Children For Healthy Eating Habbits

 

 

Just like the root of a plant our children contain the entire energetic potential of their life in their tiny bodies. Therefore children have so much more energy than adults. As a matter of fact in comparison to the energy level of adults children seem “hyperactive”. Later when they grow up and become adults this excess energy will get distributed throughout the grown up body, Yin and Yang (matter and energy) will get balanced, and the natural “hyperactivity” of the childhood will subside.

 

Yang in nature represents light, sun, brightness, activity (1) Thus it logically represents energy/warming faculty in the human body. Yin in nature represents darkness, shade, rest (1). It translates into the material aspect of the human body. Thus Yin represents matter, blood, body fluids, while Yang is the force that makes them come to live.

 

Children hold more of Yang in themselves than Yin as they contain their entire life energy and life potential - Yang - in their small bodies - Yin. Based on that the preventive methods offered here will stress on the importance of exposing the child to Yin aspects such as coolness, sleep, and different matter building foods (Yin represents coolness, rest, matter) in order to balance out the temporarily excess Yang. In our experience balancing Yin and Yang leads to healthier and more content children, which is the aim of every parent.

 

In Chinese medicine herbs, foods and spices have their own temperature. They are cold, cool, neutral, warm, and hot and serve to balance the different body organs pathological temperature. For example if there is Heat in the Stomach it will be appropriate to drink tea from "cold herbs" such as mint and eat “cold foods” such as cucumber, to balance out the heat. Vice versa – if the warming faculty of the Kidneys is deficient (Kidney yang deficiency) we want some "warm foods and spices" such as lamb, cinnamon, and walnuts.

 

Ginger

 

Keeping that in mind herbs, foods and spices can be separated into Yin tonics and Yang tonics. Yin tonics would be substance/matter building foods (“damping foods”). Such foods are milk, eggs, cheese, diary products. White sugar in big amounts has also “damping” nature. Nevertheless white sugar is one of the unhealthiest foods known. It makes the internal body environment acidic, which benefits unfriendly bacteria and viruses, as a lot of them they thrive in acidic environment. It is our observation that children who eat lots of refined sugar sweets tend to get sick much more often than children who eat less or no sweets at all.

 

Another setback of white sugar is that it's taste is so concentrated that healthy fruit sugar (fructose) in comparison to white sugar products tastes dull. Children who eat lots of refined sugar sweets do not crave fruits simply because the taste of the fruits is unsatisfactory to them.

 

Other Yin tonic foods are raw fruits as the combination of sweet and sour taste tonifies the Yin. Raw vegetables are also Yin tonics as most of them have cooling nature and Yin is cooling.

 

Since Yang is the force that makes the Yin (matter) come to live Yang tonics are all foods that are energy building and warming. Such are all hot and spicy foods such as garlic, onions, hot peppers, cinnamon, clove, curry, etc. , and most meats – lamb, beef and chicken (pork is considered “cold meat”). White sugar in small amounts is also an energy tonic. Children often crave white/refined sugar foods because their blood sugar drops more abruptly than adults. In such instances offering a fruit or some nuts (most nuts can be viewed as Yang tonics as they contain proteins/energy) is the healthier choice than offering a refined sugar product.

Grains can be both Yin and Yang tonics (2) The same can be said about legumes.

 

After classifying the foods into Yin and Yang tonics we will now suggest what foods at what time of the day to be consumed. As morning and noon belong to Yang and afternoon and evening belong to Yin it is very effective to consume Yang tonics during Yang time and Yin tonics during Yin time. Keeping that in mind the following eating habits are suggested:

 

 

Woman Giving Fruit To Child For Pediatrics

 

 

Breakfast (morning/Yang) – oat cereal (warming) with some raisins (warming), a little cinnamon (warming) and raw honey or corn semolina (neutral) with smashed carrots (neutral) and/or winter squash (warming). Both meals are digestion friendly and warming, which is good for the Spleen/Stomach partnership and the digestion. The first food consumed for the day should always be warming or the least neutral in order to jump-start (give energy to) the digestive tract.

