YOU are the “expert” on your child (especially in terms of nutrition)

As parents and as caring family members, we all want to give the best start to our children's lives by giving them a healthy start. But we tend to underestimate how often that intention gets hijacked by other subtle forces at play. My own personal experience with a child who used to be a picky eater (we have made HUGE progress in the past year or so) showed me that none of us is really immune to those influences unless we choose to open our eyes to the way that it shapes our children's health.

As a result, both as a mother of two children and as a health professional, I am quite concerned about the nutritional value of the foods that children today are having on a regular basis. There are many things that are worth emulating the Western countries for but their modern diet is not one of them. Unfortunately, as more and more international food giants look for newer markets and launch their highly processed products along with highly refined marketing campaigns in India, it is difficult to resist the allure of what they seem to be offering us. We have the same problem with Indian manufacturers peddling their processed foods products to our children.

What do these highly processed foods seem to offer us?

Convenience- YES

Taste- YES

Affordability- YES

Nutritional Value- MAYBE (or in some cases MINIMAL and/or HARMFUL)

Should you be concerned with the impact these foods may be having on your child? ABSOLUTELY!

While childhood obesity is one of the most obvious manifestations of this worldwide epidemic, there are less obvious health issues that our children are facing today and which can all be traced back to their diet (along with other causes)

ADD, ADHD and behavioural challenges

Digestive disorders

Fatigue or low energy levels

Inability to concentrate and lack of focus

Poor immunity (having constant colds and cough) and prolonged recovery from an illness

Diabetes and kidney disease

Overfed and undernourished

Do you have a child who has weight issues?

Do you have a picky eater who refuses to eat anything apart from refined and processed foods and minimal vegetables and fruits?

Do you have a child who craves for sweet foods and has them on a regular basis?

Do you have a child who has behavioural issues, digestive issues, low energy or poor immunity?

We may not realise how critical role poor nutrition plays in all of this and as a result many children today are "overfed" and at the same time "undernourished"

As you may have realised by now, this article aims to highlight and bring awareness to one of the main causes behind the poor health of many children today- their equally poor nutritional status. Most children (at least in the urban areas) are getting the requisite calories needed daily but are NOT getting the necessary ingredients that their developing bodies need to repair, grow, maintain optimal health and have robust immune systems. As a result, we are seeing many of the "consequences" of this nutritional status in our children from a very early age. Today we have seen a massive explosion in the number of children suffering from obesity, diabetes, autoimmune conditions, other chronic conditions, neurological disorders, behavioural issues and many more.

As one of the unintended consequences, we have started normalising many of our children's health issues. Chronic health issues like eczema, asthma, recurrent headaches, allergies, digestive issues, anxiety are actually "symptoms" of underlying imbalances and one of the causes is usually nutritional deficiencies. Healthy children are pretty resilient and usually bounce back quite quickly from a bout of illness with some rest, time and proper nutrition. However, even this time taken to recover from an illness can become extended as many children today suffer from low or poor immunity. I have covered this aspect of children's health in my previous article and webinar.

(You can view my previous article on this topic "Is your child's immune system at risk?" by clicking HERE and the webinar by clicking HERE)

Even if you are not sure whether this is really the case for your child and irrespective of whether he or she has any health issues as of now, would you really like to wait to find out? 

OR

Would you like to become more proactive by taking full responsibility for your child's health and therefore her nutritional status as a parent and do what is right even if it means being sometimes "unpopular"?

Today, as parents we have become far too lenient with our children's health. We have confused being a "good parent" to being a "popular one". Somehow we have come to believe that our children should be never unhappy or uncomfortable and that it is our duty as a parent to ensure the same 24X7.

Do we all want what is best for our children? Of course we do!

Does it mean that they will be happy with whatever decisions we make for them till they are ready to take that responsibility? Not always!

