What’s For Dinner, Mom? Improved Mental Health Is Top Of The Menu!

It’s International Stress Awareness week, and there’s never been a better time to look at some practical ways you can improve your child’s mental health and capacity for coping with stress. We’ve all heard how important it is to eat our fruits and veggies, but it can be challenging to find the motivation and energy to create that habit for our children. Processed and pre-packaged foods are convenient and easy to come by; is it really worth all the effort to serve fresh steamed broccoli instead of store-bought potato salad?

A new study conducted in the UK evaluated the difference a vegetable can make for almost 9000 middle-school and elementary-school children. The research was funded by the Norfolk Public Health Department to examine the impact of fruit and vegetable consumption on mental health in school-aged children. Not surprisingly, the kids with higher intake of fruits and vegetables fared much better on mental well-being scores than those who at little or no fruits and vegetables on a daily basis.

The researchers discovered that only approximately 25% of the almost 9000 kids evaluated were consuming the recommended quantity of five fruit or veggie servings per day, and just under 10% were not eating ANY fruits or vegetables at all! While this may sound disturbing considering the digestive and physical health aspects alone, factoring in the potential mental-health repercussions takes it to a new level. Most disturbing of all, the study authors concluded, “The difference in mental well-being between children who consumed the most fruits and vegetables compared with the lowest was of a similar scale to those children experiencing daily, or almost daily, arguing or violence at home.”

MBJ
Terissa Michele Miller, MS Psy

Check out the original research:

https://nutrition.bmj.com/content/early/2021/10/28/bmjnph-2020-000205