Life is fast. Families today enjoy less time together, a faster pace, and more activities than ever. How do we keep our children healthy and still keep up with it all? Between school, activities, sports practice, games, music lessons, recitals, and play dates, it seems like the impossible. Often it seems like the only way is to just feed the kids whatever is quickest and keep moving. Unfortunately, that can cause bigger problems later in life. It is much easier to grow healthy children than repair damaged adults. Here are some tips to help your life become a little easier in the long run by keeping your kids healthy and happy.
Keep a consistent schedule
Most kids crave structure and scheduling. It gives them security when they know what is expected and planned for them. Consistency is key. While there are some variations from one day to the next, if the schedule changes drastically, it can be very unsetlling and uncomfortable for kids. Try to keep some structure to their days, and consistent meal times. This will reduce irratic behavior, low blood sugar, exhaustion, and will increase concentration and regulate sleep patterns.
Rest is the best!
Sleep can be a touchy subject. By a certain age, many kids feel they must compete with friends and family members to stay up the latest. Sticking to your guns with bed times will allow for a less stressful morning, and will improve concentration at school, increasing their confidence, leveling their behavior, improving relationships, and enhancing overall health and wellbeing. Don’t forget- the more rest the kids get, the more time for you to catch up on work, organizing, sleep, or grown-up time.
There’s not nearly enough playtime at school today. Encourage outdoor time after school and on weekends, and limit screen time (video games, iPad, TV, computer). An old fashioned bike ride or tire swinging in the fresh air does the brain and body wonders. You will be surprised at how much better they sleep after playing outside. It also encourages imagination, socializing with others, and develops their coordination. Taking a family hike on the weekends will be a cherished memory for them and you. Arrange your activities where kids can spend a lot of time outdoors and they will be much healthier and happier. Even just 10 minutes of direct sun per day can give them the necessary Vitamin D for proper hormone production, bone growth, and healing, so don’t be too afraid of reasonable exposure to sun.
Just because someone says they do not like veggies does not mean the body doesn’t need them! Vegetables and fruits are crucial for healthy function and develpment, but parents sometimes have a hard time getting kids to eat them. Our most successful way of encouraging vegetable comsumption is to involve the kids in preparation and cooking, using spices, herbs, and healthy sauces to encourage experimentation. Sometimes the easiest way is an old fashioned smoothie. Mixing healthy veggies with some known sweet fruits can help you get in some crucial vitamins and minerals.
Here are some big “no no” ingredients: sugar, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, anything hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated, soy (most of the time), any food colorings, dyes, or colors with numbers related to them. Fake sugars are also on the list, such as splenda, aspartame, equal, and nutrisweet (that goes for adults, too). Sugar-free does not mean healthier; often it is quite the contrary. Read the labels.
Water is crucial for health- our bodies are some 70% water, and if kids don’t get enough of it, the water necessary for survival will be taken from muscles and other tissues. Sometimes aches and pains are due to dehydration, as is lack of concentration, exhaustion, and irritability. Juices and soft drinks do not count as water- even though there is some water in those beverages, the bulk is sugar, which the body must purge with its own water, causing further dehydration. Kids don’t require juice to survive, contrary to what they might have you believe. Once in a while it can be a treat, but not a daily requirement.
Consider supplements. Whole food vitamins are an excellent way to get your daily requirements even when the diet is generally good (incidentally, gummies are generally not whole food derived, and not worth much nutritionally). All supplements are not equal. Synthetic vitamins are not ideal; food-derived supplements (preferably whole food, organic) are far superior. If needed, try crushing them up in a smoothie.
Proper nervous system function
The nervous system is the master controller of our body, and if communication channels become fuzzy, distorted, or damaged, children experience errors in normal function. This ineffective communication may play out as colic or irritability, an inability to suckle and breastfeed, poor sleep, developmental delays, digestion issues, asthma, behavioral problems, low energy, inability to concentrate, headaches – the list is endless. In fact, regardless what symptom, all roads lead back to the nervous system, which controls the body’s ability to self-regulate and function at a peak level.
While chiropractic may be able to help with a number of health issues, the focus is not treating or curing ailments; a chiropractor’s goal is to ensure the nervous system has every opportunity to work efficiently and properly.
Chiropractors spend years studying the nervous system to be able to detect and correct these ‘communication errors’ in the body. These are called vertebral subluxations. Whether we have a large spine or a little spine, if there is nerve distress due to vertebral subluxations, our magnificent bodies cannot operate efficiently as designed.
How do kids get nerve irritation?
Nerve irritations, or vertebral subluxations, occur as a part of normal daily life. They result from physical, chemical, and/or emotional stressors or ‘insults’ to our health, such as bad posture, prolonged or repetitive postures, sleeping on the stomach, slips and falls, poor food choices, dehydration, exposure to chemicals and toxins, and emotional stress and anxiety. Even before these lifestyle stressors have an impact, nerve irritation can occur in the uterus from awkward positioning, restriction of movement, and exposure to toxins, as well as birth complications like long labor, rapid labor, or forceps/C-section delivery.
When we appreciate how important the nervous system is and how easily it can be hindered and impaired, it makes sense that all children deserve to have a well-adjusted spine and nervous system. Chiropractic should be an important part of a healthy lifestyle.
And chiropractic may even enhance brain activity. Researchers found that “cervical adjustments activate specific neurological pathways” in the brain, potentially stimulating cognitive function (JMPT 1997;20:529).
Remember, children learn the most from their parents and teachers. You can set an example now that creates long lasting healthy habits by following the same tips for yourself. Your health is your wealth!