Feed Their Brains Better!
We've been hearing and reading about nutrition our whole lives. It's widely understood that food fuels muscle growth, gives us energy and strengthens our bones but did you know that the brain uses A HUGE AMOUNT of the food that we eat?
As Youth Editor for Peptalk Magazine, I interviewed Julia Rucklidge this week, clinical psychologist and author of The Better Brain. The book and the interview has inspired me to think of food differently than before. Not just for myself, but for my family too.
Our brain makes up 2% of our body weight yet uses a whopping 20-40% of the food that we consume... read that again. 20-40%!!!
So if you and your kids are eating lots of nutrient-dense foods, then your brains have a better chance of getting the nutrients it needs to work properly... but if you and your kids are consuming a lot of highly processed foods, then you MIGHT have noticed some of the physical signs that the brain isn't getting what it needs.
- lack of concentration
- inability to sell-regulate emotions
- feeling worried or anxious
- low mood
- lack of motivation
These signs are interesting, because they're the same as many mental health conditions. Are we experiencing a mental health epidemic or are an increasing amount of people lacking the nutrients that their brain needs to function properly?
If you or anyone in your family experience anxiety or depression, I highly recommend this book.
If you or anyone in your family have been diagnosed with ADHD, I also highly recommend this book.
And if you're about to jump on the lunchbox program again next week when school starts back, I dare you to remove ONE of the highly-processed foods that you put in your kids' lunchbox each day and replace it with a WHOLE FOOD item, such as:
- cherry toms
- homemade bliss balls
- frozen berries (they'll be soft and juicy by the time they eat them)
As a mum of a six and eight year old, it's easier to say yes to processed foods than it was when they couldn't talk and pester me!! Also, as a mum who has gone back to full-time teaching this year, it's harder to PRIORITISE the time to ensure their meals are nutrient-dense rather than the sometimes-faster-but-actually-crappy options.
HOWEVER... since reading The Better Brain, I think of food differently, I am reminded that the food they eat today, impacts how they think and act tomorrow and when I think of food in this way, it's easier to have these kind of conversations with my kids.
"Can I have a museli bar?"
"Have a carrot, apple or some nuts instead."
"Can I have some ice-cream?"
"Yes, but only on Fridays."
Food affects mood so I'm ramping up the nutrients that get consumed in my house. I dare you to do the same!
As the school holidays draw to a close, remember that all the moments you spend with your kids SHAPE the way their brains develop. So spend time doing simple yet effective things with them! Check out My Amazing Brain for a stunning book that you can work your way through your kids, using Movement, Nature, Connection, Music, Creativity and Mindfulness to help build their best brain!
Victoria Jenkins is the brain behind Brain Essentials! She's a brain development educator, primary school teacher and mum who is inspiring parents to help their kids thrive and shine.