Oriental Medicine has a highly evolved system of pediatric care that can help infants, toddlers, children, and teens improve their health without the use of potentially harmful drugs. Oriental Medicine doesn’t treat children like tiny adults. Rather, it offers a variety of treatment methods and modalities that are unique to the area of pediatrics.Read More
This is Part 7 of my 8 Part Series on Healthy, Happy Eating for the Whole Family. Part 1: SAD DIET: ARE YOU OR YOUR CHILDREN EATING ONE? Part 2: THE YIN AND YANG OF SEASONAL EATING. Part 3: HOW TO INCREASE YOUR CHILD'S IQ AND ATTENTION SPAN WITH NUTRITION. Part 4: HOW TO GO GLUTEN FREE AND DAIRY FREE AND HAVE YOUR PIZZA AND ICE CREAM, TOO! Part 5: 4 TIPS ON HOW TO GET A "PICKY EATER" TO EAT. Part 6: THE CALCIUM MYTH: IT'S NOT WHAT YOU THINK Part 8: WHY ORIENTAL MEDICINE ROCKS FOR CHILDREN!
Oriental Medicine recognizes that children have unique bodies and a separate set of common illnesses that are much different than that of adults. In other words, Oriental Medicine does not consider babies and children to just be tiny adults, in need of smaller doses of the same kind of foods and herbs as adults. When you understand the ways in which children are most likely to get sick, you’ll understand how ailments such as colic, earache, lack of appetite, sleeping problems, asthma, and even bedwetting may be preventing by avoiding cold or raw foods and emphasizing moist, cooked, nourishing foods.
Let’s explore the ways in which children’s bodies and health conditions differ from adults, some common foods to avoid, and some nourishing foods to include for optimal health.
Weak Digestion and Immature Immune System
While conventional Western Medicine only began to discover that much of our immune system is contained in the gut, and the health of our digestive tract is innately tied to the health of our immune system, Oriental Medicine has acknowledged this for centuries. In addition, Oriental Medicine recognizes that infants and children have very weak digestion and an immature immune system.
Foods that have a “cold” energetic property, such as tofu and other soy-derived foods, fruit and fruit juice, cow’s milk dairy products, wheat products, and raw vegetables are difficult to digest, and can damage a weak digestive system if they make up a large percentage of the diet. These foods should never be fed to infants, and they should be minimized in toddlers. Overconsumption of these foods can cause a myriad of digestive disturbances, including lack of appetite, but they can also cause impaired immune function and a tendency to contract frequent colds, ear infections, and other bacterial and viral related ailments.
Condition Can Change Rapidly
Any parent can attest to the fact that children can be fine one minute, and suddenly ill with a cough, runny nose, and high fever the next. Likewise, they can be bouncing off the walls with hyperactivity one instant, and then immediately go to bed and fall asleep! However, the good news is that they typically recover rapidly too. According to Oriental Medicine, this phenomenon occurs because children have an abundance of "Yang" energy, lack enough “Yin” energy and have an unusual tendency to contract the energy of “Wind.” (To learn more about Yin and Yang, go here. A layperson friendly explanation of Wind can be found here.)
You can prevent these rapid conditions by providing foods that nourish the Yin and don’t contribute to Wind. Yin nourishing foods include egg yolks, organ meats (especially liver), bone broths, yams, American ginseng root, and lotus root. Foods that can contribute to Wind symptoms include raw veggies, fat-free foods, dry foods, and too much fiber.
All Organ Systems Immature
None of the internal organs in children are considered to be fully mature in Oriental Medicine, which is why they are more likely to become ill with acute diseases such as ear infections, sore throats, fevers, and the common cold. Steamed, boiled, stewed, or pureed foods are much easier for their bodies to digest and assimilate than raw foods. If you make a warm, Yang tonifying lamb stew for the family meal, for instance, you can puree the stew in a food processor or blender to make it easier for a toddler to digest and assimilate. For dessert, instead of giving raw fruit, you might try baking or stewing the fruit, and enhancing the flavor with a little cinnamon (a warm spice), goji berries (a Yin nourishing tonic), and unheated local honey (a digestive tonic).
