Tips for Keeping Your Children Healthy

3 tips from Whole Foods on how to keep your children healthy.

The Tipping List

Food for Thought

Keep your kids healthy the natural way

-Stephanie Elliot

food pyramidWhile it’s thrilling to be back into the school routine, I do fear that first sniffle and sneeze fit that is sure to attack my children. Some nights I lie in bed and think to myself, “Are they coughing in there, or is that my imagination?” In the coming months, when the phone rings during the day, I’ll cringe, expecting it to be the school nurse. Inevitably, the kids are going to get sick.

It’s challenging to keep children healthy during this crazy time of the year, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that nearly 22 million school days are missed in a year alone due to the common cold. While I know I can’t keep my kids rolled up in bubble wrap to keep the germs away, I can take small precautions like getting them flu shots and making sure they wash their hands to limit their sick days.

Here are a few natural and simple tips, provided by Whole Foods that can help keep your children healthy and energized throughout their school year!

1. Hygiene. The CDC says that the single most important thing you can do to keep from getting sick is to wash your hands. When there’s not sink and soap around, use natural hand sanitizers – wipes or gel – with 100 percent pure essential oils.

2. Nutrition. Growing bodies and brains need fiber and nutrients to stay healthy. A child’s health can suffer from too few of these good things and too many sugary, highly processed foods.

The USDA Food Guide Pyramid recommends nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day. One serving size of fruits and veggies for children equals one of the following:

• 1/2 cup juice

• 1 cup raw leafy salad greens

• 1/2 cup chopped raw, canned or cooked fruit or other vegetable

Essential fatty acids, particularly omega-3s, are crucial for development and health of the brain, heart, nervous system, tissues, skin and immune system, especially for school-age children. DHA can be found in fatty cold-water fish like salmon, mackerel and tuna, and in DHA-enriched products like eggs and milk.

What about nutritional supplements? If kids and teens are actually eating nine servings of colorful fruits and veggies – plus foods containing all the other recommended daily nutrients – every day, then they probably don’t need them. But with picky eaters, tight schedules, food allergies and more, they don’t often get what they need. In these cases, supplements might be a good idea. But be careful. While it’s easy to find a fun and fruity multivitamin that kids don’t mind taking each day, it’s the nutrients they need, not loads of sugar or artificial colors and flavors.

3. Rest. Rest, relaxation and sleep are key for handling stress. While moderate stress is normal, the demands of school life can cause stress overload for youngsters and adolescents – and their parents and teachers! Be sure to schedule in downtime and allow for adequate sleep when you’re planning the week.

Kids need more sleep than you might think.

• 3- 6 years old: 10 3/4-12 hours per day

• 7-12 years old: 10-11 hours per day

• 12-18 years old: 8¼-9½ hours per day

Stomachaches, nervousness, trouble sleeping, anger flares or infections may be signs of stress. Fortunately, there are plenty of safe, effective ways to handle it. Breathing deep, exercising, stretching, physical play and homeopathic remedies may help.

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