My 3 year old niece and I spent time in the garden recently, picking veggies for a banquet I was hosting and what amazed me was that as we picked the vegetables, and I asked her, did you try it, she would say YES and then happily put whatever it was in her mouth, chew and say YUM! Even curly parsley..which, even for adults, is a flavour to be acquired!
What I realised in watching her is that there were three things at play – 1. Modelling 2. Interaction. And 3. She knew what her body wants
This little woman that I adore has always known what her body needed….when she was sick and I handed her kombucha, she drank it down, even though it’s a grown up flavour, she knew instinctively it would make her better…like the parsley. I didn’t tell her that it was good for her, she just knew and so she went back for more!
I believe she was happy to munch out on greens because we weren’t sitting at a table forcing her to eat them. We were out in nature, playing, have a great time, enjoying the experience of being together. She was a participant in the process and was subtly distracted by that…enough that she was willing to try everything and not notice if she didn’t really like it.
And I was showing her, through my gestures and my conversation, that things were yum and safe to try and experience…as I picked I would show her how I ate it and express my glee at the flavour.
Kids are soaking it all up…they have short attention spans and are spirited, open beings, we must feed that in them…literally and metaphorically. If you want your kids to eat greens make it fun, interactive, model it and trust and listen to your child as they are guided by their own needs (for the good stuff!).
If I’d followed these things I think I would have a 19 year old step son who wouldn’t avoid green stuff on this plate still…we had many, many arguments about eating his greens or no ice-cream!
As they say – you catch more ants with honey…and modelling, interaction and faith are the sweetest of all when it comes to the green stuff!
So you have found out that you have a food allergy or food intolerance. Where do you start?
Food allergy is a result of your body’s reaction to certain foods where it responds to certain items and food products as an irritant. It can happen with anyone, anytime throughout his or her life. Food Intolerance is a little different and is not life threatening. It is more of a chemical response but can cause similar symptoms; upset stomach, vomiting, rashes, pain etc. Food allergies are often genetic, whereas, food intolerances don’t and can affect anyone and at anytime. Children do tend to out-grow these reactions but there are chances that they would be stuck with it for their whole life ahead leading to adults. So if you or your children have been recently diagnosed with this life-changing revelation, here are some tips on how you can better manage.
Identifying the problem
If you think that your child has an allergy, you re-ally need to go to an allergy specialist to identify the food groups that are triggering the responses. An IgE blood test measures the blood level of antibodies which are proteins produced by the immune system that attack antigens, such as bacteria, viruses and allergens. There is also a skin prick test that is also very effective. These tests will identify the food groups such as dairy, wheat, soy, etc and environmental allergens such as grass seed, dust etc. There are more options if you think you have a food intolerance. You can do a standard food elimination test, there are many professionals who are advertising food testing and you can also take out a Food Test 500 developed by a naturopath as a bio compatibility test, which identifies which whole foods are no good to each individual tested and is also highly effective, requires no appointment, needles, blood tests etc.
Introduce alternate recipes
Once you identify the foods that are triggering your symptoms you then need to effectively avoid them in order for you system to heal and your symptoms to reduce. Now, it doesn’t end here. You will have to dig deeper to find out all the other processed, packaged food which might contain traces of the allergic food in them. So, start reading labels. For example if you are allergic to wheat or gluten you are best to look for foods that are labeled gluten free as these companies have had to test for traces of gluten. Ingredients such as maltodextrins, thickener etc can be derived from wheat. Try not to use anything that you are not too sure about. Know what you can and can’t eat so that you can prevent any im-pending danger in your life. There are many re-sources available to give you ideas on how to substitute and cook gluten free, dairy free, soy free and more.
Check out the recipe archives of What Can I Eat.
Stick together as a family
If someone has an allergy, it is already hard enough for them. Try not to make it harder by making them feel left out and deprived. The food that they are allergic to, the whole family should stop using that. No food or craving can be worth a person’s life. Be prepared if you are going out to dinner or on holidays, school excursions etc. You are sometimes better to just bring your own food.
