Optimum Nutrition for your Childs MindMaximise your childs potentialIf you want to maximise your child’s potential you need to feedthem the best brain food. Whether its their first toddle on thekitchen floor or, their sudden plunge into emotions andrelationships as teenagers all depends on how well their brainsare working. And that in turn depends, in large part on how well their brainis nourished.Below outlines an easy to follow five-point plan to help you balance yourchild’s mood and improve their concentration both at school and at play.1.Take your child off foods with additives or added sugarSugar creates imbalances in energy that can contribute to erratic behaviour,hyperactivity and mood changes. Sweets, chocolates, cakes, biscuits, somebreakfast cereals, soft drinks, puddings and many other foods all contain sugar inone of its many forms. When checking labels, avoid foods that contain sucrose,glucose, malt, dextrose, inverted sugar syrup, golden syrup, corn syrup andhoney. Also check for additives – artificial colourings, sweeteners, preservativesand flavourings can all contribute to adverse behaviour, particularly the orangecolouring tartrazine (E102) found in some orange squashes and sweets, mono-sodium glutamate (MSG) and caffeine. It’s better to avoid giving your childprocessed foods and instead opt for natural, sugar-free alternatives.Sugared and caffeinated drinks are the worst. Researchers at Yale Universitygave healthy children a sugary soft drink followed by a blood test. Theydiscovered that their adrenalin levels were FIVE times higher than normal for upto five hours after they’d consumed the drink and that levels of irritability andanxiety increased in the children during the test period. A UK study found thatreducing sugar levels halved the number of disciplinary actions in youngoffenders.2. Increase fruit, veg and foods rich in vitamins and mineralsRather than letting your child fill up on junk food, give them whole, nutritious foodto eat. White bread, rice and pasta have the nutrients stripped out, so opt insteadfor wholemeal varieties, which are also more filling and contain fibre toencourage healthy digestion.Ensure too their diet is rich in fresh fruit and vegetables which provide vitaminsand minerals essential for building a strong healthy body. Some children may bereluctant to swap the sweets for an apple, but if you hold firm, often
their sweet tooth will recede. Also use your imagination to make freshfood more exciting – tempt them with delicious fruit smoothies (withHerbalife’s Nutritional Shake), bite-size snacks of cherry tomatoes,berries or grapes, bake apples or pears with cinnamon and serve withcreamy Greek yoghurt, cut vegetables into fun shapes to eat with dips,or puree and ‘disguise’ in sauces and soups.For children who are used to a diet of processed food such as chickennuggets or fish fingers, it may help to switch across first to a home madeequivalent such as chicken strips and fish cakes and then graduallyintroduce more vegetables into the mix e.g. fish and broccoli cakes etc.That way their taste buds gradually adjust to natural vegetable flavours.3. Boost levels of essential fatsSome types of fats called trans fats found in processed foods should beavoided. These are hydrogenated fats and are typically found in packaged foodswith a long sell by date. However, there are other fats that are essential and adeficiency could negatively impact on your child’s behaviour. For example, thebrain and nervous system needs a good supply of special essential fats calledomega 6 and omega 3 to function and develop effectively. To ensure your childgets enough of these fats give them the following:Oily fish i.e. salmon, mackerel, tuna (preferably fresh not tinned tuna as there’smore omega 3 in fresh) 3 times a week;ANDA heaped tablespoon of freshly-ground seeds on their cereal or sprinkled onsoups or in salads every day. The magic formula is mix half pumpkin, sunflowerand sesame with half linseeds, store in a glass jar in the fridge then grind fresh ina coffee grinder before serving.ANDSupplement essential fats. A trial studying the effects of essentialfats on school children up to 12 years of age found significantimprovements in reading, writing and symptoms of ADHD afterthree months. Herbalifeline (Herbalife’s omega 3) containsboth omega EPA and DHA.
4. Supplement the dietYour child can benefit from a quality daily multivitamin in addition to a well-balanced diet. All the evidence shows that just eating the recommended dailyamount (RDA) of vitamins is not enough to really maximise their potential. Simplyput, if you want to guarantee optimum nutrition for your child to give them a highstrength children’s multivitamin with more than the RDA, especially for Bvitamins. A study in Sweden found a direct association betweenschool grades and homocysteine (an indicator of vitamin B deficiency).The higher the homocysteine levels, the lower the school grades.Researchers in the US gave 200 seventh grade children a daily doseof zinc and found that those given the highest level – twice the RDA – hadfaster and more accurate memories and better attention spans than thosegiven the RDA. Zinc is rich in seeds and nuts. Herbalife’s Nutritional Shakeand multivitamin contains all the essential vitamins and mineralsthat are needed for optimum functioning.5. Eliminate allergens from the dietIf you suspect your child is intolerant to a particular food – for example, younotice they react badly after eating the [same thing] certain foods, or they seemto crave a particular food – eliminate it from their diet and monitor the reaction. Ifafter two weeks you see no difference in behaviour/symptoms, reintroduce it andsee if there’s a reaction. If not, then try a different suspected food group until youfind what’s bothering them (or find that food’s not in fact the problem). The mostcommon foods that cause problems are wheat, gluten (the protein found inwheat, barley and rye and a slightly less allergenic version in oats), dairy foodsand eggs.6. Never skip breakfastEating a decent breakfast really is essential for your child to be able toconcentrate at school. If their blood sugar stays low all morning they canexperience anything from dizziness to lack of focus. Avoid toast and jam orsugary cereals as these will fire up your child for a short time, making themhyperactive or irritable (see point 4) and then result in an energy dip mid-morning. Instead, oatflakes instead of sugared cornflakes or porridge made withnatural rolled oats and sweetened with fresh fruit will keep them feelingenergised until lunchtime.Studies in the US and UK have shown that children of all ages show significantlyimproved listening, concentration and mental agility skills when they have hadbreakfast, than those who skip it. In one study, 8-11 year olds who were fed ahealthy breakfast took just half the time to complete an arithmetic test as theirhungry counterparts.
Some ideas for healthy eating:Breakfast – Avoid sugary cereals and opt for oat based cereals such as porridge(sweetened with grated apple) or muesli, fresh fruit smoothies (fruit blended withyoghurt/milk and seeds and Herbalife’s Nutritional Shake) poached or boiled eggwith wholemeal soldiers, or kippers.Lunch – a sandwich made with wholemeal bread with a tasty filling (e.g. tuna,egg, cheese, salad), hunks of cheese, cherry tomatoes, vegetable sticks, a sliceof quiche for packed lunches; jacket potatoes, soups, scrambled or poachedeggs or salads at home.Supper – It is important to make sure there is some element of protein in everymeal - fresh (not processed) meat, fish or vegetable protein (soya, beans orlentils) with fresh vegetables, wholemeal spaghetti with a fresh tomato sauce,chilli with brown rice or fresh vegetable risotto. If your child eats a very limitedrange of vegetables find something new that they like and introduce it in smallquantities.For healthy snacks – fresh fruit (for faddy eaters it often helps to cut fruit into bitsize pieces and place on the table in front of them - they will gradually eat itwithout noticing! OR serve it in the form of a fruit smoothie), oat cakes orwholegrain bread with peanut butter, almonds and pumpkin seeds, or homemadeflapjacks sweetened with dried fruit or honey.