How nutrition affects your child’s learning and behaviour


What you pack in your child’s lunchbox can affect their brain development, concentration and general wellbeing. Educational Psychologist Marinda Botha explains the link between nutrition and behaviour and how to create healthy eating habits for your child.

You can compare the way your child’s brain works with a car. They will need fuel, brake fluid, tyres, a steering wheel and several other things to drive safely and effectively. What they eat and drink represents the fuel they run on.
When they struggle to concentrate, display behavioural problems or seem emotionally labile, it makes sense to then consider how their diet might be contributing to the problem.

Where do good eating habits come from?

Research confirms a direct link between poor eating habits and ADD/ADHD, poor memory, emotional difficulties and other every day childhood diagnosis. The good news is that if poor eating habits can have this detrimental influence on scholastic performance, good eating habits can contribute to improving them.

Good eating habits are set early on. Babies get a taste for certain foods in-utero when they taste the flavours of their mother’s diets in the amniotic fluid. Their preferences and dislikes are, however, mostly learned behaviour. What they will like later on in life is very much influenced on what they are exposed to when they are introduced to solids and the diet they follow in the first years of their lives.

For healthy lunch box ideas and food swaps, click here.

If your baby and toddler get limited exposure to vegetables and are overly exposed to refined sugars, they can develop a very unhealthy sweet tooth. The responsibility for life long healthy eating habits is therefore the responsibility of the parents and the nursery schools.

How do you get your child to choose healthy food? Share your tips with us.