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4 Foods That Positively Impact Behavior (and 5 Foods to Avoid)

foods that positively impact behavior

Most of us are fortunate enough to have choices, particularly when it comes to food. When we can technically have cake whenever we want, it’s hard to tell ourselves “no.” It can be even more difficult to tell our kids “no” – especially if they have special needs. You want your children to have everything they could ever want and more, but you also want them to grow up to be the best version of themselves, starting today. And, believe it or not, success starts with food because food affects how we behave.

If your child has frequent meltdowns or behavioral outbursts, and you’re not sure what else to try, consider changing their diet. Here are 4 foods that positively impact behavior (and 5 foods to avoid).

Life Pro Tip: These foods aren’t just great for your child’s mood. They’re great for yours too!

1. Breakfast

You hear all the time that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and that’s true. Eating breakfast can kickstart your metabolism. Contrarily, skipping breakfast can make your metabolism lag, causing you to feel sluggish and slow.

While eating breakfast is important, it’s even more important to make healthy choices about what your child eats for breakfast. Whole grain toast for fiber, hard-boiled eggs for protein, milk for calcium and bananas for potassium are all great options! If your child is lactose intolerant, consider almond or coconut milk instead.

2. Omega-3 Fats

Omega-3s are a little more complex than you might think. One type of fish oil that particularly helps with behavior is Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Increasing EPA in your child’s diet can help stabilize mood swings.

Some foods that include the right Omega-3 fats include:

  • Oily Fish
  • Omega-3 Eggs
  • Walnuts
  • Flaxseeds

3. Magnesium

Some research suggests that children with behavioral or attention issues may be deficient in Magnesium. Taking this mineral regularly for six months can help improve behavior and attention span.

The best foods to eat to help improve Magnesium intake include:

  • Bananas
  • Avocados
  • Raspberries
  • Nuts
  • Legumes
  • Green Vegetables


4. Iron

Some studies suggest that there’s a positive correlation to behavioral issues with iron deficiency. In fact, iron deficiency in children under two has shown to have lasting effects for mood and behavior. Luckily, increasing iron-laden foods in your child’s diet can help correct this.

Here are some foods that are rich in iron:

  • Dark Chocolate (Yum!)
  • Spinach
  • Raisins
  • Broccoli
  • Potatoes
  • Chickpeas
  • Quinoa

Foods to Avoid

Adding the above foods, vitamins and minerals can significantly shift your child’s behavior (and yours!), but it’s also important to recognize foods that are triggers for poor behavior and attention issues.

Here are a few foods to AVOID to help improve behavior:

  1. Artificial food coloring
  2. Lactose (in some cases)
  3. MSGs
  4. Artificial sweeteners
  5. Certain ready-made meals

In addition to improving your child’s diet, you may also consider enrolling them into a fitness program. Exercise has also been known to positively impact behavior. The personal trainers at Special Strong specialize in working with clients with ADD, ADHD and intellectual and physical special needs.

Take improving your child’s behavior one step further by enrolling them into the fitness program at Special Strong. We’re so confident in our services that we’re offering a 7-day FREE trial. Don’t take our word for it. Try out our services and see the difference for yourself.

Special Strong provides fitness and nutrition for special needs children, adolescents, and adults with autism and other disabilities. Through our online training platform, we also provide special needs fitness certification courses for personal trainers and service providers who want to work autism and other disabilities.