How to Boost Your Kids’ Immunity and Keep Them Healthy Year Round (Especially Now)


I’ve had this article sitting in my drafts for a while, and figured now is the perfect time to finish it up. Obviously, these recommendations are useful for the whole year, but I think focusing on them right now during the COVID-19 pandemic is especially important.

Have you noticed that kids tend to be little mucous making machines?  Runny noses seem to be just par for the course in childhood, and once they start school, they seem to jump from one illness to another the whole year round.

With the current lockdown many of us have been under for the last 6 months, you may have noticed that your kids are the healthiest they’ve ever been. But come the fall/winter season that’s right around the corner, you may find that your kids start getting those telltale sniffles, even in isolation!

There are a few simple reasons for this: 

  1. Babies and little kids are still building their immune systems, and their bodies can’t always keep up with the loads of germs they are exposed to every day.  Between putting everything in their mouths as babies, to sub-par personal hygiene as toddlers and kids, their bodies are being barraged by germs all day long.  This is actually a good thing, as it helps their bodies build strong immunities, but often poor sleep or diet catch up with them, and their little systems just can’t keep up.
  2. Childhood is the Kapha type of life.  In Ayurveda, Kapha dosha is characterized by growth, building, and mucous.  Regardless of what your kiddo’s innate body type (or dosha) is, the first third of life is the time of Kapha, which means their little bodies naturally carry more fat, create more mucous, and grow, grow, grow.  If we don’t feed them the right diet for their body types and the Kapha time of their lives, they will inherently be more prone to mucous, runny noses, and colds.

Thankfully, there is a lot we can do to support their systems, balance their Kapha, and strengthen their immune systems year round, and if they do get sick, there are plenty of healthy, natural cold remedies for babies and kids to get them healthy faster.

Below I’m sharing my favorite tools, both Western and Ayurvedic, for helping kids stay healthy.

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How to Have a Healthier Halloween.. and start to the holiday season

 

How to Have a Healthier Halloween | The Organic Beauty BlogHalloween marks the beginning of the holiday season — often a time of overindulgence, guilt, and then backlash come January.  This is a crappy cycle that I’m constantly working with my clients to break, but it’s a tough nut to crack, in part because it’s so deeply engrained in our culture. Here’s an interesting thought though, we can create the culture in our own families; we can literally create, right now, a paradigm of what our children know as “normal,” and we have a lot more control around it than we think.

We can’t shield our children from the big bad world of processed food, candy, and overindulgence, but we can 100% make healthier choices in our own homes that show our children an alternate path to what is essentially a two month food binge.

The kicker is that we have to make these choices for ourselves too.  We don’t want to be those parents that hide our kids Halloween candy and then eat it ourselves after they go to bed.  We’ve gotta practice what we preach, and that takes a general reframe around this fun, sugar-drenched holiday, and the holiday season in general.

Now we all have to decide where to draw the line and what works for our respective families, but here’s what I’m doing in our house to have a healthier halloween, and by extension, holiday season!

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5 Toddler Bad Eating Habits to Break NOW

5 Toddler Bad Eating Habits to Break NOW

As parents, we hold the power to set our children up for a lifetime of healthy eating habits and a happy relationship with food and their bodies.  The eating habits we enforce now, from the very beginning of their relationships with food, can determine how they will eat for the rest of their lives. But sadly, in this country (and pretty much only in this country), parents are set up for failure almost from the get-go with bad eating habits that have become the cultural norm when it comes to feeding babies, toddlers, and kids.

In my holistic nutrition practice, all of my weight loss clients have one (or more) of these three bad habits in common: snacking, emotional eating, and eating on the run.  So much of the struggle with losing weight and keeping it off comes down to breaking these three bad eating habits, but when you’ve been eating that way all your life, or when you come from a household where those habits were the norm, it is much, much harder to move past them. Growing up with bad eating habits can set you up for a frustrating years long battle with weight, dieting, stress eating, body hatred, hypoglycemia, and in more extreme cases, even type 2 diabetes!

