Is Your Child’s Diet Optimal for Mental Health?

by Kristin Burgess, RD, Registered Dietitian / Personal Trainer

You feed your kid breakfast. You feed them snacks. You provide dinner every night. You send them to school with a water bottle. There is no way they are malnourished or dehydrated…or is there?

There absolutely is! The brain gets most of the nutrients it needs to perform properly (cognitive and behavioral function) from the food you feed it. Therefore, every single bite of food or sip of liquid you ingest during the day, and when you do it, has an impact on its development and performance. Studies have proven with an EEG, that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Not just what is eaten but also how much. Kids come in all shapes and sizes and their caloric needs might vary. Most kids, ages 6-12, need 1800-2200 calories per day. This means that breakfast needs to be 500 calories. Lunch needs to be 300-500 calories and dinner likely needs to be 500+ calories. Many children feel rushed during school lunch or are preoccupied playing with friends to eat a full 500 calorie meal, therefore dinner becomes a bit more of a make-up area.

So, what does a 500 calorie breakfast look like? Two slices of 100% whole grain toast, two eggs with two tablespoons of avocado plus a banana; a 100% whole grain bagel with a schmear of cream cheese and one-two eggs or 1 ½ cups of Kashi Go Lean cereal, 1/2c whole milk and a banana. Always add at least ten ounces of water to breakfast to top it off.

I know mornings are rushed. I am a mom also. I have an eight year old and a six year old. Trust me, I get it. However if you encourage your child in a positive manner to eat this breakfast and you take the time to do so, watch them change! The anxiety and the signs and symptoms of ADHD or other mental challenges might fade. Remember that breakfast is just the start. Proper snacks, dinner, water consumption and pre/post activity nutrition is also a piece of the puzzle.

For more tips or personalized information, contact Kristin Burgess, RD Club Greenwood’s Health and Wellness Coach.