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Raising Healthy Children- Part Two
by Melanie Waxman

Many of us are aware how important it is to give our children good quality food to help them grow and develop. We often feel it is a struggle to get them to eat well. It is easy to give them the same thing every day and to forget to make meals that are varied and interesting.

It is up to us as parents to create an exciting diet so that our children are getting the balanced nutrition they need. Healthy children appear robust and energetic, their energy is bright and they have a natural curiosity about life.

Children also go through periods of change where they might act out or appear tired. This is natural too. As parents we have to learn to read out children.

If your child displays extremes in behavior or has physical problems for long periods, it is wise to seek professional advice. These symptoms may manifest as lethargy, severe lack of weight gain, hyper- active or overly aggressive,

Here are some ideas to help you with your child’s food.

If you are changing over to a more natural way of eating, have patience. Children need time to adjust. Begin introducing new dishes along with the more familiar ones. Buy jams, snacks and juices without sugar. Make dishes that are similar to old ones and use better quality ingredients such as whole wheat instead of white spaghetti or unrefined oils.

Children need rich tasting food, especially if they have been raised without meat or dairy food. Fried noodles, deep-fried bread, pan-fried fish or mochi and tempeh are some examples. These kinds of dishes keep children active and strong. If you live in a very cold climate or one where there is little sunshine, adjustments need to be made to use more substantial foods. Include more oil and fatty fish, such as herring or smoked fish. It is important to include the use of natural sweeteners such as barley malt and rice syrup too.

Before walking, babies need little or no salt. Salt will prevent smooth growth and make children more difficult emotionally. Try taking a small serving from each dish before you season it for the adults. After walking, salt can be gradually introduced into the diet until the age of six. After six, seasonings can be the same as the rest of the family.

When feeding babies, use a variety of grains such as rice, sweet rice, barley, whole oats, cracked grains and flakes in the form of milk or porridge. Juice from grated carrots or fresh fruit can be added along with grain sweeteners. Soft cooked vegetables are also very important. Try adding ground-toasted sesame seeds, a few drops of oil or tahini to the grain milk before serving.

Use sea vegetables sparingly with young children. The excessive use of sea vegetables can interfere with mineral absorption and the utilization of fat. Small pieces of toasted nori, however can be given regularly to all children.

Children’s taste and likes are always changing. If your child dislikes cooked carrots, he may love raw ones. Don’t abandon the carrots, trying cooking them in different ways such as sautéing, steamed, whole, grated or cooked in a stew. Or wait and re-introduce them later. You may be surprised at how much they enjoy them.

If you child snacks a lot, don’t despair. Look at what he is going for and try to create a similar taste in your cooking. For example is they love oily chips try making deep fried bread. If they are going for masses of sweet snacks, use more sweet tasting vegetables and make satisfying desserts.

Remember all the sweets you ate as a child? Children need lots of natural sweet tasting food to help them grow and develop. Good quality sweet taste in cooking is very important as well as homemade desserts and snacks.

Seeds are very important for all children especially sesame seeds because they are high in vitamins, calcium and iron. They help to develop strong teeth and bones. Roast some and store them in a jar so they are handy to sprinkle over grains and vegetables.

Many children have trouble eating vegetables. Make some simple dipping sauces out of brown rice vinegar and water, umeboshi vinegar and rice syrup, tofu, ginger and shoyu or lemon. Children love to dip their vegetables and eating becomes more fun for them.

If you have trouble with your child’s appetite give him something sweet such as a little fruit or warm juice before dinner. This eases the digestion and helps to stimulate the appetite.

Children like to look at things. They love food that is colorful and bold. Large pieces of vegetables, tofu cut into unusual shapes, cabbage rolls, deep-fried rice balls and noodle sushi are some examples of foods that are visually appealing.

If you are too strict with your child’s diet, he will forage for himself. Cook an assortment of foods including fish, cracked grains, breads, pancakes, salads, fruits and desserts.

Make meals enjoyable for everyone in the family. An open, flexible, approach to eating helps everyone feel relaxed about his or her food. It is important for all of us to create a happy atmosphere at meal times by eating and talking together. Regular meals help children to feel secure and have a sense of belonging. In these circumstances, children are more likely to eat a balanced diet. They can then get the most nutrition out of their food and at the same time feel emotionally safe. Well-balanced nutrition not only comes from the food itself but the attitude we have about food, meal times and eating habits.

Also read Raising Healthy Children- Part 1

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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