March 14, 2016 — By Wendy Sachs

At PNN’s last Nanny Get Together, we were fortunate to have Aura Carlson, Child Development Consultant, and Integrative Health Coach, present the first of a three-part series about caring for the well-being of children. There, she discussed food allergies, sensitivities, healthy eating, and much more. If you missed her talk, here is a synopsis of what she presented.

Many factors can affect a child’s behavior, including food. Food can alter a child’s energy level, mood, and ability to concentrate. When blood sugar is inconsistent throughout the day, it could send kids on an emotional rollercoaster. A good way to curve blood sugar fluctuation is to maintain a good balance of protein and fiber. In addition to healthy meals, snacks such as hummus and crackers, apples and peanut butter, cheese and whole grain crackers, and veggies are great options.

When choosing healthy meals for kids, be sure to differentiate between snacks and treats. Teach them that snacks are “fuel food” that keeps them going throughout the day. Treats are special occasions that can be enjoyed in moderation and not every day! Too much sugar can cause kids to become overly energized until they turn grumpy and tired. Aura’s two fun questions to ask children when choosing whether to have a snack or treat are “Does it grow? And is it a color of the rainbow?”

Getting kids involved in activities around food is another great way to encourage healthy eating to maintain good behaviors. Allow kids in the kitchen during meal prep. Kids can open the ingredients, chop vegetables with a butter knife, stir any sauces, tear lettuce, or toss the salad. Not only does this make kids feel involved, it allows the adult in the room to take notice of which foods kids gravitate towards.

Lastly, when considering the different foods kids consume on a daily basis, it is important to notice if a food sensitivity is causing a behavior/mood switch. Sensitivities can interfere with attention to detail, energy levels, skin reactions, sleeping habits, and mood stability. If you begin to notice any of these signs, try removing a particular food for a test period and continue with different foods until you discover the source of the sensitivity.

It is important to understand that everything we put into our mouths becomes a part of our bloodstream, so think healthy!