As they say on the Game of Thrones ad: ‘brace yourself, winter is coming’

‘Put your coat on or you’ll catch a cold’ – it’s a phrase that becomes part of the job when you are a parent, isn’t it!

We spend our lives trying to keep our children safe and healthy from outside dangers – ‘careful you don’t trip’, ‘wash your hands before you eat’ and so on … but how much time do we spend thinking about their health from the inside?

As winter approaches, so does the season of illnesses, so it’s a good time to have a quick review of your family’s eating habits to try and boost their immune system in readiness for winter.

Eat colourful food!

Children’s health and wellbeing charity, the Sunflower Trust, works with children of all ages to help them be the best that they can be with nutrition playing a major part.  One of its practitioners, Sheree McGregor, suggests thinking of your child’s food plate as an artist’s palette; “if it is bursting with colour, it will be bursting with flavour and good nutrition.”

She adds: “Internal chemistry of the body is not something we can see but when it is upset we feel it. It manifests in every aspect of our lives, from how energetic we are, to the foods we crave, to thoughts we have in our heads and our emotions.

“Nature provides foods in wonderfully prepared packages, all the chemistry is taken care of – the acid/alkaline balance, vitamin and mineral content, the fibre as well as the millions of phytonutrients. All we have to do is eat the amazing array of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, pulses and grains on offer alongside good quality protein.”

Of the top 15 foods that boost the immune system, those that might appeal to children on an everyday basis could be:

Citrus fruits, broccoli, almonds, live yoghurt, kiwi fruit, papaya, chicken and, of course, sunflower seeds!

Be aware of what affects your child

However, know your child.  For some children, certain foods can cause symptoms that you would not expect. Dairy, for example, whilst an important part of a balanced diet for most, can simply be too difficult for some people to digest.

All too often children visiting Sunflower have been found to have dairy sensitivities, with issues including skin flair-ups, behavioural problems and a complete lack of energy.

For example, Courtney, 14, had been suffering with what you might think were prevalent “winter” issues – ear, nose and throat problems. She also felt very sad, had a lack of energy and concentration as well as confidence issues, bad skin problems and poor appetite. After visiting Sunflower, her mother stated: “After giving up dairy for a month, she was like a different person. It is as if she had been in a woolly cloud and now she has come out again.  She feels much happier and is able to concentrate. It was as if her body had been completely clogged up trying to process all the dairy.”

Dylan, who is only four years old was also really struggling. After a Sunflower Pre-Programme Assessment of 78 different tests, he was found to have a dairy allergy. His mother cut out diary in his diet and said: “I can finally enjoy my son! We were desperate; we might have had one good day with him here or there but now we have had three weeks. This has changed our lives as a family.”

Other foods that some children can be intolerant or sensitive to include gluten, eggs and sugar. The NHS also says the six food colours most closely linked to hyperactivity in children are:

  • E102 (tartrazine)
  • E104 (quinoline yellow)
  • E110 (sunset yellow FCF)
  • E122 (carmoisine)
  • E124 (ponceau 4R)
  • E129 (allura red)

Brain and body are linked!

The Sunflower Trust strongly believes that if a child is fully integrated between brain and body they will perform better, feel happier, achieve more, mix better socially and have a greater sense of self-confidence, allowing them to contribute better to society.

If you are concerned that your child may be affected by a food sensitivity or needs a little extra help to achieve their potential, contact the Sunflower Trust on:

Tel: 01483 531498


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