Children are not simply mature adults. Their digestive systems are immature on a physical and functional level. Digestion and diet is extremely important when it comes to preventing and treating disease in children. Unfortunately, the food industry has spent millions upon millions to convince moms that convenience is the most important piece of food selection. But if you think about it, staying up all night with a child who has an ear infection or a fever is not all that convenient. Maybe it's time to rethink the way we feed our kids.After studying many dietary theories, I've come to the conclusion that Chinese dietary theory makes the most sense of any approach to healthy eating. Chinese medicine have been utilized for thousands of years and has much to teach us about feeding our kids.Prevention is key to our health and well being. It is so much easier to stay well than it is to get well once we've become sick. The Chinese have a saying that treating a disease is like digging a well after you've become thirsty. We might think of it closing the barn door after the horse has run off! Consider this approach with feeding your children. We've all heard lots about the skyrocketing rates of childhood obesity, food allergies, asthma, behavior problems and many other disorders. What can we do on a daily basis to make sure our children won't have to suffer from these problems?Here are some pointers from the wisdom of Chinese medicine that will help to make sure your baby/ toddler gets off to a good start.Introducing solidsYour baby's first foods are essential and will determine the health of your baby for the next couple of years.Here are some common mistakes parents make when starting solids:
Don't start too early- make sure your baby is ready. There is no advantage to pushing solids earlier, there is no proof that your child will sleep through the night if you start solids early- its simply not true. Introducing solids too early may cause food allergies, digestive problems and a host of other issues.
Do not introduce too many different foods too rapidly. Take at least one week for each food. PAY ATTENTION! Are your child's poops affected? Signs of indigestion: gas, loose stools, constipation, increased mucus, skin eruptions. Discontinue that food and wait a few weeks or longer before re-introducing it.
Don't introducing the wrong foods Which foods are the wrong foods? Foods that make the foundation of the Standard American Diet: Baked flour products, cheese, sweets, ice cream, chemicalized processed food products. !If you introduce these food products too early before the digestive system is ready to handle them, you'll end up with dampness, phlegm, and stagnation. in the digestive tract. According to Chinese medicine, these can result in allergies, skin problems and chronic upper respiratory issues.
Growing children's digestive systems are cold by nature so they need WARM food.Babies do not have molars to grind food! Therefore, food should be pureed like a thick soup use a blender or a food mill. Serve food warm, mashed, pureed and cooked, Never raw. Introduce one single food at a time, this way you can see if the child can truly digest that food.Think of introducing foods as a very important form of an elimination diet! This is most important action you can take to avoid the creation of food allergies.Here are some ideas for first foods:
Start with well cooked rice, pureed into a congee- a soupy rice porridge.
Follow with cooked pureed carrots, roasted butternut squash
Mashed sweet potatoes
Mashed regular potatoes
Mashed cooked peas or beans.
WAIT until way later to introduce animal protein, cheese, wheat, corn
GO ORGANIC! DO NOT TAKE YOUR CHANCES WITH GMO FOODS Kids are not just small adults. Pesticide residues do have an impact on growing babies.
Here's a list of foods to avoid in the first years:
Fruit juices. The sweetness of juice can be especially harmful for small babies and toddlers AND can create a sugar addiction! Stick with room temperature or warm water. There is NO nutritional benefit in giving any child juice! Everyone is much better off eating fruit and drinking water instead. Starting kids on juice will not only create unnecessary mucus/ upper respiratory infections, it will help to create picky eating behavior into the toddler and preschool years.
Bread and all baked flour products do not supply significant nutrition and can act the same way that refined sugar does.
Raw veggies- very indigestible for small children.
Cheese- super phlegm/ mucus forming.
Sweets/ Ice cream wait as long as possible to introduce these completely unnecessary foods.
We all love sugar and sweets. Some of us love them too much! This is not a perfect world and sugary food products are everywhere. As parents, it is up to us to monitor and limit the amount of sweets that our kids eat. We do have to step in and set limits when sugar intake becomes excessive to the point of setting up disease mechanisms.The list of foods to avoid looks like the standard American diet that so many of us feed our toddlers and small children. No wonder we see so many food allergies, skin eruptions and drippy snotty noses! All of these foods are damp and mucus causing according to Chinese medicine!Most importantly, feed your children real food, not food products. It's easy to mash a bit of roasted butternut squash as you make some squash or other real food for the rest of your family. No need to be a short order cook, feed your baby/ toddler what the rest of the family eats. Just make sure you and the rest of your family is walking the real food walk! It really is more convenient in the long run to have your kids healthy, introducing the right foods at the right time is the secret formula for success.Think of the digestive system as a stove, food needs to be warm to be effectively digested. Think body temperature around 100 degrees for all food and drink. If you think about it, breast milk is delivered at the ideal temperature for babies. Do not serve food to baby at room temperature, warm it up a bit to support digestion. Never give a baby or toddler cold, chilled or frozen foods. This will cause dampness/ stagnation which results in digestive tract complaints, mucus and skin problems.