Proper nutrition has a huge impact on the cognitive development of a child. A properly balanced diet provides the young body with the necessary nutrients that support the maturation and proper functioning of the brain. Therefore, it directly affects the development of abilities such as memory, perception, concentration and thinking. That is why you should pay great attention to what your child eats. Find out how diet affects children’s behavior and how to solve any eating problems.
Nutritional errors in children and the impact on their behavior
The influence of nutrition on the functions of the nervous system is significant. In simple terms, this means that what goes on a child’s plate can later cause various behaviors. Some foods can cause hyperactivity, irritability, sometimes even aggression, as well as cognitive disorders, especially problems with memory, concentration and attention.
One of the frequent problems related to children’s nutrition is inappropriate proportions of carbohydrates in the diet in relation to other macronutrients, including too low consumption of vegetables and fruits with too much consumption of free sugars. And sugar causes hyperactivity in children and negatively affects the course of ADHD.
After consuming a large dose of simple sugars, the blood glucose level rises sharply, which makes the child overstimulated. Then, when blood sugar levels start to drop rapidly, your baby becomes nervous, irritable, and tired.
Many products given to children may contain artificial colors and various chemical substances, e.g. preservatives or flavor enhancers. And you need to know that these additives, like sugar, can cause hyperactivity. If a child systematically consumes products containing the indicated compounds, psychomotor hyperactivity and impulsiveness can be observed in him.
Unsaturated fatty acids, zinc and magnesium
Not only the presence of certain ingredients, but also the absence can affect the behavior of children. The latter group includes, in particular, omega-3 and omega-6 unsaturated fatty acids. They are necessary for the proper functioning of the brain, including attention, which is why they should be supplied to the child’s body in appropriate amounts, preferably with the addition of magnesium and zinc. Proper supply of these ingredients for a long time can help to reduce emotional and behavioral problems, as well as impulsivity.
Vitamins and minerals
Both vitamins and minerals are ingredients that the human body is mostly unable to produce on its own, so they must be supplied with food. Although it is difficult to describe the action of each of these compounds here, some of them actually affect the work of the nervous system and the brain. It is suspected that the occurrence of hyperactivity may be caused especially by deficiencies of vitamin B6, zinc, iron and magnesium.
Negative influence of diet on child's behavior - how to solve the problem?
Bad habits and nutritional errors negatively affect the children’s body, causing various problems. Not only do they determine certain behaviors, cause problems with concentration and translate into poorer school performance, but they can also lead to nutrient deficiencies or weight gain, and consequently to the development of overweight and obesity. Incorrect diet can also affect the health of the child, becoming the cause of the development of various diseases. That is why it is worth working on it when it is not too late, and the consequences of poor nutrition are not so severe.
However, solving nutritional problems on your own can be difficult, and sometimes even impossible. Therefore, it is worth seeking help from a specialist, and a psycho-dietician will be appropriate in this case. Such a person will approach the subject comprehensively, not only by preparing a ready-made menu, but also by helping to solve problems related to nutrition and changing existing habits. Necessary support in this regard can also be provided by a child psychologist. If the use of his services in a specific case is indicated and justified, the dietitian will certainly inform about it.
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- Webpage: http://www.sp1.lukow.pl/dokum/dietaaadhd.pdf (retrieved: 2023.01.17.).
- Laskowska A., Dieta a zachowanie dziecka – jak żywienie wpływa na zachowanie dziecka?, webpage: https://www.mamazone.pl/dieta-starszego-dziecka/dieta-a-zachowanie-dziecka/ (retrieved: 2023.01.17.).