As a parent, ever notice how having your child run to you with a stuffy, runny nose sends all the red signals to the back of your brain and down your hands shooting straight for their forehead?
I know I have.
"Could it be Measles? Oh no, maybe it's the Chocolate Banana Peanut Butter ice cream I let her binge through last night's cartoon marathon."
"Calm down", your conscience whispers. "It's just a cold."
"A cold? In summer? Under this warm roof? With all the food and smoothies I've been feeding you? Oh sweet child, how I have failed you," wails your eerily loud parental instinct.
She sniffles, and you dash for the list of trusted healthy recipes Nana had hidden in the topmost cookie jar for emergencies such as this. You thumb down the jotted notes and come up with a solution for the exact symptoms. But unfortunately, some of those well known recipes are out of date, and could probably lead to more problems than most. Your child falling ill is common, but for most parents, the horrors they come up with from binging on seriously non-kid friendly apocalyptic series are enough to put their lives on hold.
To calm the waters, and boost 'ye little faith' in Nana's soup recipes, here is a list of 10 foods that will definitely help with your child's cold, even when they have little to no appetite, and 10 that won't help with it at all.
20 YES TO HONEY
Honey is as natural a companion as they come. It has everything the body needs to survive. Why do you think bears love this gooey life source?
Western medicine is catching up to the diverse properties honey provides. Antioxidant. Burned skin soother. Face scrub moisturizer. Too neat not to try that last one out, right?Try looking out for buckwheat honey, more than clover honey the next time you go shopping. There are no regrets from tasting a few teaspoonfuls of it.
Most children find it too sweet, and complain about it being heavy and sticky. Try this for a change. Boil it down in water and mix it up with some cocoa. They won't even notice the difference.
19 NO TO COLD WATER
This particular essence of clear splashy good stuff that's bound to keep you healthy and balanced is not a remedy to managing a child's cold... while cold. It all falls on how fast you want your child to get better. Giving them direct tap water that hasn't seen the insides of a kettle is tantamount to disaster. Not even cold bottled water is safe, folks.
Warming up water not only works wonders for their cold, but also boosts their immunity and improves bowel movements.
18 YES TO CHICKEN SOUP
Now this feels like familiar territory, doesn't it? An old tradition that goes way back to a time before anyone can remember, chicken soup has proven beyond doubt that it is the go-to of all healing remedies.
Did you know that chicken soup, when mixed with a few sticks of celery, some pepper and salt, can actually be used as an energizer for your day?
And if you are not a huge fan of the oil film that mostly appears at the top of a fresh batch, why don't you skim across it with a large leaf of spinach? Or better yet, cabbage!
17 NO TO WHITE FLOUR
Cookies. Pancakes. This is simply the hardest of the list to let go, especially with one beloved Cookie Monster in sight.
When it's Saturday and you want a great activity with your kids, baking is the go-to. After a hard week at work, the aromas of sweet vanilla from across the kitchen as you open the door is a muscle relaxant at best.
But having white flour in your child's diet during this uneventful cold is more harm to their body. Studies have shown that eating foods made of white flour (sorry cupcakes, but you're in this too) tends to suppress the healing capabilities of the immune system.
16 YES TO SWEET POTATOES
Here's something that most kids don't want, especially when they've come down with a cold. However, sweet potatoes should be the proper substitute for all carbs in the morning, despite what rational media will tell you on your daily commute.
Sweet potatoes offer a healthy advantage over bread, white or whole grain. They are tubers dug from the ground, and when boiled, are soft and smooth. You may be surprised to find that downing it with your favorite tea won't need any added sugar. The health benefits are far too many to count, so make sure your child gets some sweet potato action in their diet.
15 NO TO CITRUS FRUITS
This may come as a surprise, but not all citrus fruits are good for that cold. Apologies if Nana's recipe had a kind of orange, lemon or otherwise, but keep reading to see why.
A child's cold is different to an adult's, in that their nasal lining is thinner. As an adult, taking in a cool glass of orange juice might calm your insides, but to a child it may get over-corrosive with their stomach lining. After all, citrus fruits are acidic, and when taken in more doses than necessary, the search for Vitamin C may lead to intestinal issues.
