Whether your kids are venturing back out to school or not, these tips will help as you navigate 'back to school.'
Some of the things you may have been seeing while your kids were home:
yawning by 10 am
lack of focus
skin irritations and outbreaks
dark circles under the eyes
chronic runny noses
spacing out during conversations
sassy attitudes in response to directives
disruptive behaviors that take time away from family time
Many of these will continue when kids go back to school. None of us want to hear or see any of these things in our kids, right?
So, what can we do to help or support our child that we’re not already doing? Feeling judged about our parenting is the worst. Especially right now, when we’re all a little stir crazy and overwhelmed with the added pressures of parenting during so much disruption and change. I know you care. I know how hard it is to care about food and want to make good choices for your family and to navigate just how to get there.
The big question we can be asking ourselves as we head back into the school season is:
How can we cultivate a true habitat for educational digestion and absorption?
I may have just given you the answer in the question: learning is in part due to digestion and absorption. And that brings us right back to the food our kids eat and how their bodies process the key nutrients that help their bodies and brains prepare for learning.
The time is ripe to address some of these issues. In fact, with many of our kids' schooling from home, it might just be the perfect time to do a simple nutrition upgrade!
Here are some key ways to use food as medicine for your kids (and yourself)
Breakfast is the #1 meal to boost your child’s mental acuity and emotional balance…
It’s called breakfast for a reason. The last time your kids ate may have been 8 – 12 hours. The fast is necessary for proper digestion and to give the body a rest from processing. Yet, breaking that fast is equally important. The drop in blood sugar that occurs with the fast leads to mood swings, exhaustion, and cravings, and consumption of sweeter foods.
To avoid these pitfalls, make sure their morning meal (and yours!) has fat, fiber, and protein. This powerful trio will supply steady energy for the brain and body.
Fat is the #1 food category to feed a child’s developing bones and brain.
The brain is 60% fat—it’s the fattest part of your body. And in order to function well, it needs to be fed…fat!
The brain actually uses dietary fat for cell membrane integrity, cell permeability, and building the brain at a structural level.
The brain is key to your child’s ability to perform well on their exams, to understand and process the world around them, to relate to other individuals, and to feel content and at peace, happy and balanced.
The brain is critical to sleeping, eating, and all functions! The brain is a vulnerable organ affected instantaneously by nutritional deficits and imbalances. It needs good fats to perform at its best.
The GOOD fats include:
organic butter from grass-fed cows (if no dairy intolerances)
ghee (clarified butter)
unrefined sesame oil
flax oil (not for cooking)
hempseed oil (not for cooking)
nuts and seeds (if no intolerances)
fats from good quality eggs, beef, and full-fat dairy—if those animal proteins are in your diet and work for the bodies you are feeding
And remember to have some of these good fats for breakfast!
Sugar is not your friend...
The #1 substance that inflames bad moods, challenge bowels, induces asthma, allergies, eczema, and other behavioral struggles are sugar.
Sugar aids in these unwanted outcomes:
immune system repression (whoa, not right now please!)
blood sugar and insulin imbalances
brain function (including its inhibitory effects on serotonin production)
and of course, the teeth!
Sugar has a dis-regulating effect on myriad areas of the body. Reducing sugar intake could very well be the key to your child’s mental or emotional stability.
We all have a sweet tooth to some degree. And there are ways to enjoy something sweet without putting too much stress on your body.
Start by reading labels for ingredients, and making simple treats with some of the healthier sugar options. Below are 2 lists—the sugars to avoid, and the ones to INCLUDE!
Sugars to avoid
cane juice crystals
evaporated cane juice
fruit juice concentrate
high fructose corn
Sugars you can safely INCLUDE:
raw honey (ideally local)
grade B organic maple syrup
coconut or palm sugar
brown rice syrup
clear raw agave, on occasion
fruit and dried fruits (dates make a great sweetener!)
These sweeteners get my stamp of approval for kids for different reasons. Some are just plain whole foods and therefore have some great minerals and nutrients (dates, honey, and maple syrup); some are lower glycemic (like coconut sugar, brown rice syrup, raw agave, and stevia). Using them will allow you to satisfy your child’s sweet tooth without compromising their health.
You might even want to invite your kid to help make the new batch of sweets, or help plan a hearty breakfast. They’re more likely to partake if they’ve participated in the making. And hey, it could even be a fun part of your new schooling routine!