 

Lunch (noon/Yang) – cooked meat with steamed vegetables. The meat is the food that takes longest to digest therefore it is good to give your child the meat portion for the day at lunch in order to give it time to get properly digested and absorbed. Meat is also Yang tonic and good to eat when Yang is in its peak - noon. Vegetarian children can eat their vegetable proteins (legumes, nuts and seeds, more grains) at that time as well, combined with steamed or boiled vegetables. The vegetables consumed at that time of the day are suggested to be cooked to warm up their cooling nature.

Afternoon snack (afternoon/Yin) – fruits. The damping quality of the fruits consumed at that time of the day will not slow down the digestion as the digestive tract has already “warmed up” with warming Yang foods. Thus the child can now enjoy the delicious, nourishing and refreshing taste of the fruits without long term consequences on the digestion.

 

Dinner (evening/Yin) – boiled eggs, cheese or yogurt, and some raw vegetables. This Yin tonic meal is the Yin supplementation that a child needs in order to balance out the temporarily excessive Yang. It has balancing and calming effect, and helps prepare the child for the night rest. The vegetables for this meal are suggested to be raw, thus to retain their cooling nature to fit to be a Yin tonic.

 

 

The dinner should always be the lightest meal of the day and should not contain meat. It is good to eat dinner no less than four hours before sleep to give the food time to get properly digested and absorbed.

If the child has poor sleep or difficulty falling asleep a lot of cultures use a warm cup of milk with teaspoon of raw honey. Calcium, which is found in the milk, soothes the nervous system and honey is a sedative with relaxing property.

 

It is essential that the child receives sufficient amount of sleep as rest is an Yin aspect needed for the child's harmonious development. Some doctors say that every hour of night sleep before midnight equals four hours of night sleep after midnight. The earlier the child is put to bed before midnight the better quality sleep it will get.

 

Coolness is another Yin aspect that allows a child to be more content. Overdressing children or turning the heat way over in the cooler seasons can be damaging to the child's immune system and add more "heat" to the already "hot" Yang nature of the child. Old people in some cultures advise that a child should wear a shirt less than the adult if they are in the same environment. Certainly all children are different and have different necessities but they know very well if they feel hot or cold so listening, observing and touching the child is more logical guide on what the child needs than judging if the child is hot or cold from our own subjective sensations. Adults have less Yang/warmth than children therefore they cannot always accurately judge if the child is comfortable and overdress, overheat it.

As coolness slows processes down sleeping in a cool environment allows the brain and the whole body to better relax and the quality of the rest is significantly better. Sleeping in around 19-22 degrees Celsius but better dressed, and covered, brings about deeper and longer sleep than having less clothes on but turned to a maximum heater.

 

YS

 

(1) Maciocia, Giovanni (1989). The Foundations of Chinese Medicine. Nanjing: Harcourt Publishers Limited

(2) Pitchford, Paul (2002). Healing with Whole Foods. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books

 

Note:  This is a theory that defines healthy eating habits for children, and is based on the author's perspective of traditional Chinese medicine and her personal experience as a parent. Nevertheless it is essential that you stay in touch with and consult your  pediatrician at all times!

 

Related Articles:

Preventive Pediatrics - The Role of Yin and Yang

Acute Illnesses in Children - The Role of the Five Elements

Spring (Element Wood) - "wind evil" - common colds, flu

Summer (Element Fire) - "heat evil" - inflamed red swollen tonsils, constipation, bleeding

Summer (Element Fire) - "summer-heat evil" - sweating, dehydration, fever, thirst - all during summer season

Late Summer (Element Earth) - "damp evil" - diarrhea, colic, vomiting

Fall (Element Metal) - "dry evil" - dry cough, dry throat, dry mouth, hoarse voice/unresolved dry cough leading to productive cough

Winter (Element Water) - "cold evil" - muscle cramps, pain, ear infections

 

 

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