What To Feed Kids With Asthma: An Anti-Inflammatory Meal Plan for Kids
A few times a year, my husband and I go to bed with a lump in our throats. We listen over the monitor for one of the coughing spells to hit and then crouch by our son’s bed to administer albuterol in the darkness of night.
My husband and I both had asthma as children, and our united genes produced an unlucky jackpot of sorts for our little son Sam. (He’s the same kid with the scary food allergies…he sure keeps us on our knees!)
We’ve learned a lot in four years about how to treat our little guy. One of the biggest revelations was the effect of foods on asthma. From here, I decided it was a must for me to create an anti-inflammatory meal plan.
The first time I realized this was years ago, before I had all this healthy living stuff figured out. I was a young mom, and, at the time, my son was coughing and sick with a cold.
Remember, I was new to this whole thing, so don’t judge me too harshly. But that day, I had lugged my sick son into the store for some forgotten item. For a snack while shopping, I fed him fruit snacks: dye-infested and high-fructose-corn-syrup-ridden gummies.
So many things wrong with this, I know.
Within a matter of minutes, he was coughing intensely and struggling to catch his breath. I actually had to leave my groceries in the cart and drive to our doctor’s office for an emergency asthma treatment. Keep in mind – he was not “allergic” to anything in the fruit snacks. But something was obvious:
Foods can aggravate asthma.
As the years passed (and I grew in my natural, whole-foods journey), I began digging further. If some foods make asthma worse, couldn’t some also help it?
I loved the article here on “How We Reversed Asthma Symptoms in Our Family.” I devoured that post and began researching anti-inflammatory foods, foods which may reduce inflammation in the body. Maybe you’re familiar with this list.
Anti-inflammatory foods include:
- berries and grapes
- nuts and seeds, such as almonds, walnuts and sunflower seeds
- nutbutters (made from the above nuts)
- extra-virgin olive oil
- sweet potatoes
- seafood high in Omega-3s, such as salmon, tuna and cod
- hemp seeds and flax seeds
- spices, such as garlic and ginger
- turmeric (which you can add to chicken broth or sprinkle over roasted vegetables)
Some foods are actually inflammatory, which means they increase inflammation in the body. (Think: that yucky “food” I fed my son in the store that provoked an asthma attack.)
Here are some inflammatory foods:
- high-fructose corn syrup
- sunflower, safflower and corn oil
- fatty meats
- conventional eggs
- dairy products
- aspartame, MSG and food dyes
- any food you to which you are allergic or intolerant
Once I had my list of foods that Sam should and shouldn’t be eating, the wheels started turning in my head. Could I put these foods together to come up with a meal plan, one even kids might enjoy?
This little challenge had a familiar ring to it. Because my son’s diet is already limited by frighteningly severe food allergies, I’ve become a master at creating a yummy, balanced diet on limited foods.
I tried to create a meal plan that would nourish my son yet not irritate his asthma. And a distant hope was that he’d actually eat and enjoy these meals! Here’s what I came up with:
Anti-Inflammatory Meal Plan
- Berry Oatmeal with coconut milk
- Dairy-free Smoothie (with added flax seed oil)
- All-natural turkey sausage
- Eggs fortified with Omega-3
- Skinless grilled chicken breast
- Homemade hummus
- Fruit salad with berries, kiwi, and citrus
- 15-minute salmon cakes & homemade sweet potato fries
- Sausage, Pepper, and Potato Bake (use all-natural chicken sausage and sweet over white potatoes)
- Gluten-free, egg,-free, dairy-free cornbread & Ground Turkey Chili (add some homemade bone broth in the chili for added healing!)
- Southwest-Topped Sweet Potatoes (use ground chicken or turkey)
- Roasted Chicken in the Crock Pot, served with Vegan Sweet Potato Casserole
- Breaded oven-baked cod served with roasted butternut squash sprinkled with tumeric
- Almonds or sunflower seeds
- “Ants on a log” – Banana or celery topped with almond or sunflower butter
- Homemade Applesauce
- Fruits, especially berries and kiwi
- Tons of water! I believe that staying well-hydrated has helped my son for sure.
- Warm chamomile tea: For kids, prepare tea normally, stirring in honey, and then add a few ice cubes to bring to a warm temperature.
Do we eat like this all the time?
Not exactly. When my son’s asthma is under control (which is 95% of the time) we do eat red meat and sugar once in a while. I try to include as many anti-inflammatory foods as I can, though. And when my son’s asthma begins to flare, it’s back to the plan.
But what if you have a picky eater?
I’m not here to solve the world’s problems in a day, but I highly recommend these excellent thoughts on “Winning the Mealtime Battle.” Wise advice!
And one final disclaimer:
Although I’ve come a long way in treating asthma naturally, I have to confess that, at times asthma can feel like a wild animal that I can’t quite tame.
To me, it’s been (yet another) reminder that parenting can feel terrifying, and as much as I’d like to think I can fix everything, I cannot. If you’ve ever felt baffled and desperate seeking natural cures for your little ones…I know how that feels. Personally, I take comfort in being reminded that there is someone who cares for my little ones more than I do!
Do you struggle with asthma in your family? What natural aids have helped?
As I read the title to your post, the only thought that came to my mind was to feed them the Word of God. God’s Word is life and health. Yes we need to eat right and take care of our bodies, I agree with that. As believers in Christ, we are healed! We have His Word! Over the past year or so, I have been doing Bible Studies by Andrew Wommack. We started with Spirit Soul and Body, then did Effortless Change and now we are on week 5 of God Wants You Well. I encourage everyone to do these studies. They have changed my walk with the Lord! The Word says “the truth shall make you free”. Be blessed!
We have started using essential oils for my daughters asthma-lemon, lavender, and peppermint. I rub it on her chest at night and diffuse it a couple times a day. It is giving her relief and we would much rather use this natural remedy than medicine.
I’ve also had good luck with eucalyptus oil, as well!
I have been utilizing the information on https://www.culturedfoodlife.com/ this is an amazing site and teaches you how to make your own probiotics! It’s cheaper than yogurt and healthier. I have a lactose intolerant, asthmatic 6 year old with chronic constipation. Probiotics have an continue to do wonders!!!! Culture food is where it’s at! Of course… eating right and prayer are essential too! great post!
Great tip, Molly!
Thank you for this post. I am battling asthma and allergies with my 2 year old son, and after a trip to the ER this weekend feel very helpless and unsettled. I am trying hard to be a “natural” mom, but the asthma/breathing troubles leave me feeling sub-par, guilty, and discouraged. Thank you for the ideas for nutrition, and for the reminder that ultimately it is God who watches over and keeps my kids safe (as much as I want to protect them from all harmful things on my own, and also have a hard time truly trusting Him with my kids).
I know exactly how you’re feeling, Mama! I have the same feelings of guilt and inadequacy when it comes to my sons asthma. I so appreciate Jessica’s post!
Hi there, I so know how you feel. I’m sorry about your ER trip! God has definitely used my son’s asthma to remind me that I’m sure not in control!
This is awesome! We are working on lowering one of my little boys’ inflammation right now. According to the NAET testing we have done so far milk is definitly not good for him. He seems to handle wheat and gluten okay but still gets very inflamed with seasonal allergies. We’re working with a holistic chiro and some herbal supplements and we try to limit sugar as well. The improvements just since we have had him adjusted are incredible and maybe with some more diet changes like you describe above we can get a boy who doesn’t have such horrible inflammation.
I hope the diet changes work for your little one. They have seemed to help my son, for sure!
Thank you so much, Jessica, for this post! My three year old has asthma and it seems like we spend the entire winter in the doctors office and on steroids and breathing treatments and he still struggles to breathe! Its awful and terrifying. I hate seeing him like that and now that fall has hit I was bracing myself for 5 months of stress and illness. But your post has given me some hope that perhaps there is more that I can do to help him. Thank you for giving me something more to do that just hold him and watch him suffer! I would appreciate any other tips you have as well. I can’t wait to get started. Thanks!
Hi Sarah, I feel for you! It can be so awful! I would definitely recommend reading the other article I referenced here – How We Reversed Asthma Symptoms…and all the links in that post back to Danielle’s other posts. She has a thorough take on asthma which is really helpful. My son’s main trigger is when he gets a cold…it’s not really allergic at all. I think these anti-inflammatory foods help reduce the airway inflammation during colds, so that’s been best for him. But there are plenty of other tips, including many in the comments here. Best of luck!
Like you my husband and myself passed this on to our kids. My oldest daughter is 7 and struggled until she was 4 with asthma. For her seeing a chiropractor and getting rid of all sugars and food dyes cleared her asthma up completely. She went from being on 2 inhalers and 2 allergy medications to being perfectly fine. My 3 year old on the other hand sends fear through us when she gets a cold, as the cough always goes to her lungs. A few weeks ago she ended up in the hospital and I too felt that feeling of despair trying to do things natural but it not working well. Since then we found Cough Ease from Whole Foods, it has natural remedies and honey as it’s ingredients. Spongia, Hepar and Kali Bic which are all remedies seem to help her a lot. Her latest sickness that went to her lungs did not land her in the hospital after using those every 2 hours for a couple days. We also diffuse lavender oil and eucalyptus oil. I have used pure saline in her neb and that has helped too. I also use white onions and put them on her chest to kill bacteria so that she doesn’t end up with pneumonia. That has seemed to work. I buy histablock from Natures Sunshine and mix the capsule with a little honey, she eats it and it helps alleviate the allergy symptoms. They also have a Fenegreek and Thyme and a Bronchial Support which I have her take when she’s getting worse. We also use Breath Easy tea when she’s sick and it seems to keep the wheezing at bay too. I too am looking for more as this is the main issue that stumps us. We’ve dealt with food allergies, behaviors, rashes and all kinds of things naturally but this one seems so hard in the middle of the night when your child can’t breath and nothing natural or chemical infested seems to work. Hope these things help someone as they’ve helped me.
