By Talya Lutzker
Ayurveda isn’t just for adults. But because it has an exotic or foreign ring to it, it might sound as if it’s too complex to apply to children. But the very fact that children are so simple and uncomplicated in their nature makes the application of it for kids easy. Once you understand the basic concept of Ayurveda as a natural, at-home remedy, even simple pleasure foods, like a cookie, can even become “medicinal” for your child.
Using Ayurveda as a template for feeding your child doesn’t mean the food has to be of Indian descent, nor does it mean it needs to be ethnic. Ayurveda is all about balance and bringing relief through balance. So if you have a hyperactive child with seemingly boundless energy and who’s mind goes a million miles a minute, Ayurveda wants to bring calmness, solidity and a slowing down to this youngster. Easier said than done, of course. But the right food for a child such as this can and does represent these healing, opposite, and/or balancing qualities.
For example, root vegetables grow underneath the ground. By nature, they are close to the earth and therefore solid. They tend to be starchy, complex, and have a fair amount of weight to them, which makes them break down slowly. And because they are a food that is characterized by solidity and earthiness, they tend to provide a calming, or sattvic, effect to the mind of the person who eats them (as long as they are not overeaten). This is how Ayurveda uses food to balance the body and the mind. A simple, baked sweet potato with plenty of ghee or olive oil, a splash of fresh lemon juice, and good mineral-rich salt tastes delicious, offers warmth, grounding energy, and nerve nutrition. It’s a food that most kids are apt to enjoy, and for the parent’s pleasure, it’s a snack chock-full of nutrients (like vitamins A and C and magnesium), healthy fat, easy-to-digest fiber and antioxidants.
Depending on your constitution (and the constitution of your child), different foods will bring the best complement, or balance, for the healthiest state of mind and vitality. What follows is a simple chart for helping you identify characteristics in your child (and yourself) from an Ayurvedic perspective. Below you’ll find a handful of specific foods, tastes and flavors that balance these constitutions. Read through each column to see determine which one sounds most like your child (or you!).
|Vata: Air & Ether||Pitta: Fire & Water||Kapha: Water & Earth|
|Always in motion, lots of kinetic, non-stop energy, hard to slow down||Tends to generate a lot of heat and have lots of forceful energy||Displays cool stability and slow, steady, deliberate movement|
|Adaptable, light, energetic, talkative, restless, artistic||Focused, driven, confident, direct, bright, competitive||Kind, calm, steady, caring, stable, comforting, sensitive|
|Needs strength, grounding, warmth, lubrication||Needs calm, cooling, soothing, relaxation||Needs warmth, lightness, movement, motivation|
|Tends to have fast metabolism with poor digestion, big appetite||Tends to have easy digestion and elimination, good appetite||Good digestion with slow metabolism, slow appetite. Be careful not to overeat|
|Can be nervous, sensitive, uncertain, fearful, shy, impatient, restless, rigid||Can be reactive, demanding, critical, manipulative, vengeful, obsessive, angry||Can be possessive, lazy, greedy, stubborn, slow, needy, lethargic, heavy|
|Usually feels cold, constipation, gas, pain, dry skin, stiff joints, thin bones||Usually feels over-heated, heartburn, inflammation, acidity, acne, muscular||Usually feels heavy, mucous, phlegm, lethargy, early development|
|Warm, wet, sweet, sour, salty foods and spices||Cool, thirst-quenching, sweet foods and mint||Warm, light, dry foods like raw vegetables with dips|
|*Baked Root Vegetables*Nut and Seed Butters on Bananas, Pears or Celery*Sweet Potato Fries with Raw Ranch Dressing*Cinnamon Applesauce*Gingersnaps & Oatmeal*Warm Milk with Saffron||*Mildly Spiced Kale Chips*Coconut Juice*Easy Baked Tofu*Whole Grain Toast with Pumpkin Seed Butter*Fresh Sweet Fruits*Mint Lemonade
|*Celery Sticks with Hummus*Almond Butter Popcorn*Well-Spiced Kale Chips*Sliced Watermelon*Rice or Corn Cakes with Avocado and Sprouts*Spiced Soups & Stews|
Try adding these healthful, tasty snacks to your child’s routine!
Almond Butter Popcorn
balances vata and kapha, increases pitta
Preparation time: About 15 minutes
Serves 2 to 4
1/4 C Organic Raw Almond Butter
2 T Brown Rice Syrup or Coconut Nectar
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
4 C Coconut-Oil-Popped Popcorn