Everyone who either have children of their own or work with children has dealt with a child who seems to get distracted by every shiny object or loud noise that passes them by. To a large degree, this is perfectly natural – a healthy stage of development that demonstrates a healthy curiosity and engagement with the world around them. However, this only holds true to a point. Lack of focus can become problematic, and today, we’re going to look at how diet can play a role in affecting your child’s ability (or lack thereof) to focus.
Some children have difficulty focusing when they need to. This can lead to behavioral issues, social difficulties, and problems with maintaining high levels of educational achievement. In today’s world, many health care practitioners would be quick to throw out a diagnosis and a prescription once these problems get to this degree.
Certainly, there are some children for whom this is appropriate. But for many, many children, there are significant changes that can be made without resorting to these extremes that provide demonstrable benefits in the realm of focus and concentration. Diet can play a huge part in the manifestation of problematic and beneficial personality traits, and modifications to diet provide a healthy natural way to make your child happier, healthier, and with fewer attentional difficulties.
Dietary Adjustments that Boost Attentiveness
Eggs are a great way to start the day for children or adults, but when you’re faced with sitting in a classroom for three hours before lunchtime, the brain-boost provided by one of nature’s best protein sources is hard to beat. Eggs will keep your kids full and satisfied until it’s time for the next meal, making them an ideal alternative to sugary cereals or other, high sugar breakfast options that will send them headed for a crash before noon.
Okay, an iron sandwich probably doesn’t sound all that appetizing, but you can put anything in the sandwich you want, as long as it’s a good source of iron. Roast beef and spinach are both excellent sources of this essential mineral. Research has shown that a lack of iron is significantly correlated with a range of problems relating to focus and attention in children, so an iron-packed sandwich is a great way to ensure your children are never running low.
Healthy Fats = Healthy Focus
No other component of our daily nutrition has received as much unjustified bad press over the last few decades as fat. Many parents worry about the amount of fat they feed their children, and then turn around and let them have all the refined carbohydrates and sugars that they want. Fats are not your enemy, and when it comes to your child’s focus, they are actually your friend. A supply of healthy fats is essential for peak cognitive performance. Greek yogurt is an excellent source of healthy fats, and many varieties are packaged in individual servings that are perfect for sending in a child’s lunch. Many nut varieties are also good fat sources with brain-boosting benefits, but due to the regulations surrounding nuts in lunches at many schools, be sure to check with a teacher or administrator before you start packing nuts in your child’s lunch.
Focus on Fiber
High fiber snacks and meals are ideal for helping your child focus throughout their day. The more fiber a given food contains, the longer it takes your body to digest it. This means that you don’t end up with the rapid spikes and pitfalls that come with eating refined sugars and flours that your body digests far too rapidly. Instead, fibrous foods provide a slow-release stream of energy throughout the day, helping to keep your child alert and focussed. Whole-wheat breads, bananas, hummus, apples, berries and many other options can help your kids get their fiber fix.
Attention Killers in Your Child’s Diet
Just as there are dietary choices that you can make for your children that can help them boost their attentional skills, there are also some other choices that you might make that can have the exact opposite effect. If you’re worried about your son or daughter being able to stay focussed throughout the day, you definitely want to avoid these trap foods.
Stay Away from Soda
The number of reasons that soda is bad for your children could fill a whole other article (or three) but for now, we’ll stick with the fact that it can cause attentional problems. First, many sodas are caffeinated, and caffeine can easily cause hyperactive symptoms over the short term, especially in someone who isn’t used to it. The sugar though is the really insidious part of a soda. Many of us think of a soda as a sweet treat, but what it really is an unrelenting sugar bomb that causes our blood sugars to soar and then plummet as we quickly absorb the nutrition devoid calories in our favorite beverage. For a child, this can quickly lead to feeling tired and unfocused, and may make concentrating very difficult until they balance out again.
Toss Out the White Bread
White bread sandwiches have been a staple of lunch kits everywhere since our parent’s generation were kids, but nutritionists have thrown down the gauntlet when it comes to this classic lunch component. Refined carbohydrates like those found in white bread also fall into the category of things that your body converts to sugar too quickly, something that as we already know, can have a detrimental effect on focus.
A Healthier Lifestyle for the Whole Family
These tips are just some basic guidelines to help you craft healthier lunches that may help your kids stay focussed throughout the day. A quick note about childhood obesity: as we all know, this is a large issue that has been on the rise in our country for some time. Children struggling with their weight will be at a higher risk for developing many different types of cognitive difficulties. The dietary tips contained here, coupled with ample amounts of exercise are a great way to get started on an overall healthier lifestyle that may bring with it some exciting, focus-related benefits.