A Natural Approach To Hyperactivity & Focus In Kids

signs of attention deficit disorder

It is normal for kids to be boundless bundles of energies.  Constantly playing and imagining.  Usually it is something considered positive.  However, for some kids this boundless energy can interfere with their ability to concentrate, stay still, and learn to their fullest in school and can be signs of attention deficit disorder.

Inattention, hyperactivity, difficulty following instructions?  All of these can be signs that will prompt parents and teachers to consider evaluating a child for Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).  Although there is great value in a proper medical evaluation to get your child care and attention they need, we should be cautious of labeling hyperactivity as pathologic or “bad.”

Whether your child is showing signs of attention deficit disorder or has officially received a diagnosis of ADD or ADHD, there are some great options to try prior to turning to medication.

Nutrition & Diet

The first and most impactful place to start is diet.  Our current diets, and especially “kid friendly” diets, tend to be very carbohydrate heavy.  Lacking in fats and proteins.  Cereal, toast, waffles for breakfast.  Granola bars, crackers, fruit gummies, and yogurt as snacks.  Sandwiches, wraps, pasta, nuggets for lunch and dinner.  These are all very carb heavy choices.

This is not to vilify carbs as a food group.  However on their own they can cause problems.  Carbohydrates get broken down into sugar or glucose in the body.  Glucose is quick burning energy, meaning you get a fast boost in energy followed by a crash.  These crashes signal panic in the brain which can cause us to become cranky, upset, tired, and unable to focus.  Carb heavy diets also fuel sugar cravings as a way to “correct” the blood sugar crashes.  Click here to learn about he impact of Healthy Food for Kids and Easy Tips to Help Your Children and Teens Eat Healthier.

The Power Of Fats & Proteins

Each meal and snack should be balanced with a carbohydrate, a fat, and a protein.  Carbohydrates should be coming primarily from your fruits and vegetables, rather than from grains.  When you add fats and proteins, you prevent these lows in blood sugar.  This is because fats and proteins are slower burning sources of energy.  You’ll get your initial boost from carbohydrates and then instead of crashing, the fat and protein take over.

healthy fats and proteins

Healthy fat in particular is a great source of fuel for the brain.  Whereas carbs tend to be fuel for the muscles.  Healthy fats include nuts, nut butter, seeds, avocados, fish, olive oil, and coconut oil.  High quality cheese and plain Greek yogurt can also be good sources of fat and protein.

It is also worth mentioning that some kids may have food sensitivities which can cause inflammation in their body.  Inflammation makes it very difficult to focus.  If the above changes aren’t helping, this may be the next step.

Lifestyle Considerations

Keep your kids as active as positive.  Children are constantly growing and developing their brains and motor skills.  If they have unused energy, they will not want to sit still and focus so provide them with an appropriate outlet.  Consider allowing kids outdoor time or physical play time prior to asking them to sit down to do school work.  Also, consider exercise balls as alternatives to chairs for school work.  This provides a physical outlet for unused energy so that they can focus more effectively.

Signs Of Attention Deficit Disorder Linked With Screen Time

We are also now seeing new studies that show the impact of electronics and screen time on hyperactivity in kids.  Preschoolers exposed to two hours or more of screen time daily were 7 time more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD.  Screen time, outside of school specific requirements, should be limited to less than 2 hours per day.

Signs Of Attention Deficit Disorder Linked With Screen Time

Dr. John Demartini Discusses Mental Health, ADD & Family Relationships

Avoid  screens for the first two hours after waking up and for the last two hours before bed.  This prevents blue lights from impacting your child’s circadian rhythm which controls their sleep quality and wakefulness.  Also, children should not be using screens when they are eating.  Over stimulation and multitasking will make it difficult for your kids to focus on just one task.  Click here for to read, “Is Today’s Technology Destroying Your Health?”

Natural Alternatives To Drugs

There are several great nutritional supplements and herbs that have been shown in research to be effective alternatives to common pharmaceutical recommendations.  However, you should always consult with a health care provider prior to starting anything with your kids.  Just because something is natural does not mean that it is the safe or effective for your child.  Allow an expert to direct you.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids Or Fish Oils

These are a great option for improving brain health and focus.  They have been shown to improve attention in both kids diagnosed with ADHD/ADD and in kids without the diagnosis.  Omega-3s are great anti-inflammatories and reducing inflammation in the brain allows for better functioning and concentration.


There are also several herbs that can be used as natural alternatives to medications.  Saffron has recently been shown to be just as effective as methylphenidate in improving inattention and hyperactivity.  Ginkgo biloba, Panax Ginseng, and Bacopa monnieri are additional herbs that have been shown to improve attention and hyperactivity.  Although, they were not compared to standard medications.  For more information, click here to read, “Backyard Medicine – Grow Your Own Natural Remedies”.

Final Thoughts

It is important to remember that a natural approach is all about treating the root cause.  With inattention and hyperactivity, it is not about calming down kids and making them focus.  It is about finding out why they are having trouble to begin with and addressing that concern.  The process will take time, but the results can last into adulthood.