In the case of children being diagnosed with allergies and food intolerances, provide caretakers and educators such as nannies, baby sitters, teachers, grandparents and every elderly person your child may get in contact with a full list of inflammatory foods not to give them. In the same way for an adult also, it is important to be very conscious about trying anything new. Read the labels and ingredients very carefully before you try out some new food. Most importantly, keep an allergy kit with you all the time that can be used in case of a reaction.
Join support groups
To help you out and cope with all the strict, stressful decisions you are taking in your life, join support groups. You can talk to other people there who are going through something similar; find emotional support when you are down and helpful tips that can make your life easier.
Being diagnosed with food allergy or food intolerance can certainly change a lot of things in your life but it is certainly not the end of it. There is a lot of support; advice and resources these days that will help you follow your new eating guide-lines successfully. It is much better than the suffering you have had to endure so date.
If you haven’t identified whether you have a food intolerance jump over and grab a copy of our Food Intolerance Questionaire.
I love to encourage little ones to be creative and teaching them to cook is a great way to express their creative side. I’ve already been in the kitchen cooking with my two-year-old granddaughter, we made my Muesli Slice from book 3 which she loves as a snack. One of the benefits of teaching kids to cook is that as they get older they can help out when you are busy; and who doesn’t want dinner cooked for them.
Here are some tips with kids in the kitchen:
- Have a stool handy so little ones can reach the bench easily.
- Provide an apron to avoid extra mess.
- Let them pick recipes that they like and help them to write a shopping list. In the supermarket they can be the shopper; this is a great opportunity to encourage learning about weights and measures. For example, show them how to locate sizes on products, e.g. 500g of mince or a 420g can of tomatoes.
- Don’t make cooking too hard as this can lead to frustration and spoil the experience. Choose recipes according to level of difficulty that suit the age group, so they can be in charge as much as possible.
- Never criticise or be angry with them, even if they drop an egg on the floor forget about the mess and have fun.
- Make sure the tasks are age appropriate, safety first! Provide proper oven gloves to protect their hands when removing food from the oven or microwave. Talk about knife safety.
- Explain hygiene – chopping on different boards i.e. chicken on one, vegetables on another. Show how to avoid cross contamination and encourage washing of hands.
- Make a reason for the children to cook such as a visit from Grandma or for snacks to take to school or a gift such as cookies, muffins or a fruit cake. Praise is a mighty strong way for cooking to become a fun and pleasant experience.
- Fill the sink with warm soapy water and clean up as you go so it’s not a big chore at the end.
- Spending time together cooking gives parents an opportunity to teach fractions and other measurements and also educate about food and nutrition. I’m sure some kids think milk comes from a carton.
Cooking with kids is a perfect opportunity to share knowledge with your children or grandchildren and then enjoy eating the food you cook. Fond memories are made when spending time together and who knows, you might find you have a budding chef on your hands.
Article submitted by Annette Sym of Symply Too Good
Winter is the coldest season of the year as a result we often crave stews and soups. These cravings are your body’s way of telling you to choose warmer foods rather than colder ones. We have become a global community so it’s very common to see fresh produce at your local fruit shop that is from another country enjoying the opposite season to you. If you are unsure what is in season, then always choose Australian grown and perhaps go to farmer’s markets. This way you will support your local farmers, eat fresh produce that has maximum nutrients as it has only just been gathered from the ground or trees and the fresh produce on offer can only be grown in the climate you are in.
Consider including these foods into your winter diet:
Vegetables: asparagus, alfalfa, cabbage, carrots, celery, endives, lettuce, parsnips, spinach, turnips, watercress
Fruits: apples and pears
Meats: lamb, chicken
Fish: Atlantic mackerel, bluefish, monkfish, Pacific salmon, red snapper
Season with garlic, shallots, ginger, fresh herbs from the garden and Himalayan salt or sea salt.
