Your grandma probably told you ages ago, “You are what you eat!” It’s long been suspected that eating fresh, unprocessed foods could lead to an elevated mood and an overall better outlook on life. Eating well-balanced diets has mostly been advocated for adults, by adults… But does food have the same effect on children?
A recent European study found a link between diet quality and social well-being in kids. Eating a varied diet with lots of fruits and vegetables and limited refined sugar was positively correlated to better physical and mental development, as well as those children reporting an overall more positive outlook on things.
Good Food for a Good Mood
The UK study followed the diets and well-being of 7,675 European children aged 2 to 9 years. Parents were provided a list of 43 food items and they reported how many times a week their child ate each food. Based on those responses, using a specially derived formula, the researchers then assigned each child a Healthy Diet Adherence Score (HDAS). The HDAS is based on the amount of servings of fruit and vegetables consumed, fat intake, and refined sugar consumption.
Kids with a high HDAS, which equals to high fruit and vegetable consumption, low fat consumption and limited refined sugar intake, also reported better self-esteem, parental relations, and fewer issues with their peers. The most interesting aspect of this study is that regardless of the child’s socioeconomic status, if they had higher HDAS scores, they reported overall more positive moods.
Food for Thought
While the researchers admit the difficulties in tying specific nutrients to the children’s better moods, they do suggest that eating a variety of fruits and vegetables along with healthy fats and limited added sugars would certainly benefit the children. With those food choices, they’d be getting an abundance of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals, which they wouldn’t otherwise be getting if they had a low HDAs score. This could lead to stabilized blood sugar levels, a healthy digestive system, and a better overall health status in general.
The good news is if kids have access to healthier food choices, they will likely lead happier lives, and that’s something everyone can get behind! So when you’re grocery shopping, know that when you pick up all those colorful, fresh foods, you’re not only helping yourself but you’re helping everyone in your family!
3 Ways You Can Introduce Fruits and Vegetables To Your Child
Being a mom of four, I know that it can be difficult to get your child to eat more fruits and vegetables. I encourage you to not force fruits and vegetables on your child and, instead, keep introducing them to your child and allow them to make their own decision. When you let them make their own decision, it creates a healthier relationship with food. Here’s 3 ways to do just that:
- When at the grocery store, ask your child to pick out a new fruit and/or vegetable they would like to have for dinner that week. Then, when you get home, you and your child can look up a recipe to try and they can help you prepare it. By getting them involved, they’ll be more likely to eat and enjoy the fruit and vegetable.
- Cut the fruits and/or vegetables into fun shapes. Children love to play with food, which is why cutting it into fun shapes can be so beneficial for them. You can also spiralize veggies like zucchini for a fun veggie-pasta dish!
- Add veggies to your child’s favorite meals! You can add broccoli to mac & cheese, mix peas and carrots into red sauce, and combine veggies and rice. When they see the fruit and veggies with something they already love, they’ll be more likely to try it!
No matter what way you add them, just to keep it stress-free for your child!
Your Turn to Take Action: How will you incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your child’s daily diet? Let me know in the comments below!