A toddler or a 5 year old does not know what to eat that it is nourishing for her, yet we let them decide every meal. Even a 10 or 12 year old will not fully comprehend why they need to eat the nutritious foods that we give them, but they need to eat it anyway. So does a 15 year old for that matter, but the conversations that we have on this subject will be different and will depend on their age. (This is exactly the reason there is an age restriction when it comes to smoking and alcohol and driving, we know our children are not yet capable of making these decisions on their own, they need us as parents to guide them).

As far as food is concerned, as we have become scared of saying NO to the things that are affecting our children's health, in effect we are saying YES to processed and nutritionally depleted foods which will have long term impact on our children's health

And childhood is the time when their little bodies need the MAXIMUM amount of highly nutritious foods as their brains and other organs develop, the foods that they eat now will lay the foundation for their health for the rest of their life. This is equally true of their eating habits and preferences. So if we have not helped our child learn to develop a taste for vegetables AND other nutritious foods, learn to be adventurous in trying new foods and develop good eating hygiene, chances are that is exactly what they will still be like when they are 40 years old!

YOU are the "expert" on your child 

As parents, we need to educate ourselves and protect our children by making healthy choices FOR THEM. 

We are the "experts" on what is BEST for our children in terms of nutrition and everything else. And we simply cannot outsource that responsibility to other people, organisations and corporates!

Being the parent of a "picky" eater, for a while I lived under the illusion that my child was somehow to blame for preferring to eat fewer vegetables and unprocessed foods and prefer breads and other such refined foods. Once I realised my folly and started to take back responsibility for my child's nutrition, I started to make changes which were necessary all the while keeping the bigger picture in mind. It has not been an easy process, but we have made much progress and it all started with me realising this need to make changes.

The one other thing I would like to point out is our need to celebrate special occasions like birthdays with a menu comprising solely of what we would otherwise call "junk food". Somehow it has become acceptable that children's birthday menu reads like a fast food chain restaurant's menu. Instead of the concept of "treats" which we were raised with and looked forward to occasionally, our children are being raised on a daily diet of foods like pastries, cakes, fries, candies etc which have crowded out other wholesome and natural foods.

 

 

 

"Our bodies are hardwired for sweet"

We all need to be aware that children have a natural affinity towards sweet as a part of their nature to ensure survival when they are born. The sweet receptor as an important part of the taste system enables their bodies to make the decision of whether to accept a particular food (and hence ensure survival) and also to prepare the digestive system about the foods coming in. Sweet also acts as an analgesic towards pain and helps calm down babies and children. It is this basic biological mechanism that is being exploited by an onslaught of highly refined, sugar laded foods that are luring them to choose these foods over other healthier options that they actually need to grow.

Food is both nutrition AND enjoyment and we need to teach our children to choose options which satisfy both these needs. 

This is what I have learned over the years BOTH as a parent and as a Health Coach

We simply cannot give away our responsibility of providing proper nutrition to our child to "experts" no matter who they are!

We need to stop making excuses about what our child "likes to eat" (read junk and processed foods like pizza, soda, chips) and take back our power as a parent from the clutches of the food industry

We need to educate ourselves about the foods that we are giving our children and the impact it is having on their health, our ignorance can cause our children harm in the long run

We can choose to celebrate special ocassions like birthdays with healthier dietary options without compromising on taste 

We have to model the behaviour and preferences for a healthy life and eating hygiene ourselves; we cannot expect our children to follow something which we are not embodying at home

We owe it to our children to give them as healthy a start in childhood as we possibly can even if it means going against popular societal trends at that time and being "unpopular" at times; we are not here to win a popularity contest

And most importantly, we are not "depriving" our children by doing all of this, we are actually giving them the gift of long lasting health

If you would like to educate yourself and know more about the foods that our children are having these days and how it is affecting their health, please join me for a LIVE webinar on 29th of March, Friday on this very topic

Webinar “Are our children overfed and undernourished?

