Health: Kids wellness and back to school
Hold your breath parents – school is here. I imagine that there is a good deal of the usual scurrying about town. Backpacks need to be purchased. Books, papers, pencils, computers and clothes need to be sorted out. Lots of people feel surprised when the school year arrives and that means that kids are no exception. I understand how difficult it is to sort through all of the information that parents and kids are bombarded with these days. Kids get colic, sore throats, ear infections, fevers, depression and anxiety, and that means any number of potentially excessive recommendations for Tylenol, antibiotics or ADHD medications. They feel the shock to their system as much as you do. It is the perfect opportunity to create the routines and systems needed for you to have the healthiest kids possible this school year.
The simplest way to keep your child healthy is to help them drink enough water. There are a number of colorful and smart water bottles, in the form of stainless steel or glass with a rubber bouncy layer on the outside for safety, for you to chose from. Because all plastics and resin-lined aluminum bottles leach harmful chemicals, have your child put their favorite drink into one of these relatively indestructible hydration-transporters. Try coconut water with lime, sparkling lemon water, Emergen-C or unfiltered apple juice diluted by half. The dilution will keep them from having too much sugar at once. You can also get a home carbonation unit, relatively inexpensively, and jazz up their favorite drinks.
To keep their energy up and their minds steady, there are a number of easy snacks for the backpack. Here are some of my favorites, and I’m sure you can add your own to this short list:
Whole-grain toast with nut butter (cashew and almond butter are delicious alternatives to peanut butter).
Apple, or pear, slices with organic cheese or nut butter.
Mochi with 1 Tbsp nut, seed or apple butter smothered inside. If you’ve never tried it, you must!
Hard Boiled Eggs with chipotle or black pepper and sea salt. Yum!
To help kids stay focused and improve sleep, limit their time on electronic devices and have them stop using the device an hour before bed. Keep those same devices at least 10’ from the bed to limit electromagnetic radiation effects, which can disrupt sleep in a surprising number of kids. Try to set regular sleep and wake times, especially in the teen years when schedules can get packed and start early. Routine is the key.
Deal with anxiety or self-esteem issues as soon as they arise. We have an excellent Grand Junction resource in Tycee Belcastro, M.A., L.M.F.T, who specializes in counseling and therapy for ages 12-25. Tycee has a special self-esteem building mini-workshop for mothers and teen daughters ages 12 and up on Wed, Aug 5th. Contact Tycee at 970-245-2072 to register, or visit http://www.tyceebelcastro.com for details.
If your child has any recurring health issues, you may also want to have them tested for food allergies. From a naturopathic medicine perspective, wheat is one of the greatest contributors to the “classic triad” of illness in children (rashes, ear infections and asthma.) It goes something like this, Laura likes wheat bread, cookies and pasta and like most kids, she gets some wheat every day. She starts to develop a rash over time, but her parents don’t know any better (yet). They continue to give her wheat, perhaps even in hot dogs and ice cream which can contain wheat fillers. As the illness goes deeper, her rash disappears but she begins to get ear infections, possibly even asthma or urinary tract infections (UTIs). Curiously, if Laura’s food allergy is identified so that she comes off of wheat at this point, her deeper illness will spontaneously reverse back through symptoms, meaning that the asthma or UTI will clear and the ear infections will return. These may also clear followed by the skin rash appearing again resolving (following what is called Hering’s Law of Cure.) If your child is not getting probiotics (lactobacillus, acidophilus, bifidobacterium, etc.) either naturally-occurring in yogurt, kefir or other fermented foods like miso and tamari, make sure they have at least 3-5 billion organisms/day in a supplemental form, taken with food. Kids on probiotics have about HALF the allergies of kids without them, later in life.
School can be hard enough for kids if they are healthy and energetic. If your child needs some extra support, now is an ideal time to set them up for a school year of success.
Christopher Lepisto, a Free Press health columnist, graduated as a naturopathic doctor (N.D.) from Bastyr University in Seattle, Wash. He is a native of Grand Junction and opened his practice here in 2004. Previously, Lepisto lived and worked in New Zealand, where he developed a special interest in indigenous herbal medicines. For more information, visit http://www.grandjunctionnaturopath.com or call 970-250-4104.
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