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Back to School, the Healthy Way!

Written By  Go Vita

As a new year begins many parents are looking for the best way to keep their children well and strong. Here are some great tips plus ideas for healthy lunches and snacks to support children back to school this 2022.

Food, Glorious Food

Nutrient deficiencies in children can stem from picky eating habits which dampen the immune response and leave them susceptible to every bug that is doing the rounds of the school playground. The good news is that there are many health-protective compounds in certain foods that can enhance immune functioning and improve gastrointestinal health – for example, by increasing the number of white blood cells or by boosting the health of beneficial gut bacteria.

Even better news is that these foods are tasty, so you are bound to find at least a few that your children will like (or that you can at least hide successfully in a spag bol sauce!). The immune-boosting foods that are the best disease fighters are those that score the highest in an antioxidant analysis called ORAC, including blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, oranges, grapes, spinach, broccoli, red capsicum, carrots and onions.

Make sure your child has a healthy breakfast every morning. It doesn’t have to be time-consuming when everyone is in a rush – wholegrain sourdough toast with Natural Road Almond, Brazil and Cashew Spread provides essential fatty acids and protein for brain health; a bowl of Brookfarm Natural Apple Apricot Macademia Muesli with warm almond milk and a swirl of Organic Road Certified Organic Raw Honey will provide sustained energy until lunch time; and a fruit-and-yoghurt smoothie is a quick and nourishing option – choose an ‘active’ or ‘live’ yoghurt, as it will contain good bacteria that kill unhealthy bacteria and germs.

Do you have a fussy eater, or a child who doesn’t like to eat breakfast? A smoothie or power shake is a quick and effective way to get their day off to a nourishing start (as well as to keep their parents’ stress levels under control). FUNCH Kid-POW Kids Shake are delicious and highly nutritious shake mixes that come in three crowd-pleasing flavours: vanilla, chocolate and caramel. Supercharged with plant proteins, vitamins C and D plus calcium and iron for the nutritional support children need, and with added prebiotics and probiotics for gut health, the shakes are smooth and creamy - no gritty bits, which kids dislike - and easily digested. They contain no added sugar, gluten, whey, soy, artificial colours or flavours, and one serving will provide the essential nutrients children require for healthy growth and development. Recommended for children aged four years and over.

Looking for healthy lunchbox ideas?

Locako Keto Collagen Brownie Bites in Peanut Butter Caramel or Vanilla Hazelnut are destined to become firm favourites among the under-10s, along with low-salt Proper Chips, Brookfarm Puffed Corn and Prana On Protein Bars. And if you like to bake, pick up a copy of Amy Lee’s Nourish in 5 – her Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Crispy Bars and Berrylicious Jam Crumble Bars are just two of the many recipes that children will love to eat. And if your child loves peanut butter, which is a definite 'no' for lunch boxes you could try VGood Chickpea Spreads. They are the new lunchbox safe
alternative to nut butters, packed full of plant-based nutrients. PeaNOT Butter tastes, looks and spreads just like your favourite peanut butter, and HazelNOT Choc spread, however they are completely free from allergens and are vegan friendl

Wrap the food up in a handy and eco-friendly Honeybee Reusable Beeswax Wrap and pack it into a Cheeki Stainless Steel Lunchbox with a matching Cheeki Stainless Steel Drink Bottle, and you have a lunch that is good for your child and for the planet!

Every parent knows it is important for a child to eat plenty of fruit. However, every parent also knows what it is like to open a child’s lunchbox at the end of the day to find the apple or banana has come home again because they wanted to play, not sit and eat. The solution? Pack a handful of delicious dried fruit – it offers all the same benefits as fresh fruit, plus it’s quicker to nibble on.

Dried apricots and figs are lunchbox-friendly favourites, and particularly liked by children because they are sweet and chewy. Apricots are very high in the antioxidant vitamins A, C and E, which support immune function and neutralise free radicals, harmful chemicals which are linked to obesity and inflammation. Apricots are also a great source of beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin which are required for eye health, and soluble fibre, for maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. Figs also support healthy digestion and provide vitamin B6, for nerve health, and copper, a key trace mineral that is required for energy production in a growing child.

