Most of us have had the experience of wanting to offer the best foot forward for the children in our lives—whether we have the privilege of raising them or are simply fortunate enough to know and love them.
As an art and science of living, Ayurveda has a great deal of wisdom that is just as easily applied to children as adults. We hope that this resource will help you to apply some of the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda to the children in your life—in support of their vibrant health.
We can keep kapha in check by feeding kids a balanced diet focused on naturally light, heating, dry, and fibrous foods like fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. Ideally, we want these foods cooked, using generous amounts of warming, digestive spices such as garlic, ginger, cinnamon, and turmeric, and we want to serve them warm or hot.
Favor the pungent, bitter, and astringent tastes, and reduce kapha-provoking foods like wheat, dairy, and sugary sweets.
THE IMPORTANCE OF DIGESTION
Ayurveda regards digestion as the very cornerstone of health. Therefore, whether they are dealing with an acute imbalance or not, we want our children to have robust digestive strength; it will help them to foster optimal health and well-being throughout their lives.
What children eat absolutely matters. Do your best to provide a diet built around healthy, whole foods rather than processed or sugary ones. Make sure the little ones in your life know the importance of drinking plenty of plain and pure water throughout each day.
And teach them to observe their elimination as very direct feedback from their bodies on both their food and fluid intake. Clear and copious urine indicates that they are well-hydrated, which is essential to the proper functioning of their tissues.
Regular, soft, well-formed stools that have minimal odor, are easily wiped, (and ideally even float) indicate healthy digestion and bowel function. We can also teach our children how important it is to have a bowel movement daily upon waking, and even invite them to relax on the toilet every morning to encourage this habit.
Further support for the digestive fire in children has a lot to do with aligning their diet and lifestyle habits to be more in sync with the rhythms of the natural world. Do your best to serve them seasonally-appropriate foods, by organizing your meals around foods that are being harvested at any given time of year. Know that children’s bodies will naturally tend to crave heavier, denser foods in the fall and winter months, and will appreciate lighter fare with more watery fruits and vegetables in the spring and summer months.
You may even notice a natural reset (and a corresponding drop in appetite) occurring in the spring. While young children should not follow rigid cleansing protocols, eating less, simplifying the diet, and detoxing from sugar and processed foods is a fine thing for kids to do in the springtime, when the body is naturally geared toward cleaning house and the energies of the season serve to buffer against depletion.
In order to function at its best, the digestive fire needs to be hot, sharp, dry, light, mobile, subtle, luminous, and clear. In the interest of protecting the natural intelligence of agni, we can also encourage the children in our lives to:
- Drink a glass or two of room temperature or warm water 20–30 minutes ahead of meals, while reducing the intake of fluids during the meals themselves.
- Practice gratitude before receiving a meal and eat mindfully (i.e. not while multitasking, on the go, or engaging with screen time).
- Eat a “ginger pickle” (a nickel-sized slice of fresh ginger, with ¼ teaspoon honey, a squeeze of lime juice, and a pinch of salt) 15–30 minutes before lunch and dinner.
- Enjoy plenty of digestive herbs and spices (garlic, ginger, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, pepper, trikatu).
- Leave plenty of space between meals for proper digestion without snacking in between (ideally, at least three hours).
- Take a deep breath before transitioning from a meal to the next activity. Invite a connection with the sensations of being full and satisfied.
You probably don’t have time to learn everything there is to know about Ayurveda, and that’s ok. What you can do is trust your own inner guidance as to what’s most important for the child(ren) in your life. You can also rest into the natural intelligence within you, within nature, and within each and every child, as a resource.
This is not about doing things perfectly. It’s about doing our best and trusting that that is enough. Any tools, however small, you can give the little ones in your life will set them on a better path—for life. Celebrate your generous heart, take whatever baby steps you can, and know that children are naturally resilient. They are lucky to have someone like you in their lives, so approach each step with curiosity and wonder, and enjoy the journey.
Author: Melody Mischke – Banyan Botanicals.
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