You Are What You Eat: How Food Can Affect Your Child’s Mood


The terrible twos don’t always subside after the toddler years, and sometimes it can be hard to understand the cause of your child’s latest tantrum.

It may not just be down to coincidence that your child’s mood changes shortly after a snack – here are the most common mood-changing foods:




The number one culprit that doesn’t need an introduction. From diabetes to obesity, sugar is notorious for causing trouble when not consumed in reasonable amounts.

Sugar to an extent is unavoidable, as it is in just about everything the average child eats. Sugar can be found in ketchup, salad dressing, yogurts (one of the biggest culprits) and cereals to name a few. Things that are labeled fat free or low fat are usually jam packed with added sugar to make up for the loss of flavour from the removed fat.

Monitoring sugar intake is extremely important, as consuming large amount spikes insulin levels and sets the liver on over-drive. This process will throw off your child’s system, first making him/her extremely hyperactive before leading to the downward spiral of irritability and lethargy.

And if the mood-swings weren’t enough, sugar has been shown to cause long-term health damage, and a diet high in processed foods has been linked to depression, cognitive delay, and sleep problems.

Food Colouring


This one isn’t quite as obvious as sugar. Food colouring has been linked to causing mood changes in kids. Recent studies suggest that food dyes, such as those found in sweets like Skittles and certain breakfast cereals can have a dramatic affect on child’s cognitive function, causing hyperactivity and loss of focus.

Surprisingly, artificial colouring is also often hidden in unexpected foods like bread and yogurt.

Sodium Benzoate

Sodium Benzoate is a preservative found in many foods and sodas. In the very same study that found that food dyes were mood-altering, sodium benzoate was also noted as a culprit that was linked to causing kid’s to lose focus. Look out for Sodium Benzoate in juices and soft drinks.



Not necessarily a mood-changing food, but it can have negative affects on your child’s behaviour or mood if your child is either lactose intolerant or allergic to the proteins found in dairy. Many children become irritable, cranky, or aggressive. Children with dairy allergies or intolerance also tend to suffer from frequent colds and ear infections.

The Good Stuff

Whilst some foods can have a negative impact on your child’s mood, others can do the opposite by boosting cognitive function and helping to maintain a steady insulin level in the body.

High Fibre Foods & Complex Carbohydrates:

Be sure to feed your children foods that wont break down into sugars instantly, such as slow-to-digest oatmeal. Foods that are high in fibre and packed with complex carbs digest slower, which means no more spikes and crashes in energy for your children, and a happier, more consistent mood throughout the day.

Adding flaxseed and chia seeds to their morning oatmeal is a good way to promote this. Also, try substituting white rice and pastas for their healthier brown alternatives.


Studies suggest that foods high in Omega-3 promote better moods. Foods such as salmon, broccoli, blueberries, avocado and kidney beans can help maintain a healthy brain and keep your kids smiling.



Burns On Keeping Pets Calm On Bonfire Night

©iStockphoto.comedenexposed (1)


As many of us know, our pets can be stressed by the sight and sound of fireworks going off, Burns suggests the following measures you can take to try and reduce their anxiety. Firstly, consider your pet’s food, some contain additives that can affect behaviour. It may be beneficial to consider an alternative diet. Burns adult diets contain controlled protein levels and are free from sugars and chemicals such as colourings.

Keep your animals inside and spend time with them to soothe their anxiety. Different people let fireworks off at different times throughout this period. It can be difficult to avoid the noise and stress as it is unpredictable. But keeping your dogs and cats in after dark in the run up to Bonfire Night and for a week or so afterwards can help avoid the majority of it.

Make sure all windows are closed and lock cat flaps so that the pets cannot run away and put themselves in harm’s way. A typical reaction is to flee, so make sure there is somewhere they can hide themselves away if needed, if a dog is crate trained setting the crate up in their favourite place may help.  Closing the curtains and keeping the TV or radio on will muffle some of the noise as will double glazing, ensure the windows are closed to achieve the full benefit.