"Ascending" and "Descending" Functions Immature
In Oriental Medicine, we are constantly looking at how the energy, or Qi, is flowing throughout the body. And this keen observation is also present in how we see the flow of energies upon interaction with organs. So, in Oriental Medicine, we say the normal flow of energy in the body is descending, i.e. going downwards, for food and liquid entering the stomach, and ascending, i.e. going upwards or to be absorbed, for digested nutrients in the intestines. In other words, when we eat foods and drink liquids, the normal flow of this food and liquid is suppose to go down, from the mouth ultimately to the stomach. Once the foods are digested, the nutrients go through the small intestine, and during this process, the nutrients are expected to “ascend”, i.e. be taken up and absorbed out of the small intestine into the blood and throughout the body. This is how we physicians of Oriental Medicine see as the normal, healthy flow of digestion and absorption. However, in children this can easily become reversed. Emotional stress, the wrong foods, or exposure to other pathogenic factors can cause food and liquid entering the stomach to ascend, resulting in vomiting, or material meant for absorption and digestion to descend, resulting in diarrhea. A home remedy for diarrhea and vomiting with nausea is ginger tea (3 half-inch thick slices of fresh ginger boiled in 4 cups of water for 5 - 10 minutes), mixed with coconut water powder for electrolyte replenishment. When the child is able to eat food again after being sick, choose a cooked, warm food that's bland in flavor and texture so it will not further injure a sensitive gut. A soothing homemade bone broth, soft-boiled egg, meat pate, or vegetable puree will replace lost nutrition and prevent future illness.
The typical cheese and crackers, peanut butter and jelly sandwich, fruit juice, or cookies will only further injure the digestive tract and immune system, making the child more vulnerable to food allergies and intolerances. So consider providing a more balanced meal to your child that combines cooked proteins and veggies, some form of non-gluten carbs and starch, some sea vegetables like seaweed and hijiki, a little bit of raw fruits and vegetables (less so in the winter months when it's literally cold), a cup of home made soup, a little bit of healthy fats like avocados, a probiotic like sauerkraut or natto, and of course, the occasional treat that every child loves and deserves :-)
This is Part 5 of my 8 Part Series on Healthy, Happy Eating for the Whole Family. Part 1: SAD DIET: ARE YOU OR YOUR CHILDREN EATING ONE? Part 2: THE YIN AND YANG OF SEASONAL EATING. Part 3: HOW TO INCREASE YOUR CHILD'S IQ AND ATTENTION SPAN WITH NUTRITION. Part 4: HOW TO GO GLUTEN FREE AND DAIRY FREE AND HAVE YOUR PIZZA AND ICE CREAM, TOO! Part 6: THE CALCIUM MYTH: IT'S NOT WHAT YOU THINK Part 7: WHY RAW FOODS FOR CHILDREN IS NOT THE BEST IDEA. Part 8: WHY ORIENTAL MEDICINE ROCKS FOR CHILDREN!
Mealtimes can become a nightmare if you're trying to make healthy meals for your family, while your child demands nothing but junk foods or sweets. And in an attempt to serve healthy kid-friendly meals, it's common for some well-intentioned parents to fall into a rut of serving too much fruit or raw foods.
In fact, according to Chinese Medicine nutritional theory, too many raw foods, fruits, and especially fruit juice (even homemade) can make your child more prone to seasonal illnesses like cold viruses and ear infections, as well as digestive complaints like stomach ache, constipation or loose stool, and even lack of appetite. This happens because the “Spleen Qi” or the energy and functions of the digestive and immune systems are not yet fully developed during childhood. Cooked foods are actually easier to digest than raw foods, and heating a food through baking, stewing, or steaming can “unlock” the nutrients in foods to make them easier for the body to absorb and assimilate. Obviously, it's important not to overcook vegetables or fry them in polyunsaturated vegetable oils, but cooking them for a few minutes and then adding a healthy fat such as butter, coconut oil, or raw extra virgin olive oil will provide the greatest amount of absorbable nutrition.
The great news is that it's common and completely normal for a child to go through a phase of being a picky eater. Her sense of taste is not yet fully developed, and sometimes anything that isn't sweet seems to taste bland or bitter. There are lots of different ways to handle this and help your child get the nutrition she needs without having to force her to finish her plate of broccoli or give in and let her have cake for dinner.
