by Kymythy Schultze
There are probably ancient cave drawings depicting this well-known joke; it’s been around so long! And let’s face it; there’s a time and place where it can earn a good chuckle. But if your child has a problem with frequent gas, it shouldn’t be ignored. It can be much more than just unpleasant aromatherapy!
First the question: What’s causing the gas? Unfortunately, there’s not one simple answer. To get to the, uh, bottom, of what’s causing your child’s gas, it’s a good idea to access their overall health. Are they an all around happy and healthy child without any other health issues? If your child is not in good health, then a trip to your favorite doctor is in order. This is especially important if the child’s gas is accompanied by abdominal pain, cramping, or other distress. If your child is in good health, other than occasionally clearing the room, then it may be time to put on your detective hat and start looking for clues.
Take a good look at what your child is eating; at home and away. You might consider keeping a food diary to better connect the symptom to its cause. Your child could have food allergies or intolerances. Gluten, a form of protein in some grains, is being recognized today as being problematic for many individuals. People who have gluten sensitivity or intolerance may suffer from gastrointestinal symptoms when they eat foods containing gluten (wheat, rye, barley, and foods derived from these grains). Celiac disease is also associated with gluten intolerance, but involves the immune system and can lead to damage of the small intestine. Today, more children are being diagnosed with these food issues. For more information check out www.gluten.net.
The good news is there are treatment options for these digestive difficulties. Other causes of frequent flatulence concern the expression “Garbage in = Garbage out.” Gas may be caused by poor quality foods such as those that contain artificial colors, sugar, hydrogenated fats and oils, or any ingredient that interferes with healthy digestion. And that includes snacks, treats, and soda! From my experience as a clinical nutritionist over the last two decades I find that a fresh food diet creates the healthiest children I’ve ever seen. Fresh unprocessed food is loaded with vital nutrients and great for your child’s health – now and for their future. Many whole foods actually contain nutrients that aid digestion. And please don’t assume that your child will refuse to eat healthy foods.
Marketing hype would have you believe that “health foods” don’t taste good, but that’s just not true. You really can find healthy foods that you and your child will find very delicious. One way to encourage your child to eat well is to let them help you in the kitchen. Make it fun and make a big deal about their contribution! The sense of pride that a child feels when they’ve help prepare food will encourage them to eat it. To learn more about preparing simple kid-friendly recipes of extremely yummy and healthy food check out my book “The Natural Nutrition No-Cook Book”.
For simple occasional gas, there are a few home remedies that you can try. Please do not let them replace competent medical help when needed. The following suggestions are just for those little tummy aches and/or odiferous offerings that sometimes happen:
1. Peppermint – easy to grow or purchase at the store. A leaf or two can be chewed (this is my seven-year old niece’s favorite). You’ll also find peppermint tea at the store which is also good. Just make sure the tea is made from peppermint only and doesn’t contain actual black tea.
2. Nux Vomica – this is a homeopathic remedy and should be given away from food. The small sweet-tasting pellets are very child-friendly. Look for the 30c potency.
3. Enzymes – these help breakdown undigested food. They can be purchased as supplements, but fresh foods such as pineapple and papaya contain them naturally in abundance.
4. Probiotics – flora found in the digestive system; these “good guys” help knock out the “bad guys”. Look for the non-dairy variety. Can be put in a bit of applesauce if that makes it easier.
5. Massage – relax your child and gently massage the midline of the stomach and the abdomen from hip to hip – no tickling! Also, and I know this sounds a bit odd, but trust me, it often helps; make counter-clockwise circles with your hand a couple of inches above the stomach and abdomen. Speak calmly and quietly to help relax your child. Make it a pleasant experience between the two of you.
Do not try all of the above at the same time or you’ll never know which worked best. But, do try them, as they are all gentle and effective ways to allow your farting little friend back into the fold!