Have you ever considered how many parties and other festivities your children attend annually?
If you consider the number of birthday parties, festivities for Easter, Christmas and Halloween etc let alone any number of other celebrations, it gives rise to the many opportunities for our little people to be consuming BIG amounts of potentially health impacting foods.
As Christmas (like Easter) coincides with holidays, some conscious forward planning can make the whole experience easier and happier for all.
Children are like food pictures. Give them a bright red sugar filled, colour and additives bomb and watch them explode into bouncy, colorful creatures adding mischief and tantrums to any situation. Give them processed fast foods made with long stored and preserved produce and watch them loose motivation and gain non useful weight (foods that are long stored, tend to be put into long term storage in our bodies).
The foods that children consume have a huge bearing on the outcome of general health, fitness, motivation, weight, behaviour, demeanor, attitude etc.
It has been well observed that diet has a major effect on brain function and behaviour.
We all wish for a happy Christmas, but in practice I so often hear parents in dread of children being home for the extended period of the holidays.
To quote a recent parents’ account of a young son, “all he’ll eat is chips with sauce and keep asking for lollies or to watch T.V. or play on his ipad. When he’s not doing that, he’s taking it out on his brother or me”
So to plan a happy Christmas, there are a few general rules to apply:
- Have set times when the telly might go on.
- Have some rules and conditions around when other electronic media might be used and for what time duration. Monitor what they are doing on media.
- Have some structure and routine for activities, meals, outings, friends over etc.
- Make time for running around, building stuff, pulling stuff apart, playing dress ups, blowing bubbles, chasing rainbows, digging for pots of gold, riding, skating, swimming, bouncing on trampolines, climbing trees (falling out of trees),generally burning off energy and having fun developing social and physical skills.
- Musical activities are often over looked and are very engaging and well researched in improving mental skills and co ordination, Put it in the routine.
The rule of thumb is to every 20 minutes of brain focused activity kids need around an hour of physical activity. Make meal times quiet and restful, with no media distractions and make a routine of setting the table or laying out the picnic blanket etc.
When it comes to meals, remember overfed and over stimulated kids can become challenging.
Children are generally drawn to sweet and salty. The number one rule where sugary or salty foods are increased is to increase WATER. Ensuring kids are well hydrated is one of the easiest measures to a happy Christmas, and that applies to adults too!
In the short term salty foods are the lesser evil in terms of challenging behaviour. Sugar, refined carbs, food additives and preservatives and the like may well cause you grief, so best avoided!
Children will benefit from occasional supplementation of zinc, B groups, Vit C and minerals such as magnesium. Proteins and complex carbs are essential. Encourage your kids to be part of the preparation and cooking of meals, cakes, bickies and slices etc. This in itself is a great activity. Help the kids prepare a veggie patch, they’ll love harvesting and chomping on snow peas and carrots etc. Drinks made using citrus juices, pear juice, mint, chamomile, just as examples are refreshing and calming.
Words by John Burchell – Integrative Health Practitioner @ The Medical Sanctuary