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Raising Healthy Children- part 1
by Melanie Waxman

There is nothing that gives a parent more pleasure than seeing their children grow up healthy and happy. Over the past twenty years, I have had the good fortune to observe many children. The ones I am most familiar with have been raised on macrobiotics. In the early days, everyone was terribly enthusiastic and idealistic.

We wanted to be perfect and of course the same went for our children. We were so excited, like pioneers travelling on un-chartered waters and we made many mistakes. The children from those early days are now in their late teens and early twenties.

Are they any different than other children? I think so. They seem to be more self aware, independent and have a strength of spirit. Their outlook on life is broad and they possess a gentle power. My father once said that he didn't know if it was his imagination but macrobiotic children seem to be more intelligent. Today, the macrobiotic way of life is more relaxed and we have learnt a lot. Our children have greatly benefited from our experiences. I am still in the process of raising my seven children and feel blessed for the gifts I have been given.

We all want our children to be well nourished. Sometimes this can appear daunting especially for new parents. What should we feed our children?

Are we giving them enough and are they getting all the necessary nutrition?
We read lots of magazines and books and every piece of advice seems different. I first became interested in Macrobiotics because it made sense. It was very practical. Its roots are found within all long-standing cultures. Macrobiotics is so flexible that you can use it to create dishes from all over the world.

The idea is to base the meal around the grain, whether it is a whole grain, pasta, cracked grain or bread. The meal is created from that starting point and you accent with vegetables, beans, fish and various seasonings. The ingredients used are natural and almost always, organic. There are endless combinations and each meal is unique and exquisite. When we eat these gifts from nature, it helps us to feel connected. Connected to the world and our fellow men. We develop gratitude and a sensitivity for our life on earth

Changing your way of life to a natural and healthy one is very empowering. You become the one in the driver's seat. You take responsibility for your health and the well being of your family. For many people this is a big step and can be a frightening one. Often we are more afraid of change than change itself.

If you can see if as an exciting adventure then it puts everything in a positive light. Remember why you want to change; improved health, quality of life, increased energy and peace of mind. Mind, body and spirit are one. Great food will also nourish and free the mind and the spirit. Eating healthy food is one of the best ways you can love and nourish yourself.

Rather than thinking of health as a something you achieve, see it as a direction that you are moving towards. We can move towards health and we can move away from it. The direction is what is important. Whether you are already eating macrobiotic foods or want to make changes to your present diet, a gentle approach is advised.

This is important where children are concerned. Keep in mind that you are aiming to enrich your life and not to deny yourself. Start by including new ingredients rather than cutting out present dishes. Begin to include whole grains and organic foods. Look at ingredients in the foods that you purchase. Start including items that are natural such as sugar free jams, unrefined oils and sea salt. If you make mistakes and fall off the wagon, be gentle. We are all human and mistakes are the basis for great lessons. It is important to avoid feeling bad and guilty.

Feeding children is often a challenge. How strict should you be and how free. If you are too strict, your children will forage for themselves and supplement the food you offer. Young children are naturally inquisitive and love to try new things.

They like to be part of the crowd and not singled out as weird or different. An established routine will help to give children a sense of boundaries. Start to develop a routine with your baby. Begin with bath, nap and bed at the same time each day. As they get older, regular meals can be introduced. Sitting down and eating together is a vital part of family life and helps to create a strong foundation.

Children often make balance for themselves. They might be mad on carrots for a few weeks and then go off them altogether. They may prefer broccoli cooked in one special way and refuse to touch it in any other preparation. Be patient and continue to offer a wide variety of foods. Fights over meals create stress for all concerned and should be avoided where possible. However, you as a parent are in charge.

Children learn a great deal through observation. If they see you sitting and enjoying beautifully prepared meals, they will follow. It is not a good idea to ask a young child what he wants to eat or to let him control the food choices.

They have little imagination about new dishes and will ask for the same thing over and over. It also fosters endless debates about meals. A positive alternative is to encourage them to assist with meal preparation. Even very small children can help set the table or cut soft foods with a plastic knife.

I have always seen life as an exciting journey. The macrobiotic lifestyle will certainly stir one's imagination and awaken the spirit. Children flourish on natural foods. It provides them with the foundation for living a full and happy life.

I hope you jump in and have a go. You will be able to observe the benefits first hand. I encourage you to relish you life with your children. The loving environment that you create will nourish them on all levels - physically, emotionally, spiritually and socially. If you begin eating natural foods then you are choosing to create the life that you and your family desire.

Some simple ways to get started:

  • Sit down to regular meals
  • Eat grains and vegetables with every meal
  • Include a variety of organic grains, vegetables and seasonings
  • Stop eating three hours before bedtime
  • Include fish rather than meat or chicken
  • Include natural sweeteners such as rice syrup, barely malt or maple syrup
  • Experiment with vegetable protein such as beans, tofu, tempeh and seitan
  • Use non-stimulating teas and grain coffee

Also read Raising Healthy Children- Part 2

Melanie Waxman began studying Oriental medicine in 1980 and went on to specialize in macrobiotic cooking. She has lived in Portugal, England and America and has trained cooks from all over the world. Melanie is the mother of seven children. She has cooked for international recording stars, fashion designers, doctors, and business professionals and has helped thousands of others to change their lifestyle and way of eating. She has written a children's cook book; Mr. Hoppity's Color Me Cook book for Kids, a series of self-published12 Cooklets and has recently published Bless the Baby, a beautifully illustrated book on the natural and traditional ways a mother can bond with her newborn. Melanie is also a massage therapist and Feng Shui consultant.

 

 
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