Monday, September 12, 2016

What Kids Should Eat or Drink When They're Sick

The other day I was with my youngest son, Alexander, at the doctor's office. He had developed crazy red boil-like bumps on the underside of his thigh, and smaller red bumps had begun spreading down his legs and onto his feet, and also around his mouth. Slightly concerned, I rounded up my herd and off we went.

Diagnosis? Hand Foot and Mouth (which...can I comment now that that is quite possibly the worst name I've ever heard for a virus???). Because it's a virus, there is "no suggested protocol to help him heal" said the Doctor.

Let me interrupt for a minute.
As a Mama and a Holistic Nutritionist, can I provide you this advice?
When someone tells you there is nothing you can do to help your child's health, don't ever believe them. What they actually mean to say is "I don't have a pill that will fix this." When it comes to health, there are many ways to empower you, as a Mama and to support your child's well-being. This post is one of many designed to provide you information and tools to enable you to enhance the health of your child.
Okay, on with the story.

With Alexander's decreased appetite, she did however, suggest I try getting him to eat as much as possible. She suggested things such as yogurt, ice cream and Jell-O.

Insert gasp here.

As a RHN and a health advocate, this type of advice pains me yet I never know how to navigate these situations.
Do I take those moments as opportunities to educate?
Do I shut up and accept her help, and follow my own protocol in silence?
Do I offer to sit down with her and suggest better ideas and resources to provide her patients?
I never want to offend, yet I always want to empower and educate.
Now this doctor was a lovely, lovely lady and I absolutely appreciated her expertise and kindness she showed us. I am grateful for the medical community and the access we have to life saving resources.

My questioning always comes from three places:
1. The nutritional advice that comes with minimal education in the field
2. The approach of getting rid of a symptom rather than addressing the root cause of the concern at hand.
3. The need to silence these symptoms instead of using them as a compass toward the answers

Sorry. I digress. Again.

As I was leaving her office I wondered to myself how many times I've heard advice like this. Not just from the medical field, but from other Moms or from strangers throughout my travels with my three children. I assume you have too. Perhaps you've even followed this advice. Or given this advice. Only a few short years ago I may have followed this advice myself, assuming a doctor would know and fearing the outcome if I didn't follow her suggestions.

Here's what I know now:

1. Sugar (such as Jell-O)
Sugar suppresses the immune system. Just one tablespoon of sugar can supress the immune system for up to 6 hours. So when our children are sick, you can see why feeding them with ginger ale, Jell-O, ice cream or popsicles is a terrible idea! Maybe it feels good for their throat BUT it is also allowing their illness to either worsen or lengthen. Perhaps even BOTH!

2. Dairy.
There is the argument that yogurt contains probiotics which are hugely beneficial to the immune system. Yes, I agree that probiotics are amazing, we use them every day. But...many yogurts have probiotics added before heat processing, rendering them inactive. Also most yogurts are loaded with sugar, which will suppress the immune system. Dairy products are vey congesting in the body, create acidity and most people's bodies cannot process dairy. Also, if purchasing anything other than organic dairy, you will expose your body to pesticides, fertilizers and antibiotics. For these reasons and because of their sensitivities, I don't give my kids yogurt. (stay tuned for a post on how to find the best yogurt option if your kids do love yogurt)

So what's a Mama to do?

What if you could provide your child something soothing to them but also something that will provide their bodies nutrients equipped to fight off illness, recover faster and boost their immune system? I assume you're saying "heck yeah!" right now so I shall continue with a few options:

1. Smoothies
Smoothies are such a great way to load your child's body with goodness. Here are some of my favourite ingredients to include and why. You can scroll to the bottom of this page to find a simple recipe you can make for your child.

Greens are packed with antioxidants which help in boosting the immune system. Adding a handful of spinach into a smoothie won't affect the taste at all

Berries are also packed with antioxidants and phytonutrients, both necessary to boost the immune system.

Citrus Fruits
For my son, citrus should be avoided because the rash could enter his mouth, which would be quite painful if mixed with the acidity that citrus fruits give off. Otherwise citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruit or kiwi provide Vitamin C, carotenoids and flavonoids.

Essential Fatty Acids
EFAs are required for the immune system to fight infections, yeast and bacteria.
The best sources of EFA that can easily be incorporated into a smoothie includes avocado, hemp seed, flax seed or flax seed oil,

2. Popsicles
Kids love popsicles and it's one of the first things they request when they have a sore throat. But an average popsicle contains 10 grams of sugar, meaning it has the ability to suppress the immune system for hours. At our house we make our own and it's simple:

First, purchase some popsicle moulds
Next, when you make a smoothie, double the recipe, and pour the extra into the moulds
That's it. Talk about simple.

3. Warm soup

This comes to mind especially because we are entering the Fall season. When bodies are fighting off something, providing them food in liquid form is ideal. This way the digestive system doesn't have to work so hard, sending that energy into healing instead. Soups can providing an abundance of nutrients depending on what you put into it. It's as simple as pouring an organic veggie broth into a crockpot and adding in garlic (great health supporter), veggies, beans and rice. Full of nutrients, protein, fiber and minerals.

4. Homemade ice cream
What kid doesn't like ice cream? Conventional ice creams are full of the two things I avoid when my kids aren't well: dairy and sugar. So, we make our own!

All you need to do is take 1 cup of frozen fruit (either a single type or you can mix) and place in your high speed blender with a tiny bit of nut milk or water and voila! Ice cream. Our favourite around here is a frozen banana mixed with a bit of almond milk. It's delicious and sweet enough on it's own. Get creative and think of the flavours you can create: strawberry banana, mango banana, blueberry banana...the list is endless. I typically put banana in our because of it's sweetness but it's certainly not necessary!

So I hope that gives you some good ideas on what to give your child when he or she is sick. This information isn't child-specific, it all applies to adults as well, so feel free to embrace all these ideas when you aren't feeling your best either.

Cheers to good health!
xo Rachel

Simple Immune Boosting Smoothie

2 cups water
1 handful spinach
1/2 frozen banana
1/2 cup frozen mango
1 orange
1/2 cup frozen raspberries
1 Tbsp. flax oil

Blend and Enjoy!

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