Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

Children and Focus

Here's an excerpt from our Be Good to Your Whole Body Pocket Guide for August. Pick one up in store or online. Diet can affect some children’s focus. Sleeping problems, physical symptoms and mood changes may change with diet. Here are some commonly asked questions about diet that may help you and your child maintain healthy focus this school year. Is my child getting the right nutrients? Essential fatty acids (EFAs), zinc and magnesium are among specific nutrients and supplements currently being researched for a possible link to supplementation that supports staying calm and alert.
Are DHA and other omega-3 EFAs really that important?
The brain is primarily composed of these essential fatty acids which also make up the protective membranes around neurotransmitters, vital for the exchange of information in the body. Studies show that some children may be deficient in omega-3s. A specific type of omega-3, called DHA, is necessary for brain function and may support focus in children. DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) can be found in cold water fatty fish*, fish oil supplements and seaweed.
Are there herbs that might be helpful?
Chamomile, valerian and feverfew are known for supporting a calm nervous system and are often found in formulas for children.
What about my child’s general diet?
Some experts recommend removing certain ingredients and foods from the diets of some children. Artificial additives, wheat, dairy, eggs, sugar and caffeine are a few, as well as foods with toxic pesticide residue and types of fish commonly high in mercury. (Here's more information about fish and mercury.) Learn more about children’s health with our Go Back to School Healthy pocket guide, available in-store or online.

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Danielle says …

Thank you for this article! I was literally just thinking last night about my girls' health and wondering about the specific nutrition needs of children. My fiance and I are very health conscious and I am helping the girls to learn how to make good choices in regards to their health as well. Any other articles or info you have on this topic will be GREATLY appreciated! Thanks again! it's like you read my mind!

Caryn Bickel says …

As a Mental Health Therapist, I agree that more attention must be made to the behavioral and cognitive benefits healthy foods have on our student population! I write on this topic and more and am open to hearing more stories! In Health & Wellness, Caryn Bickel, LMFT http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/8308557/lausd_improved_school_lunches_good.html?cat=5

Lori says …

If you are taking supplements, don't take them with magnesium (or even prescription meds for that matter). Magnesium will prevent your body from absorbing the other pills. So take magnesium by itself.

Nettie Perry says …

I know this is right on the herbs and things like caffein in a childs diet...My diabetes was out of control so my daughter and I researched all the things I should eat and stuff that was good to eat. I found that I should eat 6 times a day of foods made up of low carbs thats high in fiber and protein..Im a vegetarian so meat was out for the protein that I needed. I found lots of foods that had everything I need and a lot of the herbs and essential vitamins as well...You can eat anything you want within reason but just make sure it is low in carbs, high in fiber and protein and watch your portion size...If you keep your child off of a lot of starches and sweets and start them on a low carb diet they will not only feel better they will never be overweight and they WILL love the foods they get to eat along with snacks...This is how you do it...Eat a good breakfast but don't go over 60 carbs...two hours later eat a snack of 15 carbs...two hours later eat lunch of another 60 carbs...two hours later another snack of 15 carbs...two hours later eat dinner of another 60 carbs and then two hours later eat another snack of 15 carbs...I know you are asking where do I find the carbs and how do I know how to count them??? Just look on the labels on everything you want to eat and see how many carbs it has and try to find the ones that has the most fiber and protein in them as well...You won't always get fiber and protein in some you choose but as long as you get some in the rest of your choices thats fine...A snack can be a piece of string cheese with 1 carb and some fruit for the other 14 carbs...or a salad with no carbs with low carb dressing. A meal can be green beans, broccoli with cheese, a salad and a small baked potato and that would be under 60 carbs...I use the "I can't believe its not butter spray butter" for everything I need it on because its taste really good and its free of everything so you can use as much as you want. Instead of so much table salt I use Mrs Dash with different herbs and let me tell you it makes everything taste so much better...I never used herbs before now and i got a pleasant surprise after seeing how much better my food taste. I buy caffien free diet cokes at the store and caffien free tea to make at home because I noticed that when i drink anything with caffein I would not only have problems sleeping but i had problems with inflamation in my joints and hurt a lot more...You can ask your Dr and he will tell you that caffien can cause havoc in your body..Why not get caffein free stuff? you can't taste caffein so you won't notice the difference ...the only difference you will notice is that you won't be as jumpy or shaky and will feel a lot calmer and won't have the pains in your body that it causes...Also I buy splenda or abriva to use just like I used to use sugar and found it taste better and i don't worry about the calories. Sugar also makes your nerves on edge...Why not start your children on a healthy path now and they won't suffer by being overweight and will eat at home more because they will not like fast foods taste after they start eating what is good for them and they won't even know their taste has changed until they try the fast foods again...It will make them feel sick because they have detoxed their body from all the fats and junk they put in it to keep you fat and wanting more.. Just try this and see for yourself....You won't be sorry and even with a little research and work on finding the right foods for your family you will be so rewarded...My name is Nettie Perry and Im happy to share any advise to help someone to live a happy and healthier life...God Bless