As a parent, you are no doubt aware of the importance of your child eating a balanced diet. Making sure your children get the right nutrition while they’re young helps to ensure they grow into healthy adults and have a lessened risk of developing chronic diseases.
However, did you know that your child’s diet is also important in terms of their mental health? Studies have shown that children who have a better baseline diet have better general mental health than those who don’t – in particular, eating lots of plants (fruits, vegetables, legumes etc.) is linked to lower rates of depression, while those who consume a lot of sodium and sugar are more likely to suffer from a mental health condition.
So why is this happening? Researchers posit that certain nutrients present in fish, fruits and vegetables, like omega-3 fatty acids, are highly beneficial for mental health. This recipe for Mediterranean fish with veggies is an excellent way to get these nutrients to kids.
Children, however, are notoriously picky eaters and you might have to put in some extra effort to find healthy, nutritious recipes they will stomach. For example, we all know that kids are usually huge fans of American foods. Have a try of this American beef meatballs, complete with classic American meatballs. Just because a certain type of food or cuisine is stereotyped as being unhealthy, doesn’t mean there aren’t ways you can inject some health into it, just for your children.
In fact, another study found that a habitually poor diet in young children can increase the likelihood of hyperactivity or attention-deficit disorders. Thus, it is in your best interest as a parent or guardian to carefully monitor your child’s nutrition and daily consumption habits.
Clearly, the question remains: how can you get your children to eat more fruit and vegetables? As a tip, keep well tolerated fruits and nuts in the pantry for snacks, as opposed to potato chips or other snacks full of unhealthy ingredients. Get into the habit of serving salad with every dinner meal (and even lunch meals over the weekend). This will encourage your children to recognise that salads are a vital part of their daily diet.
Keep on top of your children’s diets even more during their high school years, which can be a particularly stressful time for them – especially if they are suffering from exam anxiety. Diets often waver during this period because of a lack of time, so do your best in preparing healthy, home-cooked meals.
It is crucial that your children are in a comfortable environment when eating. Encouraging your children to eat a healthy diet can help with their mental health, self-esteem, confidence and ability to deal with stress and trauma.Share: