A Healthy Appetite makes for Healthy Development

A Healthy Appetite makes for Healthy Development

By: Laurie Roth-Donnell                                                                                                                        Master Herbalist and Holistic Health Practitioner

From the time of conception through the first year of life, a child undergoes an impressive cycle of rapid physical growth and development. On average, a newborn grows 10 inches and triples in weight by their first birthday. After the parents experience this year of rapid growth, they often become concerned when the growth slows. More concerning to new parents however, is not the child’s decrease in growth rate, but an obvious slump in appetite.  Both are normal development patterns for toddlers, as the expected growth rate slows to approximately two inches a year until adolescence.

While healthy growth and development are fundamental goals of parenting, introduction of solid healthy foods is a challenge to many parents.  When it comes to healthy foods, most can relate to the phrase, “eat it, it’s good for you!” but this reasoning falls short on a finicky toddler asked to try spinach. There are several ways to naturally enhance any appetite while increasing nutrition absorption and these simple suggestions can be adapted by any one, at any age.

Here are several of Mother Nature’s herbs designed to stimulate appetite and increase nutritional absorption:

  • Emblica Officinalis (Indian Gooseberry) helps to increase body mass by stimulating protein synthesis, while promoting a healthy metabolism. The edible fruit contains protein concentration 3-fold and ascorbic acid concentration, which is 160-fold compared to the apple. This berry also contains a considerably higher concentration of most minerals and amino acids than our favored apple.
  • Trigonella Foenum-Graecum (Fenugreek) is one of the most ancient Indian healing herbs to enhance digestion, reduce gastric inflammation and be used in cases of weight loss, poor appetite and even in treatment of anorexia nervosa. Fenugreek has three culinary uses, as a cooking herb (dried or fresh leaves), a spice (toasted seeds), and a vegetable (fresh leaves, sprouts, and micro-greens).  Many use it in salads, pickling, and curry dishes.
  • Zingiber Offcinale (Ginger) naturally stimulates digestion and calms stomach upset and is used to flavor many Asian dishes.
    Fresh ginger can be added to sauces, meat, poultry, fish, seafood, vegetables, rice, tofu, marinades, stock, soup, cakes, and drinks.  A simple ginger based beverage can be enjoyed as a tea or chilled sparkling refreshment.  GINGER TEA: Combine 1 tablespoon of grated fresh gingerroot to 1 cup of boiled water, steep covered for 10 minutes, sweeten to taste with honey. GINGER SODA:  Slice 2 large clumps of fresh ginger root and add to 1 quart of water, simmer 20 minutes covered, strain, and chill ginger root base.  Combine 1/8 cup ginger base to sparkling water and a natural sweetener to taste- serve over ice.  Kids and adults alike love this, and ginger is usually available at most grocers.
  • Borago Officinalis (Star Flower) is a native of Syria. This hairy plant has thick leaves that taste of cucumber and are used to bring freshness to food. The oil is extracted for numerous pharmaceutical uses. In Germany, sauces are prepared from this and other herbs. A green sauce from Frankfurt is an ancient recipe that contains – parsley, chervil, chives, cress, sorrel, burnet, and borage. The leaves of borage are cooked with cabbage and cauliflower or chopped and added to soup. The flowers are used in food garnish, and many summer cocktails are garnished traditionally with leaves and flowers of borage.

If you have a toddler faced with food fussiness, please give a few of the above ideas a try.  Also, remember to consult your primary care physician regarding any new health regime.