First, don't refer to your child as being a picky eater. The name could turn out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy that lasts longer than it should. Instead, simply explain to her that her sense of taste is still developing, and she may not have liked kale last week, but she may like it this week. Ask her to at least try two bites of everything. If she likes the food, find out why. Is it fun to eat? Does she like the texture? Or is there something about the taste that she particularly enjoys? Likewise, get feedback if she doesn't like a particular food. Does it look gross? Is the texture slimy or unappealing in some way? You might be surprised by what you learn from your child if you just ask the right questions.
Second, cook with different spices to make veggies taste exciting. If your child likes pizza, you might experiment with using Italian herbs and spices – and homemade tomato sauces -- on veggies and meats. (Italian herbs such as oregano also stimulate appetite and strengthen digestion.) To satisfy a sweet tooth, bake or boil sweet potatoes and add cinnamon, grass-fed butter, sea salt, and a dollop of raw honey from your local beekeeper. Sweet potatoes are also great portable foods for packing in a lunchbox or in your purse or cooler for road trips and travel.
A third point to remember is that the texture of protein foods and foods with slimy seeds can be a major issue for some children and adults. For children who do not like the stringiness of chicken or the firm texture of a steak, grinding the meat in a meat grinder or food processor and then making into nuggets, meatballs, patties, or soups is a much healthier option than relying on deli meats, cheese, liquid protein shakes, or skipping the proteins altogether. You might even be surprised to find that your child likes fish because it doesn't have the same textural issues as land meats. Homemade fish sticks and salmon patties may also be a tasty and fun finger food to try. Okra and tomatoes can be problematic for some because of the slimy seeds. If this is an issue, just keep reintroducing them in new ways without being forceful.
A final thing to remember is that you can breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that when you buy locally grown ingredients that haven't been shipped from thousands of miles away, they will have more vibrant colors and flavors, which will make them more appealing for children and adults alike! You might consider taking your kids to the farmer's market so they can pick out the fruits, veggies, and meats that they would like to eat. The more involved they are in the food shopping and cooking experience, the more likely they are to eat those steamed Brussels sprouts!
Here's a healthy portable snack recipe you can make and bring with you on those farmer's market shopping adventures. It contains superfoods used in Chinese Medicine to promote optimal health.
2 cups of blanched almond flour
2 tsp Redmond Real Salt or Celtic Sea Salt
½ cup black sesame seeds
½ cup goji berries
2 eggs, whisked
2 tablespoons refined coconut oil, grass-fed beef tallow, or lard (melted in a skillet)
In a large bowl, stir almond flour, salt, goji berries, sesame seeds, eggs and oil until well blended.
Line two large 12 x 16 stainless steel baking sheets with parchment paper.
Place half of the dough in the center of each lined sheet.
Cut another piece of parchment paper and place it over one of the balls of dough.
Roll dough out between the two pieces of parchment paper until it covers the entire baking sheet. Then remove the top paper and repeat the process with the other piece of dough.
Cut the dough into 2-inch squares or use small cookie cutters to make fun shapes.
Bake at 350° for 10 minutes, or until golden brown.
Cool and store in sealed containers.
This is Part 4 of my 8 Part Series on Healthy, Happy Eating for the Whole Family. Part 1: SAD DIET: ARE YOU OR YOUR CHILDREN EATING ONE? Part 2: THE YIN AND YANG OF SEASONAL EATING. Part 3: HOW TO INCREASE YOUR CHILD'S IQ AND ATTENTION SPAN WITH NUTRITION Part 5: 4 TIPS ON HOW TO GET A "PICKY EATER" TO EAT Part 6: THE CALCIUM MYTH: IT'S NOT WHAT YOU THINK Part 7: WHY RAW FOODS FOR CHILDREN IS NOT THE BEST IDEA Part 8: WHY ORIENTAL MEDICINE ROCKS FOR CHILDREN!
According to the nutritional wisdom of Chinese Medicine, dairy foods can be problematic for many children and adults. A dairy sensitivity can sometimes be a causative factor of some conditions that are often associated with lactose intolerance, such as digestive bloating and gas, diarrhea and constipation, and some nasal/sinus conditions such as post-nasal drip, chronic sinus congestion, and excessive mucus in the nose and throat. However, Chinese Medicine recognizes that the symptoms of a dairy sensitivity can cause other conditions too, such as brain fog, headaches, difficulty focusing or shortened attention span, lethargy or fatigue, and even overweight and obesity.
