When kids are picky eaters, it makes meal times, packing school lunches and holidays stressful. If you want your kids to be healthy and you’re consistent by offering healthy foods at every meal, eventually they will give up at these some of those picky eating behaviors.
When it’s a small glimmer of hope or an extreme transformation, when kids eat healthy there are amazing, awesome things that can happen. Here are 5.
1. Kids Crave Healthy Foods
When you cut out the processed, packaged foods from your kids’ diets and the choices are mostly whole, real foods, they come to accept and expect a new, healthy way of eating.
And research backs it up.
Bee Wilson, author of “First Bite: How We Learn To Eat” points to an experiment conducted in the 1920’s and 1930’s in which babies were offered healthy foods to choose from. “The experiment proved that when your only food choices are good ones, preferences become unimportant,” she writes.
When snacks in bag, box or pouch are out of sight, out of mind, the choice is easy, but eventually kids may also actually prefer fresh fruits and vegetables and ask for them.
2. Kids’ Gut Health Improves
If your kids frequently complain of stomachaches, their diet may be to blame. White, refined flours like those found in processed, packaged snacks and a lack of foods high in fiber can cause constipation.
When kids eat healthy and eat foods that regulate their digestion like fruits and vegetables, beans, and whole grains, you’ll probably notice their bowel movements become more regular and they’ll experience less GI stress overall. Foods high in probiotics which help feed the healthy bacteria in the gut can also ward off tummy woes and strengthen your kid’s immune system.
3. Kids Sleep Better
If you struggle to get your kids to fall asleep at night or sleep through the night, it may be related to their diet. According to a January 2016 study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine conducted in adults, eating less fiber and more saturated fat and sugar during the day is associated with lighter, less restorative sleep and with more arousals.
When kids eat healthy, not only does their gut health get a boost which can affect their sleep quality, but getting nutrients like magnesium, the “calming mineral,” which is found in foods like spinach, black beans and avocado, can also help them sleep more soundly.
4. Kids Have Less Meltdowns
Food affects mood—yes, even in kids. According to a January 2015 study in the journal European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a healthy diet for kids is significantly associated with improved better emotional health and an unhealthy diet is significantly associated with greater emotional distress.
Many foods that are low in fiber and high in sugar can cause your kid’s blood sugar to spike, and the ensuing crash can deplete their energy levels and make their moods sour. Many packaged foods also have food dyes which have been shown to negatively affect kids’ brains.
5. Kids Get a Brain Boost
With 30 types of neurotransmitters and 100 million neurons, the gut, often referred to as the “second brain,” affects brain health.
Since foods high in sugar cause inflammation, gut-healthy foods with probiotics and prebiotics lessen inflammation and improve brain function.