The kids have basked in the sun, had a lot of fun, but now it’s time to head back to school – some with excitement, some with trepidation. Help your wee scholars be prepared for their new school year with our ‘back to school’ tips.
Calm the Nerves
Whether it is their absolute first day or the return to a new school year, school tends to fire up those nerves. Feeling a little nervous is a natural challenge that we can support with a listening ear and a reassuring cuddle. However, if nerves become overwhelming and result in ongoing unease, anxiety, disturbed behaviour or sleeplessness we may need to pull out a few extra tricks. Flower essence therapy, such as Bach Flower or First Light Essences, are perfect for supporting emotional challenges. These are non-intrusive natural remedies that work for all ages, young and old. Even parents feeling the pangs of fledglings leaving the nest can benefit from some flower essence support.
Other options include either retail herbal preparations or a formula that our Medical Herbalists or Naturopaths can individualise, be it for sleep, behaviour, cognitive support or just general calming. Children’s magnesium is a great nutritional addition for supporting the nervous system and healthy rest.
Pack a Healthy Lunch
Sandwiches are often the go-to lunchbox meal but have a think ‘outside the box’ for some other ways to fill hungry tummies. Crustless vegetable quiche, nut/coconut flour vege muffins, polenta slice, home-made sushi rolls … all nutritious sandwich rivals that lighten up the common gluten load of children’s diets. Lunches can also be leftover dinners – making extra at dinner time really is a great time saver for busy morning routines.
Lunchbox fillers can often be a sugar trap. Conservative American Heart Foundation recommends adults eat less than 25gm (6 teaspoons) of free sugar per day (free sugar is added sugar, syrups, honey and other concentrated sources such as juices). This over generous recommendation should be even less for children but unfortunately is often double. Help avoid the sugar trap by including just one or two low sugar sweet treats in the lunch box (a low sugar rating is considered less than 5gm per 100gm), eg one bliss ball, low sugar muesli bar or home-baking. Fruit, crunchy veggie sticks with almond nut butter or hummus, popped corn, a boiled egg, nuts and seeds, toasted seaweed or lightly sweetened coconut yoghurt with berries are excellent low sugar lunchbox fillers.
Don’t forget to make a stand against plastic and opt for reusable wrapping such as bees-waxed cloth wrappers. Huckleberry also has a good selection of stainless-steel drink bottles and lunchboxes.
Supplementing the diet
Nutritional health always starts with a nourishing diet, but there are reasons why supplements may be necessary for youngsters. Picky eaters, dietary restrictions, chronic health conditions and the more nation-wide problem of NZ soil deficiency of zinc, selenium, and iodine are some of the reasons why supplements may be necessary.
Zinc is a particularly important trace mineral with a long list of essential functions in the body, including key roles in immune, hormone and mental health. Iodine, essential for thyroid hormones, can be found in quality seaweed and seafood, or try seasoning food with a kelp/salt blend, a bioavailable way to ‘iodise’ salt. Selenium is also essential for thyroid function as well as DNA production and an important antioxidant. Include a couple of selenium-rich organic Brazil nuts in the lunch box daily or add ground brazil nuts to nut flours used in baking.
Essential omega oils are also high on the priority wellness plan, particularly for supporting cognitive development, hormone and skin health. Consider flaxseed, hempseed or sea algae oils, either as a capsule, straight off the spoon or add to cold foods such as smoothies. Huckleberry also offers a select number of high purity fish oils, talk to our naturopaths about the importance of quality with fish oils.
A quality probiotic can also be useful to help support children that suffer from lowered immunity, allergies (respiratory and skin), auto-immunity, digestive or bowel complaints. Have a chat with one of the qualified practitioners regarding the different probiotic options or for nutritional supplements to compensate for deficiencies or health issues.
Back to School in Lice Season?
Warmer months are often referred to as head lice season, however, the increased prevalence is not technically a “lice season”, rather the warmer weather means more children playing in close contact encouraging the spread of lice. Neem based natural insecticides, combined with effective wet combing, are safe and effective options. To prevent reinfestation opt for a repellent spray, eucalyptus and tea tree essential oils are refreshing to us but are repulsive to pesky lice.
Stay Sun Safe
Finally, … don’t forget to set them up sun safe for the day! Covering up is the best burn protection, but for those left-over areas apply a high SPF natural sunscreen. Huckleberry offers a range of natural sunscreens, most of which have the added benefit of the healing properties of zinc used as a sunblock agent as well as natural oils.
Angela Frieswyk, B.Sc, Dip.Herb.Med, MNZAMH
Registered Medical Herbalist, Holistic Nutritionist
Huckleberry, trading as Wild Herbs, Tauranga