Kid Friendly Foods That Ease Anxiety

Dr. Robert Melillo
 
Children with neurobehavioral disorders like ADHD, processing disorders, and OCD, often experience stress and anxiety due to the various challenges they face. Diet and exercise can go a long way to reducing symptoms associated with this stress and anxiety. The following kid-friendly foods that ease anxiety are thought to reduce the body’s stress response and promote relaxation. As a result, your child may experience some relief from stress and anxious thought patterns.

CHAMOMILE TEA:

Nothing gives you an “ahhh” moment like a cup of chamomile tea. And, it’s not just the warmth of the mug that induces that feeling of relaxation.  Study results from the University Science Center in Philadelphia suggest that chamomile may have modest anti-anxiety activity in people with mild to moderate Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). Chamomile tea is a common evening beverage for many adults who want to wind down after a stressful day. With a heaping spoonful of honey, it can also be an appealing drink for kids. To encourage your child to drink tea regularly, let them pick out their own mug and serve the tea ceremoniously at the same time every day. It will not only give them something to look forward to and make them feel special, but it will also incorporate well into a bedtime schedule, promote relaxation, and make for a good night’s sleep.

WATER:

Did you know that dehydration almost always leads to anxiety?  Because water is crucial to survival, dehydration can cause cells to go into panic mode, which then translates into nervous behavior. Active children often get so busy that they forget to drink water. In addition, feelings of thirst may not register in children with neurobehavioral disorders. Keep a water bottle on hand at all times and remind your child to drink from it regularly. This will eventually develop into a life long habit and will help keep dehydration-induced nervousness away for good.

YOGURT:

It is becoming common knowledge that a healthy gut equates to a healthy immune system. It is also being discovered that a healthy gut equates to a healthy mind. Scientists now suggest that disorders such as anxiety, schizophrenia and autism may be related to unhealthy bacteria like the one found in strep throat. Probiotics, commonly found in yogurt, limit the growth of unhealthy bacteria and contribute to a healthy gut.  In 2011, Irish researchers discovered that certain probiotics given to mice reduced “behaviors associated with stress, anxiety and depression.” Found in kid-friendly foods like yogurt and miso soup (fermented), probiotics or good bacteria can also be given via supplements made just for kids.

EGGS:

According to Psychology Today, a B vitamin deficiency can cause children to experience confusion, irritability and anxiety. A rich source of choline and Vitamin B12, eggs are an optimal food for brain development and may ease feelings of anxiety in children.  If your child is allergic to eggs, other vitamin B rich foods like beef and citrus fruits are also great options.

TURKEY:

Have you ever noticed all the sleepy relatives after a typical Thanksgiving meal? Foods rich in tryptophan, like turkey, have a natural relaxation component and are very effective at reducing anxiety. L-Tryptophan is an essential amino acid the body needs to break down proteins and trigger production of neurotransmitters like serotonin, which plays a significant role in sleep, mood and inflammation. Eating foods rich in tryptophan will help aid this process. Other great sources of tryptophan are oats and sesame seeds.

FLAX SEEDS:

Omega-3 fats are also known to trigger the production of serotonin, which helps ease anxiety. Ohio State University found in their study that students who were given an omega-3 fatty acid supplement experienced a 20 percent reduction in anxiety as compared to the placebo group. Flax seeds are a great source of omega-3 fatty acid and can be made kid-friendly by adding to smoothies, breads or even thrown into casseroles and other side dishes. Other sources of Omega-3s include fish and tofu.

When it comes to stress and anxiety, healthy eating really does make a difference. Avoiding fried foods, caffeine and refined sugars, and instead eating foods from the list above will reduce anxious feelings and help foster healthy brain development.

At Brain Balance, we recognized the role nutrition plays when it comes to healthy childhood development. As part of our integrated program, which includes sensory motor and cognitive activities, we custom design an easy-to-follow nutritional program with helpful guidelines and strategies to make it a positive experience for your child, as well as the whole family. To learn why our whole-child approach is the most effective way to help your child overcome learning, behavior, and social challenges, contact us today!

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