14 YES TO WHITE MEAT
This next entry applies to those households that take an occasional roast as well as sweet oven-baked chicken for birthdays and special occasions. Red meat is out.
I know, I know. There is something about the delicious tenderness of red meat, but sick time is white meat time. Recent studies have shown that having red meat in your diet, which is an acidic food by the way, renders your immunity low after heavy consumption. Now this is not to say that having the occasional beef sliver is bad for you. On the contrary, it boosts energy levels.
But your kiddo is sniffling, so you turn to conventional white meat. From chicken to turkey to fish, a few pieces will build your child's heath right back up again.
13 NO TO CANDY
If this needs explaining then we need to have a chat. A serious one at that.
I get it. Halloween just went by and there's still more candy bars than you can count stuck (mostly hidden) in the crevices of an unknown pantry box under your child (or children's) bed. Oh, come on. We've all been there, so let's keep the judgmental eye to a light gleeful stare, yes?
We know they promise to brush their teeth right before bedtime, and promptly before heading off to school, but did you know the internal effects sweets have on our kids? The one that will really shake you up is reduced bone strength. It may be gradual, but it does happen after a huge level of sweet intake. Perhaps it's time to have that conversation with your child. But it's better to put it off till after they get better.
12 YES TO TURMERIC
Most parents and caregivers have heard, or tried, this trick with milk in their days of unforgettable youth. You down a glass with a couple of friends. Then one of you, the funny one, blurbs out a joke in the middle of a cool autumn evening. A blast of energy rises from the inside out, through a couple of facial orifices.
No? Just me? Alright then.
Turmeric, or curcuma longa, as the folks down at the science farm like to call it, is one of the healthiest and proven foods you can have on a daily basis with zero side effects. The taste may be something out of this world, I can give you that, but after a few tweaks and ingenious recipes, even a sleeping child will ask for it.
Add turmeric to your weekly grocery list. No regrets.
11 NO TO DEEP FRIED FOODS
Some people swear by the proven remedies fast food chicken, pizza and chips offer when they are down and out sniffling like it's pollen season. But wait. Keep that wallet and McDonald's urge off the agenda. Let's have a walk through Fact Town.
Ever wondered why even after a light meal at your jolly neighborhood KFC you feel almost heavier? Those aren't the delicious burger's healing powers. It's weight. Bulky, unnecessary weight. And you know why.
Deep fried foods are usually the sweetest things around. And our kids love tiny nuggets and onion rings like they herald Christmas morning. There is nothing that suppresses the immune system more than a family pack of your fast food dealer's choice.
10 YES TO GARLIC
Simple. Epic. Vampire Kryptonite.
Okay. That last bit got a tad carried away, but the effects are almost true. Garlic has been known to aid in congestion issues. It's not too shabby as a spice, if I do say so myself. Some children may have an allergic reaction to it, though rare, and it is advised to have a consultation with a medical practitioner before adding it to the family's diet.
The best way to make them take it is boil it down in some water, add some honey and let your child have it. Hold their hand if it helps. It won't be a fun ride.
9 NO TO MANGOES
By now you've grasped the gist of things. This list is chipping at your belief system. Don't worry. By the end of it all you'll have learned something new, and frankly, you may even be thankful for it.
Mangoes are known for their sweetness and delicious nutrient content. From roughage to the natural glucose they offer, they are the right contender when your child has the sniffles.
But here comes the fact check. The sweet sugar from mangoes has an effect on the respiratory system, and causes stomach upsets when not washed properly. It is normally advised not to let children have them when sick, unless they are comfortable with boiled slices of mangoes.
8 YES TO GINGER
When added to tea, this muscled power punch delivers on its promise. The beauty of ginger is that its medicinal purpose does not just stop with the flu. As a herb taken occasionally ginger tends to work wonders boosting the immune system. It takes care of motion sickness. It even has anti-tumor properties!
And the best thing about it is that you could grow it in your back yard just for fun. This herb can be added to rice to make one mean lunch, and also has some properties viable in sugarcane juice that every parent or caregiver should take a look at.
