, ice cream, you name it! She greeted us with a smile, and despite seeing all the stuff we brought, she didn’t stop smiling. We figured she decided to loosen up a bit, and we’re happy about it! Mesmerized by the kid’s happiness, we didn’t even notice our sister was strangely grinning at us! “You’ll see what you two have done!” like she wanted to say. 

Our conversation was interrupted by a sudden burst of screaming and crying! We ran to see what is going on while our sister remained sitting. We understood after that she was perfectly ready for what came. And what came was hours of terrible child’s mood swings, fighting, crying, and running around! Until they fell asleep!  After being able finally to hear our thoughts and voices again, we asked her if it’s normal! We always thought of them as darling little angels, but now they somehow turned into devils! “No”, she said, “But you brought candy, remember”?!  Wait, one candy can do this! C’mon, it’s a joke! 

No, no, it isn’t! She then explained that many people don’t know so much about it, but sweets affect a child’s mood and behavior as much as they affect their physical wellbeing. Shocked that we didn’t know anything about it, we decided to learn more about the impact of sweets on a child’s mood disturbances!  We concluded that we know that a balanced healthy diet plays a pivotal role when it comes to health. As adults, we are primarily concerned about how food affects our cardiovascular health and waistline.  Talking about kids, we know that nutrition is even more vital. But most of us focus on how food affects a child’s growth and ability to meet milestones. However, many of us don’t even think about how it can affect a child’s mood. 

How Does Nutrition Affect Child’s Mood 

First of all, it is paramount to say that various factors affect mental health and a child’s mood. However, out of all of them, it is simple to control food.  So, if after a child’s mood assessment, a doctor determines that there are genetic predispositions, food can make a tremendous difference. Now we commonly hear that any refined sugar is bad for kids on many levels and can affect a child’s mood changes. But we hear less about the effects of preservatives, dye, and other ingredients that are found in foods children love so much.  So, now we will read about some bad and good ways food impacts our child’s mood. 

Bad 

Artificial Coloring 

You may be surprised, but many countries have already banned artificial coloring because of the harmful effects on children. They are linked with headaches in children, ADHD, hyperactivity, anxiety and can cause dramatic child’s mood changes. Since there are plenty of artificial colorings in sweets, parents often think that sugar is the main culprit for their kid’s behavior.  Indeed sugar can cause hyperactivity in children. It has also been linked with long-term health damage, but it is far from being the only one to blame. You can find artificial coloring in other foods like yogurt and bread. Bear in mind that you should absolutely avoid any products that contain these artificial colorings. 

Preservatives 

Preservatives are chemicals or other substances added to the food to prevent the development of microorganisms. Foods that usually have preservatives are those that we can keep for a longer time. Some examples are crackers, deli meats, dairy, sauces, etc.  Now while they preserve the freshness of food, they can be harmful to kids and adults. When it comes to nutrition and a child’s mood, it is pivotal that we avoid preservatives as much as possible because they can cause hyperactivity and other behavioral and health problems. The most known preservatives are nitrates, nitrites, and sodium benzoate. 

Good

Minerals 

Two minerals we want to focus on are magnesium and zinc. They are known to significantly improve a child’s mood. Zinc is one of the critical elements of Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA). It is omega 3 acid found in different types of cold-water fish.  

It has an enormous impact on the development of a child’s brain. Besides regulating melatonin, it promotes better functioning of the neurotransmission system.  It is also proven that it positively affects a child’s mood and sleep patterns.  Other studies show DHA is very beneficial for a child’s brain health in general. It also promotes cognitive development. Besides that, there are studies published in the Journal of Pediatrics and Child Health that show that it is effective in helping children with ADHD.  Magnesium is another essential mineral that has an impact on a child’s mood. Various studies have shown that children with attention deficit disorder and anxiety have low magnesium levels

Vitamins

Vitamin B is a crucial vitamin for a child’s development. It promotes the production of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, which helps regulate a child’s mood and behavior. Studies show that children who eat food rich in vitamin B have better mental and general health.  Foods packed with vitamin B are nuts, seeds, whole grains, legumes, veggies, etc.  Another critical nutrient for a child’s mental health is vitamin D. When the levels of this vitamin are optimal, kids are in a better mood, have more energy, and sleep better. Sun is the biggest natural source of this nutrient. However, if you are not living in a country where it’s always sunny and warm, it is essential to know that you can find vitamin D in the liver, oily fish, and egg yolks. 

Protein

 Usually, when we think about protein, we mainly focus on strength and muscles.  But proteins do much more! Since they are the building blocks of the brain as much as of the body.  It provides essential amino acids that play a critical role in a child’s mental health. If you don’t include enough protein in your kid’s diet, he or she might experience moodiness, lack of concentration, fatigue, etc. A child on a protein-rich diet will be energized and motivated. The most common sources of protein are poultry, lean meats, seafood, dairy, and fish. 

Conclusion

Now you know more about how nutrition affects a child’s mood. When creating a healthy eating plan for kids, keep in mind that balance is the most important As you know, children are picky eaters, so you will have to work a bit to find healthy foods that your child will enjoy eating. In the end, you know your kids best, so it won’t be a problem for you to determine if some food is affecting their mood and behavior. If you want to know more about this topic, you can also consult your kid’s doctor. Have you noticed that some food affects your kid’s mood and behavior? Would you mind sharing with us what happened and how did you realize it is linked with food?

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