I’m a firm believer that a healthy outside starts with a healthy inside. You can lift weights, run for miles, bend yourself into yoga poses but if you’re feeding your body junk you’ll never achieve true health. It’s true for adults, and even more so for our kids. Imagine the demands life places on growing bodies – disrupted sleep for newborns, non-stop running for our toddlers, learning self-control and to sit still in class for our Preppies, and having enough energy for school, sports, extra-curricular activities, birthday parties, homework and household chores for the older kids. Plus part-time work if they are old enough.
It’s no wonder that some of our kids are yawning through school, slumping over iPads at night and going totally ker-azy by the time school holidays roll around.
The Aussie standard breakfast of Vegemite toast on white bread with a glass of Milo is simply not going to be enough to get them through the day. Or commercial cereal. Or any packaged ‘toastie’. Or even worse ‘breakfast biscuits’. I love Vegemite and so do my kids. And a cold glass of milk is one of the best refreshments around. But we can do better by our kids.
For my own children, nourishing their minds for learning and play was my priority, but healing their skin through food became a massive motivation. When your child suffers from bleeding eczema and psoriasis, you’ll do anything to heal it – and so began my interest in food.
Discovering what worked for Ryder led to healthier choices for Kai… and I soon discovered that my own skin benefited too. That old saying ‘you are what you eat’ is especially true for skin – sugar, additives, synthetic flavours and colours, too much dairy and too much gluten can all wreak havoc on your gut – and then your skin – if you are sensitive.
We find that by eliminating artificial flavours and preservatives, minimising fast food, reducing our sugar load and balancing carbs and fats with quality protein, we ALL function better. Mood, mind, movement – everything is enhanced when you nourish your body with whole foods and consideration of what’s going into that bod.
And monitoring how it makes you feel. I am NOT a fan of exclusion diets or restricting food groups or fussy eaters. I AM a fan of education and experimentation for your personal circumstances. With my kids, I know that too much sweet stuff sends them off the rails. Dairy is not Ryder’s friend. And certain foods can trigger skin irritation. We took a slow, rational, steady approach to trialling foods and monitoring the result. Foods such as dairy, citrus, soy and acidic foods like tomatoes can be common culprits for kids suffering from eczema. Dried fruits can cause reactions (and are loaded full of sugar anyway), and deli meats and fast foods contain preservatives that can inflame sensitive guts and skin. An imbalance in Omega-6 to Omega-3 can also create inflammatory conditions which can lead to eczema or acne, which is why quality fish oil supplementation is a great idea (provided there are no allergies of course!).
Healing foods – which are also great for skin health as an adult – include fatty fish such as salmon, probiotic foods such as miso, kimchi and sauerkraut, healthy fats such as olive oil and flaxseed, and foods high in beta-carotene (carrots, pumpkin) which contain Vitamin A for skin health and resilience. Zinc is also super-important for skin integrity – oysters, anyone? Remember, your skin is unique to YOU and is a map of your overall health. Seek medical advice (GP, accredited dietitian) for specific concerns and nourish your bod with whole foods. It’s the best way to love the skin you’re in.