Don’t leave a scared animal alone if at all possible but try to ignore fearful behaviour, unless it is putting your pet at risk of harming themselves, to avoid reinforcing it. Using an Adaptil diffuser for a dog which may help them feel calmer through the release of pheromones or a Feliway diffuser for a cat, which helps it in times of stress and stops irrational behaviour. Never punish them for being scared, this could heighten your pet’s insecurity.

Burns adult diets contain controlled protein levels and are free from sugars and chemicals such as colourings. Based on whole grains the food promotes stable mental and physical health. Alongside Burns an additional meal of cooked porridge (without milk) may help calm your dog. Oats are rich in nutrients such as B Vitamins which are great for supporting mental well-being.

Outdoor pets such as rabbits and guinea pigs may also be scared by fireworks. It will help to make sure they are shut in their hutch with plenty of bedding to hide away in. Covering it with some old carpet could also help muffle the noise and prevent them from seeing flashes that may distress them. You could also consider moving the hutch indoors, into a garage or shed during firework season.

For nutritional advice or to find out more about Burns Pet Nutrition please visit the Burns website: www.burnspet.co.uk/index.html 

Posted by Amy Moylan


Mayors of Thurrock and Havering celebrate prestigious food awards given to 15 Thurrock and Havering schools

Fifteen Thurrock and Havering schools have won the Food for Life Partnership Bronze Award after serving seasonal school meals cooked by a well-trained school cook. They are also working with the partnership to encourage children to become more connected to the growing and cooking of their food.

Schools in Thurrock and Havering win food award

The Mayors of Thurrock and Havering celebrated the fantastic achievements of schools from their respective boroughs at the prestigious Food for Life Partnership Bronze Award Ceremony on Thursday 1 December. The Award Ceremony, which took place at High House Production Park, recognises schools that have excelled in transforming their food culture and is the first of its kind to be held in the area.

Children and staff from 15 schools across the region attended the ceremony, and were presented with a Bronze Award by Charles Curtis, Mayor of Thurrock. The school’s work with the Food for Life Partnership to transform their food culture and that of their communities by reconnecting children with climate-friendly and healthy food through growing and cooking activities and farm visits. The Food for Life Partnership Bronze Award means that schools have started to serve seasonal school meals with 75% of the dishes being freshly prepared by a well-trained school cook. Pupils and parents are involved in planning improvements to school menus and the dining experience, and every pupil has the opportunity to visit a farm and cook and grow food during his or her time at school.

Headteacher Jo Sawtell at Kenningtons Primary School in Aveley, Essex, says: “Through the support of the Food for Life Partnership team and the achievement of the Bronze Food for Life Partnership Award, we have raised awareness and transformed food culture in the school. We believe that everyone should have the opportunity to learn about the impact of food on health and that of the planet. I hope that the knowledge the children are gaining from this initiative will have an impact on future generations to lead a healthy lifestyle.”

Thirteen of the schools are catered for by Thurrock and Havering Catering Services, which has achieved the Food for Life Silver Catering Mark for its meals served to 90 plus schools in Thurrock and Havering. Kevin Hobart, Catering Operations Manager at Thurrock and Havering Catering Services, says: “I’m really pleased that our work to achieve the Food for Life Silver Catering Mark has helped these schools kick off their journey to transform food culture in London & Essex. We would now like to extend this to more of our schools so they can benefit. School food provision should be an integral part of pupils’ education – they learn about animal welfare and local, seasonal food, see it growing and then to eat it as part of their lunch, and they will leave school with a desire to make healthy food choices.”

The Food for Life Partnership is a network of schools and communities across England committed to transforming food culture. Together we are revolutionising school meals, reconnecting young people with farms and inspiring families to cook and grow food. The initiative is funded by the Big Lottery Fund and led by the Soil Association, bringing together the practical expertise of the Focus on Food Campaign, Garden Organic and the Health Education Trust.

Posted by Lucy Cook