Thankfully, it’s not too late to break these bad eating habits, even if your child is no longer a toddler!  But it takes commitment, and a bit of going against the grain.  These bad habits are so deeply ingrained in our parenting culture that it can feel weird to be the one parent who’s kid isn’t attached to a cup of Goldfish or Cheerios.  But I promise you, it is so, so worth it.  You will save yourself and your child so many power struggles, tantrums, and frustrations around mealtimes. And down the road, you can feel proud that your kids have healthy eating habits and are set up for a lifetime of healthy weight, strong bodies, and efficient metabolisms.

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5 Tips for Healthier Treats This Halloween!

Check out the post I wrote for Metromoms.net, just in time for Halloween!

5 Tips for Healthier Treats This Halloween! | The Organic Beauty BlogHalloween stands out as the season for eating unhealthy, gut-busting treats and a real challenge for health-conscious parents whose children are surrounded by peers and media enticing them with sweets. As a certified holistic health counselor, I know it takes an insane amount of willpower to be surrounded by all that candy and not partake; and of course, who wants to be that lame parent who puts the kabosh on sweets?

But fear not! As with everything food-related, there are always healthier, while still yummy, choices to make. Follow these 5 tips to ensure that this year’s Halloween doesn’t spell a diet breakdown for you, or a weeklong sugar rush for the little ones.

  1. Be a chocolate purist. When selecting the sweets to hand out (which invariably equals what sweets you’ll have sitting in your pantry, taunting you for weeks to come), opt for candy that is mostly made up of dark chocolate. For example, Hershey’s Dark Chocolate Kisses (20 cal. each), Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate Miniatures (40 cal. each) and York Peppermint Patties (140 cal. each) tend to have way less calories than their milk chocolate or caramel and nougat-filled counterparts. Plus, you’re getting a bit of a health benefit from the antioxidants in the dark chocolate. Need that milk chocolaty goodness? Go for a Three Musketeers Fun Size Bar, which, thanks to its airy insides, packs only 63 calories!
  2. Don’t taste the rainbow. Avoid all those brightly colored candies that are full of toxic artificial flavors and colors. Ever notice how you can’t eat just one of those little “fruity” suckers? Which makes them major calorie bombs – 10 little Starbursts have over 200 calories (and zero nutritional value). Instead, opt for chocolate-based candies, which are less likely to have tons of chemical additives. And if you’ve gotta have some fruity love, go for Natural Sunkist Fruit Gems, which are made with all-natural ingredients and colored with fruit and vegetable juice.
  3. Don’t stock your faves. I know this sounds crazy, but don’t buy a huge bulk-sized bag of your number one favorite candy. You’ll have tons leftover, and it’ll be that much harder for you to resist overindulging. Instead, pick up a few bags of candy that you (and your kids) are pretty ambivalent about, which means the only candies you’ll be fighting over are the ones your kids brought home.
  4. Consider the alternative route. Remember that one weird house in your neighborhood that gave out bizarre candy no one had ever heard of? They were probably the family that was doing yoga and biking to work way before it was cool. Be a trailblazer and order up some healthier treats from NaturalCandyStore.com, which has delicious candy that fit every ethos and health concern out there, from vegan and gluten-free to sugar-free and organic.  Unreal Candy is a new company that makes healthier, versions of popular candy (M&M, Milky Ways, Snickers & Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups) with no high-fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils, artificial flavors and colors, or GMO ingredients!  Best of all, they’re available at CVS and Target!
  5. Set the rules, and stick to them. A great rule of thumb to keep your kids from turning into psychotic sugar monkeys for the entire week after Halloween is to set some reasonable rules around candy consumption. Lead by example by following the rules yourself. Select a certain amount of candy to keep, and take the rest to share at school or the office — a great way to weed out the bad guys above. Also make sure to set a limit of how much candy everyone gets per day. For example, one piece of candy after dinner keeps the Halloween spirit alive much longer, and keeps everyone from getting pimply and plump.


Natasha Uspensky, CHHC
Holistic Health & Nutrition Counselor
NU Health & Wellness