It's not the lactose in dairy that Chinese Medical theory views as problematic. It's the observation that excessive amounts of dairy – which for some individuals can mean any dairy at all – contributes to dampness and phlegm excess throughout the entire body. Therefore, symptoms are not just confined to the digestive tract. You may hear some Chinese Medicine practitioners referring to these symptoms as “dampness of the Spleen,” but they aren't actually referring to a literal abundance of mucus or phlegm in the anatomical spleen (an organ in the upper left quadrant of the abdomen that creates and stores red and white blood cells and plays a role in immune function).
Modern biomedicine has also recently found that many of the dairy sensitivity symptoms that were attributed to the lactose in dairy in the recent past are actually caused by a protein in dairy known as casein. Whey – the other protein found in dairy – tends to pose less of a problem for many individuals. Casein is a “gluelike” protein that is similar in structure to gluten – the protein in wheat and other grains. Casein is what lends the sticky, gooey qualities to melted cheese that many people enjoy when they eat a grilled cheese sandwich or a pizza, for instance. Likewise, gluten proteins in grains give bread its chewiness. Casein is often added to many “dairy-free” cheese substitutes to give them a meltable texture, and gluten is added to a variety of different foods as well to enhance the texture. This is one reason why it is so important to read the ingredients label on any processed foods before you purchase them.
Because casein and gluten are so similar in structure (as evidenced by their molecular structure as well as their characteristics of lending a gooey, sticky, chewiness to different foods), many people who have sensitivities to one often have sensitivities to the other as well. If you have tried a gluten-free diet, but are still consuming dairy or foods containing casein, or you have tried a dairy-free diet and are still consuming wheat or other gluten-containing foods, you may need to eliminate both of these proteins if you are still experiencing symptoms.
One important thing to note about casein is that the molecular structure lends itself to addiction. What? Addiction? Yup, you read it right. Casein, when consumed, turns into protein fragments called casomorphins. Casomorphins has an opioid effect, as in the drug. So see why the protein fragment has the name case"morphin"? From morphine. So it may not just be hunger making you want to eat cheese, but an actual brain addiction making you want to consume diary milk. To learn more about this addiction, read this great write up.
This can seem overwhelming – or even impossible – especially for children. What can you feed them if familiar foods like crackers, cheese sticks, grilled cheese sandwiches, and everyone's favorite – pizza and ice cream – are off-limits? The good news is that with a little creativity in the kitchen, combined with a few hours set aside once a week for meal planning and food prep, you will not have to feel deprived of all your favorite comfort foods. I personally like to shop on the weekends with my family so that my son learns what healthy food shopping is about. We also try to visit a farmer’s market so that my son also learns that food comes from farms and ranches and there are farmers and ranchers who work hard for us to bring these amazing produce and meats. Then, once at home, we do food prepping so that the coming week becomes less stressful for our meals.
In today's post, I've included a couple of recipes for pizza and ice cream, made with 100% real foods and none of the dairy and gluten. These recipes are kid-friendly and husband-approved!
Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free Pizza (Makes about 4 servings)
- 3 Tbs almond butter
- 1 cup almond flour
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 3 tsp olive oil, divided
- 1/2 cup yellow onion, diced
- 4 cremini mushrooms, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 bell pepper, diced
- 1/2 cup marinara or tomato sauce, with no sugar added
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tomatoes, sliced
- your favorite toppings (artichoke hearts, anchovies, pepperonis, sausage, olives, pineapples, canadian bacon, etc.)
Preheat the oven to 350℉.
- Mix almond flour, almond butter, eggs and sea salt in a small bowl.
- Cover a baking sheet with 2 tsp olive oil, then spread the mixture over it, making a 1/4" thick crust. Bake for 10 minutes.
- Add the remaining olive oil, onions, mushrooms, garlic, bell peppers, and your other favorite toppings to a large skillet over medium-high heat until browned and the onions are slightly translucent. Remove from skillet and set aside. Do not cook the veggies completely or they will be too soft when cooked on the pizza.