Some winter handy hints include:
- Meditation – it’s the time of year to feed your body as well as your soul. Often skin becomes drier and breakouts can happen more in winter. Keeping calm and meditate during this time.
- Exercise regularly – By keeping up a regular exercise regimen you are promoting blood circulation and consistent endorphin release to keep you positive and healthy.
- Sleeping early will promote the rejuvenation of your body.
- Stews, soups, casseroles are a great idea as they fill you up and warm you all over, while providing intense nutritional content. Make extra quantity and freeze leftovers to have ready for heating when you are time poor and hungry.
The best approach to eating for maximum health is being mindful of what you are craving. If there are regular cravings for foods you are trying to avoid such as sugar, salt, caffeine etcetera then it may be a nutrient deficiency which means you may need to seek the assistance of a health care practitioner. Addressing nutrient deficiencies is easy and you will feel great for the improved state of health. Alternatively, cravings are your body’s way of communicating with you what it needs. Trust it and enjoy the variety winter brings with it.
Article submitted by Dr Irene Prantalos
For some great Winter Recipes check out our Recipe Archive
Vegetables can be a great way to fill hungry tummies and increase the fibre in your diet. It is recommended that we have at least 30g of fibre a day for optimum health. To reach this number you need to have
Firbre Up with veggies
some high fibre choices otherwise you will never reach it.
Most Australians only get about 10 grams of fibre a day. That’s not nearly enough. Having lots of fibre in your diet can help reduce your risk of constipation, haemorrhoids, high cholesterol, high blood sugar, obesity, colon cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Wow! That’s a lot of benefits.
Here are some of the best choices – avocado, cabbage, broccoli, carrots, corn, green beans, kale, peas, potato with skin, spinach, sweet potato and pumpkin. There are a great range of vegetables in season now that you can utilise as they are at their peak and also at a great price, such as zucchini, pumpkin, spinach, tomato and fresh basil. So it’s the perfect time to make pumpkin soup, tomato based pasta sauces and use fresh basil in your stews and casseroles to add flavour.
Zucchinis are great roasted, grilled, boiled or grated and added to quiches, cakes or to stretch your mince a little further. I love roasted vegetables either mixed in with pasta, tossed in a salad or as part of a delicious sandwich or toasted Panini. Other vegetables that roast well are capsicum, eggplant, onion, cherry tomatoes, pumpkin, asparagus and sweet potato.
Here are a few tips to make sure the veggies don’t get left on the plate:
- When cutting vegetables don’t always just slice, for example a carrot can be sliced either in round shapes, in half, cut on an angle or cut into strips.
- Don’t be boring with the way you present your vegetables as adding a few herbs and spices can make a real difference.
- Wok fry broccoli, carrots, onion, cherry tomatoes, garlic, mushrooms and garlic then toss in some Cajun or Moroccan seasoning and watch your family come back for seconds. I suggest that you add the mushrooms and tomatoes last as they take less time to cook.
- Another fun idea is to do only green vegetables such as snow peas, broccoli, beans, asparagus and bok choy, add some oyster sauce, soy sauce some garlic and ginger, a little water with cornflour and you have a great Asian green stir fry that will go with so many dishes.
- Avoid overcooking vegetables as nothing is more unappealing that mushy veggies, so keep the crunch and fibre up.
Vegetables can be tasty and interesting, it’s all in how you prepare them. So think outside the square and fibre up, your body will thank you for it.
Article submitted by Annette Sym of Symply Too Good To Be True
Visit the pantries of What Can I Eat to find some great products to accompany your veggies
Winter doesn’t have to be a time of constant coughs, colds and ear infections. With a few tweaks to your diet and lifestyle it is possible to avoid the bugs that are rife during the winter. Our immune system is designed to protect us from these bugs but it needs to be fuelled well to be as strong as possible. With a strong immune system you will be well equipped to avoid many infections all together and if one does slip through you will recover from it quicker.
