How do you feel when your child gets sick? Worried? Paranoid? Helpless? Imagine this mix of emotions intensified to a whole new level in the wake of a pandemic...
2 years post COVID, you may feel a little more relaxed about the whole situation. But there is still a nagging sense of worry every time your little ones catch the sniffles.
Did you turn to social media channels seeking information? I certainly did… Like me you must have typed "how to improve my child's diet" or “ways to boost my child’s immunity” 100 times since 2019 yet THAT hasn’t stopped other viruses and germs from entering your doors. Am I right?
As the mother of a 4-year-old, it is scary and frustrating to have little to no control over when and how my child gets sick. Besides that, dealing with sick children in my daily work, I started asking myself the following questions:
Why do some kids get sick more often than others?
What can I do to better protect my child and my little patients?
As a Practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine, also known as TCM, and more importantly, as a mother, I focus on taking advantage of the things that I can control to improve the holistic wellbeing of my child.
It is believed in Chinese Medicine that the body is protected by its own external defense energy called the “Wei Qi”. The stronger the Wei Qi of the body is, the better its ability to fight off impending viruses.
So, what exactly can you do to strengthen the Wei Qi and boost your child’s natural ability to ward off diseases? Keep scrolling down and I will uncover simple ways to take charge of your child’s health.
Your Child’s Immune System - “Wei Qi” Explained
TCM is not just about germs but it’s also about how strong your body is at the time of contact. Think of your body as a house and the germs being burglars trying to get in. Your house must be secured and sealed in order to keep the burglar out.
Some burglars are more persistent than others and end up getting in anyway. After all getting sick is part of the normal growth and development of a child and you can’t avoid that completely.
What you CAN avoid is one infection chasing the other and the severity in the case your child does catch a bug.
When strengthening a child’s immune system or Wei qi, I like to think of his overall health as a beautiful puzzle with many pieces. Each piece represents an action that you can do to keep your child healthy.
Some puzzle pieces that can contribute to your child’s overall health are adequate sleep and rest, healthy diet, stress management, vitamins and supplements intake as well as enough exercise in fresh air. Just focusing on one puzzle piece at a time will make your chances of keeping the burglar away already much higher.
One puzzle piece that is very important is nutrition. This aspect holds a special place in the work I do with kids.
Maybe you are asking yourself now, “How can nutrition play such an important part in your child’s immune health?” Well, continue reading, I have another TCM insight I would like to share with you.
The connection of immune health (Wei Qi) and your child's nutrition
In Chinese Medicine, the spleen is THE organ that is mainly responsible for digestion. She is responsible for extracting all the nutrients (Qi) from your child's diet and distributes them to all the other organs throughout the body. Therefore, we often refer to the spleen as the middle or the core because she holds our whole body together.
In TCM, the lungs and the immune system are closely related. If the lungs are strong, the Wei Qi will be strong as well. And who plays an important role in keeping the lungs strong? Right, the spleen.
How do I improve my child's diet?
Unfortunately, not all food choices are equally well suited to provide us with the right amount of nutrients we need. Many food choices are low in nutrients and are hard to digest. It is very difficult for the spleen to extract the nutrients she needs to feed the other organs. in effect, she’ll completely exhaust herself, leading to a weak digestive system. Thus, the entire body suffers, leading to many complex illnesses in the future.
As a parent, you only want the best for your child. Many parents feel unsure of their decisions and are often affected by the promises of nutritional trends.
How can you improve your child's diet and build a healthier life for your child? Read on.
Dietary Change No. 1: Eliminate refined sugar or simple carbohydrates
Simple sugars like glucose, refined sugar, and fructose decreases the ability of your white blood cells to “eat up” viruses and bacteria that are trying to get into your body by 50%! And that effect lasts for at least 5 hours!
Sugar is a form of carbohydrate that maintains energy and body function. Active and energetic children have developing bodies that demand a high number of calories and nutrients.
