Now, the back to school period is coming, parents prepare, organize themselves before the famous “first day in class” of their children (or even themselves). What has been experienced few weeks ago as playing all sorts of games, meeting relatives, making new friends, traveling, visiting camps, working on a summer job, has brought some joy, new knowledge and life experiences and maybe some pain. It might have been a time whereby the energy resources have been replenished. Now, as the first day approaches, this feeling of getting prepared preoccupies the parents who may think: “what a wonderful time the child had (or is having). It will be soon over.” We want to be materially prepared, meaning having some new clothes, shoes, backpack, crayons, books, a new schedule plan sticked on the fridge’s door; well, this may motivate the kids, but is it enough to create a strong inner foundation in the child? to make him/ her feel secure, healthier, even smarter?
Back in the days I went to elementary school in Douala (Cameroon) in the 80’s, the first day, every school year start was like magical; having on a new pair of shoes (not always), new books, a snack for the break before noon which was generally a piece of white bread also called baguette with jam, or butter, sometimes ham. yeahhh! however, the shoes didn’t looked new all the time, but the snack. As the bell rang, I started to salivate and I enjoyed my snack prepared by mom. My father was the one who everyday brought me to school in the morning and took me back home at noon. At home, we had lunch, the complete family being around the table, and we all took a nap afterwards and then came back to school well nourished and refreshed. Having a complete, tasty meal included fruits and vegetables. My classmates had quite the same experience.
Well, as I see it now, it was quite idealistic but normal back then, having a complete lunch, with the whole family and then a nap. Now in Canada and many other places, it is another story. In general, the children eat and snack from their lunch bags…at school. They consume a junk food from a supermarket or a meal which has been prepared at home. In other cases, some schools make an agreement with a food company which serves a specific menu taking into consideration the dietary habits of the child. Vegetarian or non- vegetarian for instance or excluding possible allergenic ingredients. In this particular case, the parent pay for it. Is it a secret now that there is an increasing population of children or scholars that have an issue related to food? No, I don’t think so.
I am now to name some dysfunctions which rarely happened few decades ago, whether in Cameroon or Canada: obesity, sweet or chocolate cravings, overeating/undereating, allergies, constipation, lack of concentration, colds, tooth decay, gas, skin eruption, diarrhea, hyperactivity, arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure…just to name a few. Those things happen and we might think we are not in control of.
1- Wait a minute! where do all these conditions come from? How does a very young child, aged 4, 5, even 17 years old visits a dentist/dermatologist/surgeon/gastroenterologist/ immunologist/ORL specialist/clinic’s doctor not once but several times within the same year? Why does the health of the population (not only of african descent), especially children’s does not improve, but deteriorate?
You might see a teen and give him the age of 16 or 17. but in reality, he is just 13. Many are getting OLD too fast, they are degenerating!! Also, you might see a woman/man, give her/him the age of 50, but she/he is 40.
I am talking about building a strong inner foundation and most of the dysfunctions appearing now are pretty the results of not enough discipline habits of healthy nourishment,…From the time you were born, do you realize how much of the so called “new foods” were created and consumed? Do you realize the resulting dysfunctions as named above?
You might notice that the deterioration that is visible on the outside has previously started from the inside. And what do we generally do? We are used to run to a doctor to fix the outside.
We are all made up of nutrients, that is our foundation, as we learnt in elementary school: do you remember learning in elementary school that beriberi results from lack of B vitamin (especially B1)? soft teeth/bones (rickets/osteoporosis) results from lack of calcium/vitamin D? Also, a less severe deficiency of vitamin C results in tissue weakness (bleeding and receding gums), because vitamin C is necessary to build the major component of connective tissue; appropriate protein breakdown provide structure of the hair, nails, skin,…
It is important for parents to instill good eating habits in their children and to avoid over- indulgence in refined sugars, refined flours and high-fat, fried fast foods. Children need a lot of nourishing foods to provide them with all of the important nutrients for growth. Setting a good example is my number one tip for parents for the purpose of feeding their children healthfully. That being said, is it an easy job?
The most damaging criminals in the modern diet are: White sugar, bleached white flour, fried foods, meat/fish.
