Incorporating Brain Healthy Foods into Your Child’s Diet

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This article has been written by Suzy, the editor of SureBaby.com. Suzy has been writing about pregnancy symptoms and parenting tips for years, and she loves sharing her knowledge with others.

Foods to keep your child happy, healthy and attentive

In many ways, your child’s success begins in the home. From personality to parenting style, your influence on their development is undeniable – especially when it comes to the foods you choose to serve. Did you know that certain wholesome foods will not only contribute to a nutritious menu, but will also give the brain a boost? Learning about these brain-friendly foods is a great step to a healthier life, and introducing them will bring noticeable improvements in your child’s learning, concentration, memory and awareness.

Of course, including new foods in a child’s diet can be easier said than done. It’s one thing to plan on introducing more whole grains, but it’s quite another to physically feed them to a white flour devotee. Find out how to work with your kid’s tastes and add brain-healthy foods to even the pickiest eater’s plate.

Foods to Consider

Child health care is a broad category that includes everything from appropriate medical treatment and prevention to healthy lifestyle habits. The list of elements necessary for good health is lengthy, and it shouldn’t surprise you that food is right at the top of that list: it’s no secret that fresh veggies, fruits, lean protein and grains are vital for a growing mind and body. But while a wide variety of vitamins and minerals are essential for child health, omega-3 fatty acids, iron, zinc and DHA will do more for brain development than other nutrients.

The highest concentrations of omega-3 are found in fatty fish like salmon and mackerel, flaxseed and soybean oils, kidney beans, avocado and walnuts. Lean meats are great sources of iron, while beans, legumes and grains are high in zinc. There are also a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables that bring the brain benefits you’re after, such as broccoli, cauliflower, spinach and raisins.

How to Get Your Kids to Bite

Changing a diet can be difficult, and some of the foods that are great for the brain just taste too different and foreign. Luckily, there are ways to inject some fantastic health benefits into every type of meal without turning your child off wholesome food for good. For instance, flaxseeds are a fantastic source of omega-3 fatty acids, but your child may balk at the texture and appearance. Instead, use flaxseed oil in ordinary dishes – a little added to a stir fry will go unnoticed, or use it to supplement some of the vegetable oil you use in your carrot cake.

Experiment with cooking techniques and dabble in unfamiliar cuisines to find interesting ways to slip in healthy foods. For instance, avocado is just bursting with healthy fats and protective nutrients, but the flavor may turn off your little one. Take a cue from followers of the raw food diet and get your children to gobble it down by using it in place of mayo on sandwiches or even to replace the cream in chocolate mousse! It’s amazing what different culinary approaches can accomplish – you may even discover another healthy cuisine that your whole family enjoys.

As many people have discovered, snacking can make or break a diet or fitness goal. Well, it also plays an important role in your child’s brain development. Instead of a small package of cookies or other sugary bites, make some trail mix from raisins, walnuts, almonds and a few chocolate chips thrown in to satisfy the sweet tooth. You’ll find that small substitutions can go a long way to better the mental health, awareness and concentration that will help your children now and in the years to come.

(Editor’s note: Thanks Suzy!)

Image courtesy of swanksalot via Creative Commons license, some rights reserved.

Earnest Parenting: help for parents who want to cook brain healthy foods.

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  • Daniel December 14, 2010, 12:41 pm

    Thank you for sharing your information. However, here is my problem with my kids: I really want them eating nutritive foods as you recommended, but they do not adapt to new flavors. There is now way to replace some of their favorite foods!
    Daniel´s last blog post ..Mens slipper socks

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    • Amy LeForge December 15, 2010, 1:04 am

      Daniel, Val’s suggestion of having the kids help with preparation is a great one. Also, there’s always the sneaky option. Plenty of super healthy foods can be incorporated into dishes without your kids ever knowing what you’ve done. You can take a second track and introduce healthy foods one at a time as they age while knowing they’re already getting the good stuff in your sneaky cooking. Jessica Seinfeld had a book on it, and another friend of mine recommends sneakychef.com.

      Reply
  • Val Garner December 15, 2010, 12:03 am

    Good article! Sometimes letting kids help you to prepare new foods may make them a little more motivated to try what they helped to prepare as well.

    Childhood Obesity

    Reply
  • rega December 19, 2010, 10:45 pm

    nice post, very useful. thanks for sharing

    Reply
  • Keisha Carver December 23, 2010, 5:10 pm

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  • Cord Blood January 28, 2011, 9:52 pm

    ~`* I am very thankful to this topic because it really gives great information *:-

    Reply
  • Victoria April 1, 2011, 5:33 pm

    Great post! It’s always so nice to get new information that we can use to help our children be healthier.

    Reply