In this webinar I cover the following aspects children and nutrition

true health is NOT the absence of disease

"a healthy child" needs proper nourishment

food and nutrition

toxins in our food

how we are allowing the food industry to shape our children's health

YOU are the expert on your child

Happy, healthy eaters

Register for my LIVE webinar "Are our children overfed and undernourished?"

Date : 29th March, FRIDAY

Time: 1230 pm

 

 

Webinar “Are our children overfed and undernourished?

As a mother of two children and as a health professional, I am quite concerned about the nutritional value of the foods that children today are having on a regular basis. There are many things that are worth emulating the Western countries for but their modern diet is not one of them. Unfortunately, as more and more international food giants look for newer markets and launch their highly processed products along with highly refined marketing campaigns in India, it is difficult to resist the allure of what they seem to be offering us. We have the same problem with Indian manufacturers peddling their processed foods products to our children.

What do these highly processed foods seem to offer us?

Convenience- YES

Taste- YES

Affordability- YES

Nutritional Value- MAYBE (or in some cases MINIMAL and/or HARMFUL)

Should you be concerned with the impact that these may be having on your child? ABSOLUTELY!

While childhood obesity is one of the most obvious manifestations of this worldwide epidemic, there are less obvious health issues that our children are facing today and which can all be traced back to their diet (as well as other causes)

ADD, ADHD and behavioural challenges

Digestive disorders

Fatigue or low energy levels

Inability to concentrate and lack of focus

Poor immunity (having constant colds and cough) and prolonged recovery from an illness

Diabetes and kidney disease

Our normalising of chronic illness of our children is another cause of concern. Somehow, chronic health issues in children like recurrent headaches, skin rashes, eczema, allergies, anxiety, depression, behavioural problems in many children have become the "new normal".

And one of the main reasons is that our children are simply NOT getting the nutrients that they need to grow up to be healthy adults.

We all need to stop making excuses about what our child "likes to eat" (read junk and processed foods like pizza, soda, chips) and take back our power as a parent from the clutches of the food industry. We need to educate ourselves about the foods that we are giving our children and the impact it is having on their health

Register for my LIVE webinar "Are our children overfed and undernourished?"

Date : 29th March, FRIDAY

Time: 1230 pm

In this webinar I cover the following aspects children and nutrition

true health is NOT the absence of disease

"a healthy child" needs proper nourishment

food and nutrition

toxins in our food

how we are allowing the food industry to shape our children's health

YOU are the expert on your child

Happy, healthy eaters

JOIN ME on 29th March, Friday at 1230 pm for a live webinar "Are our children overfed and undernourished?"

REGISTER for the webinar by clicking HERE

Selfcare- you cannot drink from an empty cup (Take back the power to heal yourself- part 2)

In my last post (you can read it here), I had highlighted the importance of self-care in terms of healing ourselves. In this post, I would like to delve deeper into this subject by answering the following questions.  

  • What is self-care really?
  • And how is it tied to self-compassion and well being?
  • Most importantly, how do you find the version that works best for you so that you are most likely to continue with the routine especially when times get rough and you are incredibly busy?

What we may not realise is that self-care is not selfish, in fact, it is just the opposite. As parents taking good care of ourselves and thereby setting an example for our children is one of the best gifts we can give them. And as adults and citizens, we can model self-care habits to build a culture of sustainable health.

"You can't pour from an empty cup, take care of yourself first"

 

This is especially true for women and definitely true for me. As natural givers and caretakers, those women who are also mothers are even worse at self-care.  This is true for healthcare providers and other similar professions as well where sleepless nights, emotional exhaustion and constant demand is commonplace. While there will always be certain situations which are beyond our control, most of the time, we can take out the time to replenish and rejuvenate ourselves on a regular basis. Much the same way that we take care of our cars.

 

 

We send our car periodically to the best service centre to get a check up and servicing done. We also get it filled with top quality fuel so that it runs smoothly. But somehow, we end up ignoring the need to take care of our own physical and emotional health.

