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Creative Nutrition for Healthy Children: Part 2 | Participatory Awareness

In Part 1 of this article an attempt was made to offer a general commonsense approach to healthy child nutrition. In Part 2 the intention is to explore the subject in more depth, based on the natural connection between the child’s constitution and nature, from which all our food is derived. Part 2 looks at some of these key relationships, which may equip parents and other child caregivers to work creatively to provide a wholesome and balanced nutrition using the nutritional discipline of their choice for each child, as well as for each stage of the child’s development.

Dr Raoul Goldberg
[cl=wqual]BSc (Med), MB ChB (Wits), CEDH (Hom)

In Part 1 of this article an attempt was made to offer a general commonsense approach to healthy child nutrition. In Part 2 the intention is to explore the subject in more depth, based on the natural connection between the child’s constitution and nature, from which all our food is derived. Part 2 looks at some of these key relationships, which may equip parents and other child caregivers to work creatively to provide a wholesome and balanced nutrition using the nutritional discipline of their choice for each child, as well as for each stage of the child’s development.

A careful observation of life reveals that innate correspondences exist between the human being and nature, founded in a common evolutionary origin. The world of nature comprises the mineral substances, plants and animals. The minerals provide us nutritionally with salt, sugar and all our trace elements, the plant world gives us our vegetables, fruits and seeds, and the animal kingdom provides us with fish, dairy products, poultry and meat.

These natural substances occur in a solid, liquid, or gaseous form and can be further transformed into finer states of matter and energy such as warmth and light. Each state of matter has distinct characteristics. Solid substances are distinctly different in character from liquid or gaseous ones. All solids are compact, have contours and are fairly immobile, whereas liquids have less firm boundaries, and tend to flow given the right conditions until an equilibrium is reached. What gives salt, water or the sweet fragrance of a peach their specific character? It is as if something living invisibly in the substance maintains its special character.

The force present in earthly physical substance creates the character of solidity, contour and structure. Salt and all mineral substances have a particular crystalline structure as a result of this force of earthly solidity. The elemental force working in fluid substances, water, milk and juice, is completely different, providing the character of watery fluidity which connects substances and adapts to containing surfaces. The living force in air provides substances with mobility, giving them a dispersive character, such as in the aromatic substances present in the fragrance of our food. Although conventionally we do not regard warmth as a state of matter, the force inherent in warmth is fire, which has its origin in the sun. This tells us that warmth is a force in its own right, as well as a determining power in nature that transforms, creates and generates new energy. For instance, warmth will turn solid ice into fluid water and then into gaseous steam, it will germinate seeds and ripen fruit.

One may well ask about the rationale for postulating these form-giving forces in nature. The same dynamic forces that are at work in nature, creating mineral, plant and animal substances according to their specific characters and myriad forms are also present in the human constitution:
[bul]In the bones, teeth and other solid body tissues we live firmly in the earthly element, which makes up our physical body.
[]In the fluids of the blood, lymph, organ secretions and connective tissue we flow in the watery element, which is the medium bringing life into the body.
[]In the gases such as oxygen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide, dissolved in the blood or present in the hollow organs of the stomach, intestines, bladder and sinuses, we are inwardly mobile and expanding and compressing our being in this airy element. This element provides the basis for our conscious soul experience which can express itself in expansive thoughts and feelings such as joy and love or in constrictive feelings such as despair and fear. For it to function in the world, the soul needs a material medium to hold itself together in the body.
[]In the warmth of the blood and the variable warmth differentiation in other organs, in fever and in the warmth of enthusiasm and love, we live creatively in the warmth element which is the medium through which our I: the inner core of our being: can operate.[/bul]
Table 1 (see above) illustrates the relationships that exist through identifying the key elemental forces that operate throughout the kingdoms of nature and the human constitution.

It is very common for one element in the child’s constitution to become too dominant, and we can train ourselves to observe one-sided tendencies in body shape or function, or in the soul expression of the child. For instance, many slightly overweight children have rounder body contours, flabby surface tissue and often tend to have overactive glandular secretions, runny noses and to sweat excessively. They could be called “watery’ children. They are often dreamy and we say that they are not well grounded. These children have a strong affinity with the watery element, and usually do not have sufficient earth and fire support. Their diet should therefore be rich in minerals, some animal products, spices and cooked foods.

On the other hand, a child who is very nervous, overactive and so agile he could swing from chandeliers, is often small headed and has breathing problems such as asthma. This gives the trained observer the impression that he does not control the air in his system properly. His system is too expansive and overactive: rather like air. He needs to be grounded with earth foods and to eat few airy foods, avoiding stimulants or excessively warming foods that may aggravate his mobile constitution.

The child’s [i]temperament[/i] is also an expression of the four elemental forces acting on the child’s organism. One-sided tendencies result in one or two of the four main temperaments being dominant (melancholic, phlegmatic, sanguine, choleric). This may be balanced out by the use of specific foods.

The melancholic child has predominant [i]earth forces[/i], which leads to introversion, brooding, and feeling physically burdened. She is likely to be thin and intellectual. “No one understands me’ is her cry. She needs to be given foods that warm and sweeten her.
[cl=slightbrown][bul]Sweet root vegetables
[]Flower teas sweetened with honey
[]Fruit, fruit juices, dates, oils, biscuits spiced with fennel, aniseed and caraway
[]Warming herbs such as basil, thyme, marjoram and sage
[]Barley, millet, oats and buckwheat
[]Strongly spiced maize[/bul]
The phlegmatic child is strongly influenced by the force of the [i]water element[/i] which enhances metabolic processes at the cost of neuro-sensory function. Thus his glands and digestive functions are usually very active, he is often overweight, dreamy and finds it difficult to develop an active thought life. “Let me eat my food and watch the world go by.’ He is too watery and needs foods that stimulate.
[cl=slightpurple][bul]Stems and leaves that are spicy or sharp such as onions, cabbage and gherkins
[]Sharp herbs and spices such as tumeric, saffron, ginger, and caraway
[]Grains, muesli or bread containing sharp spices or herbs, curried rice and oats
[]Sour foods such as sour milk products, sauerkraut, lemon, grapefruit and balsamic vinegar
[]Carrots, beets, radishes, turnips and horseradish
[]Encourage the child to chew well[/bul]
The sanguine child is empowered by the force of the [i]air element[/i] which expresses itself in an active soul life full of fantasy. She loses herself in outer sense impressions and sensations, flitting like a lively butterfly from one stimulus to the next. She cannot connect herself well with either her metabolism or her head system. “I just want to play in the sun and wind.’ She is too airy and needs foods that will anchor her in the body.
[cl=slightblue][bul]The table should be set to stimulate the senses and the food should be colourful and tasty
[]Encourage the child to taste and chew her food as this stimulates liver function
[]Avoid sweet foods and encourage bitter foods such as grapefruit, artichokes, chicory and dandelion leaves
[]Abundance of herbs such as caraway, dill, aniseed, sage, thyme, rosemary
[]Vegetables such as carrots, beets, cauliflower and broccoli with cold-pressed oils and honey
[]Milk and milk products, legumes, fish, poultry and a little meat bring the child down to earth
[]Grains such as millet, wheat, rye and barley[/bul]
The choleric child is imbued with the power of the [i]warmth element[/i] which gives him the strength to act. He often has so much power that he feels congested and can at times explode violently. “I want to be in charge here and to get things moving.’ His metabolism is overactive and he needs foods that challenge his metabolism and give him a healthy relationship to his body.
[cl=slightorange][bul]Sun-ripened fruits, oils and warming herbs such as rosemary, thyme, basil, caraway and mustard seed to harness the excess warmth
[]Sharp root vegetables such as radish, turnips, celery and horseradish, cruciferous vegetables (cabbage family), rocket and mustard lettuce as well as abundant leaf vegetables
[]Raw food, coarse bread, grain recipes to challenge chewing and digestion
[]Grains such as oats in moderation, rye, barley and wheat[/bul]
We can quite easily train ourselves to become familiar with these four elemental forces, recognising on the one hand how they shape and give specific character to all the foods we consume, and on the other how they form the bodily and psycho-spiritual nature of the child. We will then be able to make rational and creative choices for our children’s healthy nutrition.

These four elemental forces also work together in certain ways to bring about other creative forms.

[cl=sbrown]Earth and water
Elements
The earth and fluid-shaping forces working together govern the way substances move from solid into semi-solid forms, as occurs in the chemistry of crystallisation and dissolution of substances. For instance, the way salt crystallises or dissolves in fluid will depend on the relationship between the solid salt substance and the fluid solute. This formative principle can be called the SALT force and was given the name SAL by the ancient alchemists.

SAL in nature
In the plant world, the root part of the plant is organised by the salt force. The root anchors the plant in the earth and absorbs minerals and water through either a tap root system which bores down deeply like a carrot into the dark cold earth, or through a branched fibrous root system like a lettuce which goes less deep but expands more horizontally. The starch manufactured in the leaves are here taken hold of by the salt principle and transformed into cellulose which forms the structural framework of the plant. This consolidation process can go even further to form wood. Thus the root is the pole of consolidation, condensation and cold, and is represented classically in the mineral kingdom by the salt crystal. All metals, minerals and other chemical substances that are crystalline in nature are governed by this salt force. Thus in our nutrition all minerals, trace elements, salt, root vegetable and animal foods are SAL foods.

SAL in humans
This same SAL principle working in the human constitution can be found in the neuro-sensory system. This system receives information from the outside world through the doorways of the many senses, just as the plant seeks for and absorbs water and minerals through its root system. The neuro-sensory system can be focused on acquiring information in a deep, specific direction (a “tap root’ person), or it may explore the sensory terrain more broadly (a “fibrous root’ person). Once the sense impressions are perceived, they are evaluated or judged in some way, and a name or meaning is given to the perception. In this way knowledge is gained about the object. The neuro-sensory system provides the biological basis for the psychological functions of thinking, sensing and all cognitive learning. It is housed mainly in the head, which is round, hard and finely sculptured. The nerves are finely structured, symmetrical and relatively lifeless, i.e. they have poor regenerative quality. Nerve activity will tire us out and cool us down, as experienced after a mentally exhausting day. In the extreme it is the cold pole of death with a centripetal dynamic, i.e. movement from outside inwards: the flow of sensory information, the compact dense nature of the skull and brain, and the finely structured nervous system.

[cl=sbrown]Water and air
Elements
When the forces of water and air work together, substances are brought into the liquid-airy state which governs the laws of condensation and evaporation. This is represented in its pure form by water, but also by the colloids and the metal mercury. Mercury demonstrates visibly the two operative forces which shape the essential character of this metal: mercury droplets want to coalesce and flow together to form one droplet like water, but under different conditions mercury will disperse into many droplets like the air which is explosive, mobile and dispersive. The alchemists named this formative principle after mercury. The waves of the ocean are another expression of the mercury principle, with water currents and air formations largely determining the nature of waves.

Mercury in nature
In the plant world, the leaf and stem represent the mercurial principle. The leaf has a strong connection with the air, functioning on the one hand as the breathing organs of the plant, breathing oxygen and carbon dioxide rhythmically in and out, and on the other hand manufacturing starch in a rhythmic activity from air (carbon dioxide), water and light. The stem is more connected to the watery nature of the plant and acts as a circulatory transport system, conveying substances between the lower root and upper flower/fruit systems. Thus we may say that the leaf/stem system is the mercurial, mediating, connecting and balancing principle between root and flower/fruit. We may therefore identify mercurial foods in the leafy and stem vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, celery, onions, milk, yoghurt and cream, juices, fish (more mercurial than sal) and all other liquid foods.

Mercury in humans
Where do we find the mercurial force in the human constitution? The rhythmic system embraces specifically the cardiovascular-respiratory system and all other rhythmic processes. The two primary rhythmic organ systems, the heart and lungs, bring water and air elements into close proximity. Through the rhythmic contraction and expansion of the cardiovascular- respiratory system, the respiratory gases of oxygen and carbon dioxide diffuse into and out of the bloodstream at the “heart-lung’ interface, and remain dissolved in the blood while circulating through the system. This system provides the basis for all biological rhythmic functions and is finely tuned to the life of feeling. It has the task of holding the balance between the form-giving, cold, lifeless centipetally acting neuro-sensory pole and the warm, living, substance-transforming, centrifugally acting metabolic limb pole, which I will describe later, thereby maintaining health.

[cl=sbrown]Air and warmth
Elements
What happens when air meets warmth? Substances now change into a volatile expansive gaseous state, vaporising progressively, becoming more and more immaterial until a pure state of warmth is attained. In this condition, warmth can work in a transformative way changing solids into liquids into gases and initiating and activating other dynamic changes in nature. In the mineral kingdom sulphur is a substance that vaporises readily and generates a great deal of heat. Classically it represents a substance produced by the meeting and working together of air and warmth. The alchemists therefore described this force as SULPHUR. All substances in the gaseous, volatile state, including fire itself, can be designated as sulphur.

Sulphur in nature
In the plant world, the flower and fruit sphere represent the sulphur force. The flower expresses the essential character of the plant; we can usually recognise the plant by its flower. The latter has a transient life, houses the reproductive organs, converts starch into sugar in the nectar, and into plant pigments and glycosides that provide the rainbow spectrum of colour in the petals and the wide range of flower fragrances. The flower radiates and disperses its colour, fragrance and pollen into the wide universe. Here the power of the air element is dominant. Whereas the root is centipetal in its function, drawing substances into itself, the flower is centrifugal, dispersing substance away from itself. The fruit is the pregnant extension of the flower when it is powerfully acted upon by the warmth aspect of the sulpur force. The fruit generally requires the warmth of the sun to mature and ripen. The latter too contains plant pigments and chemicals which produce characteristic fragrances, but here they are held back within the fruit and not dispersed by the wind. Deep within the pregnant flesh of the fruit the quintessence of the whole plant lies hidden, namely the seed, the higher octave of the plant. It contains the product of warmth: the fats and oils. However, for the seed to develop fully it needs the forces of the earth, and as such it must fall to earth with the fruit. Here it will rest for a while before it germinates, with the help of the water element, into the new plant. Sulphur foods are those with strong aromas such as herbs, spices, condiments, fruits, seeds, essential oils and fats.

Sulphur in humans
The sulphur force in the human constitution is active in the metabolic-motor system which generates metabolism and movement, and provides the energy and generative forces for all mental and physical functions. This system is closely connected psychologically to the innate will that underlies instincts, drives and desires. It is in the metabolism that substance is transformed into immaterial energy, and warmth is required for all metabolic processes. The liver, the centre of the body’s metabolic processes, has a temperature of 40oC! The organ systems of metabolism are opposite in nature to those of the neuro-sensory system. They tend to be asymmetrical, less well structured, and deal actively with material substances which are transformed, activated, moved through and out of the body. In its essential nature it is the pole of life, warmth, substance transformation and elimination, with a centrifugal dynamic.

We are now in a position to try to collate the connections that exist between the three kingdoms of nature and the human being by virtue of the three creative forces of SAL, MERCURY and SULPHUR. With a little training in observation these principle forces can be identified making it possible to discern the foods that would be best suited to the child in your care. (See table 2)

Many children show a predominance of one functional system. They may have powerful neuro-sensory systems and appear bony, finely formed with small heads; they are also likely to be cold, pale and thin, intellectual and highly sensitive. They usually exhibit weaknesses of the metabolic limb pole such as digestive disturbances, chilliness and allergies. Such children can be helped by giving them some of the following foods to strengthen this system.
[cl=spurple][bul]Flower vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower
[]Colour-full vegetable roots, carrots, beets
[]Fruits
[]Aromatic foods
[]Spices and herbs
[]Hot drinks containing lemon or ginger
[]Cold-pressed olive, sunflower and sesame oils
[]Sweet foods, such as honey, molasses and malt[/bul]
If their power is centred in the metabolic-motor system, these children will have large heads, soft features and generally poorly structured bodies, reflecting the lack of form from weak neuro-sensory functions. They are warm blooded, well padded and tend to suffer from inflammations, lymphatic swellings and excessive glandular secretions. These children will benefit from foods that strengthen the neuro-sensory system.
[cl=slightpurple][bul]Abundant raw foods
[]Root vegetables
[]Grains such as barley and millet
[]Salt can be added
[]Foods containing high quantities of silica, such as carrots, and skins of fruits and grains, strengthen the weak form-creating forces[/bul]
If the middle rhythmic centre of balance is weak, as evidenced by frequent illness, circulatory or respiratory weakness, it can be strengthened by:
[cl=sindigo][bul]Encouraging healthy rhythms of eating
[]Abundant green vegetables
[]Sour milk products
[]Adequate fluids[/bul]
[cl=sbrown]Basic dietary indications for the
developing child
Newborn to first year
The newborn child is still strongly connected to the invisible spiritual realities and to the protective sheath of the mother, and must gradually find his relationship with the earth. The skull becomes harder, the face more structured, the fontanelle smaller, the tissues firmer, the movements more controlled. The senses focus on objects, the will becomes purposeful, he learns to crawl, to stand up and then to walk, thereby overcoming earthly gravity. It is the head and neuro-sensory region that is being worked on most powerfully. Nutrition during this period must support the harmonious descent of the child into the physical world.
[cl=slightgreen][bul]Breast-milk, the purest cosmic food, which maintains the maternal connection, is without question the ideal first nutrition until at least the sixth month
[]Sun-ripened fruits should follow to help the child take hold of its body
[]Organic ground cereals in the form of rice, oats, millet, and barley mixed with goats or cow’s milk is the next step in helping the child connect with the earth
[]Unrefined sugar in small quantities also favourably supports this process
[]Cooked vegetables, such as carrots, butternut, pumpkin, baby marrow and later spinach and sweet potato will follow
[]In my opinion meat should be avoided in the first year because it connects the child too strongly with the earth
[]Small amounts of butter can be mixed into the cooked food to help the child develop its own inner warmth[/bul]
Toddler: 1 – 3 years
Events in this period indicate dramatically how powerfully the child engages with the physical world. The fontanelle closes by 18 months, the milk dentition of 20 teeth is completed, the child experiences himself as separate from the world when he names himself “I’ and now memory can begin. Nutrition should support this development.
[cl=slightred][bul]Milk should be reduced to 500 ml per day
[]Encourage chewing on firmer foods, e.g. bread crusts, carrots, and apples
[]Animal food can now be introduced carefully starting with fish, later poultry and if necessary white meat
[]Repetition of some foods rather than variety of many different foods should be heeded[/bul]
Young child: 3 – 6 years
The child begins progressively to control her physical body. She becomes potty trained and more co-ordinated, yet still lives in a world of make-believe and fantasy. She is not yet fully awakened to the adult world and therefore should not be given the same diet as an adult.
[cl=slightbrown][bul]Many of the same adult foods can be introduced, but avoid large amounts of meat and eggs, fatty, fried foods, wine, spices, caffeine beverages and mushrooms
[]Culinary herbs such as cinnamon, saffron, parsley, sage, peppermint, and thyme are well tolerated[/bul]
School child: 7 – 14 years
The child loses his milk teeth and produces adult dentition, indicating his emancipation from inherited dispositions. The etheric life forces are now freed for soul expression through thinking, imagination and memory and the rhythmic cardiovascular and respiratory systems will be especially developed in this period. As we saw above, the forces inherent in the leaf of the plant will be helpful in supporting this development.
[cl=sindigo][bul]Easily digested stimulating food
[]Abundant vegetable leaf foods
[]Reduce milk to a minimum
[]Avoid caffeine beverages, alcohol and sugar products as far as possible
[]Dark-haired children should eat more flower and fruit foods, warm and cooked or toasted foods
[]Blond or red-haired children require more iron-containing, root, raw and cold prepared foods[/bul]
The above guidelines should not be regarded as a complete or fixed picture of child nutrition and dogmatic advice, but rather a general approach to the rational nutrition of the developing child. I am also not in favour of obsessive or one-sided diets, especially when it comes to the growing child. Every child is different and his diet should be selected according to his unique body and personality. In this article I have attempted to offer some indications for a differentiated nutrition and hope that it will stimulate further research in this direction.[/just]
Further reading
1. Goldberg R. Creative nutrition for healthy children: part 1. [i]The South African Journal of Natural Medicine[/i] 2003; 13: 40-44.
2. Schmidt G. [i]The Dynamics of Nutrition[/i]. USA: Wyomomg, Rhode Island, 1980.
3. Schmidt G. [i]The Essentials of Nutrition[/i]. USA: Wyoming Rhode Island, 1987.
4. Holford P. [i]The Optimum Nutrition Bible[/i]. London: Piatkus Publishers, 1987.
5. Hauschka R. [i]Ernaerungslehre Bittoro[/i]. Klostermann Frankfurt, 1970.
6. Knauer I. Die ernaehrung des kindes. [i]Natura Zeitschrift[/i] 1933/4; 6: 99-110.
7. Renzenbrink U. [i]Ernaerung Unserer[/i] [i]Kinder Arbeitskreiss fuer Ernaerungsforschung[/i]. Bad Liebenzell-Unterlengenhardt, 1977.