If your child suffers from mental health issues, ensuring that they eat a healthy and balanced diet is critical. An adequately informed nutrition program can provide individuals with the tools and information they need to create more balanced meals, make healthy choices, and feed their brain and body the nutrients it craves.
At HillsidesCares, we believe that nutrition is critical to every individual’s mental health, especially teenagers and children. Without proper access to reliable and evidence-based information on the nutrients and food sources that the body needs, children and teens can be much more prone to having difficulty feeling happy, motivated, and balanced. For more information on our family health services for teens, reach out to our team today at 323.641.4842.
The Link Between Nutrition and Mental Health
A well-balanced meal plan is integral to any mental health treatment program. Eating nutritious foods helps improve mood, cognitive function, and energy levels. Poor nutrition can aggravate mental health issues and lead to weight gain or obesity.
The overall quality of your diet plays a massively important role in your mental and physical health. Large amounts of sugar and widespread nutritional deficiencies (including omega-3 fats, zinc, magnesium, vitamin D, and B vitamins) are driving extensive behavioral issues in our youth population. The cognitive and behavioral effects of excess sugar consumption in children are well documented and are known to result in hormonal disruptions, anxiety, reduced focus, energy, and positive mood.
Important Nutritional Requirements for Teens and Children
While there are other factors, most cognitive dysfunction in kids can be definitively linked to nutritional deficiencies. Iron deficiency is one of the most common deficiencies, leading to lower dopamine function, depressed mood, and impaired concentration. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies, including B vitamins, iodine, zinc, and vitamin E, are linked to worse cognitive abilities, poor concentration, and less effective memory.
To turn this epidemic around, we must ensure that nutrition becomes one of the primary concerns when helping improve teenagers’ mental health. This all begins with what you buy at the grocery store and what you find at the end of your fork. Some essential vitamins and minerals that are needed for teens include:
- Iron – Found in red meat, poultry, fish, beans, lentils, dark leafy greens, and fortified cereals
- B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, folate, B6, B12) – Found in poultry, fish, beef liver, eggs, yogurt, and fortified cereals
- Iodine – Located in iodized salt, seafood, and dairy products
- Zinc – Found in oysters, beef, crab, lobster, fortified cereals, and pumpkin seeds
- Vitamin E – Found in sunflower seeds, almonds, spinach, butternut squash, and avocados
A proper meal plan does not need to be complicated. At HillsidesCares, we like to teach kids how easy it is to eat healthily. By making the process simple, we strive to teach young people how to eat well and what it feels like to be healthier and take care of yourself on a deeper level. We accomplish this through fun and simple nutrition programs for teens that focus on:
- Plenty of protein
- Vegetables and greens
- Healthy fats
- The harm of snacking
Including these key vitamins and minerals in your child’s diet is a great way to set them up for academic and social success. A healthy body leads to a healthy mind, after all.
HillsidesCares Nutrition Program for Teens
While not all mental health issues are caused by food, it’s clear that poor nutrition can worsen mental health conditions. Multiple studies have found that more fruits and vegetables and less fast food and sugar are associated with fewer symptoms of mental illness and improved quality of life. These same studies also found that junk food leads to a much higher chance of teens developing severe psychological distress, which no parent wants for their child.
Individuals in a mental health treatment program should aim to include plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats in their diet. Eating unhealthy foods can lead to low blood sugar, headaches, and trouble concentrating.
A healthy nutrition program is essential in managing mental health issues. Individuals can improve their mood, cognitive function, and overall well-being by eating nutritiously. For more information on our teen nutrition program in Los Angeles, CA, reach out to our team of nutritional experts today at 323.641.4842.