I learned this the hard way when I was taking care of our very sick 7-year-old daughter about 5 years ago. She was hospitalised with a life-threatening infection and before that, she had been struggling with major health issues for more than a year. I was willing to do anything and give up anything just to see her get better. I slept next to her in the ICU for almost 2 weeks straight while my husband and family took turns in the morning. It was a harrowing time for all of us.

But once she had come back home and things had settled down a bit for us, I realised very early that in order to take care of her, I had to take care of myself first. This realisation did not happen in one day though. Over a period of time I realised that if I did not take care of myself, I would not be able to do an effective job of taking care of her. This not only included tending to her physical needs, it also meant taking care of her emotional health as she dealt with a very difficult situation.

For most of us though, we do not need to wait for a difficult situation to come to this conclusion. We know deep down inside what we REALLY need to do take care of ourselves. We usually do not end up having a plan in place that can help us reach our self-care goals. Also, if you have not taken out the time to prioritise self-care in your busy life, you may never find out which practices will work for you since it will always be different for each person.

We forget that we need to treat ourselves with the same kindness that we treat others when they are in pain or in need of some kind of support. The very fact that we notice that someone who is suffering needs our compassion is what connects us to others and makes us human. Compassion also opens our hearts and minds to all kinds of experiences as we become more accepting and less judging. We have to realise the need to extend this same compassion to ourselves.

As we learn to accept our imperfections, failure and suffering which are all inevitable, we also learn to put ourselves on the top of our TO-DO lists. We start on our journey towards self-care and not only enrich our own lives but everyone around us.

"YOU are the most important investment you can make in your life"

There are many different ways that you can design your very own self-care routine. But it all starts with the realisation that you are well worth it to invest your own time and effort into this. No one else can do it for you.

In order to lead a meaningful, productive and healthy life, you will need to figure out the "self investments" that will pay off in the long run. It is impossible to "do-it-all" so it is important not to have an "all or nothing" attitude. Some people can get stuck with this mindset and end up not doing anything at all. We do not need a huge chunk of our day to take care of ourselves on a regular basis.

In reality, you can do a lot in five minutes—you can do some calming yoga poses, deep breathing, listen to some music that inspires you, do some guided meditation or read a chapter from a book.

Find a few things that work for you and condense them into smaller pieces which can be spread out into your daily routine. A consistent morning and evening routine works very well to start the day off on a positive note and then to end the day on a relaxing and quieting note leading to better sleep. No matter how busy your schedule, the payoff is well worth it.

The best way to start on your self-care journey is to

"Give yourself permission to pause during the day"

 

The different ways that you can utilise this time is by-

Moving your body every day- find a physical activity that you like and schedule a time to do it regularly. It does not matter what you do, it matters that you DO IT. It can be dancing, walking, jogging, running, yoga or anything else that you enjoy

Having a cup of tea and reading a book

Listening to your favourite music and getting up to dance a sweat if you feel like it

Getting a massage done once in a while

Keeping and writing in your journal regularly about things that matter to you, penning down your thoughts and feelings and even 3 things that you are grateful for everyday

Learning a new hobby or enjoying indulging in an old one like art, music, instruments, dance and anything else that you enjoy or even miss from your childhood

Taking out the time to make and maintain meaningful friendships

Setting aside a daily QUIET time which does not involve any electronics, social media, work. Consider meditation, enjoying creative activities like art or simply enjoying observing the clouds floating by outdoors or watching the raindrops fall on a glass pane and even taking a nap

It really does not matter what exactly you do, it matters that you DO IT.

Do you need to give yourself permission to pause from time to time during the day? Which activities appeal to you and how can you fit these into your daily schedule no matter how hectic it is? What are the obstacles that you need to overcome first? Please share your experiences and thoughts in the comments section below. I look forward to hearing from you!