Thanks for your comments, Missy. I’m particularly interested in the Breathe Easy tea…I’ve heard good things about that.
It was as if you wrote this article just for me! I was just pulling out a note book to get ready for flu season and anti-inflammatory diet was top of my list. This is terrific. I really appreciate your sharing with the rest of us. Wish me well!
So glad it’s helpful! It sure has been helpful to me!
Thank you for this post! Both of my children, and I, have asthma and it breaks my heart when they suffer. I grew up hearing that dairy is bad for asthmatics but I’ve recently heard that farm fresh, unpasteurized, milk is actually good. Have you heard that as well?
I have heard that, although my son is highly allergic to dairy, so I can’t confirm if it works!
We’ve switched to farm fresh, unpasteurized or “raw” milk and I think it made a big difference. My son has asthma but is allergic to nothing but dust mites. I originally suspected that he might be allergic to milk and switched to raw hoping that he wouldn’t have to give up milk totally – he LOVES dairy! His constant runny nose (the kind where you know they’re not really sick but you hate taking them to church just in case) went away almost immediately. And even after it was confirmed he had no milk allergy, I wouldn’t go back. I saw the change!
We went through three winters of absolutely agony with two of our children with asthmatic reactions and lung infections. These included countless nebulizers, several hospital stays, more antibiotics that I care to say, and lots of tears. I tried some natural stuff, but it was never enough. I attribute some of our problems to things I could not control. My youngest was born via c-sections and was three weeks early. She had minor troubles from being born early ie. narrow tubes in her ears. My middle child had poop in the womb and had to be birthed very quickly. Some things we did that didn’t involve food was renovating three rooms in our house, getting our furnace and ducts cleaned, and switching our household cleaning/laundry detergent to 100% natural items. When we switched our laundry detergent, I noticed an immediate change in one of our daughters. The biggest breakthrough was removing as much dairy (from cow’s) as possible. The most important factor in their recovery has been prayer and lots of it. They have been anointed and prayed over several times. We refuse to give up. This last winter we only went through two nebulizers and two rounds of antibiotics. I cannot emphasize the power of prayer. This should be a major element in fighter this battle. Don’t just ask, do lots of listening in prayer too!
Excellent comments on prayer! I love how you described it! This week we had a beautiful answer to prayer in our extended family, and it reminded me how precious and powerful our prayers can be!
I was wondering if you have looked into the GAPS diet for your boys/family? I just started to read the book and it does mention asthma in it as well as a laundry list of health issues. I’m looking forward to starting the diet with my family in the near future.
I’m so happy I found your blog. My daughter has 14 sever food allergies and asthma. She’s been on prednisone more times than I care to count. Although mostly all the foods you mentioned she’s allergic too, this motivates me to do some research and find safe foods for her and I think it will help with those times that her asthma flares out of the blue. She eats a very healthy diet due to all her allergies, but this will make me look a little closer.
A friend whose son had a terrible time with asthma started to give him hyssop. Yes, like from the Bible and his 3-4 times a year hospitalizations went down to one. You can get it a nutrition store.
When our son, Blake, was born in 2001 we introduced him to the same nourishing, anti-inflammatory foods we were eating after he was weaned. Blake has reaped the benefits of an anti-inflammatory diet from birth and he has enjoyed incredible health.
Thank you Gina for putting your message in.
I am in the process of turning away from ”special” foods, even though they are created by God, to Jesus as our sole healer. I did too came across Andrew’s teachings a year ago and also got a book by Charles Capps ” The tonque,a creative force” . When our son got a staphylococcus infection on his foot and we exhausted all natural treatments[ around the clock],healthiest diet you can think of, and at the end of it even abtibiotics.Mind you we prayed this whole time too. His foot was getting worse. So i dropped all and he read same verse out loud twice a day ”Christ has redeemed me from the curse of the law…” and commanded the body to be in perfect health. After 3 weeks infection was gone!!!. Jesus healed every one of us and we need to claim it!
My 4 year old has asthma but when we decided to go vegan and go on whole foods diet using only wholemeal flours, lots of fruit and veggies and meat once or twice a month she had no asthma for 8 months and even went off her preventor. When we converted back to white flours and ate more meat her asthma returned and using her puffer nearly every day! Asthma is very diet related! So I completely agree with your article. Thank you for sharing.
Can you explain a little more about what you mean by “conventional eggs” vs. eggs fortified with Omega-3 that appear on your breakfast meal plan? Thanks!