If you are looking for a more natural approach for your kids, the best place to start is with a consult with a health care provider.  This ensures that recommendations are tailored to your child’s specific needs.  Just because something works for one child, does not mean it will for every child.  Everyone needs an individualized health plan designed for their unique constitution.  Click here to access our Family Health Center Directory to locate a health professional near you.

The Author – Dr. Melissa Bucking ND

I am licenced naturopathic doctor serving the Halton region in Ontario.  Health education and empowering my patients to take control of their own health is something I am very passionate about.  I have a special interest in digestive health, cognition & brain health, as well as fertility.  Book a free 15 minute consult today to learn more about my approach and how I can help you!

Diabetes Education For Children Living With Type 2 Diabetes

diabetes education

Aссоrdіng tо thе CDC (Cеntеrѕ Fоr Dіѕеаѕе Cоntrоl & Prеvеntіоn), approximately 2 mіllіоn teenagers in thе United Stаtеѕ hаvе рrе-dіаbеtеѕ.  Furthermore, thе numbеr of сhіldrеn who are dіаgnоѕеd with type 2 dіаbеtеѕ is rаріdlу increasing.  Sadly, the average аgе of оnѕеt of people living with diabetes іѕ gеttіng уоungеr.  In fact, did you know that tуре 2 dіаbеtеѕ didn’t exist аt аll until 1926?  AND, іt wаѕ соmрlеtеlу unhеаrd оf іn children untіl vеrу rесеntlу.  Thіѕ іѕ ALARMING and why diabetes education is so important!

Whу Do Sо Mаnу Chіldrеn Hаvе Tуре 2 Diabetes & Prе-Dіаbеtеѕ?

Chіldrеn used to grоw uр еаtіng whоlеѕоmе healthy fооd.

  • Eggѕ dіdn’t соmе wіth hоrmоnеѕ and thеу соntаіnеd lоtѕ of omega-3.
  • Oаtѕ didn’t соmе рrе-сооkеd, dеfіbеrіzеd, аnd lасеd wіth trans fаt, hіgh fructose соrn ѕуruр, аnd ready to bе nuked.  Oаtѕ and оthеr grаіnѕ wеrе slow сооkеd.  Full оf fiber аnd nutrіеntѕ.
  • Cows ѕtіll ate grаѕѕ аnd wеrеn’t shot up wіth hоrmоnеѕ and аntіbіоtісѕ.  In addition, dаіrу products wеrе еxtrеmеlу healthy and nutritious.
  • Bееf and сhісkеn ѕtіll tаѕtеd lіkе bееf and chicken.  They wеrеn’t full оf hormones and аntіbіоtісѕ.  Bееf USED TO BE аn excellent source оf оmеgа-3 whеn соwѕ still аtе grаѕѕ.
  • Kіdѕ drank hоrmоnе-frее mіlk with аlmоѕt еvеrу meal.  NOT ѕоdа рор аnd alleged “fruіt juice” full оf hіgh fruсtоѕе corn syrup аnd artificial сhеmісаl flаvоrіngѕ.
  • Dinner did not come рrе-расkаgеd іn a bоx loaded wіth trans fаt, high fructose соrn ѕуruр, аnd additives lіkе MSG to mаkе uр for the loss оf actual flаvоr.  Nо meal included gеnеtісаllу mоdіfіеd, hіghlу processed, dеhуdrаtеd, and ѕоmеtіmеѕ reconstituted in раrt “vegetables.”
  • Real vegetables with rеаl nutrіеntѕ аnd real fiber came straight frоm thе gаrdеn оr from nеаrbу fаrmѕ.  Almоѕt еvеrу family knew how AND participated in the аrt of ‘рuttіng uр‘ fruits аnd vegetables fоr the winter.  They wеrе still full оf fiber, nutrіеntѕ, аnd yes TASTE.


A tурісаl аftеr ѕсhооl ѕnасk wаѕ a ріесе оf fruіt, a peanut buttеr ѕаndwісh WITHOUT thе trаnѕ fаt or hіgh fructose соrn ѕуruр mіxеd іn!  Or, as a special treat, a fеw home mаdе сооkіеѕ mаdе frоm ѕсrаtсh wіth wholesome іngrеdіеntѕ with a glass оf hеаlthу milk.  I ѕhuddеr whеn I really stop to thіnk аbоut whаt kіdѕ еаt fоr ѕnасkѕ today!

Physical Activity

Children uѕеd tо walk tо school.  Wаlk tо the mоvіе theater.  Walk to thе store.  They had LONG rесеѕѕ where thеу participated іn рhуѕісаl асtіvіtіеѕ.  Rаn аrоund аftеr ѕсhооl and PLAYED OUTSIDE.  Thеу ѕсrеаmеd, thеу yelled, thеу jumреd for jоу. Thеу were ACTIVE.


In general, сhіldrеn used tо be FAR LESS STRESSED.  Kіdѕ didn’t wоrrу аbоut being ѕhоt by their сlаѕѕmаtе.  Sсhеdulеѕ wеrе not ԛuіtе ѕо hectic.  Kids didn’t hаvе to grow uр ѕо fast аnd wоrrу аbоut аdult matters quite ѕо ѕооn.

