Mmm, yummy ham, turkey, mince tarts, plum pudding with custard – oh yes, lollies and chocolates, pastries and pavlovas – some of the foods we love to celebrate Christmas with.
But how do we help our kids (and ourselves for that matter) celebrate and enjoy the seasonal delights when affected by conditions such as intolerances, allergies and the many diseases that restrict diet? Diabetics need to avoid sugars and certain carbs, celiacs must avoid gluten, asthma and eczema sufferers may need to avoid a list of things, and there are always kids who have a reaction to specifics – such as a certain additive or colouring etc.
Christmas can seem like it’s all too hard with dietary restrictions, especially if you have only recently discovered that your child has a dietary restrictive condition. Really though, by applying common sense and some sound food principles, it’s not so daunting.
Let’s start with some basics:
Number 1 rule for our kiddies in any environment is hydration. Now, water seems very boring when there’s every kind of fizzy drink available. For many, softdrinks and flavoured mineral waters etc. are out of the question. Water is much more fun with a bit of colour or coloured ice. Fresh berries, left to sit for an hour or so, will produce an intense coloured juice, blueberries are great for purple, raspberries and mulberries give great colours also. Vitamised mint produces great colour and flavour. Apple, pear, pomegranate, orange, lemon and lime are always favourites. And not to forget: Good old lemon barley water – always considering though what the restrictions are.
Rule number 2: Refined sugars and carbs feed just about all the nasties – from bacterias, viruses and candida to cancer. So avoid them the best you can.
Rule number 3: Support the liver and gut by avoiding binge eating and drinking (junk food and soft drink for the kids, rich food and alcohol for the parents).
A great measure for the adults is to start and end the day with a juice of carrots, celery, beetroot, and as many greens as you can cram in! At the very least, have a cup of green tea! It could be a bit tricky getting your kids to drink these, however most kids will go a carrot juice or chamomile tea.
Gluten free pastries and bread are readily available. For those who home-prepare foods, basic doughs can be made using rice flour, buckwheat, cultured rice flour, sourdough cultures, common potato, sweet potato, pumpkin, etc. A bit of research will produce variations of this theme, and can be applied even to sweet breads such as gingerbread.
A basic rule when sourcing foods is to look at the additives. In clinic, I find that sulphites and sulphates are common culprits in allergic reactions and unhappy Christmas dinner tummies, then nitrites, nitrates, metabisulphates and sulphur dioxide. These would be the most common additives in a Christmas spread – especially where meats are concerned, as well as most commercial cakes and tarts, etc. A fresh turkey, chook or additive free ham is the better option over ham with additives, especially for young digestive systems.
With Christmas celebrations and heading into the school holidays, a daily dose of vitamin C in water with some lemon juice will make for healthier and happier kids, and B6 and Zinc if they appear a little run down. Being mindful of when children are becoming tired is important, so having adequate rest and sleep will ensure happier times – especially for our little ones.
So with a little research and some discerning choices, you can have your ham and cake and eat it, too!
Author: John Burchell – Naturopath at The Medical Sanctuary – Read more about John here.