Gail Joan Cohen
Good basic nutrition will make a difference for you and your children. It will make a difference in how physically healthy we are and also how we behave. Our bodies struggle to digest foods that do not nourish us. This takes energy away from other things that we ask our bodies to do. We ask our brains to think. We ask our cells to get rid of germs. We ask our hearts to beat and our arms and legs to move. We ask our eyes to see and our nose to smell. We ask our digestive system to function smoothly. In order for all of these systems to work we must feed our bodies’ good, healthy food. We would not ask our automobiles to run on soda pop and caffeine. We give them a grade of gasoline that we know will work best. Why do we expect that we can thrive on caffeine and sugar and chemicals?
Feed your children what they need to nourish them. Use whole foods whenever possible. Children may need vitamins or other supplements. There are many cookbooks available today that provide healthy and tasty meals and snacks. Fruits and raw vegetables make wonderful snacks. Another suggestion is popsicles made from whole fruit juices.
So, how do you get your children to eat the foods we want them to eat? If our children are already addicted to sugar it will not be an easy task. If we stop sugar totally and suddenly, even if the child is willing, the child will go through withdrawal. I would suggest that you stop slowly by substituting other foods. If you bake, you can slowly decrease the amount of refined sugar in your baked goods. You can start to incorporate whole grain flowers into your baking. Make raw fruit and vegetable snacks more available. Cut them into interesting bite size pieces or put them together with a toothpick. Vegetables can be incorporated into soups and gravies. If your children do not like pieces in their soup or gravy, try putting it in the blender to make it smooth. All kinds of vegetables can be hidden in other things.
Teach your children about nutrition and healthy eating. Tell them that this food will make them kick better at soccer or help them to make better chess moves. Explain that eating this vegetable will contribute to better grades. Make the food tasty and interesting. Children like bite size pieces and foods with toothpicks in them. Many children like dipping in sauces or gravies. Most children like bland foods. Find the methods that appeal to your children. Not all children are alike. Sometimes children like to make their own foods and will more readily eat what they have made themselves.
Some children may want only one food at a time. Some children may not want foods mixed together. Some children may not like certain foods. Where possible give in to these preferences. As long as our children are getting good nourishment throughout the day, it is okay. As the child matures, he will eat more foods in more combinations. Make mealtime fun and relaxed. This is not the time to punish or reprimand.
In addition, some children cannot tolerate certain foods. These foods can affect their digestive system and/or their behavior. Many of us cannot digest dairy products and many cannot tolerate gluten or grain products. Often, sprouted grains will be more easily digested. There has been an increase in autism, ADD, ADHD, asthma and many other childhood problems. It has been suggested that there is a link to these problems and the foods we are eating. Try eliminating some of these foods for two weeks to see if it makes a difference.
If your child is overly active, reduce the processed and sugary foods and see if that makes a difference. Sugar has many different names like corn syrup and molasses. They all can be problems. Especially eliminate these foods before bedtime. Some children cannot even tolerate fruit at bedtime because of the high sugar content. Fruit could keep them from falling asleep easily.
Some children do not have the enzymes necessary to fully digest food. This can manifest as digestive problems like diarrhea, nausea, constipation or breathing problems or behavior problems. There are many different kinds of enzymes. There are many good resources available for information on enzymes. They are vital to our health.
If your child has digestive problems or behavior difficulties, check out the food allergies or sensitivities and try digestive enzymes. I will not go into the different enzymes or food sensitivities or allergies here. I just wanted to bring awareness of this subject. If your child has difficulties, check out this area first. There are some very good books on these subjects. Also, check with your doctor or healthcare provider.
Make food eating fun and informative. Get your children involved. Eat for health. Your whole family will benefit. That does not mean you must give up sweeter treats entirely. Just make them a special treat and not the rule.