In thе most generic ѕеnѕе, I doubt іt is аnу big mуѕtеrу whу ѕо many kids are developing diabetes – оr at lеаѕt іt shouldn’t bе!  It іѕ mоѕt сеrtаіnlу related tо the сhаngе іn dіеt, thе drаmаtіс dесrеаѕе іn рhуѕісаl асtіvіtу, and thе еlеvаtеd сhrоnіс stress.

What All Parents Need to Know About Type 2 Diabetes Nutrition

Living With Diabetes & Diabetes Education

Wе need to еngаgе thе media!

Use them to get thе truth оut and discuss the need for diabetes education!  Trаnѕ fаt, high fruсtоѕе соrn syrup, gеnеtісаllу mоdіfіеd and food аddіtіvеѕ.  All thе rеаѕоnѕ for thе lоw quality dаіrу products.  Thе reasons fоr low quality mеаt рrоduсtѕ.  The dangers оf mоdеrn mаѕѕіvе-ѕсаlе рrоfіt-drіvеn fооd processing, еtс, еtс… If wе can’t ѕаvе оurѕеlvеѕ, lеt’ѕ trу to ѕаvе оur children оr оur сhіldrеn’ѕ children. Click here to read, Are You Eating Junk Food Without Realizing It?

We need tо DRAMATICALLY сhаngе the dіеt of our сhіldrеn.

Eliminating аll trans fat аnd hіgh fruсtоѕе corn ѕуruр іѕ a good step in thе right dіrесtіоn.  Thеѕе аrе роіѕоnѕ thаt CAUSE diabetes.  Eаtіng оrgаnіс eliminates gеnеtісаllу mоdіfіеd оrgаnіѕmѕ.  Stop buуіng рrосеѕѕеd fооd.  Put ѕоmе REAL fооd оn thе table!!!  Teach оur сhіldrеn better eating hаbіtѕ.  Bоусоtt ѕсhооl lunches until they еlіmіnаtе the рrосеѕѕеd food, trаnѕ fаt, high fructose соrn ѕуruр, genetically mоdіfіеd оrgаѕmѕ, еtс….Click here to read, How to Encourage Children to Eat Vegetables.

We nееd tо bе a LOUD vоісе!

Bring bасk rесеѕѕ and physical activity tо оur сhіldrеn’ѕ lives.  Mауbе thіѕ ѕhоuld bе lеgіѕlаtіvеlу mаndаtеd.  Get thе PTA’s and оthеr parent оrgаnіzаtіоnѕ involved.  Speak оut at local public meetings.  Eduсаtе уоur nеіghbоrѕ, frіеndѕ, аnd fаmіlу.  Click here to read, Is Today’s Technology Destroying Your Health?

Find ways to еlіmіnаtе ѕtrеѕѕ frоm оur сhіldrеn’ѕ lіvеѕ.

Hеlр them lеаrn tо cope bеttеr with stress.  Try to сrеаtе аn environment where they gеt mоrе sleep.  Click here to read,  5 Natural Solutions For Coping With Stress!

There are many things that are out of our control when it comes to our children.  However, after reading this article, I hope you are able understand and more importantly implement this knowledge.  Living with diabetes doesn’t have to be in your children’s future.

Asthma In Kids Can Be Decreased By Just Doing This!

Asthma In Kids

Every parent wants to do what is best for their children. But, is having a family dog, a good idea, especially when it comes to asthma in kids? Well, I strongly woof you to appreciate that Fido has served your children well and has actually reduced their chances of developing childhood asthma!

What Is Asthma?

Asthma is a sporadic inflammatory disease that affects the airways and the lungs and is one of the leading chronic inflammatory diseases in children worldwide. Often, it presents as tightness in the chest, shortness of breath and wheezing sounds.  It can be very scary to experience!

kids health

What Causes Asthma?

Asthma is often triggered by airborne environmental and genetic factors that include:

Asthma cannot be cured completely; but with a proper lifestyle, it can be well managed and controlled. However, what if we could drastically reduce the risk of developing it in the first place?

How dogs can reduce the risk of childhood asthma

Asthma Study

Research confirms that having a family dog could have several health benefits, including decreasing your child’s risk of developing asthma. According to a research carried out by Dr. Tove Fall, a professor of epidemiology at the Uppsala University, children from the time of birth, raised with dogs, had an estimated 15% decreased asthma cases than children who were not raised with dogs.

This Swedish nation-wide study tracked 650,000 babies and found that babies who live on farms or have frequent exposure to farm animals within the first year of life, can reduce their risk of asthma by 52%. The results were robust and independent of parental asthma or whether the child was first-born.

Furthermore, kids who grow up with family dogs have a 15% lower risk of developing asthmacompared to kids who did not grow up with a dog.

Later, a 2018 follow up study was done to determine if the sex of dog or number of dogs would have an impact on results and here’s what it showed.

