This week's article is a guest post by Kara Swanson, the nutritionist, and founder of Life Well Lived.
My name is Kara Swanson and I’m the nutritionist behind Life Well Lived. Today I want to share 5 simple tips to help keep your kids healthy and their immune system strong this winter. The food we consume has so much power! I realized the effects of nutrition while researching my daughter’s behavioral issues. I was amazed to discover that my little girl’s behavioral issues were directly related to her diet. Within one week of modifying her diet her symptoms drastically improved!
After discovering the power of food, I’ve made it my goal to help others do the same. These simple tweaks have greatly impacted our family’s health. Using these tips has meant less sickness and much faster recovery time (when one of my girls does get sick).
5 tips to help keep your kids healthy and their immune system strong this winter
1. Give your kids a probiotic
If you know me, you know that I am a huge proponent of a good probiotic. Our health starts in our gut and giving kids a probiotic is so important not just for the winter season, but year round.
How to get your kids to take a probiotic
My girls love their probiotic so much they often remind me in the morning to take it. We love and use Garden of Life. It’s chewable (and tastes good) making it super easy for kids to take.
2. Make sure your children drink enough water
Proper hydration maintains the function of every system in our bodies making it incredibly important to drink enough water daily. Staying hydrated helps you flush toxins out and helps support the immune system.
How to keep your kids hydrated
But how do you ensure your kids are drinking enough water? First, have them bring a water bottle to school. My oldest struggled with dehydration when she first went to school because she barely drank anything all day. She now carries two water bottles to school, one for her desk and one for lunch. Second, encourage your kids to drink water. Make it a game (this will help you stay hydrated too!): every hour see who can take 5 drinks the fastest.
3. Make sure your kids get the proper amount of sleep
I know this can be a touchy subject to talk about, but sleep is incredibly important, especially for growing kids. Just like staying hydrated, a lack of sleep leads to a compromised immune system.
How to help your kids get more sleep
Choose a bedtime and stick with it. If you aren’t already in a good bedtime routine, start now. Reading books, bath time, and singing lullabies are all great things to do before bed. If your kids struggle with falling asleep or staying asleep try a magnesium spray or lavender essential oils. I use both of these on nights when my daughters are having a hard time sleeping.
4. Give your children Vitamin C
Unlike other vitamins, we only give Vitamin C regularly in the winter because it helps so much with keeping the immune system strong. Giving my girls Vitamin C has really been a game changer for keeping sickness at bay and helping them recovery fast if they do get sick.
How to get your kids to take Vitamin C
The girls take Child Life Liquid Vitamin C. I love liquid vitamin C because your body absorbs it faster. My girls’ flavor of choice is orange. If I sense a cold coming or they’ve been exposed to other sick kids, I give a little higher dose to keep our little girls healthy.
5. Help your kids maintain good nutrition
I’m a nutritionist, so you knew this was coming. I think we can all agree that our nutrition affects our health, whether good or bad. This is the HARDEST one, as a mom of two – I get it. But I also think it’s the most important ingredient to not only keeping our kids healthy but setting them up for long-term success.
How to improve your children’s nutrition
Instead of feeling like you have to completely change their nutrition. Make small changes, instead of giving just goldfish as a snack, add in some almonds and maybe even some pieces of fruit alongside it. You’d be surprised at what your kids will eat when it’s in front of them. I like to add a couple of veggies to my girls’ snacks and they often gobble it right up alongside their favorites.
Pretty simple, right? But not always easy! Don’t feel overwhelmed. Pick one of these tips to start with. Choose one that you think would have the biggest impact on your child. Then once you’ve got that habit down, choose another one. Simple, small habits add up and become second nature which will result in a healthier child and fewer days off work for you.
Kara Swanson is a certified nutritionist, recipe developer, and meal plan creator over at Life Well Lived. Her passion is to show that eating clean + healthy is not only simple but also really delicious. Life is crazy and Kara loves making the food part a no-brainer by sharing quick + easy meals for those busy weeknights. No more boring chicken + broccoli.