What we feed our children now will directly impact how healthy they are later in life. As parents we have the ability to prevent future illness and disease by preparing their bodies for life ahead. What I hope to give you in this article is an understanding of your child's health so that you can start building a healthy foundation today.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine it is viewed that children's bodies are immature and therefore inherently weak. By viewing your child as just that - a child, it may better allow you to understand the workings of their fragile body and immune system. Children are highly susceptible to diseases, colds, flus, allergies, asthma and much more, but when the root cause of their ailment is addressed, they are more likely to recover. This is why I was stressing in Part 1 to understand signs and symptoms as well as learn to read your child's body language so that you may find that root cause sooner than later.
To begin with: YOU control what your child eats. I strongly believe that. While I understand that pickiness is common among children you can still mitigate health risks by removing processed foods, cereals, sugar, any deep fried or unnatural items. I know I cannot shelter my son from the world, but I can and will do my best to make things easier on his growing body. One of our family traditions is not having a birthday cake. While a lot of people will be upset about suggesting that one, I want you to reflect on why that bothers you so much. My son didn't care and neither did any of his friends. Instead, I made (and by made I mean ordered) some mini custom morning glory muffins for the children which they all loved by the way. Every single one of them. By choosing to remove sweets, and reduce their intake on processed, prepackaged foods you are actively taking better steps towards their health.
If your daycare provides food, or other family members are feeding them on your behalf, work with them to try and supplement their food intake so you know what kind of nutrients they are getting at the end of the day. You must be proactive!
Don't give up: I know feeding children can be tough. I have one of my own and I have seen him fluctuate in his likes or dislikes, but here me when I say this - he only knows what has been shown to him so start now in cutting off the bad and introducing them to new healthy foods.
This may mean you have to get creative and persevere. Perhaps even think like a child again? For example: I wanted to start getting my son eating more vegetables so I would blend his eggs, onions, spinach and red pepper into the blender for breakfast before frying them up. We would eat and read "green eggs and ham" together. This worked well for us. Not only that, it is a 5 minute meal so it takes relatively no time to prep and cook.
Look at your own health: As parents it is time to look inward. If you are struggling with food choices yourself, there is a very likely chance your child will be as well. Habits are hereditary. It is important we transcend past the ways that we have been taught and start breaking out of the comfort zone and into a new way of life that is more beneficial for the future, as well as our planet. Culturally this can be a tough one. We have to get past our emotions and go deep to learn our personal connections with food. I have experienced clients burst into tears because their own struggle was so deep rooted. They knew inside that they had to get past their traumas, insecurities and food addictions in order to move forward. Just know this is all a part of the process. I truly believe having a child called me to live a better life. To stop running from fears and instead face them head on.
One way you can begin is by challenging yourself to throw out all of the junk food! Get rid of what no longer serves your best interest and build an environment for better habits. The sooner you get started the better for everyone involved.
Push through the push back: You are going to get retaliation. Perhaps from your child, partner or even in-laws. It always starts within the family core and slowly trickles its way out, but understand it is only their insecurities that are coming through. By choosing to eat healthier and say NO to something, often makes the other person feel uncomfortable because they then have to look at what they are eating, or feel bad about their own health choices. People will try and sabotage the process by feeding your kid sweets behind their back or make comments that can even be hurtful to you. I see this over and over again. Know this: food is a VERY sensitive subject and not many people will change their eating habits without a fight, but I hope you feel your child's health is worth fighting for.
Removing sweets from your child's diet does not make you less fun, or mean.
You are protecting their health.
A little goes a long way: Your child has an incredible ability to heal themselves. When you start getting back on track your child's body will jump into repair mode! Again, I repeat, your child has an incredible ability to heal themselves (as in younger years). The longer you wait the harder it becomes. By no means stop just because your son or daughter is 14, but know there is a difference in the repair process and things can take longer. You may also have more of a push back as they get older but it is still crucial for the years ahead.
Supplementation: If your child is unable to eat a healthy balanced diet, look at supplementation as an option for the short term. In fact, even if your child eats well, it is still ok to look at supplementing with these extra sources. The list below is great help for immune system, but know it is not a one size fits all - consult a physician if you are unsure of what your child may be ok with.
Vitamin D3 - this is a great supplementation for helping your child grow healthy bones, have a healthy heart and a good immune system. It is especially important to look at supplementing through the winter months as the children will not be getting enough sun. Very few foods have Vitamin D naturally, but if you were to add that into the diet you would find it in fatty fish, oranges, liver, cheese and egg yolks.
Manuka honey - this one is probably the easiest to get your child to eat! It is great for its anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties, which as most parents know is something we need to combat, especially for the younger daycare kids! You can turn it into a soothing drink, apply it to rashes, or eat it off of a spoon. What is difference between Manuka and regular honey? It is specifically made for a Manuka tree and is known to have a much higher concentration of natural antibiotic compounds.
Bone broth - This gelatin-rich food will help contribute to strong bones, tendons and connective tissues as your child grows. Feel free to drink this one yourself or if you are pregnant! Homemade bone broth is also rich in glycine, college and folate, which again, will help build everything from the gut lining to the bones and skin.
The good fats - try to add coconut and olive oil into your child's diet whenever possible. Cooking on a low heat is best. Avocados, fish oils, nuts and seeds are also great sources of DHA and help with your child's brain development and cognitive function. As a mother, you should also look at replenishing your "brain food" post pregnancy. During the last trimester your baby will be taking a lot to build its brain and often leave you with little to work with (hello another reason for brain fog!).
Is your child getting enough: I would encourage you to stop and take a look at your child's diet. MyFitnessPal is good for more than just adults! It can help you track the macro nutrients (protein-carb-fat) of your kids diet so you can see where you may need to implement some changes. Try this out and let me know what you see!
Help is the first step: While yes, I am more than happy to pick up more family clients, this is not what my post is for. I honestly don't care who you reach out to, I only care that you DO. A few hundred dollars a year can save you thousands in the future by getting to know your child just a little bit more through their health.
Many of you are probably caught up in what to feed them, how to go about doing it, and when you will find the time to plan and prep it all out. It can be paralyzing, and instead of taking action you are stuck in an apprehensive state. Don't stay there. Reach out! It is my job to create these programs and help with assessments and implementation for you and your family. There are so many wonderful dieticians, nutritionist, naturopaths and physicians out there and it is important to make use of them all. NOTE: many benefits packages are now covering these services, even if it is partial. Look into what your work offers you and make use of it!
Even as a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, I recently took my son to a naturopath to get his blood panel done for allergy testing. This is outside of my scope of practise, but I view this as something that is extremely important to have completed. We are lucky to live in Canada and have our health care covered, but that can also make things challenging since medical staff are over burdened with an ever increasing population that is in need of care. This is why I strongly believe we have to start taking health into our own hands, paying the money when and where needed and start recognizing that we must BE THE CHANGE.
In the next week I will be sharing recipes for children online through instagram: @inwardtoithaka should you want to join the tribe and ask questions as I go along! Lets get connected and do this together!