“Everything in moderation”.
It’s such a reassuring phrase!
When we’re buying groceries for the week, it’s difficult to resist the pressure to add another packet of biscuits or a bag of chips. Big food manufacturers intend this!
Cheerful cartoon characters on packaging appeal to the senses. The snackfoods themselves are designed to appeal to young palates: carefully calibrated blends of sugar, salt, and fat.
It can be easy to think that a few treats like this don’t make that much difference, but highly-processed foods pose a more severe risk than we realise.
Professor Felice Jacka has spent much of her career researching the link between diet and mental health. She has found that even if a child is eating a relatively healthy diet, consuming high levels of ‘junk’ food is a real risk factor for increases in depression and anxiety.
One reason for this might be that these highly-processed foods contain ingredients that ‘wash away’ the gut’s good microbes. As we are beginning to learn, gut health is directly correlated to good mental health and our ability to focus and learn.
Another is that, by filling up on these nutritionally empty foods, we remove our children's appetite for the healthy wholefoods that power their bodies and brains to function at their best.
But there is excellent news! This all means that our children’s mental health is, to some degree, within our control.
We are more powerful than we realise.
The choices we make today determine our children’s future.
And it doesn’t need to be difficult, time-consuming or expensive.
What we buy at the supermarket has the power to go a long way towards nurturing our children into a life of positive mental health and learning.
The EAT-Lancet report on food, planet and health shows us that we can make a significant contribution to emission reduction through our dietary choices.
Believe it or not, you are also shaping the health of your grandchildren and their children.
There is a fascinating field of science known as epigenetics, and this is showing us that our food choices don’t just impact our mental health today but long into the future.
Much of the science is still emerging, but it seems likely that a diet rich in folate, choline, methionine, betaine, and methylcobalamin (B12) is crucial to regulating the way genes are expressed in utero and throughout life. Also, “zinc, selenium, iron, vitamins A and D and B vitamins and polyphenols from plants have all been shown to affect the development of embryos.” (Felice Jacka, Brain Changer, Sydney, Pan MacMillan, p.123).
Thinking about this another way, the food we feed our children not only nourishes them into a lifetime of good mental and physical health, improving their ability to focus and learn and to live a confident, productive life. It also impacts their ability to nurture healthy babies and children of their own, so the cycle continues.
When we consider all of this, it seems worthwhile putting up with disgruntled children at the supermarket when we spend our time in the fruit and vegetable section and make a big detour around the packet food!
Of course, our own nutrient medicine, achieve+, is a fantastic way to ensure that our kids receive what they need every day. See below for more information.
I am recording a series of videos on my YouTube channel showing you some great, healthy recipes that are popular with my kids and can be prepared in a matter of minutes.
These recipes also minimise our impact on our planet’s precious resources.
I’ve also created a little e-book with some easy recipes that you can pull together in a matter of minutes.
I’d love to share ideas: do you have any great tips on creating nourishing food that your children love? Please contact me!