With a potential return to school looming on the horizon for some of us, it’s now more
important than ever that our children’s immune systems are working at full strength.
To be clear, I’m not suggesting that eating oranges all day long will provide enough vitamin C to knock the Coronavirus right out of the ball park, but I am saying that by nourishing our children with the right kinds of foods we can support their immune systems and make sure they’re working optimally. Something which is important all year round but particularly so in the current climate. To be perfectly honestly, it also makes ME feel better.. to have some kind of handle on this situation, and at the same time the kids are getting healthier so it’s win, win right?!
So here’s some things which we can be doing every day, my kids are fussy eaters so don’t think that they live on chickpeas and fermented foods, but with a bit of forward planning it is possible to get some of the good stuff into them.
Eat the rainbow
Rainbows are in right now! Most kids can resonate with the colours of the rainbow and there are lots of great printable charts out there to get on the fridge https://drchatterjee.com/rainbow-chart/.
Challenge them to eat as many different colours of fruit and veg each day as they can. Eating the rainbow ensures they are getting a wide range of different vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients which are vital for immune health. Try incorporating a smoothie maybe? Keep it simple at first, banana and strawberry, mixed with milk (ideally dairy free) maybe some ice? Buy some funky straws or a jam jar to drink out of. Freeze the smoothies into smoothie lollies. Let them make their own, frozen fruit counts and is so easy to keep in the freezer. You could then try adding a leaf of spinach or 2? See how you get on! Or sneak some chia seeds in there- great for omega 3, again needed for immune health. Cacao powder is good, sweeten naturally with maple syrup or local honey if they need it.
Hard to get from food sources but essential for the immune system. The sun is shining right now so this is an easy one- get outside and soak up that sun.
Protein makes the building blocks for the immune system. Depending on diet, it can be tricky for kids to get enough. Try adding hard boiled eggs, dippy eggs, eggs any kind of way they’ll eat! Meat and fish are all great sources of protein too as are beans, pulses and legumes. Also nuts and seeds, mine love these energy balls by deliciously Ella https://www.redonline.co.uk/health-self/nutrition/a524190/deliciously-ellas-almond-and-chia-bites/ I sneak in a few extra sunflower and pumpkin seeds ground up too. You could also get clever and add flax seed or chia seeds to their porridge or dessert. If they eat nuts, great! Try to add nuts/seeds to the smoothies too.
It is important for immunity. Luckily lots of kid friendly foods are packed full of Vitamin C - peppers (especially red ones), oranges, kiwi, strawberries.
These are the good guys which our guts need to work optimally. Rich sources are natural yogurts, fermented foods (sneak some kefir into a smoothie for a really great hit - start with a low amount tho, about a teaspoon a day, and build up), sourdough bread can be a winner.
Refined sugar is one sure way to put stress on the immune system. Where possible try to reduce, breakfast cereals are always a good place to start; try swapping over to lower sugar content ones. The last thing anybody wants is to start the kids on the top of a sugar roller coaster first thing in the morning. Try to swap to more naturally occurring sugars if they have a sweet tooth such as maple syrup or dates. “The good stuff”by Lucinda Miller is a GREAT book containing lots of healthy alternatives- courgette brownies, they’ll never know about the courgette! We make the banana and raspberry “ice cream” - it’s just frozen banana whizzed up with raspberries and looks and tastes great.
Hiding vegetables is always fun! I put sweet potatoes in brownies, cauliflower in risotto, flaxseed in flapjacks. These small changes can all add up.
Exercise, sleep and also minimising stress are also important for all of us including kids. If changing up their diet stresses you, or them, or both, take a step back and just do it one step at a time. Concentrate on what they DO like and go from there. If grapes are the only fruit they’ll eat, just make sure they have enough grapes! Snacks can also provide a lot of their 5 a day, maybe keep a bowl of carrot and cucumber on the side in the kitchen or my favourite, bring a bowl in whilst they’re watching TV so they mindlessly shovel it into their mouths!
Good luck and stay safe