7 NO TO CAFFEINE
The times really do change. Most parents would swear that they have never thought of giving their child a sip of their morning cuppa.
But... Let's face it. Our children seem to be more grown up than we were at their age, and when they do simply ask for a sip, who are we to deny their request? We've all been there. And it's okay. Now you know better.
Don't think that giving them that bottle of soda is beneficial either. Not especially during times of sniffles and sneezes, and worse still, coughs. Caffeine has adverse effects on a little one's system, running from jitters, insomnia and difficulty concentrating to dental health issues, withdrawal symptoms like headaches and even nervous disorders.
6 YES TO PINEAPPLE
Far from being a great snack, the health properties of this prickly beauty compensate for its eerily scary exterior. The juice from pineapples helps calm that itchy feel at the back of your child's throat, as well as leave a minty fruity freshness on their tongues.
There are so many ways you can have this fun fruit, and there is no way we are getting into the science bits of it. Here's what you need to know. Whether chunky, pulpy or borderline smooth and freshly squeezed, pineapple is fantastic for your electrolyte consumption.
Surefire ways of giving pineapple to an unwilling child is placing a slice of it in their water bottle or dispenser overnight. Over time, they will get used to it, and after feeling lifetimes better, won't want it any other way.
5 NO TO PROCESSED FOOD
Chips. Cereal. Any consumable package you hand-clocked into the shopping cart last week on your rounds at the store. It's a no from the Health Watch team.
Now your child will hold heavy resentment when you put your foot down. I know you already have with your conscience after reading this far down Fact Town. But it is a solid fact that anything in a can, save for some particulars, are a definite no-no during flu season.
No names shall be mentioned, but we already know these products. All they add are unnecessary weight and chemicals in the bloodstream that suppress the healing process. Best stayed off for a while.
4 YES TO POPSICLES
Surprise, surprise, surprise. Chances are you think you read that wrong.
You didn't. When your child is pained with low appetite and cannot stand the taste of conventional juices and fruits, it would be such a treat to make them all-fruit Popsicles at the convenience of your closest grocery store. They are necessary for their hydration. Dozens of recipes online will make this experience one of a kind, and adding to the fact that almost all children will not say no to a Popsicle dripping with all the strawberry and lemon goodness, this is a great start to their health betterment.
3 NO TO JUICE DRINKS
The culprits as always, are off the shelf products. On a hot day, or on a belated road trip with family, the temptation to have some pure crystalline water is rarely there. Quite the contrary, the need to go for the colored unknown in perfect packaging and serial advertising nuzzles in that need.
Citrus-based juice drinks are the most popular, with their sugar content way higher than the daily average an adult's body can handle. But now a child is a different story.
The immune system is a tricky mess if not handled properly. Juice drinks don't help with the handling. It might be fun swigging them down during flu season, but a scratchy throat, dry mouth and slightly upset stomach afterwards are no cool look on an Instagram update.
2 YES TO LEAFY GREENS
Always eat your greens with love, or they will come back to eat you in your dreams.
One great thing I took from the poetic limerick above is the sheer truth surrounding greens. They are good for you. They are great for you. They are the best for you. Hands down, a varied diet of good leafy greens will more than keep the doctor away; it will bring the best version of you... out of you. Health practitioners from all over the world give accounts of how a diet of kale, lettuce, broccoli and spinach (how could we forget the spinach) goes a long way in keeping the blood alkaline and streamline. Hey, that rhymed!
So how do you convince your dear child to have some of those 'tasteless yucky leaves'?
Creativity. Spice it up. Dull it down. Side it with some chicken they cannot refuse. Add it subtly to a smoothie. It is all up to you. The benefits outweigh emotions in this bodily investment. Go for it and don't look back.
1 NO TO DAIRY
Yogurt. Milk. Cheese. Sorry ice cream, but you go here too.
There is comfort in having some of the above during times of sneezing unrest or emotional duress.Dairy products are not actually bad (save for lactose intolerant children, and adults). On the contrary, they are beneficial for a good night's rest. Now as controversial as it may be, dairy products, when taken in the right environment can be good for your child's cold. Taking ice cream in the middle of the night after a walk on the cold floor, is for one, not the right track to take.