The holiday season is here, and for many of us this means an excuse to load up on sweets and gorge ourselves at holiday parties and meals. Making gingerbread houses, fudge and cookies is a fun activity for our children and gets everyone in the holiday spirit. Of course, these activities and treats should not be avoided, but here are some tips to help prevent and/or remedy those bellyaches that come with the territory.
- Proper food combining-although many of us were raised to have desert immediately following a meal, it's best to wait until our food digests. Improper food combining is as bad as overeating. Keeping starches and proteins separate is a good idea, at least for some of the meals (everyone likes a good sandwich now and then).
- As much as possible, make healthier versions of treats, avoiding over processed ingredients (such as white flour and white sugar, artificial flavors and colors). I have a son with food allergies, and once in a while we will make cookies, using a gluten free baking mix in place of regular flour, or we will opt to make granola bars instead, using oats, honey and plenty of dried fruit and nuts.
- Avoid drinking during meals. We are not accustomed to this, but limiting liquids during meal times will help digestion.
- Avoid over feeding your children. Rather than large helpings, give small helpings more often.
- Practice mindful eating with your children. While it may be tempting to put our kids in front of the TV after a long day, when we are distracted, the body is not primed for digestion. Meal times can be an opportunity for us all to sit together and connect about the day, show our appreciation for each other and our food, and will actually help our body's capacity to digest our food.
In the event that your child does get a tummy ache, due to food or otherwise, there are things you can do to help. Some gentle, yet effective tummy soothing herbs include fennel, peppermint, catnip, ginger and chamomile. Because tea is so soothing, I often make a tea out of some or all of the above-mentioned herbs, with some honey. Make sure your child gets plenty of rest and eats simple, bland foods while they have a tummy ache. Soaked flax or chia seeds make for a gentle laxative, as well as magnesium before bed, if your child is prone to constipation. The digestive system is linked to the overall health of all our other body systems. Our children will fair well if we teach them good habits starting young.
Happy eating and happy holidays from WishGarden!