Children have a wisdom all their own, naturally in tune with their instincts and intuition. While it may seem counter-intuitive to let your children follow their instincts about food, paying attention to what your children ask for will help you to better understand their nutritional needs, from a Chinese medicine perspective.
So the next time your little one throws a tantrum in the cookie aisle, here are some things to keep in mind:
- The body always asks for what it needs. Cravings for certain tastes, colors, and foods are messages from the body that one or more organs are out of balance. If your child is always asking for sweets, his Stomach energy may need a boost. Denying that craving can actually cause further imbalance. Use the Five Element Theory to figure out healthier substitutes that will support the organ(s) in need.
- Make an activity out of healthy eating. Using colorful food magazines, have your children make a collage of foods or recipes that appeal to them. Ask them what they like about each food–is it because it’s red, salty, crunchy? Watching what colors, tastes, and foods they prefer is a great way to learn more about how to support your children on their path toward lifelong health.
- You are your children’s primary educator, so teach them that while it’s okay to have a treat, making healthy food choices keep our bodies strong and energized throughout the day. Introduce a variety of foods to find alternatives that they may really enjoy. Cauliflower may not be a favorite, but they may just love kale chips!
- Get your kids involved. Start a windowsill or backyard garden growing fruits, vegetables, or even herbs. The next time you’re cooking, have your children harvest the green peas and cucumbers or pick the chives. Then make them sous-chefs and let them help with the food prep. Yes, you may have more clean-up. But if the kids have grown it or helped cook it, chances are pretty good that they’ll enjoy eating (or at least trying) it.
Learn more about applying Five Element Theory to nutritional choices by trying some easy-to-cook dishes from our recipe section.