White sugar (highly present in commercial candies, pastries, sirups, pops, cakes, pancakes, muffins, donuts, sugary cereals, ice cream, refined carbohydrate snacks,…) is an addicting synthetic chemical, has no fiber, no nutrients, increases the sugar level in the body beyond its natural level, which causes learning problems, hyperactivity, attention deficit, mood swings, behavior problems, nutrient deprivation, diabetes, high blood pressure, nerve and brain damage, kidneys failure, cataracts, poor circulation, chronic fatigue, tooth decay, arthritis. Sweets also cause a craving for salt and salt in return causes a craving for sweets. Watch out the menus at Burping King, Mc dudu or Killed and Fried Chicken; the menus are mainly sweet and salty. So, when you eat the fries and chicken which are damned salty, after a while, you need to compensate with some sweet stuff, naturally pop drinks which they offer sometimes free of charge. By the way, there is no such things as free there! You pay afterwards by ending up toxic and nutrient deficient. On top of that, they make sure you crave their foods, so they use addictive substances such as Monosodium Glutamate which is a salt also sugar, and then you will come back again. WHY? to satisfy the addiction they created in you. Ask yourself the question: how does it happen that a child, when seeing a brand of a junk food industry, the mood suddenly changes, he or she has one thing in mind, doesn’t realize having uncontrollable cravings.
Bleached white flour (highly present in commercial bread, cakes, muffins, biscuits, waffles, pancakes, donuts,…) is constipating because it has no fiber, it is just a non- digestible roughage. Bleached white flour is robbed of over 22 (twenty-two) minerals and vitamins. You don’t want your child or yourself to be undernourished. Since deficiencies are widespread, we might well ask why this is so. Let us examine what happens when whole wheat grain is turned into white flour. The following data (work done by Henry A. Schroeder in the U.S. and by M.O. Bruker in Germany, both medical doctors) shows the percentages of some essential nutrients and fiber lost during processing:
Fiber (-95%) ,Essential Fatty Acids (-95%), Calcium (-60%), Manganese (-86%), Magnesium (-85%), Potassium (-77%), Iron (-76%), Chromium (-40%), Zinc (-78%), Vitamin E (-86%), B-vitamins (-72 to -81%).
Polished (white) rice has lost between 26 and 83 % of each mineral present in brown rice. Corn starch has lost between 31 and 100 % of each mineral present in whole corn. Sugar has lost between 83 and 100 % of each mineral present in raw sugar.
Fried foods are non-digestible, constipating and just partially used by the body. Fried foods cause the craving for sweets.
ACTIONS TO TAKE
You would never want to build a home on an unstable foundation.The same goes for a child growing up on a poor diet. Every body needs a nutrient rich nutrition; however the growing child suffers more because of nutrient deficiency or internal toxicity. Most conditions improve greatly once the right diet and lifestyle are put into place.
Nonetheless, there are simple actions to be taken every day to insure strong and permanent health of the child, which is the backbone of every success at school or at work:
A – Develop a plan, a strategy for optimum nutrition and health.
- When you don’t plan, you‘ve already failed, said someone. Sickness doesn’t just show up! It is the result of everyday’s habits, ways of thinking, eating, drinking and living. It includes a well written and also applied knowledge of what foods or nutrients you buy, in which form, how your body responds or how well you assimilate…
- Make a plan, know more about the health or dysfunction a habit brings to you. You surely know about financial planning and that nobody can have long term financial success without financial planning. It is the same approach with your first house, meaning your body which connects to your mind and spirit.
B – Upon awaking: drink at least one (or two) glass(es) of water. This is the most neglected health habits of all. It should NOT be. Eliminating clears the digestive system
of toxins and the mucus that has been built during the night. Any food that spoils, ferments, forms gas also causes a disturbance in the bowel and also affects the rest of the body. Above all things, it is necessary to have proper bowel movements in order to have a healthy body. Make this a ritual. Even if you don’t feel it, it is very crucial to program the system to eliminate at certain periods of the day.
C – Simple morning meal solutions:
- Pieces of fruits or one glass of a home made vegetable and fruit juice (carrots, pineapple, oranges, beets, parsley,…). Use your imagination.
- Eating a warm, whole grain cereal (oatmeal with flaxmeal or flaxseeds for instance) provides a good source of morning energy. Be careful, the sugary cereals may be tastier and more stimulating, but the boost is short-lived and is more often followed by a depressed period). Add some nuts or seeds to their grains offers better long-term energy and nutrients.
- Fruit milk or seed milk with some non-processed cereals (do you remember the effects of white sugar and the nutrient loss after processing as seen above? avoid processed cereals). Cow’s milk is a major allergen, while being not digestible. Black people (at least 70 %) don’t have the milk lactase, the enzyme necessary to digest the cow’s milk lactose. However, you are on a more secure side by alternating with fruit/seed/nut milk beverages such as banana milk/almond’s milk which do not tax your digestive and defense system, avoiding regular colds, fatigue, etc…
- Aside from the information above, I have listed a bunch of commercially harmful ingredients as well as their healthier counterpart. You may introduce them in your diet.
