Stress. More and more children in the American classroom are experiencing higher levels of stress than ever before. This chronic stress is resulting in anxious kids with diagnosed or undiagnosed generalized anxiety, social anxiety and others under the anxiety umbrella. We need to do all we can to help reduce kid’s stress levels.
Adding a few delicious elements to your child’s diet can help reduce their stress levels. Afterall, they are what they eat, right?
Let’s take a look at seven foods to help reduce the stress levels children are experiencing. Start the day off with one of these recommendations, add another few as an afternoon snack and be sure to consider adding these options to meal times. Be sure to back those lunch bags with some of these options to help keep stress at bay when school starts back up.
A Cup of Tea to Reduce Kid’s Stress
Warm drinks have a natural soothing effect in and of themselves. Take that soothing effect a step further and consider relaxing herbal teas as an alternative beverage. Use the calming herbal benefits and make home brewed iced tea. Lavender, Chamomile and Lemon Balm are all natural relaxers.
At our house, we like to home brew iced tea lightly sweetened with honey or a small amount of sugar.
Reduce Kid’s Stress with Dark Chocolate!
Rich in antioxidants, dark chocolate can actually help lower your stress hormones. Don’t over do it…just 1.5 oz, a nibble per day with your nice warm cup of tea. This will certainly bring a smile to your child’s face when they open their lunch box at school to find a little square of chocolate.
Carbs Increase Serotonin & Reduce Kid’s Stress
Serotonin is a chemical in your body that regulates mood. Boost serotonin and improve cognitive function too by adding healthy carbohydrates like sweet potato or whole grains to your child’s diet. Be careful to watch carbohydrates that are fat laden. One cup of pasta as a side for lunch or dinner will do the trick.
Add Omega 3’s to Reduce Kid’s Stress
Anything with those rich Omega 3s in them will help decrease stress levels. Omega 3 fatty acids are known to reduce stress and anxiety, improve concentration and boost mood. Omega-3 supplements are an option, but healthy food sources are ultimately the best choice.
Slice a half of an avocado to top your child’s salad. Serve the salad with broiled or grilled salmon. Don’t forget that healthy serving of pasta mentioned above.
Any fatty fish is rich in these stress reducing Omega 3s. Add a serving of tuna, halibut, herring, mackerel, sardines or lake trout to your weekly menu.
Feel Good Fish Cakes (Shhh, made with sardines)
Don’t Forget Dairy to Reduce Kid’s Stress
Dairy is rich in calcium and vitamin D. Combined, these two nutrients help with stress reduction.
At bedtime, consider a cup of warm milk to help get your kids ready for bed.
Pack cheese or yogurt as a snack for school or start the day with a healthy serving of yogurt.
Plain yogurt tops the list. 8 ounces of plain, low-fat yogurt boasts 415mg of calcium. Jazz up the yogurt with fruits and honey. Make a fruit smoothie or make a buffet of fun ingredients to add, like that 1.5 oz of dark chocolate!
Parmesan cheese offers 360mg of calcium per serving. It is extremely high in calcium. Sprinkle a tablespoon of grated parmesan over pasta, salad or anything else and garner 15 per cent of the RDA.
Part-skim Mozzarella offers 333mg per 1.5 oz serving! Consider the Mini Babybel Cheese Snacks.
Swiss is high on the list too with 290mg of calcium per serving. Not a favorite for kids, but with it packing more than a third of the RDA, sneak it into their macaroni and cheese or slip the shredded variety into baked ziti or a quesadilla.
Also, consider the Laughing Cow variety of snacks ideas to get your kids eating more cheese.
It’s OK to Go NUTS!
Keep a snack bag of nuts in your purse or bag. Nuts offer vitamin B and the Omega’s. Added bonus – they are a super convenient snack.
Look for almonds, pistachios or walnuts as these can additionally help to lower blood pressure during intensely stressful moments. Limit to one handful a day for those who are calorie conscious.
Make a home made trail mix. Start with nuts, add a few dark chocolate chips and add dried fruit rich in vitamin C.
Chop the nuts in your food processor and sprinkle over salads, yogurt or add them to your breading and make chicken tenders or fish sticks.
If you are a baker, add nuts to just about any cookie or muffin you bake.
**It goes without saying, if a child has a nut allergy, this is not an option.
Boost Vitamin C to Reduce Kid’s Stress
In various studies, Vitamin C has been shown to reduce stress and decrease cortisol levels.
Eat an orange a day.
Add strawberries to your cereal, yogurt or smoothie. Buy them in season and dry them with dehydrator. Add them to your baked products and send the kids off to school with this healthy stress reducing snack. They are extremely high in vitamin c.
The Acerola cherry is packed with vitamin C. It offers about 65 times the amount that an orange offers! Again, buy them in season and then freeze or dehydrate and use them in salads or baked snacks.
Kiwi is another fruit that offers more vitamin C than an orange!
Dehydrate any of your fruits and then puree them into a fine or chunky powder in your food processor. Add them to anything your heart desires!
Consider adding Vitamin C as a supplement to your child’s diet in order to achieve maximum results.
These seven suggested foods are not just for stressed out kids – these suggestions apply to parents too. Be sure to pack your own snack bag of nuts, sprinkled with an ounce of dark chocolate or dried fruit. Join your kids for an evening cup of chamomile tea or warm milk. Enjoy a healthy serving of all the right foods to help keep everyone’s stress levels at a minimum in this never ending stressful world we live in today!