Kid’s Nutrition

Kid’s Nutrition

How many times do you see parents allowing children to have candy, ice cream, soda and potato chips just to keep them quiet? For children, food provides the building blocks for healthy growth and development. Poor eating habits may result in a lack of energy during school and at play.

Synaptic growth is most significant during your baby’s first few years of life—when he or she is taking in all sorts of new input and acquiring new skills. By the time your child turns 3, each neuron has formed as many as 10,000 connections, making a total of about a quadrillion (1,000,000,000,000,000) throughout the brain. (That’s double the number of connections in your own brain.) Synapse formation slows after the toddler years, but continues throughout childhood and into adolescence, finally reaching adult levels when your child is anywhere from 15 to 18 years old.

Different sugars affect the brain in different ways, so it is only logical to conclude that certain sugars can adversely affect the thinking and actions of some children. The sugars at fault include glucose, dextrose, and sucrose, and the highly refined, highly processed “junk sugars” found in candy, icings, syrups, packaged baked goods, and table sugar. The worst among these is high fructose corn syrup. These sugars enter the bloodstream quickly, reaching high levels in a short time. This triggers the release of large amounts of insulin, the hormone needed to escort the sugars into the body’s cells. These sugars are used rapidly, and when they’re all used up, the blood sugar level plunges to a sugar low, or hypoglycemia . The low blood sugar triggers the release of adrenal hormones (called a “sugar high”) that squeezes stored sugar from the liver, sending blood sugar levels back up. This blood sugar roller-coaster affects moods and concentration in some children and adults, leading to “sugar highs”and “sugar blues.” The ups and downs of blood sugar and adrenal hormones can also stimulate neurotransmitter imbalance, causing the child to feel fidgety, irritable, inattentive, and even sleepy.

The best sugars for the brain are complex carbohydrates. These do not cause the roller-coaster mood swings that the junk sugars do. The molecules in complex carbs are long, so it takes longer for the intestines to break them down into the simple sugars the body can use. Thus, they provide a time-release source of steady energy rather than a sudden surge followed by a sudden drop.

Here are a few tips:

Always include protein with your child’s breakfast.
Replace empty calorie foods with fruits and vegetables.
Survey your own eating habits… What foods are on hand? What are the snack choices?
Increase the variety of fresh fruit you have on hand.
Serve the vegetables that your children like best as often as possible.
Ask your children to try new foods at mealtime.
Serve small portions of a variety of food.
Don’t require them to clean their plates!
Children need vitamin and anti-oxidant supplementation, as well as omega 3 supplementation. (check with me for proper types and amounts)

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