Nutrition

Ayurveda and Nutrition

 

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Ayurveda (science of life)is a holistic system of healing that has been practiced in India for over 4,000 years.  It is a sacred science, not lonlbecause its aim is to balance the body and mind, but also because it supports one’s spiritual journey.

Ayurveda is particularly easy for kids to understand because it is simple and based in nature and it can be taught in a fun and playful way.  Most kids are grounded in their physical bodies and can relate directly when an explanation of health also describes the natural world they see around them.

The Basics of the Five Elements

Kids understand that the universe and our bodies are composed of five elements. Maybe it’s not obvious at first that those elements are earth, water, fire, air and ether. Children can easily give examples of things in nature that are made of these elements. Lets translate the Ayurvedic doshas of Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Vata is described as Wind and have the children describe wind. They all know what that feels like. Kapha is easy to describe – “phlegm,” since they all have stuffy noses in winter.  For Pitta, all kids know what it feels like to have indigestion after eating a spicy food.

It is important for children to understand that Ayurvedic treatment is based on the principle of opposites.  Children learn the quality of the elements and the opposite.  For example cold is the opposite of hot, for example, in the heat of summer, we enjoy watermelon, popsicles, and lemonade, whereas, in the winter we like soup and hot foods.

Kids already know that they are a part of nature, feeling close still to the source. So it is easy for them to make healthy choices when they understand why & that they are each made of the 5 elements with each person a unique expression of them.  This is an incredible gift with them being able to be in control of their bodies and able to develop responsibility for their own health. As parents it is important to support this by providing wholesome food options. 

Categorizing Foods As Windy, Fiery and Phlegmy

This is easy to do.  For example, ask your child this. Tell me what foods are airy? I have heard children say, hallow bread or bread with holes in it. For Kapha – What foods are phelgmy? Ice cream! For Pitta – What foods are hot?  They say – spicy, hot peppers.

Feeling The Elements In Their Bodies

This is what kids say when there is fire in their bodies. “Fever!” How about wind, -“Like a headache.”  Kids learn quickly that the elements in nature (outside of them) are also inside of them.  Phlegm is a substance with which most kids have a lot of personal experience. But kids are in Kapha stage of life anyway, so are more prone to congestion.

To be continued — Next time “Getting to know your child’s Dosha (constitution)”

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