  • Children exposed to female dogs had lower risk of asthma compared to those exposed to male dogs.
  • Children with two dogs or more had lower risk of asthma than those with one dog only! 
best dogs for kids

In Conclusion

What we have learned from these studies is that pregnant women and young children can safely play and share time with farm animals and dogs knowing that it may indeed be serving them well. Especially when it comes to asthma in kids! The idea is that animals provide the body exposure to germs and microbes which improve immune function

However, if your children are older and have allergy induced asthma from dogs, adding a family dog to the equation is not the answer!  Research showed that exposure within the first year of life reduced the risks of asthma. This doesn’t necessarily mean your family can’t have a dog. There are some low to non-shedding breeds that some allergy and asthma sufferers are not sensitive to. These breeds include but are not limited to:

It is important to meet and share time with a possible future fur-family member to test allergy sensitivity before making the commitment. If you are thinking of planning a family in the future, maybe having Fido join the team first would be a strategic health move! 

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Activities For Toddlers In Quarantine

Activities For Toddlers

Looking for activities for toddlers to do during quarantine, keeping them occupied, engaged AND learning? Check out these top tips and resources!

As you already know by now, the Coronavirus outbreak has already affected most parts of the world. This has resulted in special measures being put into place in an attempt to ‘plank‘ the spread of the virus such as the closing of schools and daycares. With no clear date in sight of reopening school doors, parents are now being challenged to come up with new and creative ways to keep their children occupied, engaged and learning from the comforts of their home.

As a parent of a toddler (and young baby) myself, I understand and certainly sympathise with other parents facing this same situation. It can be really difficult to know where to start and to find the appropriate tools while still obeying proper quarantine / social distancing guidelines. Especially when it comes to activities for toddlers. As such, I have put together a list of tips and resources that have been working for my family.

kids schedule

Create A Daily Schedule

If your child attended any sort of daycare/preschool/school, then following a daily schedule should be a familiar task.  Therefore creating structure and rules, like a set schedule to follow at home, is the perfect place to start.  In fact,  According to Kathy Eugster, MA, RCC, CPT-S, BCRPT-S (Pacific Spirit Play Therapy Resources);

“When parents provide structure, it means they are asserting and establishing their parental authority and control in a responsible manner in order to encourage healthy growth and development of their children.” –Providing Structure for Your Child: How to Assert Your Parental Authority

Start by breaking the day into blocks including tasks such as:

Depending on your child’s age you can also incorporate a ‘recess’. Perhaps this is a 15 minute break between activities to have a healthy snack, run around or let loose before moving on to the next item on the schedule.

One schedule that has been floating around and seems to tick off all the right boxes is this COVID-19 Daily Schedule.

covid-19 daily schedule

I particularly like this schedule because it incorporates all the topics I listed and gives examples on how to achieve each of them.

Another benefit to following a schedule like this is it allows the kids to still have some say.  Allowing your child to make their own choices within a given category will help keep them interested. Plus they can change up activities throughout the week depending on how they’re feeling and still get the benefits of learning. Also, when you include your children in the decision making, they are more likely to follow willingly in addition to learning a life skill.

Decision making is one of the most important skills your children need to develop to become healthy and mature adults. Decision making is crucial because the decisions your children make dictate the path that their lives take.” – Jim Taylor Ph.D.

how to play with your kids

Play And Activities To Do Together

According to Kenneth R. Ginsburg and the Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health

“Play is essential to development because it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children and youth.”

They go on to discuss the importance of play in promoting healthy child development and maintaining strong parent-child bonds.

So, what are some of the activities you can do with your child? Well, here are some of my favorite links I use to get ideas and keep things fun!

importance of reading to your children


There are incredible benefits of reading to your child which can start at a very young age. In fact, according to a study by Ohio State University;

“Young children whose parents read them five books a day enter kindergarten having heard about 1.4 million more words than kids who were never read to. This ‘million word gap’ could be one key in explaining differences in vocabulary and reading development.” 

There are several statistics and benefits which demonstrate the importance of parents reading to their children. Click here for a list of tops tips on how to read to your child in order to get the most out their literary experience.

Why do we need creativity?

Engage In Creative Tasks

Toddlers are curious and active by nature. So, you can’t simply expect your child to stay calm in the house for the whole day without any sort of proper engagement. Some great examples of activities that can keep your toddler interested and occupied include:

With such activities, you can enhance their imagination and creativity. Besides, such tasks can even help your kid discover their passion. Click here for a fantastic list of 20 ACTIVITIES FOR TODDLERS among additional tips and resources.

quality time with kids

Spend Quality Time With Them

Negative things always have some positivity in them. Before the self-isolation period, you may not have had enough time to be with your kids. However, you now have all the time to sit and listen to your kids. You can let your kid lead you to do what they love.

By taking such an approach, your kid will feel appreciated and in control. This can go a long way towards ensuring that your child does not get bored even when they have to spend most of their time indoors. Click here for some fun ways you can encourage quality time with your family.

Final Thoughts

You now know that even though your child has to stay in the house to meet the social distancing goal, there are still several activities for toddlers and older children you can do to keep them:

  • Active
  • Engaged
  • Stimulated
  • Learning

For another great resource for an ‘all in one’ learning experience at any age, click here to obtain Scolastic Learn At Home – day-by-day projects to keep kids reading, thinking and growing.

Other articles you might be interested in:

Supporting Healthy Brain Development In Children

brain development

Childhood and adolescence is an important time for brain development. From the rapid growth that occurs even before a child is born, to the fine tuning of neural connections that occurs in adolescence. This is the time of life where the brain changes the most!

