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  • If you’ve ever felt depressed, anxious or angry you know exactly how emotions can affect and alter your appetite. That’s why skipping meals based on feeling create consequences that range from mental and emotional to physical, which makes nutrition very important in treating your child’s PTSD. In order to help your child to restore balance, you should serve foods that help his or her body and brain to function at its best.

    By feeding your child the right foods, you can impact the stability of his or her mood and ability to cope with traumatic stress. Processed and convenience food, refined carbohydrates, and sugary drinks and snacks can create mood swings and worsen symptoms of traumatic stress while fresh fruit and vegetables, high-quality protein, and healthy fats, especially omega-3 fatty acids, help your child better cope with the highs and lows of post-traumatic stress.

    What’s Cookin’?

    Focus on whole, minimally processed foods. These will give your child’s brain its best boost and ward off depression and other symptoms. Limit fried food, sweet desserts, sugary snacks and cereals and refined flour. These can all exacerbate symptoms of traumatic stress in kids.

    “Your brain runs on the simple sugar, glucose, which can be found in grains, fruits and vegetables, refined sugar and dairy products. In order for you to have the energy you need to be able to manage emotions, create a sense of calm and make good decisions your brain needs enough glucose to run all of its systems at the same time,” said Michele Rosenthal, author and PTSD advocate.

    “When you don’t give your brain the fuel it needs, guess what it does? It shuts down systems that use large amounts of energy. For example, your willpower system, which can be enormously critical in PTSD management as it helps you make good decisions that influence what you think, feel and do. Without access to willpower, it can be very tough to achieve your recovery or coping goals,” she added.

    Cook more foods as home and cook together. This ensures that your child is eating foods nutrient-rich and allows for good conversation in the kitchen and afterward at the dinner table. Then gather the family around a table and use the opportunity to talk and listen to your child without the distraction of TV, phones or computers.

    Add B Vitamins

    Since children and teens with PTSD experience greater degrees of depression and stress, this affects their desire to eat healthily. This starvation can induce depression. Depression in PTSD is experienced at different levels of severity. In teens, depression includes feelings of excessive worry, guilt and thoughts of self-harm. By adding Vitamin B12 to your child’s daily nutritional habits — which plays a role in producing the chemicals involved in regulating mood — you can decrease their chances of getting the blues associated with post-traumatic stress. Combined with a nutritious diet, your child could begin to feel better faster.

    If your child has sleeping anxiety brought on by trauma, Holistic Online recommends vitamins B1, B3 and B6 help to calm your child’s nerves to help induce sleep. These vitamins are significant for metabolizing nutrients from food so your child has energy during the day and can relax and fall asleep at night.

    Research has also demonstrated a link between low levels of vitamin B9, or folate, and depression. “Some studies show that 15 to 38 percent of people with depression have low folate levels in their bodies, and those with very low levels tend to be the most depressed,” according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.

    Good sources of B1

    You can find B1 in these foods: beef, liver, dried milk, nuts, oats, oranges, pork, eggs, seeds, legumes, peas and yeast.

    Good sources of B3

    Four excellent sources of B3 include tuna, chicken, turkey, and crimini mushrooms. Others include We see legumes, root vegetables and leafy greens, cantaloupe, sunflower seeds, and grains (brown rice, barley).

    Good sources of B6

    Sources of vitamin B6 include fish, beef liver and other organ meats. For plant-based sources, seek out non-citrus fruits like bananas and starchy vegetables like chickpeas and potatoes.

    Good Sources of B9

    B9 occurs naturally in a wide variety of vegetables, particularly dark leafy greens. Other plants with high levels of folate include asparagus, avocado, beans, broccoli, brussels sprouts, okra and peas.

    Good Sources of B12

    You can find B12 in a red meat,like liver, and fish, like mackerel, sardines and salmon.  It’s also present in dairy products like milk, swiss cheese and yogurt.

    In time, your child’s feelings of anxiety, fear, emptiness, guilt and hopelessness following a traumatic event will start to fade. With your help in the kitchen, you can make sure that their brains can sustain the challenge of growing past the hurts while still allowing your child to function as normally as possible. If your child’s traumatic stress reactions escalate and get in the way of his or her ability to function at school or home, or if he or she begins to show significant weight loss and lethargy from a lack of nutrition, seek help from a mental health professional—preferably a trauma specialist.