Nature's Pharmacy

Herbal medicines are a gift from Mother Nature to enhance your family’s health. In particular, echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia) has been shown to promote resistance to colds and flu by boosting the body’s natural production of immune defences, including T-cells, interferon and natural killer (NK) cells. Choose a formula that has been specially designed for children, such as Herbs of Gold Children’s Immune Care, which contains echinacea along with a dose of vitamins A, C, and D and immune-boosting zinc.

Keeping a child’s digestive system in tip-top condition by supporting beneficial gut flora is not just important for optimal nutrition and metabolism. Gastrointestinal health is also required for the development of healthy skin, hair, bones and teeth, muscle tone and growth, mental competence and correct functioning of the immune, nervous and lymphatic systems. NutriVital Children’s Probiotic Plus is a low allergy, dairy- and gluten-free powder supplement which contains a combination of probiotics, prebiotics and immune-supportive nutrients, including vitamin D and zinc. Taking probiotic supplements has increased significantly in both adults and children, due to its ability to improve immunity. It is also an effective way to deal with the upset tummies that many children experience, whether as a result of a food intolerance or stress. NutriVital Children’s Probiotic is easy to use – simply stir a spoonful into juice or milk or sprinkle over cereal.

Another great way to help keep your children healthy and strong is to pop a scoop of a super green powder into a smoothie. Vital Greens All In One is loaded with 78 important nutrients, including probiotics, prebiotics, vitamins, phytonutrients, essential fatty acids and fibre, and it is formulated to maximise optimal absorption.

Charge Up with Exercise

Most children enjoy playing team or individual sports. However, if your child is more interested in sedentary pursuits, such as reading or playing an instrument, or if they are indulging in too much screen time, you can still encourage physical activity in more subtle ways that do not necessarily involve competition.

For example, a dance class improves coordination, swimming provides a full-body workout, martial arts like judo help to develop discipline and confidence, yoga develops flexibility – even putt-putt golf improves focus and balance. Children will mirror their parents’ behaviour, so if they see you enjoying gardening and bushwalking, they are more likely to want to join in.

 

The Wonder of Sleep

Research shows that missing even an hour’s sleep a night can have a damaging effect on the immune system and brain function. Inadequate sleep also worsens the negative effects of stress – children who have trouble sleeping have weaker immune responses and are more prone to anxiety than those who are able to go to sleep and stay asleep for a solid eight hours a night. Sleep deprivation is also strongly associated with low mood and the inability to cope with difficult emotions, such as anger.

To ensure your child has the best chance of a good night’s sleep, it is important to stick to a schedule where dinner, bath and bedtime are at the same time every night. Aim to eat dinner early –-between 6 and 6.30 p.m. – so that their tummies’ digestive activity will be winding down when it’s time to go to sleep. Lock in a soothing bedtime ritual, such as listening to soft music, reading a book, or giving them a little hand or foot massage.

NutriVital Mag Phos is a gentle homoeopathic formula which is traditionally used to relieve muscle aches and twitchiness. A Black Chicken Remedies Pyramedial Fresh Lavender Pouch is perfect to place beside your child’s bed and the powerful scent of organic lavender buds helps relax and calm you and provides restorative, restful sleep.

 

Mind Power

Just because they are little, doesn’t mean that children don’t feel stress and anxiety, especially when they are exposed to upsetting images and stories on the television and the internet. Teach your child simple strategies to defuse stress, such as an easy guided meditation. Show them how to sit quietly and comfortably, close their eyes and pay attention to their breathing; then, if troubling thoughts enter their mind, keep returning the focus to the breath. Laughter is a wonderful antidote to stress – share jokes and cartoons, download movies that appeal to your sense of humour, and listen to funny podcasts.

Staying Safe

If one good thing came out of COVID-19, it is our heightened awareness of the need for clean hands. Popping a natural hand sanitiser in your child’s school bag will keep this healthy habit going.

 

Information presented is for information purposes only and is not intended to replace advice or treatment from qualified healthcare professionals. The information is not intended to treat or diagnose. Always consult your healthcare professional before taking nutritional or herbal supplements. If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, have any allergies or diagnosed conditions, or are taking prescription medications, always consult your healthcare professional before taking nutritional or herbal supplements.

 

 

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