Experiences during this time best inform the brain on what is important and what is less important. Which neural connections it should keep and which ones are less necessary. This will set the stage for adult life. This is why it is so important for kids to have many experiences. Not only does this include all the wonderful, magical, joyful experiences of life but also the stressful, painful, uncomfortable experiences.

Provided children have supportive adult relationships and stable environments, short-term, moderately stressful experiences can help them form healthy coping strategies and wire their brains for coping with these situations in the future (1)In addition to providing stable environments and loving relationships. Here are some other ways to support healthy brain development in kids.

eating as a family

Optimizing Nutrition

Nutrition definitely doesn’t look the same for every child and changes throughout childhood as well. But here are some general nutrition tips that can help support healthy brain development once a child starts eating solid food

  1. Ensuring a diet with lots of fruits and vegetables. The more variety and colour you can get in, the better. Setting an example is important here. Trying to convince a two-year-old to eat something that mom or dad doesn’t eat will likely be an uphill battle.
  2. Healthy fats.  Foods that contain Omega-3 fatty acids, especially EPA and DHA, help support healthy brain development. This includes foods like; avocados, nuts and seeds. Also, olive oil, and fatty fish like mackerel, halibut, or anchovies. If you’re having trouble getting these foods in, a fish oil supplement may be helpful.
  3. Protein. This one more supports healthy muscles however is important to get in as well. High protein foods include things like fish, legumes, meat, nuts and seeds.
  4. Limited amounts of processed/pre-packaged foods and refined sugars. These foods are increasingly being shown to be linked to chronic inflammation and are usually best avoided.
  5. Sitting down for meals as a family. This helps foster connection, bonding, and the supportive environment that is so important for brain development. Especially if you can factor in some form of gratitude practice or prayer before the meal.

Click here to read, How To Encourage Children To Eat Vegetables .

brain development in children


By this point in time, we probably all know the vast physical benefits of exercise. And yes there are studies to show that exercise even benefits kids. Not only does exercise increase self-esteem in children but it also appears to improve;

  • Cognition function
  • Executive function
  • Help in treatment of ADHD symptoms (2,3,4)

Playing outside is probably my favourite exercise for kids because as we’ll see in the next section, nature also helps foster healthy brain development. 

Spending time in nature helps mental health

Time In Nature

Spending time in nature promotes creativity and inspires wonder. When children are exploring in nature, they are learning with all of their senses. It also teaches them;

  • How to care for the environment
  • Brings a sense of mastery
  • Teaches that actions come with consequences

Activities for kids in nature can be as simple as going on a walk in the forest. Including your child in caring for a garden is also a great way to help them connect with nature. It helps them learn about consequences, build confidence and a sense of self-mastery.

meditation for kids


Playing outside would cover this one too! Mindfulness doesn’t have to be hard. It can be as simple as allowing some time for kids to be bored and let their minds wander. 

You can even get involved with your children on this one and have a nightly bedtime meditation session. This would also establish a routine and contribute to a structured, stable environment that helps so much with healthy brain development. 

It Doesn’t Have To Be Perfect

Parents, try not be too hard on yourselves. Parenting is not an easy calling. It’s important to recognize when you’re trying your best and remember that your best is often enough. Some days, nutrition may not be optimal or exercise may fall to the wayside. Remember to reach out for support when you need it.

Also, don’t forget that caring for yourself is just as important as caring for your kids. Not only are you unable to care for your kids if you are unwell but you are also modeling for them how to care for themselves. 

Click here to read, 9 Ways Your Mind And Body Are Telling You That You Need Some ‘Self Love’ .


  1. Resilience. Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, developingchild.harvard.edu/science/key-concepts/resilience/.
  2. Ekeland E, Heian F, Hagen KB. Can exercise improve self esteem in children and young people? A systematic review of randomised controlled trials. British Journal of Sports Medicine 2005;39:792-798.
  3. Davis, C. L., Tomporowski, P. D., McDowell, J. E., Austin, B. P., Miller, P. H., Yanasak, N. E., Allison, J. D., & Naglieri, J. A. (2011). Exercise improves executive function and achievement and alters brain activation in overweight children: A randomized, controlled trial. Health Psychology, 30(1), 91–98. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0021766
  4. Archer, T., Kostrzewa, R.M. Physical Exercise Alleviates ADHD Symptoms: Regional Deficits and Development Trajectory. Neurotox Res 21, 195–209 (2012) doi:10.1007/s12640-011-9260-0

Family Time Stress? How You Can Survive The Holidays

family time

When we watch Christmas movies or see images of the holidays on cards and commercials it is always the same. A family, warm and toasty around a fire. Sipping hot chocolate and listening to carols with smiles on their faces. But if the truth be told, ‘family time’ in most of our homes would be more accurately portrayed with images of us;

  • Running to office parties
  • Shopping
  • Baking
  • Decorating
  • Wrapping and exchanging gifts

Once done, we have our head in our hands as we anticipate January’s credit card bills. The reality is; we are all too exhausted and stressed to enjoy the most wonderful time of the year.

