Blog Series:Nutrition and Mental Health – Teaching Teens Mindfulness About Their Diet

By: Philippe Rey, Psy.D.
ACS Executive Director

With all the recent news about the importance of nutrition and the increase in childhood and adult obesity and diabetes, have you ever wondered if nutrition could also possibly affect the mental/emotional state of people?

Let’s think about this one for a minute! We know that sugars will make one hyper and that some carbs will make one tired, etc., so perhaps, when feeling stressed, tired, moody, irritable, anxious and depressed, it might be a good time to review one of the simple things that affect our moods – our diets. Understanding how to nourish our bodies is a way for us to lead a healthier life, one filled with a positive outlook.

Research has shown the damaging effects of hydrogenated fats and high fructose ingredients on our bodies. Imagine how those ingredients affect a young person’s developing body and mind. As adults, most of us know the importance of drinking plenty of water, eating a sufficient amount of fruits and vegetables each day, and the importance of curbing our sugar, fat, and junk food intake.

When it comes to our kids it is our responsibility to teach them about the importance of these things, and that nutrition and activity is necessary at their age.

Teenagers are so busy nowadays with school activities.  They easily gravitate to food that is available, like a bag of chips or a soda rich in sugar. They don’t take time to sit and eat, but do it on their way to their next class or activity rather than taking the time to sit down and enjoy a meal.

It is important for us to model good eating practices for them and involve them in family activities around the stove in the evening (we can all make the time to do this even if it means cooking white rice and a chicken breast). It may not dawn on them immediately, but they will begin to understand the importance of a nutritious diet eaten in a slower and more thoughtful way. They will also appreciate the value of time spent with the family.

Later in the evening, you can all take a break from the important activities of the evening and go on a short walk as a family. This exercise will teach them that it is ok to take a short break, in the midst of the craziness, and the importance of physical exercise. The positive endorphins that result from exercise benefit ones overall mood and for many help fight the symptoms of depression, anxiety, and can boost self-esteem. Incorporating these suggestions may mean a bit of a lifestyle change, but it is one that your teen will benefit from and thank you for later.

2012 Bay Area Tasting Week

A component of this year’s Bay Area Tasting Week, October 12-21, will be demonstrations by top local chefs in thirteen Bay Area schools in these cities: Sunnyvale, Palo Alto, East Palo Alto, San Francisco, and Los Altos. With the chefs help the kids will learn to share and taste new foods, as well as the importance of a nutritious diet.

The PAUSD Food Service Department is participating in the celebration by putting together exhibition cooking and A to Z salad bars in the Palo Alto schools.

Mayor Yiaway Yeh  provided the following endorsement for Tasting Week: “We need to teach kids that food can be healthy and taste good.  We need to inspire in kids a love for what is both delicious and nutritious. Kudos Bay Area Tasting Week!”

One Response to “Blog Series:Nutrition and Mental Health – Teaching Teens Mindfulness About Their Diet”

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