One of the most important keys to being physically and mentally healthy is a nutritious diet. Despite how important it is to our health, many families are unable to provide this nutrition for their children due to poverty or simply not having the time to go shopping and cook. Not only are these children deprived of nutrition at home, but many schools do not provide meals that can count as a balanced diet for their students. An aspect of nutrition’s impact on health is how it changes our behavior, which can further impact the choices we make and how we act when it comes to academics and general lifestyle.

How exactly does nutrition affect our children’s behavior?

Concentration can easily waver with an imbalanced diet and malnourishment. Concentration is also incredibly important for a child, as they need to pay attention during school and even in extracurricular activities where they learn other skills useful in life. Socially, being aware of what is happening and following a conversation leads to getting along and learning how to navigate the world of communication. It is very common for children to ingest a high-calorie breakfast before school, which only sets them up for failure, as a higher caloric intake negatively impacts our brain’s ability to concentrate. This can be balanced out by introducing fatty fish, oxidants like blueberries, and lightly caffeinated foods like dark chocolate and green tea.

Another behavior linked to the nutrition that’s somewhat related to concentration is learning and short-term memory. Just like concentration, learning, and short-term memory are important to academic success and learning life skills as they can better process lessons and new information. A diet of high saturated and trans fats can lead to clogged arteries or otherwise impede blood flow. Without healthy blood flow, oxygen can’t travel to the brain, where these behaviors originate from. Oxygen makes sure parts of the brain responsible for episodic learning are working at full capacity. In order to ensure healthy arteries and blood flow for your children, you can replace saturated and trans fats with healthier fats found in fish, fruits and vegetables, and whole-grain oats.

Nutrition Affects Mood, Too

Mood is something we have all noticed as being tied closely to our nutrition, especially how it’s connected with blood sugar. Blood sugar fluctuates over the course of the day, and with that comes mood swings like excitability and irritability. These rises and falls are typically caused by processed carbohydrates such as quick-to-eat pastries, which are commonly marketed towards children. When these fluctuations cause irritability, children can act out in social situations or become less willing to engage in healthy activities like sports. Fortunately, regulating blood sugar is quite easy! Encouraging your child to drink more water instead of sugary drinks like juice and soda can help prevent spikes in blood sugar. Regulating meals by setting up a normal schedule for eating can also place your child on a routine instead of having erratic spurts of blood sugar over the course of their day.

A healthy and balanced diet not only contributes to growth and physical health but can also greatly improve your child’s behavior and cognitive functions. As a parent, you have to fight against the quick and easy options of fast food and convenience snacks, but even starting simply by drinking more water and introducing fruits and vegetables can go a long way towards improving your child’s behavior.