It Starts At Home

The hustle and bustle that comes with the Christmas season seems inevitable. But you’ll be encouraged to know that with small tweaking of our habits and a change of focus, we can reduce our stress, increase the well-being of our families and bring joy back to the month of December.

As a leadership and family coach I am often asked how these two areas connect to each other. In my eyes it’s quite simple. Leadership begins at home.

As parents we teach our children how to lead and how to follow others. I came from a time when our parents told us to “do as I say and not as I do”. It’s not too hard to see that my generation didn’t fall for this expression. Furthermore, I don’t suspect that it will work for any generation to come. Children learn by example and tend to pick up behaviors they’ve seen modeled.

Mixed Messages

So what exactly does this have to do with bringing joy back to the holiday season? Well, in many cases, we are giving our children mixed messages. We tell them that Christmas isn’t about gifts, then we strain ourselves financially to put the latest and greatest toys and gadgets under the tree.

We communicate that they should remember others in need but become so absorbed in our activities that we don’t give back to the community. Even more, we tell them that it is important to be healthy, but we load up on treats and run ourselves ragged. So how do we begin to align what we do with what we say to send our children? How do we send a consistent message and step off this holiday hamster wheel?

Become A Great Leader

Becoming intentional is key. The greatest leaders have a strategy and as a parent this is also very important. Consider your values. What lessons and memories you would like your children to take away from their special time. For our family we have chosen to teach;

  • Connection
  • Patience
  • Self-care
  • Caring for others
  • Focus

Our strategy looks like this:

family games

1. Connection

Spend family time truly connecting with each other. Spend time talking, sharing, playing games; particularly ones that start conversations. We learn a lot about each other as we talk and at this age of technology, that is often taking away.

We strive to maintain our connectivity during the holidays.  This also helps us to understand where our children are at emotionally and can lead to helping them to have stronger mental health.

2. Patience

Slow down! Determining to not be in a rush by;

  • Planning our time better
  • Shopping online rather than the mall
  • Including the kids in activities like baking and cooking (even though it will take longer)

Overall, patience is taking a breath and not always choosing the fastest route. Rather a more rewarding and inclusive one.

self care

3. Self-Care

Keeping an eye on our health by eating well and not overindulging. Staying active, taking a moment to read, meditate or pray. Self-care is different for everyone, but the key is finding things that refill your tank. Making you feel happy, peaceful, rested, rejuvenated and good about yourself.

4. Caring For Others

We have opted to reduce and in some cases eliminate gift giving. Instead, we redirect our funds and energy to those who are less fortunate. We spend family time making baskets for families in the community, serve at local shelters and giving to toy drives.

5. Focus On What Matters

Christmas for us is a time of gratitude and appreciation. It is important that our children are thankful for what they already have. Appreciate even the smallest gifts that they are given. We set a budget and do not go overboard with items that are often cast aside in a few weeks. We also choose to reduce the number of events we attend and focus on quality time spent with each other.

family values

Quality Family Time

Christmas holds many fond memories for me growing up. I rarely can recall the gifts I was given year after year, but I have some special stand out moments of time spent with family and friends. As a leader in my home I choose to be intentional about what is modeled so that our children will learn from the example that has been set.

I don’t want my children to think of Christmas as a time of being overscheduled, burned out, broke and dissatisfied. Rather, I want them to see and learn about peace, joy and all that really matters.

Final Thoughts

This holiday season, I encourage you to be intentional about what you are modelling during your family time together. Lead them strategically. Demonstrate your true values and make this truly, the most wonderful time of the year.

How To Encourage Children To Eat Vegetables

Getting your kids to eat their vegetables can be one of the greatest daily struggles for parents.  Building healthy eating habits takes a lot of effort for parents to sometimes battle it out with their children.

Start Small & Tackle One Meal At A Time

First, start off with breakfast and work on getting sugary cereals, pastries, and dairy off the menu.  Substitute cereals for oatmeal and fruit.  Pastries for homemade muffins (recipe below), and dairy milk for almond or coconut milk to use in smoothies.

First and foremost, parents need to set the example to their children on how to eat properly.

Children easily pick up on the habits of their parents and will gravitate towards the eating style presented at home.  Take a minute and think about the kind of example you are setting for your children.  Ask yourself the following;

  • Do you make meal time a priority?  Preparing regular healthy meals as a family?  Or are you picking up takeout on the way home from work because you are exhausted?
  • What is your attitude towards food and your body image?
  • What messages are you consciously or unconsciously sending your children?
Encouraging your children to take care of their health is one of the greatest acts of love a parent can give their child.

Mindset around meals and snacks can easily be shifted to a more positive experience.  Involve the family in weekly meal planning and grocery shopping for the ingredients that will be needed for those meals.

Older children and teens can also take part in meal prep by washing vegetables and helping to prepare dinner.  Giving children a voice around their meal choices will help with encouraging healthier eating habits.  Provide your children with a choice of what vegetables they are going to eat each day.  In addition, add one wild card vegetable to the menu each week that they may not like, but are willing to try.

Click here to read, “Are You Eating Enough Colour?”

Tips & Tricks To Add Vegetables To Every Day Meals

green pineapple smoothie
  1.  Throw a handful of spinach or kale into smoothies.  Yes, the smoothie will be green, but the flavour and texture of the spinach is masked by all the fruit.

