Improve your child’s mood and concentration

  • 20 Dec 2013
  • Reading time 6 mins
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Diet plays a huge part in how we feel and behave, and this is especially true for children. The right nutrition can help to alleviate learning and behavioural difficulties. Here is my five-point plan to helping your child balance their mood and improve their concentration.

1. Take your child off foods with additives or added sugar

Sugar creates imbalances in energy that can contribute to erratic behaviour and mood changes. Sweets, chocolates, cakes, biscuits, some breakfast cereals, soft drinks, puddings and many other foods all contain sugar in one of its many forms. When checking labels, look out for sucrose, glucose, maltose, dextrose, inverted sugar syrup, golden syrup, corn syrup and treacle.

Also check for additives – artificial colourings, sweeteners, preservatives and flavourings can all contribute to adverse behaviour, particularly the orange colouring tartrazine (E102) found in some orange squashes and sweets.

So avoid giving your child processed foods and opt instead for natural and sugar-free alternatives.

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2. Increase fruit and veg and foods rich in nutrients

Rather than letting your child fill up on junk food, give them whole, nutritious food to eat. White bread, rice and pasta have the nutrients stripped out, so opt instead for wholemeal varieties, which are also more filling and contain fibre to encourage healthy digestion.

Ensure too their diet is rich in fresh fruit and vegetables which provide vitamins and minerals essential to support their health while they are growing. Some children may be reluctant to swap the sweets for an apple, but if you hold firm, often their sweet tooth will recede.

Also use your imagination to make fresh food more exciting – tempt them with bite-size snacks of cherry tomatoes or grapes, bake apples or bananas with sultanas and serve with creamy Greek yoghurt, cut vegetables into fun shapes to eat with dips, or pureé and ‘disguise’ in sauces and soups.

For children who are used to a diet of processed food such as chicken nuggets or fish fingers, it may help to switch across first to a home made equivalent such as chicken strips and fish cakes and ......

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