Wednesday, July 13, 2016

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Foods for Happy, Healthy Kids

"The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing."  
                                                                        -Walt Disney

Dark chocolate is one of my favorite foods.   A simple daily pleasure is enjoying several small pieces every afternoon.  Dark chocolate (look for chocolates with at least 70% and where cocoa, not sugar, is the first ingredient) promotes good moods, lowers blood pressures, and produces satiety.  

Dark chocolate
Recently I did a taste testing with some elementary age kids.  We compared several different kinds of dark chocolate, looking at the cocoa vs sugar contents.  The amazing thing was that almost all the kids preferred the dark chocolates where the first ingredient was cocoa, not sugar.  We did a “compare and contrast” between the dark chocolate and milk chocolate; when the kids left they had a solid understanding of why dark chocolate is a better food choice.

The fact is that besides being a delicious AND healthy treat, dark chocolate is one of the foods that promote good moods.  Here are more good mood-promoting foods for kids:
  • Fruits and vegetables, especially dark-skinned berries such as blueberries and blackberries
  • Oily fish such as wild salmon and tuna, which promote brain health
  • Turmeric, the spice which makes curry yellow and contains some of the highest levels of anti-oxidants of any food on the planet

Ella Chabot (L) shopping for locally grown veggies at a farmers market in Johnson City, TN

Print the following list of ideas to bring healthy, good mood foods to your kitchen pantry, dinner table, and lunches for school or work:
  1. Teach them about good foods such as dark chocolate, leafy green vegetables, and dark-skinned berries that promote good moods, increase focus, and prevent attention deficit disorder. 
  2. Give them a day a week when they get to plan a dinner for the family. 
  3. Shop together at your local farmers market (find one near you at
  4. Buy age-appropriate kitchen tools and invite your children to chop and cut vegetables and fruits with you (a favorite choice in the Growing Healthy Kids Test Kitchen is  always the lemon squeezer).
  5. Give your kids choices ("Do you want to cut up red peppers or snow peas?")
Veggies for happy, healthy kids 

Create healthy, lifelong memories with your children by ensuring they have access to good foods.  

In gratitude,
Nancy L. Heinrich, MPH

Founder, Growing Healthy Kids