Pass the Herbs & Feed the Brain

We are what we eat – as the saying goes. And for individuals with mental health issues, the statement rings even louder.  After much trial and error through the years, here’s how I feed my children’s brains.

We are what we eat.

For starters, too many simple carbohydrates – the kind without any fiber – quickly turn to sugar in my children’s bodies. With that physiological change, their brains function less effectively. 


Not surprisingly, most after-school snacks became a recipe for disaster. Thirty minutes later they were hungry – again. As they struggled to focus on homework and then suffered from insomnia at bedtime, I knew something had to give.

I found nuts and seeds to be a much better option – especially those high in magnesium which support nerve function. Here’s a ten 10 list.  Although magnesium can be taken in supplements, real food is always a better choice. 

How about a salad with leafy greens and hard-boiled egg? Several of mine took the bite and soon wanted one every day after school. I am glad to oblige and stop the rants. 


As far as junk food, we’ve long avoided it – especially anything filled with artificial flavors and colors. Have you ever compared the ingredients on Doritos to plain chips? I was amazed at the two lists. In fact, I’m convinced that food chemicals interfere with my children’s psychotropic medication. 

A mid-week stop at McDonald’s years ago left a lasting impression. After a hectic afternoon of doctor appointments, we grabbed a bag a burgers – adding veggies and fruit at home. The following day my three youngest sons were in principal’s office, all within 30 minutes of each other. 

herbs4The Happy Meal turned out to be just the opposite.

Even with a strict diet and multiple medications, two of my sons still struggled – especially in the late afternoon and evening. I came to hate that time of day.

Following directions was nearly impossible. One rocked in his chair while talking nonstop – ceaseless chatter with one inane question after another. The other fixated on things he couldn’t do.

They – and everyone else in the home – needed relief.

After hearing parents rave about essential oils applied to the skin – which are herbs, I did some reading. That’s when I decided to incorporate more herbs in our diet. Would they have an equal or greater effect once digested?

Since salads are a part of our evening meal, I started making homemade dressing from olive oil, vinegar and lots of herbs – mostly oregano and basil that grow abundantly in pots outside the back door. With the change, they avoid the “over-the-top obnoxious stage” and sleep more sound – which benefits our morning routine.  


Because my kids respond well to oregano, I use it like other people use salt. It’s great on eggs and can be added to almost any sauce. Rosemary and chives make potatoes delicious.

Here’s a list of herbs to try. Hopefully, one of more can be added to foods without too much fuss. Hopefully, your results will mirror my own. 


At meal time we have the choice.

I say “pass the herbs and feed the brain.”

They are a natural way to produce and maintain a sense of calm.  DCP


Craig Peterson publishes EACH Child every Tuesday. To subscribe, open this link and “Like” the page. EACH Child is Special: Working Smarter Not Harder to Raise Every ONE

To follow Craig’s progress in writing a book about raising his six children with special needs, click here: Adopting Faith: A Father’s Unconditional Love

To follow his son Andrew’s inspiring story, “Like” his special Facebook page. Andrew Peterson Goes for the Gold


One thought on “Pass the Herbs & Feed the Brain

  1. Thanks, Craig. I’m going to try this with my FAS 17 year old daughter. We already do some of this, but growing herbs is a great idea.

    Keep up the good work!

Leave a Reply