Regulate Emotions through Food Choices

The quality of the food your baby eats can affect his brain structure both chemically and physiologically, and it can impact his behavior and feelings. Elizabeth Somer, a registered dietitian and author of the book Eat Your Way to Happiness, says that food, mood, energy, and sleep are directly linked.

A regular schedule of whole foods helps keep your baby’s body fueled and blood sugar levels on an even keel. Whole grains, fresh vegetables, fresh fruits, and protein-rich foods provide the nutrients that support emotional health.

Three key food components influence mood in a positive way:

  • Complex carbohydrates, found in plant foods, slowly increase insulin levels. The increased insulin signals tryptophan, an essential amino acid, to move into the brain. Tryptophan then prompts the release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter, which is known to have a calming effect while regulating and elevating mood.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids, found in flaxseed, walnuts, and fatty fish, such as salmon, can influence behavior and mood, and may protect against depression.
  • B vitamins, including B1 (thiamine), B9 (folate), and B12, can improve mood by helping your baby’s body produce more serotonin. Whole grains, leafy greens, legumes, fresh fruit, eggs, and shellfish contain these vitamins.
Conversely, other foods can contribute to depression, mood swings, fatigue, and anxiety. For instance, refined sugars and grains can cause blood sugar to spike rapidly and then drop quickly. This fast-releasing energy causes an emotional roller coaster. Too much sodium can cause tension and irritability.

Caffeine is a stimulant that can increase anxiety. Some researchers are now finding that gluten may have different effects on mood; it may cause anxiety, irritability, and lack of mental clarity. Casein, a protein component in milk, may have a negative impact on mood. The trans fats found in fast foods cause a heavy and sluggish feeling that is linked to fatigue and depression. Heavy metals, such as lead, mercury, and cadmium, which seep into food during industrial processing, can affect mood in an unfavorable way.

From a yin and yang perspective, a balanced diet supports balance in emotions. Excess amounts of foods with a yang influence, such as salt, meat, cheese, and eggs, can cause impatience, irritability, frustration, stubbornness, and anger. Excess amounts of foods with a yin influence, such as refined sugar, ice cream, chocolate, soft drinks, and large amounts of fruit, can cause confusion, oversensitivity, lack of willpower, and hyperactivity.yin-yang emotional conditions

If your child’s condition is on the extreme end of the yin-yang spectrum, you can guide him toward balance by reducing the yin or yang foods that are causing the excess and by offering foods on the other side of the spectrum, along with activities that move him toward his emotional center. For information on the yin-yang spectrum of foods, click here.

Grow Healthy. Grow Happy. Guide
By Grow Healthy. Grow Happy. The Whole Baby Guide. ™

A comprehensive and accessible resource for natural baby care. Nurture your baby with nature's principles for a radiant life. Grow Healthy. Grow Happy. The Whole Baby Guide is a complete resource for parents to give their babies a healthy beginning for the first three years.

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