Keeping your kids healthy through the summer and school year is key to keeping your own sanity. You know what I’m talking about. When kids are sick, the schedule is thrown off for everyone! No one wants to be up all night battling the stomach bug or fighting fevers only to have a full day to face when the morning comes. To keep everyone on track, here are some of my favorite tricks to establish this summer so your whole family is ready for the next school year.
Get kids out in the sun as often as possible—at least twenty minutes a day. Limit sunblock use to what their skin type can tolerate. If your child can tolerate twenty minutes in the sun without burning, wait to apply block so they get as much sun as possible. The more skin exposed, the more vitamin D they absorb. Getting vitamin D from the sun is far different from a vitamin D supplement. Vitamin D is fat soluble, meaning we store it in our bodies for when we need it. Sun exposure also supports sulfate synthesis, a super important process for our bodies. Sulfate supports blood vessel health, the body’s electrical supply, and the delivery system for important molecules such as cholesterol, vitamin D, dopamine, and melatonin. Playing in the summer sunshine is a fun and easy way to support kids’ health.
2. Fruits and Veggies
An apple a day keeps the doctor away is still true today. Kids need lots of organic fruits and veggies to promote brain and body health, including immune function. Getting your kids involved in food prep can go a long way to getting them hooked on healthy foods. Bring them shopping and let them pick out the fruits and veggies they want. Have your kids make their own lunches. When I started doing this with my own kids I had a list: one fruit, one veggie, one protein (like turkey, ham, tuna, eggs, beans, etc.) and something fun (chips, crackers, a cookie, fruit roll-up, etc.). Make it fun and support their choices, and this activity can become a daily routine that leads to healthy lunches that kids want to eat. Ask your kids how their body feels when they feed it different options. If they only pack cookies one day, don’t sweat it. They will discover on their own that cookies for lunch isn’t a great choice!
3. Quality Fats
Incorporate a good variety of healthy fats into your daily diet, served with a quality protein. Butter, coconut oil, lard, olive oil, and fish oils are all wonderful. Fat doesn’t make you fat, but it does make you smarter! Your brain thrives on good fats. At our office, fish oils (omega-3 fatty acids) are the first line of supplements for children with learning delays. To increase fats in your diet, eat whole foods high in fat like avocados, nuts, coconut, meats, eggs, and dark fleshy fish. Always pair fats with a serving of healthy protein.
There is a lot to be said for how much mood and mental state contribute to overall health. What is the happiness level of your children? Do they play daily without your guidance? True play for children can only originate from them and is halted whenever adults interrupt this flow. Allow your kids time each day to just be themselves without the influence of adults—or electronics! I know it’s a good day at our house if I hear my children laughing and I have no idea what they are doing. They are playing on their own, having fun, and being their own amazing, unique selves. Tune into your children: What environments do they thrive best in? Do they like structure or freedom? Big groups of friends or one-on-one time? Do they enjoy reading, doing art, playing music, or playing with play dough? Whatever it is, give them time each day to be happy doing their own thing.
Kids need heaps of sunshine, fruits and veggies, good fats paired with protein, and lots of laughter to stay healthy: over the summer, through the school year, and for a lifetime.