Back to School Concerns: How to deal with Anxiety and What to Give Our Kids for Breakfast
Summer holidays have flown by. The days of sleeping in and no routine are over. This an exciting time for both patents and kids but can also be a time of high anxiety for both children and adults. Back to school anxiety is very common for children both young and old and many parents are unsure how to address this issue. Moreover, the number one question I get from health conscious parents is what should we be feeding our children to ensure their mental/emotional and physicals health. In this article we will address both these areas so that back to school is a smooth and healthy transition.
Back to School Anxiety
Many children make the transition of back to school just fine but for some children it can be extremely difficult. We often only think of young children who are entering Kindergarten or Grade 1 as suffering from back to school and separation anxiety. When in reality children and teens of all ages including those headed to University will often suffer from anticipatory anxiety in silence. Anxiety can originate from just about any cause such as being separated from mom, meeting new teachers, classrooms, classmates, schedules, facing germs, or enduring presentations, exams and assignments. Often as parents we feel helpless. But there is a lot you can do to help start the school year off on the right foot.
Homeopathic remedies are wonderful in providing back-to-school support no matter what the degree or primary concern is. Homeopathic remedies are a safe, non toxic, non addictive and non invasive natural form of treatment. In acute situations they are quick to act and only needed to be repeated when necessary. Children have no problem taking remedies as they are virtually tasteless (with a mild sugar taste) and do not have to be swallowed but rather dissolved in their mouth in seconds. A trained homeopath will help determine an individualized remedy for your child that will address their unique signs and symptoms and help them to feel their best through all the mental, emotional and physical challenges of school.
To compliment homeopathic treatment there are some strategies to use at home to help minimize your child’s anxieties. Knowing how to communicate with an anxious child is key. Here are some ways to help soothe your child effectively with your words.
- Reassure: It’s important for your child to know that this is normal and that everyone sometimes has this feeling and that it will pass.
- Reflect: Reflect what you observe in your child back to them. Try and avoid talking about how you felt on an occasion but instead use phrases that show you understand what they are feeling such as: “I can see you are feeling really nervous/anxious”; or for older kids: “I noticed you looked anxious when we were talking about school today. Is there anything in particular you were worried about?”
- Validate: Explain to your younger child that it is normal to sometimes feel worried about something new but once they get to school and get used to the newness, they will feel better fast.
- Provide Opportunities to Talk: Younger kids may find it difficult to express why they are worried, while older teenagers may just not want to talk about it. Just letting them know you are there to chat should they want to, is sometimes enough.
Nutrition-wise, it is important if your child is anxious to watch their sugar intake. Anxiety makes the adrenals work overtime. This causes an over production of both cortisol and adrenaline (amongst other hormones). With a diet high in sugar the adrenal glands also have to work hard. Instead, frequent sources of protein at snack time is key. Nuts and seeds, hummus with carrot sticks, eggs, meat and fish are a great healthy alternative to sugary processed snacks. This balances the blood sugar and takes the load off adrenal glands.
There are certain vitamins & minerals that will help support your child’s system and ensure they have the best resources available to help them cope. It is always best to increase the sources of these vitamins through diet as opposed to supplementation first.
- B Complex Vitamin: B vitamins are very important for the nervous system so adequate intake is essential to health.
- Magnesium is important for many systems in the body but will also help your child be calm at night for restful sleep.
- Vitamin C 1000mg daily: Vitamin C supports the adrenal glands and as they work extra hard in times of anxiety this is very important.
What’s For Breakfast?
First of all, Never Skip Breakfast! Nearly all of us feel better when we start the day out with a good meal. According to the American Journal of Epidemiology, people who skip breakfast are over four times as likely to be obese than people who eat something in the morning (July 2003).
Now let’s examine what your children should be eating for breakfast. This meal should be high in protein, not carbohydrates. Protein lowers the levels of a brain chemical called serotonin, which plays a role in making people sleepy. A high-carbohydrate breakfast, on the other hand, makes them (and you) drowsy because it enhances the brains’ synthesis of serotonin.
Eggs are a good source of protein, but serve them boiled or poached; don’t fry or scramble them. Frying and scrambling oxidizes the cholesterol in the egg yolk, producing chemicals that damage blood vessels. Moreover, a study shows that eating two eggs for breakfast, helps overweight adults lose more weight and feel more energetic than those who ate a carbohydrate-rich bagel breakfast of equal calories. (August 2008).
Homemade cereal provides protein and many vitamins and minerals; homemade oatmeal, granola, and muesli are all delicious and excellent choices. Seeds and nuts help raise the protein and mineral content of the cereal; use them in muesli and granola or crush them and add them to oatmeal.
Carbohydrates should not be the main part of the breakfast but a slice of whole-grain whole wheat (or rye, barley, spelt, kamut, amaranth) toast is a great addition to a high-protein breakfast. Try serving the toast with either an egg or with 100% nut butter such as almond, hazelnut, pumpkin, or sunflower butter and top with apple butter for natural sweetness.
In addition, vitamin C should be part of every child’s breakfast; fresh fruit and orange or grapefruit juice are great sources of vitamin C. Try adding the fruit to cereal to add natural sweetness!
Here are some food items that are important to avoid:
- Avoid bacon, ham and sausage! These traditional breakfast staples have too much of the wrong fats, salt and contain cancer-causing nitrates. New research indicates that people who eat bacon five times a week or more are almost 60 percent more likely to develop bladder cancer than those who do not (November 2006).
- Commercially prepared breakfast cereals: these are usually loaded with sugar and salt, and are often made with partially hydrogenated vegetable oils as well.
- Doughnuts: these are also high in sugars and fats which are dangerous to your health.
- Commercially prepared juice: 100% juices are a better choice as prepared juices are generally loaded with sugar and food coloring, both of which are detrimental to your child’s health.
Many say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and implementing the above strategies will go a long way to help ensure a happy and healthy child!
Andrea Hauser, Homeopath
Andrea Hauser is a Homeopath who practices out of K-W Homeopathic Medicine and Wellness Clinic in Kitchener-Waterloo. If you have any questions “ask Andrea” at moc.e1519510402nicid1519510402emcih1519510402tapoe1519510402mohwk1519510402@resu1519510402aha1519510402.
American Journal of Epidemiology July 2003; 158:85-92
Sam Adkins, thehomeopathiccoach.com