For a a fantastic green pineapple smoothie, click here to read, “Happy St. Patrick’s Day Recipes”.

cauliflower rice

2. Use the food processor to turn cauliflower into the texture of rice.  Sauté the cauliflower “rice” in a tablespoon of olive oil and season to taste.

zucchini noodles

3. Use a spiral slicing tool to turn zucchini into noodles.  It will resemble pasta and can be topped with your favourite sauce and veggies.

Grilled spaghetti squash

4. Use spaghetti squash instead of pasta to make traditional spaghetti with meatballs (remember to use grass fed beef for the meatballs).

Click here for “The Ultimate Guide For How to Cook Spaghetti Squash”.

fruit salad ideas

5. Rather than ice cream for dessert, serve a plate of fresh fruit.

Almond-Berry Muffin Recipe

As promised, below is a recipe for healthy muffins that freeze well and are easy to serve as part of a healthy breakfast.


  • 2 cups raw almonds, ground
  • 2 free-range eggs
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt (optional)
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen berries (raspberries, blueberries)
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips
  • 12 muffin liners


  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Grind raw almonds until fine.
  3. Mix eggs, coconut oil maple syrup, vanilla and apple cider vinegar in a bowl. Add ground almonds and baking soda. Mix thoroughly.
  4. Fold in berries and sprinkle with chocolate chips.
  5. Evenly distribute batter between 12 muffin cups.
  6. Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes.
  7. ENJOY!!

Also, try this recipe breakfast muffins. It’s another great healthy breakfast idea that you can prepare in advance!

What The Neck? Are You Short-Circuiting?

Have you ever thought about how how much you strain your neck throughout the day?

You look down to:

  • Text
  • Reply to your email
  • Check Facebook
  • Send a tweet
  • Type on your keyboard
  • Read
  • Speak with your children

…And the list goes on and on!  This can potentially add up to several hours each day that your neck is tilted forward and/or down.

Why Does This Matter?

Your neck is the connection between your brain and the rest of your body.  The messages your brain needs to send must travel through your nervous system which is encased by the bones of your spine.  Therefore, if the spinal bones in your neck are continually forced into a forward (or looking down) position, it puts a great deal of pressure on your nervous system.

This interference causes “electrical problems”.  Whereby, the information that needs to flow freely in the nervous system can no longer do so.  It can cause a “short-circuiting” effect in your body.  This is where certain areas of your body develop illnesses or issues because they are lacking all of the information they need to function at 100%.

Additionally, these misalignments can lead to Forward Head Posture.  This is a serious condition that must be addressed by a chiropractor.  The doctor must work on bringing the carriage of the head back into alignment with your neck and shoulders.


What Is The Proper Alignment For Your Neck?

If we look at you from the side, your ears should be centered on your shoulders.  This gives your cervical spine (your neck) the correct curve to allow your nervous system to function properly.  Free of any misalignments.

However, if your ears are lining up closer to (or surpassing) the front of your shoulders, your neck is no longer in proper alignment.  This means you are experiencing a significant loss of curve in your neck.  Therefore aren’t able to allow the messages to travel properly within your nervous system.

This is a very serious problem, because even a loss of curve by 1 degree puts significant pressure on your nervous system, never mind the potential for a couple of inches.

Misalignment can actually develop into a loss of curve, or even a reversed cervical curve and can put immense strain on your health.

This Condition Can Lead To Experiencing:
  • Migraines
  • Breathing problems
  • Heart disease
  • Various nose, throat and ear problems
  • Learning difficulties
  • Emotional problems

This is such a critical area of your spine that must be free of misalignments to allow your body to express real health.

Have you noticed this problem in your spouse or your children?  It is especially worrisome for children to have reversed cervical spines, as it can compound into many problems throughout their lives.  And as we all know, when problems are left unaddressed, they tend to get worse, not better.

As we are spending more and more time on our devices and computers, the unnatural strain we are putting on our necks becomes even more prominent.

Click here to read, ” Is Today’s Technology Destroying Your Health?”

What Is The Solution?

Find a chiropractor in your area that can help you to express optimal health.  Follow the care plan laid out for returning the proper curve to your spine.  Especially in children as the rate of complete correction can be quite high, as they are growing and developing quickly.

Pyroluria Test – Why You Should Get One Today!


Pyroluria is a disorder with numerous symptoms including migraines, fatigue, food sensitivities, insomnia and poor morning appetite.  It has also been linked to loss of libido, mood swings, sensitivity to smells and sounds, hyperactivity, hypoglycemia, and overeating, just to name a few.  This is why having a Pyroluria test is important should you be experiencing any of these symptoms.

Conditions associated with pyroluria include but are not limited to acne, allergies, depression, anxiety, postnatal depression, eczema, substance abuse, learning difficulties, autism, Tourette’s, and Asperger’s syndrome.

So, What Is Pyroluria And What Can You Do About It?

When we synthesize hemoglobin, we produce a byproduct known as pyrrole.  Normally, this is not a problem but some people produce excessive amounts.  When this happens, pyrroles bind to zinc and B6 leaving them unavailable for the body to use.  They also deplete the omega-6 fatty acid gamma linoleic acid (GLA).

