Brain Food, Mood Food, What Food?

From the outset, I’m not a nutritionist, just a busy mum of 2 hyper, hilarious and hungry (!) boys, who recognises the power of good nutrition to aid brain development and behaviours in my children… well as my husband and me!

What I am saying isn’t advice, I just would love to share 2 books that have given me guidance and well-founded information on how to approach the meals and snacks I prepare, as well as the foods to use. There is a wealth of information on the benefits of good nutrition, and I would love to hear from you on what works for you and your children too. Let’s help one another.

They are what you feed them by Dr Alex Richardson

We have always been focused on the importance of food as a family, particularly since my elder son was identified as dairy intolerant, with severe eczema and also had an A&E trip to discover he has a severe nut allergy! However, when finding out in year 1 that he is dyslexic and more recently dyscalculic, in addition to the support and strategies in place for his learning, I knew that nutrition and diet would also benefit him. This book has really helped in understanding foods that contribute to brain development, balancing these foods with when and what to feed the boys, as well as how to put all this into action. The book has a few recipes as well as ideas on packed lunches, something that continues to challenge me! Dr Alex Richardson also set up The Food and Behaviour Research Charity and continues to publish relevant articles on the charity’s website on the effects of nutrition and diet on human behaviour, learning and mood.

The Happy Kitchen by Rachel Kelly

[endif]--I was given this recipe book a couple of months ago and it has been wonderfully informative, both for me as a busy mum but also as I look to support my elder son who suffers with high levels of anxiety. With the increasing recognition of the issues of mental health in young people, many due to school pressures, this book has helped not just look at the foods to use (check out the Good Mood Food Index) as well as recipes, but also the approach to take when preparing food. I realised that I put myself under pressure when looking at preparing a balanced diet for the family, but this book explains how to enjoy the process as well as engage the family in the preparation. The book targets adults with recipes designed to boost energy, relieve low mood, comfort a troubled mind, support hormone balance and help you to sleep soundly!! But both the approach and recipes work for a family – mine especially love the smoothies! ![endif]--

I will caveat this by saying that I use these books as a good basis for the main focus of our family diet, but not at the exclusion of everything else as sometimes we don’t have much time or don’t have ingredients, and whilst the boys eat a good range of food, there are a number of things that they don’t enjoy. But I don’t put myself under pressure about it, I do the best I can and adhere to “everything in moderation”. So, when on holiday in Cornwall, do I deny us all a delicious pasty, or fish and chips sitting on the wall of Padstow Harbour whilst trying to keep the seagulls away or particularly the delicious Cornish ice cream? No, I do not. I use these books to provide the grounding to my meal planner for the week. Why do I have a planner for the week? Because I don’t enjoy food shopping, I am on a budget and don’t like food waste, and I can’t look in a fridge every day to gain inspiration for a family meal. So I set aside time for a plan for a week that I can just refer to and know all ingredients are there (unless my husband has grazed and eaten something!) This works for our family – and I don’t get much moaning about the meals!

Please feel free to use our Facebook page to share your own great finds with the Da Vinci community and the team. We would love to hear about what works for you and your family.