Entice Your Kids to Eat Healthy
Like seedlings that grow with sunlight and water, young minds and bodies flourish when they receive proper nourishment. So nurture your little ones with a healthy balance in mind. According to Dr. Inna Lukyanovsky, Bestselling Author of "Crohn's and Colitis Fix" and “Digestive Reset,” some “common deficiencies in children are vitamin D and iron. Having a serious vitamin D deficiency can potentially affect the growth of children.” In addition to having your child's D levels tested, especially if you notice slower growth, for those who aren’t vegan or vegetarian, Dr. Lukyanovsky advises incorporating “beef liver, salmon, mackerel and egg yolks,” into your child's diet. However, if you stay clear of animal products, check with your doctor to discuss which D supplement and dosage is best for your child’s needs.
Also essential for a child’s mind/body health, are magnesium and calcium, according to Dr. Lukyanovsky, because they are, “involved in building bones and can help with vitamin D absorption.” What foods can you add to your child's diet to insure they're getting what they need? “Great sources of magnesium include avocado, peanut butter, almonds, bananas and spinach,” and calcium, “include green leafy vegetables and nuts,” recommends Dr. Lukyanovsky.
Kids are always busy. They’re playing. Studying. Daydreaming. And whether it's a sparkly new toy, tee shirt, or junk-food du jour, unless they're mini trendsetters, children often want what their friends have. At times, convincing them to eat healthy can seem trickier than walking a tightrope in stilettos. Especially when their pals are dining on processed foods and gooey sweets. Mindfulness is crucial. So teach your children well. One of the best ways to do that is by turning the dial on your own behavior. Do you want your child to have salad for lunch? Then stick to a healthy diet yourself.
If your habits are not in line with what you ask of your child, most likely you won't be successful. Inadvertently, you'll be demonstrating that unhealthy habits are acceptable because they are good enough for you. However, if you enjoy, and make a point of eating holistic, healthful foods, your child will naturally emulate your choices, if not always, at least part of the time.
Gut health starts early on... Mindful eating and healthy digestion are intertwined. Dr. Lukyanovsky specializes in treating patients for digestive health, and believes it's “important to make sure that kids are relaxed and focused on the meal. When kids are relaxed the digestive enzymes are produced properly, enough of gastric acid is produced and the peristalsis goes smoothly.” So teach your child to cultivate the habit of experiencing the meal, instead of fragmenting attention. Dr. Lukyanovsky says, “The moment there’s stress, like when they eat while typing to make the project’s deadline or eat while doing homework, the process of digestion slows down because the body feels like it’s fight or flight.” Stress causes a ripple effect within the body. “When the digestive process is slowed down, many problems can start like inflammation, malabsorption and constipation,” says Dr. Lukyanovsky. So what else can you do to strengthen your child's digestion? “Start having family meals, no gadgets and talk to your kids,” advises Dr. Lukyanovsky.
Sweets and treats seem like a childhood rite of passage; yet too much sugar early on, is unhealthy for numerous reasons; additionally, chocolate contains theobromine, which makes you feel good, as well as peps you up with small amounts of caffeine. Consider that even tiny doses of these mood inducing chemicals may create big problems on newly-forming bodies. And... even though plant-based foods are considered the healthiest option, when it comes to fruits, that doesn’t mean you can’t overdo. Dr. Lukyanovsky says, “Some parents load their kids plates with lots fruits. Most fruits are high glycemic like melons, papaya, mango, bananas and grapes. If you only feed the fruits as a meal, the blood sugar goes very high and drops really low within a short period of time. And that can potentially create blood sugar instability.” So what's the best way to add fruit to your child's diet? Dr. Lukyanovsky suggests, “You can add berries, and decrease the amount of fruit and add nuts or seeds.”
What if you want to help your child cut down on sugar altogether? Inflammation expert, author of The Clean Eating Kid, Jenny Carr, recommends three steps to curb your child's sugar cravings: “1) Drink a large glass of water. This stabilizes blood sugar levels and distracts from the craving. 2)Eat 10-20 grams of clean protein. This also stabilizes your blood sugar level and helps fill you up. 3) Grab a clean treat as mentioned above or from one of these free recipes in Peace Of Cake: The Secret To An Anti-Inflammatory Diet.” For additional options, check out, BBC's Goodfood 21 snacks for kids, and these vegan Instagram moms for plant based recipe ideas. Keep in mind: Unhealthy foods are often presented in cute, and ultra appealing ways. Jenny says, “Kids are living in a society where 90% of their foods come in packages, containers or boxes... The key to getting kids to enjoy the taste of vegetables is to create a more alkaline environment in their system. First step to doing this is not to focus on vegetables, but rather identify the top 5 most inflammatory foods (processed sugar, wheat, refined oils, GMOs and cow dairy) and swap them out for options that taste similar but don't inflame.”
Mind/body health begins in childhood. According to Jenny, what's most important is “we teach our youngest generation to connect to their body and listen to what it says.” How do you teach that to your son or daughter? “If a child eats cake and his/her tummy hurts, we want to connect how they are feeling with foods their body is saying that it doesn't like,” advises Jenny. So do your best to lead with a positive mindset... Show children to come from empowerment, instead of falling victim to symptoms once they arise. Jenny says, “Once they have learned how to listen to their body and connect their symptoms with inflammatory foods, the key is to offer them lots of delicious and fun, anti-inflammatory swaps.”
So have fun with holistic foods: cut veggies into playful shapes like square and stars will make them more fun to reach for. And ask children to help out with recipes, teaching them self reliance skills. when it's time to prepare meals, let your child in on the experience. Snag one-on-one bonding time, and talk to him/her about the foods you choose; discuss where they come from and what makes each unique. Offer a taste while preparing. Munching on sprig of parsley or grape tomato, will go a long way in kindling your child's interest in healthy eating. Allow room for curiosity to bloom... Show your child the natural beauty behind each food. How does broccoli grow? If you put kale and bananas in a blender, what does that taste like? Enliven the imagination, and your child's senses. In addition to creating cherished memories, you’ll show your little one the importance of taking charge of their health.