(I will be posting the last part of this 3 series in the next week and it will cover an important aspect of getting to know yourself better as we practice. It is a natural progression from as we start practising self- care on a regular basis, I really look forward to sharing it with you)

 

 

 

 

Take back the power to heal yourself (Part 1)

(This is the first of a three-part series of posts on self-care. While I had originally intended it to be only one post, I realised while writing this that there was a lot I wanted to share and I did not want to cut any corners. I will be publishing the remaining posts in the next few weeks)

When was the last time you felt that your health was completely in your hands?

That you had the power to decide the outcome of your health goals?

Do you often feel powerless in front of medical authorities when you meet them for your health issues?

This is not confined only to doctor visits though.

This can happen to any of us anywhere and with anyone that we chose to give away our power to. We often knowingly or unknowingly give away our power over our own lives to authorities outside of us and to the circumstances in our lives.

When we hear the word Power we usually think of it as something lying outside of us.

A powerful car.

A powerful businessman or leader.

A powerful speech.

A powerful motorbike.

A powerful doctor that everyone listens to.

This can also be in the form of thinking that-

If only I had that dream house, I would be able to settle down and be happy

If only I could find someone who finally understands me and loves me, everything would be fine

If only I could have enough money, I would take that long vacation and finally be happy

Does this sound familiar to you?

More often than not we fail to realise we have given our power and in turn our happiness to people and circumstances which lie outside of us. This holds true for all aspects of our lives including our health issues

Instead of turning deep into ourselves, trusting our instincts and listening to what our body is trying to tell us, we usually ignore or otherwise medicate our way out of the symptoms. Medication, of course, has its right of place and is life saving when used properly and for the right reasons. However, when medicine is used as a substitute for self care and leading a well balanced life, it can end up creating a lot of problems in the long run.

"Selfcare is how you take your power back"

Our body is a truly amazing and miraculous thing. Too often we fail to give it the support that it needs on a daily basis to take care of us and keep us healthy. We forget that our bodies have an innate ability to heal provided all the right ingredients are present.

Taking the time to really get to know yourself and who you have become and in turn what your body needs at this point in time, is one of the first places to start. This does not happen in one go and neither does it happen overnight, so we need to deliberately take out the time for self care from our busy schedules on a daily basis.

But before we can begin moving towards changing the way we treat ourselves, we may need to recognise the ways in which we have been giving away our personal power.

We need to...

STOP

Blaming others for our health condition and take responsibility for the choices that we have made

Giving so much to others that we start feeling empty and resentful inside

Holding onto anger and grudges against others who may intentionally or unintentionally have hurt us

Letting other people's behaviour dictate our emotions and how we feel about ourselves and others

INSTEAD

...we can 

Take the time to sit down with ourselves and learn to truly listen to what we need at this moment

Take responsibility for our own life,  feelings and actions

Face our fears and learn to accept the dark and unwanted parts of ourselves as gracefully as we do our strengths; once we are able to do so, they lose their power over us

Nourish our mind and body with positive thoughts and energy by eating the right foods and taking out time to take care of our emotional and physical needs on a daily basis

Most of all, we can get to know ourselves as we would a new friend

In getting to know ourselves, we may...

get to know what we want and what we do not want in our lives, what our likes and dislikes are

find that what we were looking for was within us all the time

find that we need to forgive and move on, and many times the person who needs to be forgiven is ourselves

We can then finally start reclaiming our power and move towards our health and other life goals...

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Health and healing

What would it feel like to be truly alive and healthy? How is that most of come to lose sight of what it means to be “healthy”? It is very different from being “cured”. Many health conditions do not have any cure or a person might be so far gone that treatment is not possible. But that does not mean that a person cannot find a way to heal themselves and indeed many of them do. There are some beautiful books on this subject and my favourite is “The four things that matter most”  by Dr Ira Byock. I have written a synopsis of the book here.