- Remove the crust from the oven and cover with marinara sauce. Add the sautéed vegetables, sliced tomatoes, and other toppings. Sprinkle with oregano and bake for 20-30 minutes.
Delicious Dairy-Free Ice Cream (Makes 3 Servings)
- 1 can coconut milk (or approximately 1 1/3 cups of fresh coconut milk) Note: This recipe calls for the creamy coconut milk found inside mature coconuts, which is not the same thing as the “coconut milk” sold alongside soymilk in aseptic containers. Here's an example of a good brand: http://amzn.to/1f4esho
- 1/4 cup raw honey or coconut nectar (I used this one: http://amzn.to/1bNHkvo)
- Your favorite toppings or flavors (cocoa powder, cinnamon, strawberries, pecans, shredded coconut, vanilla extract, etc.)
An ice cream maker is needed for this recipe. Here's an inexpensive one that gets the job done: http://amzn.to/1965FKB
1. Blend all ingredients.
2. Place in the ice cream maker and wait about 25 minutes.
My pediatric holistic health and wellness talk was a huge success at Milestones Preschool! I was able to raise $$$ for the school as well as raise awareness of the power and effectiveness of Traditional East Asian Medicine (TEAM) for pediatric health care needs.
Parents loved the hands-on portion of my Iyashi Touch protocol (a type of pediatric TEAM massage I teach my families), and I could see their children were curious and eager to have some of these tried on them that night. I had feedback from one parent the next day that her daughter made sure that she had her special toothbrush just for her :-)
Parents also asked a lot of great questions regarding my holistic nutrition talk. I loved being able to see how engaged they got with the information, how their minds were turning, reassessing where they were in their dietary approach to their children. It really thrills me when I see that lightbulb go off in people, and that's why I love teaching, both to the public as well as to my students at Yo San University. Imagine, families starting to eat healthier and implementing massages on their kiddos, changing the future of our children's health, just from empowering educational talks. I love that I can make a difference in this world, one child, one family at a time.
I'm also excited to share that the director has asked me to come back to do more talks on pediatric healthcare and nutrition, so be on the look out for future classes!
Thank you everyone for who attended!
Hi Moms and Dads,
Did you know Pediatric Asian Medicine (PAM), is an excellent adjunct for conventional pediatric care? Asian Medicine is a complete medical system - which also includes pediatrics - in continuous practice for over 2000 years. Compared to conventional pediatric medicine, which is only about 150 years old in the way it is practiced today, Chinese Medicine was already talking about unique characteristics of children physiology as early as 400 BC. There were already significant numbers of pediatric texts by the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD) in China.
The practice of pediatrics continues very actively today, with hospitals in China that specialize in Chinese medicine pediatric care, hospitals that combine both conventional and traditional medicine, and private Chinese medicine doctors practicing Chinese pediatric medicine. In Japan (as in my clinic), there are specialized pediatric acupuncturists that practice only shonishin, a non-needling acupuncture system, in clinics and in their private home offices.
There is a growing number of pioneering acupuncturists here in the States that are getting into pediatrics, including myself, because we know it is a much needed area that can address many aspects of pediatric care that cannot be addressed in conventional medicine. It is our focus to promote the principles of wellness, health and resolution of illness. Our strength is in viewing the body as a whole, disease prevention, recovery of health after an illness, and addressing conditions that are chronic and/or subclinical. This means conditions like colds and flu, eczema, asthma, "picky eating," slow development, tantrums and emotional instability, food sensitivities, lack of concentration, and so forth. Where western medicine would prescribe antibiotics, psychiatric drugs or steroidal creams – or worse yet, say “nothing can be done”, we Physicians of Asian Medicine prescribe Food as Medicine and dietary modifications, exercises, herbal prescriptions, heat therapy, pediatric massage and acupressure/acupuncture for illness resolution and disease prevention.
Want to try PAM for your child? Contact me! Let's see how I can help you.
For those who are ready to bring your child in for a holistic pediatric wellness visit at Iyashi Wellness, I have some Pediatric Frequently Asked Questions that will help to facilitate a smooth and stress-free first visit for you and your child.
More on Pediatric Wellness Care:
My 8-Part series on Healthy, Happy Eating that the Whole Family Can Enjoy starts here: