Back to school holistic health tips
Updated: Jan 4
By Meagan Roback, RMT
Natural ways to help children integrate back in school
There are several COVID19 protocols being implemented by the schools, whether public or private institutions. As a parent, there are natural ways to help your kids integrate back into the school routine.
A good night’s sleep is important for everyone. Sleep patterns may change during summer vacation, so getting kids on a back-to-school sleeping schedule a week before the first day can reduce the stress of implementing it the night before - for the parent and the child. A good night’s sleep is important so that the children are alert and can pay attention during class. The amount of sleep differs from person to person, but here’s a general rule of thumb: 10 to 12 hours of sleep from kindergarten to teenage years, and 8 to 10 hours in the teenage years. Try and avoid giving any stimulant-inducing foods before bed, or even the afternoon depending on the sensitivity of the child, like pop, tea and chocolate. Exposure to TV, gaming or using the computer or phones before bed should also be avoided, and limiting it to an hour or two a day has also been shown to help with sleep.
A great way to start the day is having a jam packed breakfast with as much nutrition as possible. Superfoods are a great way to add nutrient-dense foods into an easy to digest smoothie. They are also a quick on-the-go breakfast in case you or they are running behind. It’s also easy to hide things like avocado, kale, bee pollen, hemp seeds, aloe vera, chia seeds, nuts or other high impact foods in smoothies, combined with delicious fruits like bananas, berries, pineapple and mangoes - in case your child is a picky eater. Introducing these foods to children early as possible may help them be less inclined to refuse them down the road as well.
Having a highly nutritious meal not only helps the body stay healthy, it can also have better cognitive effects for optimal performance at school. It also helps the child feel full given the high nutrition count so the body doesn’t get hungry or crave foods during the morning break, reducing the need to go for sugary-dense or high fat snacks in the vending machine. Sometimes packing an apple or carrots and celery sticks to get them to lunch can help as well, even with a fruit smoothie in the morning.
We are fortunate to be in a season where we are still able to get local fresh fruits and vegetables. This tip is not only helpful at the beginning of the school year, rather all year long. Try and reduce exposure to pesticides. It’s great to have the Environmental Working Group's (EGW) "dirty dozen" and the "clean fifteen" lists handy when you’re at the farmers market or the grocery store, either as an app or print and carry the lists to take them with you. Organic produce and packaged foods are becoming more and more common, and less and less expensive. Spending a little bit more on an organic banana is helping your child’s health overall.
Many scientific studies are looking at the human and environmental side effects of pesticides on health, and have been linked to chronic impacts such as cancer, asthma, ADHD, Alzheimer’s, other cognitive effects, as well as several others. Switching to organic in time for back-to-school may not change the effects of exposure overnight, but ensuring your kids have less in their bodies to battle against, means less stress on the body and directing immunity boosting cells to fight off other harmful pathogens. Pesticides are everywhere and can be carried into the household in many ways, not just in our food. One way to avoid exposure is to eat organic.
The same could be said for Genetically Modified Foods (GMOs) and their effects, which surveys vary and are hard to really understand at this time given we don’t really know their long-term effect. We are fortunate that in Canada non-GMO foods and certified organic foods are properly labeled, so there’s no guessing game like it is in the United States and other areas of the world. Of the studies that have been done, GMOs have been linked to allergic reactions, cancer and antibacterial resistance.
Going to school means that kids may often have less activity than in the summer months. Sitting for the majority of the day means that the body can become out of alignment. Setting up chiropractic and massage therapy treatments in the beginning of the school year to help the body adjust may prevent more chronic conditions down the road.
Another way is to pack a natural mini first aid kit: Calendula cream is like a natural Polysporin; Witch Hazel mixed with water is a great astringent; Arnica is good for all sorts of pain, strains and bumps - speak with a homeopathic doctor, naturopathic doctor or a holistic chemist and they can help you pull together a great kit to send of to school.
These are just a few tips parents can be aware of and possibly implement into a back-to-school routine. Helping children understand positive health practices means they could continue to implement these practices into their adult lives, further reinforcing optimal wellbeing and health.
Exposure to pesticides and the associated human health effects by Ki-Hyun Kim, Ehsanul Kabir, Shamin Ara Jahan - Science of the Total Environment, 2017
Sleep: Benefits and recommended amounts, aboutkidshealth.ca
What are the pros and cons of GMO foods? Medicalnewstoday.com
Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. The content provided is for informational purposes only. Use of the content provided on this blog post is at your sole discretion.