Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Keeping Kids Healthy at School
Well, we're over a month into the school season and it's starting again...everyone I know has sick kids. Is this an inevitable part of growing up, or is there more we can do to make sure we keep them healthy? Well, I would argue for the latter. Although it's true that children do need to build up their immune systems (partly by learning how to overcome sickness), it IS possible to avoid most of the bugs that get passed around, just by making some positive changes. What might some of those positive changes be? Well, I've got lots of ideas. Too many ideas. But what I'd ask from you is to use the ones that work for you and don't get too overwhelmed trying to change 100% overnight (hi, me). Because the changes that are lasting (and fun!) are the kind that build up and gather momentum over time. Plus, if you make positive changes fun for your kids, you will empower them and make them more likely to want to stick with them long term!
So, here are a few suggestions that work for myself and my 6-yr-old tootsie boots:
1. Ask her teacher if she can have a water bottle at her desk. The teacher should say yes, and then you can make sure your child always has purified water to keep her hydrated throughout the day. Very important.
2. Sneak some goodness into his "water" bottle. In fact, I had a few moms last week thank me for the suggestion of giving their children a healthy smoothie, as they were frustrated at how hungry their kids were during the day. If your bottle isn't see-through, no one will even have to know. Make that smoothie really healthy too by using only pure fruit juice and fruits.
3. Pack your child's lunch. OK, for most of you reading this, you do this already. But I'm surprised at how many kids eat that horrifying school lunch they serve in the cafeteria. Unless you go to an amazing, progressive school, your kid's cafeteria food will likely consist mainly of refined starches, non-organic animal products, and processed junk. Do I sound a little harsh? I'm actually restraining myself. Don't get me started on cafeteria food....
4. Make sure she has a healthy snack that you provide if there is a snack time at school. I am sad to say that I'm pretty much the only parent in my daughter's class that provides a truly healthy snack when it's my turn. Mostly, the snacks consist of cheeze-its, cookies, and other creepy "foods" that are chock-full of hydrogenated oils and artificial ingredients. And, although a snack time might seem like no big deal, remember that she's eating it over 20 times a month. That's way too much junk to try to counteract with an otherwise healthy diet. Oh, and if you make her snack fun & yummy, she'll be happy to have her own and not eat what the other kids eat.....if you.....
5. Educate your children on a healthy diet. Empower them to make informed, healthy choices. Really let them know why they don't want to put junky oils or chemicals in their systems. Get graphic. But not too graphic. You know where to draw the line! Then, tell them about all of the benefits of fruits and veggies. Write down all of their favorite fruits, veggies, and other healthy foods and incorporate them into your weekly meals. Give them the gift of making the best choices for life, as these are the habits they will most likely carry on with...and pass on to your grandkids (gulp).
6. The basics: Make sure they're washing their hands well and always before they eat. When other kids are coming down with something, go into full-on defense mode. Start by pumping their little bodies with a good immune boosting tincture (such as Kid's Immunity--available through my good friend and herbalist, Jennie Blechman). Next, make sure their diet is filled with lots of fruits, veggies, whole foods, and other immune-boosters like miso, kale, and garlic. If you have my book Radiant Health, Inner Wealth, check out the menu suggestions toward the back, as I've actually listed many kid-friendly immune-boosting menu and food suggestions.
7. Have fun and be happy. Laugh. Have a tickle party and/or a dance party with loud, funky music. This one is just as important as everything else, as being joyful and high-spirited will work wonders for you and your child's health.
I hope you enjoyed these tips and will find at least one suggestion useful. Remember, slow and steady wins the race! Just keep doing a little more here and a little more there and you will notice positive changes in all aspects of your life.
I'd also like to add that The Kathleen Show has launched a program called "Prevention Not Prescriptions" aimed at keeping our bodies healthy and less reliant on prescription medicine. It's a wonderful program and more info can be found at: http://www.thekathleenshow.com/Health/PreventionnotPrescriptions/tabid/115/Default.aspx