To reduce/eliminate – To incorporate
White Flour - Whole Wheat Flour
Candy - Pieces of Fruit/Vegetable
White Sugar - Less dangerous is honey. Stevia is safest.
Sugarcoated cereals - Plain Cereals
Packaged Foods - Home Made Foods
Packaged/Carbonated Drinks - Fruit juice mixed with water
Bread with preservatives - Bread without preservatives
Commercial peanut butter - Home made peanut butter
Commercial chocolate mix - Raw cacao powder
Butter, Margarine - Sesame butter, almond butter
Cowʼs milk - Fruit, nut or seed milk (Banana, almond milk)
2 cups of banana milk (recipe)
This is a nutrient-rich beverage, can be made in a blender (blend until smooth) with 1/4 cup of raw almonds, 2 to 4 bananas, 2 cups of warm water, 1 pinch of sea salt and vanilla. You can add some non-processed sugar like stevia, pure honey. Refrigerate. Simply DELICIOUS NUTRITIOUS!!
D – Create simple but nutrient rich lunches/meals
- Main meals should NOT take more than 3 or 4 hours to be digested. A digestive system that receives food 4 to 5 times a day should have completely digested the previous meal. When animal protein (fish, chicken, beef, pork,…) and carbohydrate (white rice,…) or starch are eaten at the same time, none of them is properly digested. This food combination requires lots of digestive juices, spends too much time in the stomach, and putrefy there. By the time one has a snack, the stomach is not yet empty and the putrefaction gets worse. That leads to nutrient deficiencies and internal toxicity. Consider the major and important food groups such as vegetables (leafy greens like parsley, cabbage, kale, spinach; vegetable flowers like broccoli,…), fruits, beans (like lentils, peas, kidney beans), whole grains (like quinoa, brown rice, barley,…), raw seeds (like sesame seeds, pumpkin seed,…), roots and tubers (like yams, cassava,…), raw nuts if allowed in school (coconuts, walnuts, almonds,…).
- Consider warm foods during the cold season, like potages.
E – Develop healthy habits
- There are always outside influences at this age such as other children or tell-lie-vision (television) with food commercials that attempt to undermine the healthy habits you have worked hardly over the years to develop in your children. Again, it comes back primarily to the parents when it comes to setting a good example pertaining the health patterns of their young ones.
- be creative with veggies; most children prefer raw vegetables to cooked ones; so try more raw veggies. Offer whatever vegetables the child likes and also maintain the fruits, grains, and protein foods. And with this, you will be healthier too, as you appear as a good nutritional example.
- avoid rewards of such sweets as ice cream, cake, or candy for eating their vegetables. Bribery and rewards may emphasize the treats and lessen the value of the more healthy foods.
- get children involved in meal planning and preparation as they get older may also help. Having them assist in preparing their school lunch will give them more pleasure in eating it.
F – Invest in a nutrient rich diet
- It is wise to buy and consume vitamins and minerals that are made from plants (herbs and whole foods). Vitamins energize the body while minerals stabilize it. . Do not buy synthetic vitamins and minerals. Processed synthetic vitamins are just dead, something that is dead can not give life. They drain the body of nutrients, alter the pH and the chemistry of the body and have a negative effect on health as well as on the defense mechanism, maintaining you in a defense attitude like taking a tylenol/aspirin which are drugs taxing the system, especially the liver.
- The quality and availability of the nutrient makes all the difference. Swallowing calcium pills doesn’t mean much. Which form of calcium and how much is absorbed are the most critical factors. For instance, between Calcium oxide and Calcium aspartate, the absorption rate reaches up to 30% for the first and 80 % for the second.
- Your diet and nutritional supplementation should contain the most obvious nutrients that the average individual lacks such as: Iron, Calcium, Magnesium, Zinc, vitamin C, Chromium, Vitamins A, C, E, B-vitamins including folic acid, Essential Fatty Acids (omega 3), fiber. Let’s consider iron. Iron deficiency is common in childhood and adolescence; when the circulating iron is low, then fatigue, learning difficulties, emotional symptoms may occur. You don’t want your child (you too) to be nutrient deficient. You can get all these from a whole food diet, herbs, or natural nutrients on a daily basis.
The issue of health comes down to individual responsibility. In this context, responsibility means choosing a healthier alternative over a less healthy one. If you want to be healthy, nobody can make healthy choices but you.
May this period of learning and evolving, whereby you invest a lot of money, time, energy be sustained by a smart mind in a strong healthy body, and rewarded by outstanding results.
There is a saying of Egyptian origin that resonates with me: “Each child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged of man”. That being said, the children, as future of the society should be taught not just to pursue a degree or certification but in order to help them define their reason or purpose for being on Earth.
Fabrice Siemeni, on behalf of HappinessPotential.