We all want our kids to be healthy. We want them to thrive in life.
But what does it take?
When I had my first son I thought the key to healthy kids was some sort of mysterious thing. My oldest got sick a lot and while I followed all of the typical advice, it seemed like he caught EVERY. SINGLE. COLD. It was rough.
When he was two, we discovered that he had a casein allergy and was sensitive to gluten like myself. The allergist of course said to remove the offending foods and gave me a long list of things to avoid.
Talk about tough. This kid could drink a gallon of milk a day and his favorite breakfast food included a giant thing of yogurt. He loved bread, pasta, and all the gluteny things. It was a hard transition and back then there were not as many foods that were casein-allergy or gluten-free friendly back then.
But we did it. We removed them, and you know what happened? He stopped getting ear infections. He didn’t get a cold every time someone else was sick. And it was amazing. In addition to removing the allergens, after a while, we started looking at his diet as a whole and realized that the foods he ate weren’t as nutritious as they could’ve been. While a diet of mac and cheese and hot dogs sounds like a normal toddler thing, let’s be real, they aren’t really healthy.
We started by including more vegetables. He loved eating raw veggies, so we started making them more available. He also loved fruit, so of course, those were included as well.
The mysteries of keeping kids healthy seemed to disappear, and it became more obvious. And funny enough, they are a lot like keeping adults healthy. So here are 4 keys you can implement this fall and winter and all year long to keep your kids healthy and thriving.
- Check for underlying food allergies or sensitivities. This one can be hard to imagine, but when your child’s body is so busy fighting off food allergens, their immune systems can’t focus on fighting off the other germs, viruses, and bugs.
- Feed your child mostly nutrient-dense foods. While highly processed convenience foods are toddler friendly, find ways to sneak in new foods to give them the nutrition they need. If you can’t get enough through meals, talk to your medical prodiver to find out the best ways to supplement. Smoothies, fresh pressed juices, and even hidden fruits and veggies are fun ways to get them in.
- Get outside to play. In the winter months, another big issue is that children don’t get outside very much and become deficient in vitamin D. So the solution of course is to either get outside more during the day OR supplement. They make kid friendly supplements that can help on those cold winter days as well. We know as adults that more physical activity helps our immune systems, it has the same effect on children. Give them time to play. While I think organized sports, dance, and activities have their place, free play is the best way to allow your child’s imagination to run wild. I remember writing a play with a neighbor friend when I was 8 and we even put on a little produciton in her backyard. It only happened because our parents gave us time to just play and create.
- Say goodbye to processed sugar. I’m not suggesting your child go keto or go on some crazy diet. I’m sharing the fact that each time you or your child consumes processed sugar it diminishes your immune system for hours. So, if you want them to get sick less often, well, you might consider checking their favorite foods for hidden sources of processed sugar and saying goodbye.
Another thing to remember is that children emulate their parents. So if you aren’t doing these things for yourself, it’s hard to imagine why they would want to as well. Try new veggies, be adventurous on occasion, and limit your own sweet indulgences. You’ll all stay healthier and you’d be amazed at the other benefits as well.
Don’t underestimate the power of prayer. Pray over you and your children’s health. Speak health and life over them. There is power in your words and how they impact your life. Ask God for wisdom. He promises in His word that if you ask, He’ll give it to you. I discovered these things through a lot of prayer that lead me to research. I had to ask for the allergy tests once I realized that food could be the issue and the tests confirmed what I suspected.
God gave me my children to steward and raise, not someone else. I didn’t have to be a passive observer in their health, I got to play an active role. Now the kids rarely get sick, and if they do they might only be down for the count for a day or two. I count it a blessing and definitely don’t take it for granted.
There are so many more things I could say, but if you start with these as the foundation for health, you’ll all be better off.