Why Should You Have a Pyroluria Test and Why Is Zinc, B6 And GLA So Important?

The body needs zinc for:

• Immune health
• Cell growth and replication
• Enzymes
• Hormone health and reproduction
• Protein metabolism
• Cognitive function, memory, learning
• Thyroid function
• Normal appetite, taste, and smell
• Wound healing

The body needs B6 for:

• Neurotransmitter production
• Convert food to energy
• Immune health
• Brain development
• Healthy sleep cycle
• Balanced moods

GLA acts to:

• Reduce inflammation
• Support hormone health
• Aid fat loss
• Increase energy
• Keep the skin hydrated and healthy

We are just scratching the surface but it is obvious that we need to be able to use these nutrients if we want to maintain good health.  Click here for information on how to read labels like a pro and get the most out of your food when grocery shopping.

Pyroluria is generally not recognized by mainstream medicine and few physicians are even aware of it because there is no drug cure for it.  Instead, it requires a lifetime of nutritional supplementation.

The Pyroluria Test

You will find a list of symptoms here and if you have 15 or more you definitely want to get tested.  If you’ve got a few symptoms and have tried different things and nothing has worked, it may be a good idea to test and at least rule it out.  If your physician won’t order a test, you can get a kryptopyrrole test from DHA Laboratory without a physician order (they have a physician who will sign off on it).  It costs around $82 and is a urine test. There are very specific instructions which include freezing the sample before shipping it, so read everything carefully before collecting your urine so you know what to do.  You can also get supplement guidance from a physician at DHA labs if you end up with high levels.

What Causes Pyroluria?

Pyroluria is caused by both genetic and lifestyle factors.  Stress increases the production of pyrroles as does poor digestive health, alcohol, smoking, drugs, and heavy metal exposure. Excess pyrroles in turn impair digestive health, so it’s a vicious cycle.

My daughter has pyroluria and her symptoms improved significantly when we started high doses of zinc, B6, and biotin along with manganese, magnesium, and GLA.  I recommend working with a physician or qualified healthcare practitioner with supplementation.  I never had to put my daughter on an antidepressant or antianxiety medication which both holistic and conventional healthcare practitioners recommended.  Not one of them ever mentioned pyroluria.

Could Pyroluria Be Causing Your Symptoms?

Maybe. It’s certainly worth testing for, especially if the alternative is an antidepressant or antianxiety medication.  If you do have pyroluria, medications won’t help.  Click here if you would like to learn more about natural relief options for pyroluria.

How Do You Know If Your Baby Is Ready For Solid Foods and What to Start With

How Do You Know If Your Baby Is Ready For Solid Foods and What to Start With

Introducing solid foods to your growing baby’s diet is a huge milestone for both you as a parent, and your child. Up until now, meal preparation and consideration has been fairly straightforward. The options were limited to breastmilk or formula. 

Now, the idea of introducing solid foods to your baby’s diet can be a daunting task because of conflicting information and the fear of developing severe food reactions or allergies. 

Being armed with solid information on how to best introduce solids to your baby’s diet will alleviate some of the worry and concern and will hopefully allow the transition to be smooth and rewarding.

How Do You Know If Your Baby Is Ready For Solid Foods?

There are several milestone markers that you will start to notice that indicate that your baby is ready to start introducing solid foods in their diet.

Most often these milestones begin to present themselves when the child is around six months of age, however every child will be slightly different.

It is crucially important that your baby can hold his/her own head up and can sit upright in a highchair before ever considering the option of solid foods. 

They will also need to have developed the ability to move their tongue in a way that would allow them to move the food to the back of their mouth and swallow. 

Finally, you may have noticed that your baby takes interest in what you are eating and reaches out to touch or smell your food.

Once you feel that your baby has reached all of these milestones, it is time to think about what solid food to feed your child first.

My Doctor Is Recommending That I Start My Baby Off With Rice Cereal (Pablum). Is That Really The Best Option?

Let’s think for a moment about the most vitamin and nutrient dense food groups.

Do processed grains come to mind? No, of course they don’t.
So then what food group should we be looking to? Fruits and vegetables, of course!

One of the simplest and most nutrient dense options to introduce as a first food is avocado. It requires no preparation whatsoever. Just cut it open, remove the pit, mash up the flesh (much like you would mash a banana) and serve. It can also be easily mixed with a bit of breast milk or formula to change the consistency and make it easier for your baby to consume.

Solid Food Quick Tips

  • Introduce one food at a time with a couple of days in between foods to watch for potential food reactions and to allow your baby’s palette to develop.
  • Hold off on introducing sweet fruits and vegetables until your baby has developed a palette for the more bland fruits and vegetables.
  • Keep a food diary for the first month to record likes, dislikes, reactions, etc so you have a record to look back on.
  • Be patient. This is a learning curve for both you and your baby. If your baby loses interest don’t force the issue. Maintain your regular breastfeeding/formula schedule and slowly introduce solid foods as a supplement to their diet.
  • Take the stress out of meal times. The attitude you have during feeding times will stick with your baby for life, so maintain a positive approach and don’t get frustrated.