What you eat plays a very important role in fighting colds and the flu. To ward off illness, feed your children lots of fruit and vegetables with every meal, and make sure they are organic and in season. (For a winter grocery list, click here) If you are still breastfeeding, consume as many fruits and vegetables as possible, especially those rich in vitamin C (kiwis, lemons (squeeze their juice on anything and everything!) oranges, peppers, potatoes, blueberries, mangoes), and vitamin A (sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkin and butternut squash), as well as foods rich in zinc (turkey, wild caught fish, small amounts of grass fed red meat, lentils, peas, and grains).
Once your child has a cold or flu, try giving him smaller amounts of food and more liquids. The old adage “feed a cold and starve a fever” has been passed down through generations and has suffered the fate of playing a game of “telephone.” It actually started out as, “If you feed a cold, then you’ll have to starve a fever” meaning that if you eat too much while you’re sick, your body becomes more vulnerable to secondary infections which result in fevers. You are forcing your body to use energy on digesting food when it needs to focus that energy on healing. Babies instinctually know to eat less while they’re sick. So, if your child is sick, offer highly nutritious and easy to metabolize foods such as bananas, mangos, avocados, egg yolks, yogurt, dried fruits, and a spoon of wheatgerm or brewer’s yeast with their breakfast. Also include garlic in your toddler’s diet or yours, if breastfeeding – garlic has antibacterial and antibiotic properties. For babies you can make a “garlic infusion” for them to smell- not drink. Just chop garlic, then let it sit out on the counter for 10 minutes (studies have shown that it takes about this amount of time for cut garlic to release the healing properties- good to remember while using garlic for cooking too) place it in a sturdy mug and add boiling water to it, then very very carefully place it where your baby will be able to smell the aroma. (Use common sense of course- don’t let your baby close enough to grab it, knock it over, try to drink it, etc. Much easier with smaller babies!) Also keep in mind that milk is mucus forming, so you may want to avoid dairy products while your child is healing from a cold.
Some other tips:
- Avoid cold food and drinks- instead opt for warm chicken broth, tea, well cooked food, etc
- Avoid bathing during cold/flu, as the skin is an important part of the immune system, and too much “washing” can hinder the healing process. The body will also become chilled and use up valuable energy to warm up again. (exception: lukewarm sponge baths are beneficial if the child has a fever)