Ayurvedic Expert Priyanka Lugani on Helping Our Kids Foster a More Conscious Approach to Wellbeing - The Grace Tales

Ayurvedic Expert Priyanka Lugani on Helping Our Kids Foster a More Conscious Approach to Wellbeing

How conscious are your kids? It’s a question not many of us have considered before...

As parents, we’re usually more focused on how safe they are, how respectful they are, and how happy they are. ALMA is a new information platform founded by wellbeing expert Priyanka Lugani which focuses on helping kids to become more conscious so that they grow up happier and healthier. “Children (and adults) are constantly exposed to attractive advertising for processed products, full of ingredients toxic for our gut and minimal nutritional value – cheap for companies to produce and tasty of course so we want more and more,” explains Lugani. Her own journey to conscious wellbeing began after she battled with chronic inflammation for many years. Many doctors’ visits later, she started experimenting, under her doctor’s watch, with different diets and food elimination in order to control her chronic inflammation.

Prior to the world breaking down, ALMA ran classes such as musical art and cooking at its South West London premises, however, these have now been moved online. 

Here, we speak to Priyanka about the importance of whole foods as well as mindfulness when it comes to our diets. 

For more information, go to www.almadeli.com

What do you think is lacking with children’s nutrition today?

Natural, wholefoods rich in enzymes, that activate our digestive system to absorb minerals, nutrients, and antioxidants, essential for our vitality and balance. We are living in a ‘fast world’ where convenience is king – leading to unintentional harmful food choices for our children. 

Why do you think this has happened?

As mentioned above, we are overexposed to processed foods mostly via great and often misleading advertising, busy lifestyles and our adapted palettes – anything from supposedly ‘healthy’ snack bars (generally loaded with sugars – normally masked as raw cane sugar – there is no real difference from your regular sugar just with some added buzz words), to even organic vegetable crisps. It is not natural; chemicals and processes are added to ensure a long shelf life.
Generally, as a planet, in particular the western world, over time we have become impatient. We “want” to supersize everything and we “want” it now, the world obesity levels, particularly in children are at critical levels – cheap processed food and drink is at its most available. Overconsumption of low welfare meat & farmed fish directly correlates with poor gut health and hormonal/chemical imbalances leading to poor mental/emotional health. There is a severe lack of accessible information surrounding the impact of food on our wellbeing to the most impressionable. 

How can this be addressed?

Education, education, education. Our approach at ALMA is to start with the children, they are the future. A System change, a review on advertising standards (which is already slowly coming into practise) and re-education of the food chain, to each of us being informed and making conscious choices. We need to find a way for organic, biodynamic foods as well as letting nature be nature, without processes being added.
A way to help this is to local and seasonally. This shift will happen when we as a collective begin to work in collaboration. For example, the government working with farmers to help them action this. This should eventually have a positive knock-on effect for the economy, support local farmers, and create a healthier collective environment.
This should feed into our overall food chain, from the foods available in supermarkets, as well schools and nurseries and also having information & education around what is in season, it, therefore, becomes part of our natural habits.

What are the main takeaways for parents that are raising children/about to raise children? 

Take time to educate ourselves in every aspect of internal health, how to maintain a healthy gut, for expecting mothers in regards foetal health – what you eat, the baby eats so healthy mama means strong healthy baby!
Also, similarly with breastfeeding mothers – this is really only a safe and effective method of feeding if you are aware of what you are putting into your own body and what it is doing for you and your baby. Even if you have a super healthy child, inform yourself about the choices you make for your children. With every meal, you are either balancing the gut or feeding inflammation in the gut. In terms of wellbeing, with each activity allow yourself & your child to flow, beyond limitations.

In your own terms, what is consciousness?

Simply, flowing with awareness.

Why is it so important for children to become conscious?

The deepest state of consciousness is flow, and this means to be here in the present moment, in the now. When we are in the present, we are able to create and enjoy an experience and absorb the learning which we are exposed to. Children (and adults) access that state of flow (consciousness) when they are engaged, creative, and imaginative (play) – this lays the foundations for continued development and evolution.

If children have an existing poor diet, what can parents do now to address it and how can they deal with fussy eaters, especially those that have been allowed what they want, when they want?

This is always a tough one for parents or caregivers to have to manage and change, it’s totally doable and easier than you may think. There are two issues to address here:
A tough pill to swallow – but is it down to you as a parent/caregiver? A very young child will only be able to eat what they are given, and if they are not being offered a varied diet rich in essential vitamins, good fats and high-quality proteins they simply will not receive the correct nutrition to function and maintain high levels of gut health, leading on to possible other health issues.
A fussy eater – You can be offering your child the best possible diet; however, every child is different and has different reasons or hang-ups as to why they are resistant to eating particular foods. Texture, taste and how it looks being the main culprits. Mimicking is also another big reason children to be hesitant in wanting to try foods – children are sponges so if they see a parent or sibling saying they don’t like a food, they often will follow suit without actually having a personal negative opinion on the food itself. 
How to try address and resolve this? Make food fun! Talk about food, create games around trying new foods rather than being forceful, making threats or setting conditions (i.e. no playdate tomorrow if you don’t eat X/Y/Z). This will create negative mental and emotional roadblocks for your child. 

Game suggestions:  

–       Flavour Journey (sour, salty, sweet, spicy, astringent, bitter) match foods, colours of foods to each flavour and ask kids to describe the food they’re tasting and its flavour. Every child is curious so feed the curiosity with food games and questions around each taste.
–       Eat a Rainbow: Fruits and Vegetables come in all colours, shapes and sizes. Create a rainbow on your plate and let it nourish your bodies with all its active enzymes.
–       Engage the Senses: Sensory stimulation with play also activates the stimulation of inner organs

How does our nutrition affect our overall lives?

Everything begins in the gut. 80% of our immunity is in the gut. Our nutrition is the base to our existence (we are living organisms). Every food has an information and an energy, that nourishes us on a cellular level, which in turn nourishes all our systems. Active enzymes are essential for us to digest antioxidants, nutrients and vitamins, followed by protein, good fats and complex carbs. When we have an imbalanced diet, that nourishment transforms into inflammation. There is also a direct link between our gut and our emotions, there are foods that boost your emotions and release happy hormones and other foods turn toxic, therefore creating inflammation, thus impacting mental health. The gut affects our mind (brain-gut connection) and our hormones – 90% serotonin produced in the gut – happy hormone as well as neurotransmitters such as dopamine and GABA, all play a key role in mood, cognitive functions, motivation. All of these hormones are affected and fed by our food choices. For example, every processed food has 1367 toxic substances. All of these toxins directly link to our mental health. These toxins trigger: headaches, brain fog, memory loss, and concentration deficits.

Why did you decide to offer only plant-based food at ALMA? What are the benefits of cutting all animal produce out?

Animal produce is acidic in nature, so are processed foods. Acidic foods create and feed inflammation.  At ALMA, we are passionate about only creating and providing food for a happy gut. This means anti-inflammatory cuisine. We are educating children about this way of eating, and what it will do for their bodies – notoriously vegetables are the hardest food group to get children of today to eat enough of – so why not make them different and interesting and give them to the children in a way they may have not experienced them before. We only use seasonal organic products. We are not saying only eat plant-based outside of ALMA but let’s find a balance for our bodies and the environment, because it is sufficient for our needs AND animal-based food is acidic.