January 1st, 2021
A nasty cold or flu can put a damper on the Christmas holidays for both kids and parents. And no one wants to start the new year with a cough and fever. Luckily, there are immune-boosting tips that can help keep your family’s system strong this holiday season.
It’s not just about adding Vitamin C…
In fact, it’s not just about adding specific foods and vitamins – it’s also about taking away what strains our immune systems.
What kind of foods strain the immune system?
Most parents know that sugary snacks and treats aren’t the most nutritious, but many don’t realize how they impact the immune system. Each time our kids grab a sugar-filled treat like cakes, cookies, and candy, their body works extra hard to get rid of that sugar. That work demands a lot of nutrients. That leaves less virus-busting nutrients on hand to fight off colds and flu.
My kids tend to get sick a few times each year: Halloween, Christmas, and – it’s no coincidence! Limit sugar-filled treats and find more nutritious substitutes and their immune systems will thank you.
But how do I substitute treats without ruining Christmas?
- Understand that the joy of holidays comes from a lot more than treats. Some people don’t eat any sweets and still miraculously enjoy Christmas (think of all those Whos in Whoville!). This season is about connecting and spending time together, not loading up on sugar.
- Find some other rare “treats” for Christmas – certain fruit is associated with Christmas – figs, clementines, and pomegranates are all “Christmas fruits” in our house. I only buy them during this season and the kids look forward to them every year. This can work with other food too like nuts (nuts with a nutcracker will forever mean Christmas in my mind!)
- Try more balanced – but still super fun – treat ideas like Strawberry Santa Hats, Grinch Grapes, or a Kiwi Christmas Tree
Adding Immune System Nutrients
Vitamin C – All brightly colored fruits and veggies contain a fair amount of Vitamin C. Aim for variety with fruits and vegetables to prevent your kids from getting bored. An easy method is to use a different fruit and vegetable in their lunches for each day of the week. For example, Monday is carrot day; Tuesday is red peppers, etc. Kids also love predictability.
Protein – it’s not just for building muscles! Our body needs it for many immune system functions. Many children snack on high-carb, low-protein foods such as toast, granola bars, and cookies. Including a source of protein with each snack ensures that their immune systems will be properly fueled. High-protein snacks include hard-boiled eggs, hummus, cheese, nuts, pepperoni like Chomps, and seeds. For school-safe trail mix, check out Healthy Crunch. Be careful with starch-heavy meals that are mainly carbs (bread, pasta, rice), and be sure to include a protein source such as beans or lentils, fish, poultry, meat, tofu, or quinoa.
Vitamin D – isn’t just for bones. It’s critical for immunity. The best way to get Vitamin D is to spend 20 minutes in the sun with your face and forearms exposed – this becomes a challenge during dark, cold winter months. Vitamin D supplements are recommended during winter months for anyone in Northern climates. My favourite is Kidstar!
Zinc – is needed to fight off bacteria and viruses. The food with the highest amount of zinc is oysters (600% of the daily value per serving!) but other great sources of zinc include chicken, seafood, cashews, and pumpkin seeds (an easy snack to add to lunch boxes).
If your child struggles to eat foods with any of the above nutrients, strategic supplementing may help. Finding the highest-quality, cleanest supplements that are available in your region is my area of expertise and is always included in my Nutrition Coaching Packages.
Colds and flu are especially rough with ADHD
ADHD kids thrive on routine and nothing derails a daily routine like illness. Keeping their immune systems in shape is so important for smoother, predictable days. If you need clear guidelines on optimizing your child’s diet to ensure they’re getting all the nutrients their little bodies and brains need, I’m here to help. Click here to book your free assessment call with me today.