Here are my 5 naturopathic tips for staying healthy during the winter
- Nourish with Nutrients
Food does not necessarily equate to nutrients, if fact many of the foods that line the supermarket shelves are so low in nutrition they shouldn’t even be called food! Our immune system is fuelled by nutrients found in fresh, whole foods so packing as much of this nutrient dense food into our diet as we can makes sense.
- Brightly coloured fruits and vegetables such as blueberries, kiwi fruit, baby spinach, beetroot and sweet potato to boost your antioxidant levels including vitamin A,E,C, and Zinc.
- Superfoods such as Goji berries, camu camu, raw cacao, turmeric, garlic and ginger, which all add power to our immune system.
- Smoothies are a great snack idea and you can pack in as many of these brightly coloured fruits, vegetables and superfoods into the blender as possible.
- Organic produce as it is higher in these immune boosting antioxidants.
- Safeguard your Gut
Science has established a strong link between our gut and immune system, in fact around 80% of our immune system is located in our gut! Bloating, constipation, heartburn or IBS type symptoms are all signs your gut needs some attention and your immune system is probably not in optimum health either.
The number of bacteria we have in our bodies outnumbers our cells so you could argue we are more bacteria than ourselves! It is when the ‘good and bad’ bacteria become unbalanced that we can experience both digestive upset and lowered immunity.
There are many things in our modern lifestyles that contribute to this imbalance including sugar and processed foods, study and social stress, antibiotics and other medications.
To boost the levels of beneficial bacteria try adding
- Fermented foods such as yoghurt, kombucha and sauerkraut to the diet.
- You could also try a good quality probiotic supplement.
- Knock back some broth
There is nothing better than a bowl of steaming chicken soup when we are sick and there is good reason for that. Chicken broth, made with free range chicken and simmered on a low temperature all day (or even overnight), is of course good for our soul but it is also tremendously nourishing for our bodies. Bone broths contain ample amounts of important minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium. They contain gelatine which aids digestion and improves immunity.
Bone broths are a great staple to have on hand in winter, they make delicious bases for soups, sauces, slow cooked meals and casseroles and eliminate the need for commercial stocks in carton or powdered forms which usually have undesirable ingredients. You can make a big batch and freeze so there is always some on hand.
- Snub the sugar
Sugar can be likened to a ‘chill pill’ for the immune system, it reduces the activity of white blood cells making them so relaxed that they don’t have the energy to fight the viruses and bacteria that are all around us in winter, to so we get sick more often.
Avoiding sugar involves more than just avoiding adding it to your tea, coffee and breakfast cereal. Almost every food in a packet will have some form of sugar added to it – cane sugar, sucrose, glucose, dextrose, corn syrup and so on! The best way to avoid excess sugar in your diet is to eat more Real food! Real food is food as were meant to eat it, straight from plants or animals as close to its natural state as possible. Real food includes vegetables, fruit, salad, nuts, seeds, whole grains, eggs, fish and meat.
- Soak up the Sunshine
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient for our immune system and we can soak it up through the sun. Sounds easy when we live in one of the sunniest countries in the world but Vitamin D deficiency is a major health concern, particularly in the winter months. Try and get outside in the midday sun every day. Go for a walk or simply sit outside to eat your lunch. Expose some skin – roll your jumper sleeves up, take off your sunglasses, take your scarf off.
Taking on board all of these health tips will be sure to keep your household lurgy free this winter and if you are still unlucky enough to pick something up you will shake it off in no time.
Article submitted by Jessica Donovan of Energetic Mama
Jessica created an ebook – ‘5 food secrets of kids that rarely get sick’ to help parents boost their kids immune system with real food. You can download your free copy here http://energeticmama.com/5foodsecrets-nsk2
Visit the pantries of What Can I Eat or our What Can I Eat Shop for some great products to help you keep Healthy during Winter.
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