As the school year kicks back into gear so should the healthy habits that you and your children have before practiced. Notice how I said “practiced,” because we all know during the summer-vacation months we tend to indulge a little. Maybe you have had one too many backyard barbeques, or three too many trips to the favorite ice cream shop down the street. Whatever your summer vice may be don’t worry about it, you can regain those healthy habits from before and introduce them into your children’s lives!
1. Exercise. Exercise. Exercise.
Get everyone in the family moving, don’t just emphasize the idea of being active to your children without participating in the activities. In addition to making it fun for the whole family, exercising as a unit will allow you to interact with your child and help them stay healthy and active.
2. Eat a Variety of Foods.
Don’t just stick to the same food regimen. Make sure you try a vast array of different nutrient-rich foods to boost the health of yourself and your children. There are many different vitamins and minerals out there, and if you just stick to the same old mac n’ cheese menu with the occasional lasagna, you are missing out on an abundance of healthy nutrients for your children!
3. Limit the Screentime.
It is no stranger that we live in a world constantly absorbed by some type of technology. From work to leisure time, technology is present in our life in one shape or another almost 24/7. But, it is best to try and limit these habits. They promote a lifestyle with less movement and activity, it has been shown to lead to increased obesity and cardiovascular disease. So try and limit your child’s time behind the screen and get them moving.
4. The Most Important Meal of the Day: Breakfast.
Fuel up! Before you send the kiddos off to school and bring yourself into your favorite place aka work, make sure to create a nutritious breakfast. A breakfast loaded with carbohydrates, milk, cereal and fruits is a great way to regain all the energy lost from the previous day.
5. Pick Rewarding Rewards for Your Kids.
Sometimes parents tend to reward a job well done or the completion of chores with a trip to the ice cream shop, some candy or a new video game (if you’re feeling really generous). Change the types of rewards and incentives you present to your children. Maybe take them on an excursion to their favorite park, or another outdoor adventure, whatever you decide make sure it is creative and helps to influence healthy habits in your children.
6. Eat Fruits and Vegetables with Every Meal!
We have already emphasized the importance of eating healthy, but there should also be a frame of reference for what this means. One way to encourage healthy eating is to increase the intake of fruits and vegetables into your child’s diet. A neat way to do this is to have fruits and vegetables as a snack during every meal period.
7. Be the Best Role Model.
Your children tend to emulate and copy they way you behave, so why not exhibit healthy habits that they can catch on to and then practice themselves. Be the best role model possible for your children and work together as the both of you craft and practice healthy habits for the new school year and beyond.
Oriental medicine (OM) nutrition combines ancient wisdom with modern science. OM nutrition is a holistic approach, which aims to balance all five flavors within most meals with one or two flavors being emphasized for therapeutic purposes. OM nutrition for a hypertension emphasizes bitter flavors, sour flavors and energetically-cooling foods.
OM theory states the bitter flavor benefits the heart in moderation but an excess is harmful as it has a drying effect; for example, coffee is bitter. In moderation coffee acts as vasodilator increasing circulation but in excess it can raise blood pressure and has a diuretic effect. Modern scientific research has discovered while the human genome has 25 bitter taste receptors 12 of these are expressed in the human heart.
Foods with bitter flavors include: romaine lettuce, dandelion, arugula, rye. Foods that combine bitter with pungency include: citrus peel, radish, scallion and white pepper. In OM nutrition the pungent flavor can help disperse phlegm (e.g. plaque). Foods that combine bitter with sweet include: asparagus, celery, tomatoes, lettuce, quinoa and papaya. Lemon rind is bitter and sour; vinegar is also bitter and sour.
Bitter flavors have a yin, or cooling effect, clearing heat in the body while encouraging a descent of Qi, which aids in the draining of fluids. For example, celery contains the phytochemical phthalides which relaxes arterial wall tissues to increase blood flow and thereby reduce blood pressure. The fiber, magnesium and potassium in celery also help lower blood pressure and regulate fluid balance. Caution: according to OM, those with a lot of dryness and/or bone disease should moderate their intake of bitter flavor.