Our goal is to get those needed carbohydrates from vegetables, fruits and whole grains,. We avoid intake of simple sugars like in sweets, cereal, pasta, bagels, doughnuts or bread. Vegetables, fruits and whole grains contain many other nutrients like vitamins and minerals,. They play an important role in boosting the immune system as well.
In Chinese Medicine, the sweet taste is associated with the spleen and is the source of Qi. Carrots and pumpkins are healthier alternatives but are still naturally sweet tasting. Getting your child to start healthy eating habits at a young age will make them more receptive to new tastes, explorative in their choices and healthier and happier in the long run.
All the recipes I share and my expert recommendations will focus more on all the nutrients needed for your child's diet and overall health.
Dietary Change No. 2: Reduce or eliminate dairy
A lot of us have grown up believing that drinking milk helps you grow strong bones and healthy teeth.
Milk consumption is a hotly controversial topic in the nutrition world. Some say that milk is packed with nutrients like calcium, Vitamin D, Potassium and Vitamin B 12.
But several studies suggest that in fact physical activity and exercise are the main factors in bone growth, and NOT milk intake.
Although milk is a good source of calcium, other healthier foods also provide the same amounts of calcium or even more. On the contrary, calcium inhibits the absorption of iron, which means drinking too much milk and using dairy products for cooking can lead to anemia, a serious childhood nutritional concern.
When it comes to Vitamin D, there are many natural food sources available such as salmon, egg yolk, mushrooms but sunlight remains as the best source of all.
Protein in cow’s milk is made up of 2 types of protein: casein and whey protein. Both are considered high-quality proteins BUT are very difficult to digest for humans, especially for little ones. Moreover, cow's milk does not promote the build-up of the intestinal mucosa and flora in children, which highly increases the risk of allergies.
But there is a healthier option and that is goat’s milk, which I absolutely recommend to you from my own experience. It is the best alternative to breastmilk, much easier to digest, supports the gut microbiota and is generally not allergenic.
The recipes that I will be sharing with you are free of cow’s milk or dairy and can either be prepared with goat’s milk or plant milk, like almond milk, as a substitute.
Dietary Change No. 3: Stay away from processed foods
What does “processed food” actually mean?
“Processed” can be in the form of a snack bar or a ready-to-serve meal, added with refined sugar, salt, flavorings, and stabilizers to extend shelf life.
Processed food contains additives, preservatives, and chemical ingredients that rob the body of nutrients.
On the contrary, homemade foods are usually rich in nutrients to support healing, reduce inflammation, and increase our resilience to illness. They impact the gut leading to a healthy, well-functioning immune system, digestive system, and stronger resistance to diseases.
Poor quality of food leads to conditions such as nutrient deficiencies, inflammation, diabetes, and general unwellness.
Healthy eating habits lead to better nutritional awareness and food choices. Processed food preferences equate to unhealthy long-term desires for the rest of their lives.
Which will you choose?
Make the Impossible Possible
You might be thinking, “Is it really possible to remove these 3 things from my child’s diet?”. Being a mother is overwhelming in itself and to create a healthy nutritional lifestyle seems sometimes impossible.
But I assure you, IT IS POSSIBLE. You just have to follow some simple guidelines, which you will master in a heartbeat.
Take my Free Pediatric Body Balance Assessment to find out your child's Balance Archetype and we will take a life changing journey, leading to a healthier and happier life with your family.
So, if you are ready to take the first step on your child’s journey to better health, then go ahead and take my Free Pediatric Body Balance Assessment.
After taking the quiz, I’ll send you a beautiful pdf guide to offer you more clarity on how to proceed with improving your child's health. I’ll share 3 simple actions you can take right now to start rebalancing your child’s body today and help her build a strong immune system.
Being a parent of a child who constantly gets sick isn’t easy. But with the right help, I believe you are strong enough to help your child overcome his health problems, really soon.