New announcement. Learn more


Can diet really make a difference?

Do you secretly wonder if your child’s diet is even partly to blame for their behaviour or health issues?

Making changes to your child’s nutrition can be a challenge, and the very idea of trying might fill you with apprehension. We all want the best for our kids but sometimes it feels like the deck is stacked against us.

That’s why I like to start with the WHY.

Girl screws up her nose at broccoli

Our brains and bodies are made from the food we eat

We’ve all heard it before, but we literally are what we eat.

I even made it pretty far through my training as a naturopath and nutritionist, AND I’d already experienced the life-changing benefits of good nutrition for my own family before this fundamental fact really, truly sank in for me at the deepest level.

See, I had it just about backwards. My old logic went something like this: if I can stay alive eating a diet of, basically......whatever, then what I was eating must be, by definition, totally-adequate-thank-you-very-much.

But what I eventually came to understand is that the old ‘we are what we eat’ is both simpler and more complicated than we might first think.

The simple version

How do our kids manage to learn, focus, regulate their emotions, and fight off all the germs that are constantly circulating throughout school and kindy?

All these processes rely on biochemistry, and for this magic to happen in our brains and bodies we need the right raw ingredients. 

Brains need plenty of healthy fats. Protein is needed for growth as well as hormones and neurotransmitters that govern sleep, emotions and focus. A good immune system relies on a healthy microbiome as well as a whole range of micronutrients such as vitamin C, zinc and selenium. And of course, our kids need carbohydrates for fuel.

Structural formula of dopamine

The plot thickens

I eventually came to understand that nutrition was more complicated - and more interesting - than the basic food pyramid we learned in school due to two major factors

  1. Difficulties with the foods we eat such as:

  • the soil quality that our food is produced on 

  • overly processed foods, stripped of nutritional value and packed with additives

  • our busy lives making it feel necessary to use more packet foods to save time

  • increasing food prices

  • sensory issues and other causes of 'fussy' or 'picky' eating leading to restricted diets

  1. Bioindividuality. You may have noticed that us humans are all a little bit the same and a little bit different. Give one child some almonds and that's a great source of protein, calcium, magnesium etc. To the next child that almond might be a life-threatening allergen. What is an optimum diet allowing one kid to thrive won't suit the next kid at all. Aspects of bioindividuality include:

  • allergies and intolerances

  • malabsorption issues - from low stomach acid, dysbiosis and other causes

  • genetic differences in our ability to process certain compounds

  • something I see often in clinic is the effects of toxins such as mercury, aluminium and lead which contribute to many health issues due to their multiple impacts on biochemical processes at tissue and cellular levels.

The solution

So even if there is no one-size-fits-all approach to optimising your child’s health, I do know that good nutrition is an absolutely crucial element. While it may not be as straightforward as we once thought, understanding the importance of nutrition and its impact on our children's physical and mental well-being is key.

As parents, we do have the power to make positive changes to our children's diets, even in the face of challenges like busy schedules, picky eating habits, and food sensitivities. By focusing on providing nutrient-dense foods, supporting a healthy gut microbiome, and keeping individual needs and preferences in mind, we can lay the foundation for better health and wellness in our children.