A tomato a day keeps the doctor away! The combination of lycopene, vitamin C and E, potassium and folic acid in tomatoes make it a power food for heart health. The bitter flavor of tomatoes come from the seeds; to reap the full benefit of tomatoes eat the seeds too. Heirloom tomatoes in season have the most flavor, find the tastiest tomatoes at your farmer’s market or trying growing your own.
Summer is the season of the heart according to Chinese medicine, meaning it is the season most likely to bring our hearts out of balance if we are exposed to excess heat, which can then create and/or exacerbate internal heat. During the summer OM nutrition recommends drinking and eating foods that cool the body and heart such as green tea, cucumbers, watermelon and lemon.
Chrysanthemum tea is a very popular summertime tea in Asia because it is so well known for its cooling properties; it is helpful for headaches, dizziness, high blood pressure, chest pain and also fevers. You can add chrysanthemum flowers to your morning green tea and in the evening combine it with chamomile tea for extra cooling benefits!
OM nutrition cautions against overdoing cold foods and drinks. Too much cold inhibits the digestive process. Drinking warm beverages and soups, as well as eating foods with a little pungency (chili pepper, garlic, ginger) causes the body to perspire slightly which naturally cools the body.
For those who happen to have hypertension plus a lot of dryness: dry skin, dry eyes, dry mouth and thirst, constipation and even hormonal deficiencies can benefit from increasing their healthy fat intake. Many nutrients are fat soluble, the body uses cholesterol to make hormones, bile and vitamin D. Healthy fats nourish yin in OM nutrition theory. Some Americans who suffer from hypertension are also thin with an underlying yin deficiency, such as those with the onset of hypertension that coincides with menopausal symptoms. Sources of healthy fats include: nuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil, flaxseed oil and fish.
Eating beans, peas and grains are high in potassium, magnesium, fiber and are high in choline which is vital in lowering hypertension and boosting fat metabolism. Whole grains are also a good source of niacin and vitamin E and are recommended for healthy arteries, especially those that are slightly bitter such as: rye, quinoa, amaranth and oats.
Try this OM Nutrition Recipe for Heart Health:
5 Flavors Chickpea Salad for Healthy & Happy Heart
15 oz cooked organic chick peas (1 can)
1/2 c cup cooked quinoa or 1 cup brown rice (warm)
4 stalks celery, minced
6-12 cherry tomatoes, chapped in 1/2 or 1/4
8-12 Romaine lettuce leaves, chopped
2 TBSP red onion, minced
Toss with dressing made with:
2 TBSP olive oil
1 TBSP lemon juice + a little lemon zest (organic is best)
1 tsp grated ginger
1/2 tsp honey or agave
1-2 garlic cloves (minced or pressed)
1/8 tsp Himalayan or Sea salt (or to taste)
fresh ground black pepper (to taste)
Foster, S. R., Blank, K., Hoe, L. E. S., Behrens, M., Meyerhof, W., Peart, J. N., & Thomas, W. G. (2014). Bitter taste receptor agonists elicit G-protein-dependent negative inotropy in the murine heart. The FASEB Journal, 28(10), 4497-4508.
Kastner, Joseph, MD, L.Ac, (2009) Chinese Nutrition Therapy, Thieme, Stuttgart and New York
Pitchford, Paul (2002), Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition, North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, California
Ried, K., Frank, O. R., Stocks, N. P., Fakler, P., & Sullivan, T. (2008). Effect of garlic on blood pressure: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC cardiovascular disorders, 8(1), 1.
Willcox, J. K., Catignani, G. L., & Lazarus, S. (2003). Tomatoes and Cardiovascular Health. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 43(1), 1-18.
Lara Aitken, Holistic Doctor, Doctor of Oriental Medicine, Acupuncture Physician, Life & Health Coach, Women's Business Coach, Reiki Practitioner, Hypno-therapist, Yoga therapist.