Eating is part of our daily life, and with today’s fast food options combined with busy family life, this is an area that many people struggle with!
Some things to think about…
- Hippocrates, a Greek physician often referred to as the “Father of Medicine,” is frequently quoted as saying, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food!” Nearly 2500 years later, the health sciences continue to demonstrate the importance of nutrition on our physical and mental health.
- The diet industry is a multi-billion dollar industry that is not always based on science and facts, so it’s essential to access information and support from researched-based resources such as Canada’s Food Guide or NutritionFacts.org.
- The newest research shows the benefits of sticking to a primarily plant-based diet (not to be mistaken for vegan or vegetarian) that is high in fibre, vitamins, and protein, as well as low in processed foods, sugar and saturated fats.
- Some research supports the beneficial use of omega-3 fatty acid supplements in children with ADHD, but parents may wish to discuss this with their child’s physician.
- Poor nutrition can impact blood sugar levels and our stress hormone response, thereby impacting mood. Moreover, persistent difficulties with balanced nutrition can lead to an imbalance or deficit in important nutrients that can affect mental health. For instance, low iron or persistent anemia can cause difficulties with fatigue, an increased heart rate that feels like anxiety, mental confusion, and trouble concentrating.
- Some studies suggest that diet has more impact on health and disease than physical activity, alcohol and smoking combined.
Some things to try…
- Limit the temptation of unhealthy foods by taking control of where you eat most often: your home environment. Once you or your children leave home, the temptation is everywhere! Control temptation where you can by limiting unhealthy foods in the house.
- Aim for small changes – swapping out white grains for whole grains, adding in 1 piece of fruit after supper, or switching from sugar cereal to whole grain option like oatmeal.
- Include healthy fats like nuts and avocado.
- For picky eaters, try presenting the same non-preferred food often and without pressure. Allow your child to touch and smell it without requesting that they try eating it.
- The most powerful influence parents have comes from modeling healthy eating themselves and controlling what food comes into the home.
- Teach your kids the benefits of “eating the rainbow” – consuming foods with various colours found in fruits, veggies, beans, and legumes, all of which can improve our gut microbiome.
- As humans, we didn’t evolve to eat all day every day and studies are showing the benefits of restricting the time you eat to a 12-hour window.
- Consider the “division of responsibilities” between parents and children. Parents are responsible for choosing healthy foods through meal planning and grocery shopping, preparing meals and food for consumption, and creating rules around eating, such as regular family suppers, how long children should remain at the table, etc. Once the food is on the table or in front of your child, the responsibility for feeding or eating changes to become the child’s. It is the child’s responsibility to choose how much food they eat, what food they put in their mouth, and when they are full.
Author: Danielle Rozon, M.Ed. Registered Psychologist