How Does Nutrition Affect Mental Health?

For kids with mental health issues and addiction, nutrition can significantly impact their mental health. When in recovery, kids learn about healthy habits to manage their moods, cravings, and behaviors. If you help your child make healthy choices, they will get through the challenge of recovery much more easily.

Parents can help their kids by setting a good example, planning meals, having healthy snacks on hand, and not having unhealthy foods in the home. The junk you leave out of your body is just as crucial as the nutritious foods you put into it.

The Mind-Body Connection

Your body and your mind influence one another. What you feel affects what you think; you process the world based on bodily sensations and make choices based on what feels good. You also make decisions based on past experiences, memories, and foresight.

The mind-body connection shows how one dimension of wellness impacts the other. When you are in good health, your mood also improves. When you get enough sleep, you can concentrate and think much better than without. The foods that you eat also affect how you feel. For example, after you eat sugary foods, you might become irritable as the sugar rush dissipates. Likewise, when you don’t drink enough water, you can get impatient and fatigued. 

Nutrition is one of the most basic needs for survival. When you are hungry or thirsty, not much else matters. You can eat junk food just to fulfill this need at the bare minimum. However, you can optimize your overall mental and physical health by focusing on healthy meals. 

Focus on Overall Health 

Many people get caught up on just one aspect of health without focusing on making the best choices for all dimensions of health. If you have a teen who struggles, you might want to “fix” the current issue. 

If your child has a mental health disorder, behavioral issues, or addiction, you might put all other health needs on the back burner to address the most pressing concern. Humans always focus on fixing the immediate crisis first; however, sometimes, we lose sight of the bigger picture.

For a child who struggles, you can help them with their recovery by focusing on their overall health. If a child is feeling depressed, healthy eating and exercise will be tremendously beneficial. Treating their mental health will help them care about their physical health. When your kid takes care of their physical health, they will feel better and have more energy.

Energy and Mood

When you aren’t eating healthy foods, you could lack energy, as your body is not getting the nutrition it needs. When your energy level is low, your mood goes down. For example, you might struggle to feel happy if you are hungry. 

To some extent, without proper nutrition, you can be full of unhealthy foods, not feel pressing hunger, but your body will still crave the healthy things it needs. What you eat significantly impacts your mood. Always look for the simple solution first — if your child is upset, lethargic, irritable, they might just need a healthy snack or water.

Healthy Eating Is Not As Hard As It Seems

Eating healthy might seem intimidating or expensive. The dieting and health food industry make the process seem much more complex than it is. 

You can follow some of these tips to introduce healthy eating to your kids:

  • Each meal should have lean protein, a vegetable, fruit, and healthy carbohydrates, like brown rice or whole-wheat bread.
  • Keep healthy snacks in the car if you and your family get hungry while running errands or coming home from school.
  • Only have healthy choices in the home by not keeping junk foods and sugary drinks in the house.
  • Plan menus and meals ahead of time; you can involve the family in this process to ensure that everyone has a say and doesn’t feel left out.

The Importance of Water

Water is crucial to mental health. When dehydrated, you can feel irritable, confused, unable to focus, get headaches or migraines, etc. Kids might not want to drink water, so look at unsweetened tea or zero sugar flavors. Infused water with fruits can also have more taste for kids who think water is bland. Sparkling water is also an excellent option for kids.

Building Healthy Habits

Parents can help their kids build these healthy habits by setting an example and scheduling routine mealtimes with their kids. When you focus on nutrition and physical health, you can set your kid up to focus on their overall health and wellness. By living a healthy lifestyle, your kid learns to care about themselves, significantly impacting their mental health.

The foods we eat have a significant impact on our overall health and wellness. You can instill healthy habits in your kid by setting a positive example and planning meals with them. When you start to focus on nutrition, your mindset also shifts toward other areas of health and wellness. Parents might get so focused on fixing the big issues that they let other things slide for teens who struggle. When you are running in and out of ER with a teen or bringing your kid to therapy and other appointments, cooking a healthy meal at home might be the last thing on your mind. For children struggling with mental health and addiction, healthy foods can help them recover and teach them to take care of themselves. Fire Mountain Residential Treatment focuses on treating the whole person, as we teach kids healthy habits for a better life. Call us at (303) 443-3343.

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