“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” — Benjamin Franklin
Are you caught off guard by your child’s illnesses, worried about your child’s health, and frustrated with the disruption to your life and work? You can take back control! Take a look at these 10 ways to keep your child healthy, happy, and whole.
Make Breakfast a Must!
So many kids skip breakfast! Make time in your busy schedule for this meal must. It will give your child the strength to face the day and whatever may come her way. A fuel-deficient body leads to a weaker immune system, and your little one will be less likely to fend off all of those germs that are ready to pounce! And remember to pick healthy choices. Donuts and most cereals are barely one better than no breakfast at all. Go for oatmeal and add fruit or honey for taste. Eggs give a great protein-y boost. Or try a smoothie so you can sneak in all of the food groups. Try a spinach, strawberry, banana, yogurt smoothie, and add nuts or protein powder for oomph.
Pack It! Take Lunches to School
Do you know what your child is eating at school? You can’t walk through the cafeteria line with her! (Believe me, as a teacher — I’ve wanted to!) School lunches are notorious for a lot of the big bads: sugary drinks (What is with the strawberry milk?), refined grains, questionable meat sources, and canned fruits and veggies. Some of the common main course staples are often pizza, corn dogs/hot dogs, hamburgers, and chicken chunks. Understandably, many children opt out of the preserved fruits and veggies and end up with a “diet” like flavored milk, a hamburger, and a cookie (sugar in the milk, cookie, AND hamburger bun!) Not only does this lead to a tremendous sugar high and crash, but it’s damaging to a child’s health. The sugar damages your child’s health, and the lack of nutrients in the rest of the food leaves the child defenseless. Talk with your child and pack a lunch that includes some of your child’s healthy favorites, so she’s not jealous of his buddies’ burgers and cookies!
Healthy Snacks & Healthy Meals
When children tend to get sick, the most frequent culprit is not enough of the right food or too much of the wrong foods. If your school lets your child bring snacks — take advantage! Keep that little body strong with nutrients throughout the day. Fruits and veggies are great and add some cheese or peanut butter or almond butter (if the school allows it). After-school snacks are also a great way to keep your child fueled and healthy. Keep dinner healthy, too, and limit the portion-size of those desserts. If you are a fast-food or TV dinner household, reconsider your options. There are plenty of quick-and-easy food options for busy parents (or those of us who don’t feel like cooking!) Or prepare the food the night before or the weekend before — Voila! Healthy fast food!
Despite our best efforts, a healthy diet is not enough. Because of our current farming and food processing practices, much of our soil is depleted of nutrients, our crops are full of pesticides, and our cows are chock fool of corn and antibiotics. Even “organic” may not mean what we think anymore, and our fruits and veggies have lost much of their nutritional value by the time they make it from the farm to processing to the truck/other transport vehicle to the supermarket to your house to your child’s plate! (You get the picture!) A solution is supplementation — but even this is not an easy answer. Do your research and pick a supplement source that is known for its research, high quality, and strict standards. Start with a multivitamin for your child. A probiotic and Omegas should also be a daily staple. During cold and flu season, add in some extra vitamin C, vitamin D, and a source of interferon (a natural immune-booster). If your child is starting to show symptoms, it’s not too late! Add some alfalfa, garlic, and echinacea to help your child power through.
Why do we drink extra water when we’re sick? It assists the body’s functions and flushes out the bad stuff. Why wait until your child is sick? If your school allows it, have your child bring a water bottle to school. It beats having to ask to go to the water fountain all day, and we all know what lives on those water fountains, anyway! Keep the liquid goodness coming when your child gets home. Switch out the milk (which can actually weaken the immune system) or juice (seems healthy but has a high concentration of sugar!) for a glass of water with a bit of lemon or lime. And NO SODA. Allow a little soda for dessert or don’t allow it at all. These drinks are worse than no liquids at all — your child will dehydrate.
This seems like an obvious one, but it’s worth a mention. Make sure your child is getting regular baths or showers and is frequently washing his hands. Teach your kids how to sneeze into their elbows instead of in their hands or on something — or someone! Make sure your child is brushing and flossing. Watch them do it to make sure they’re not cheating! (And help as needed.)
Keep Track of the Weather
If you live in a location of frequent extremes (sunny and 70 degrees one today and cloudy and 45 degrees the next), keep track of the weather! Make sure your child has the proper gear and is not over or under-dressed, adding extra stress the body. Make sure your child has the correct coat each morning and has a hat, gloves, and boots as needed — and make sure he is actually wearing them!
Sunlight & Exercise
There’s nothing like that boost of natural Vitamin D and fresh air! Encourage your child to be outdoors as much as possible and join her! Go for walks, swim, bike, play ball, or roll in the grass and chase butterflies, but let nature nourish your child. Also be sure to open the windows and let in some air in light as much as possible. Those germs will sit tight in your house in less you let them out! Be sure to get out of the house in cold weather, too. If you’re brave and hearty, bundle up and continue your outdoor excursions. Otherwise, make it a point to leave the house for some indoor excursions. Neither stagnant air nor a stagnant body are good for your child’s health.
Use Natural Cleaners
Besides healthy diet, choice of cleaning products are also a huge factor in your child’s health. Families have healed allergies and asthma through a change in their cleaning regime. Do your research and pick a reputable company with a high-quality product or opt for some natural, homemade remedies. Your child is inhaling those cleaning chemicals from the floors, counters, bathroom, and carpets. Be wary of the laundry products you are using, too.
Check In with Your Child
Your child’s mental or emotional health may also be affecting her physical health. Check in with your child every day. Ask her about her day, about her friends, and about school. A child who is struggling in school may start feeling too ill to go in. Bullying could be another factor, as well as drama and understanding emotions. Create an atmosphere of love, support, and safety for your child. And if the challenging situations are coming from the homefront, don’t be afraid to enlist the help of the school psychologist and social worker. Bottled up feelings and emotions begin to affect the physical body, which can lead to a slew of different problems.
Help Your Child to De-Stress
You have different methods of de-stressing and keeping things from getting to you. Your child can benefit from learning them, too. Show your child what you do to work through challenging situations. Show her how you yell into or punch the pillow, go for a walk/run or work out, journal, and talk to somebody. You may want to get her involved in a practice like martial arts or yoga. Getting in her involved in her passions may also help your child gain better perspective in life and focus more on the positives. Sports, art, theater, writing, dance, music, etc are wonderful creative outlets for your child to help her express, create, and have fun — all at the same time. A healthy, happy mind and spirit lead to a healthy, happy body.
Set the Expectation for Good Health
“Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.” –Henry Ford
Do you believe in cold and flu season? Do you believe it’s inevitable that your child will get sick, and does your child believe it, too? Then, yes, she will! Create a mindset of health. Implement a healthy lifestyle and frequently affirm how healthy you and your child are — even make it an affirmation! (“We are a healthy, happy, whole family.”) It’s hard for us to even fathom how powerful our minds are. As we think, so we become. Set the intention of staying healthy, and create the environment to foster it.
Do you see tips you can use here? You can start implementing one today. Get back on track, and start your child on the path toward perpetual health and wholeness.