3 ways to make drinking water more fun!

Having trouble staying hydrated? Trouble getting your kids to drink their water? Here’s 3 ways to make drinking water more fun! (Applies to adults too!)

  1. Personalize your water bottle: Preferably choose a reusable water bottle made from stainless steel or glass (avoid plastic due to cancer causing chemicals which leech into the water). For children, decorate their water bottle with fun stickers or write their name with a creative sticky label. For adults, perhaps adding a positive quote or affirmation to keep you motivated while at work. Every time you look at your water bottle and read the positive message it will be reinforced! Some examples of positive affirmations are, ‘Keep calm and carry on’, ‘You are beautiful and loved’, ‘#bosslady, getting stuff done!’. Basically, whatever floats your boat and matches your unique personality!
  2. Turn drinking water into a game: Mark the water bottle from top to bottom with the hours of the day. This gives you a visual target for how much you should have drank and by what time. For children, you can mark specific points in the day like first recess, lunch, second recess, on the bus, etc. If you finish your water by the end of the day reward yourself with something positive. For children, rewards could include stickers, dollar store toys, or an extra 5 minutes of screen time.
  3. Add flavour to your boring old H20: By adding berries, lemons and limes you can infuse your water with some flavour and extra nutrients. Be creative with cooling cucumber or herbs like fresh basil and peppermint! Some water bottles come with a diffuser down the centre for fruit or tea. Having your children participate in choosing the flavours they add to their water includes them in their own healthy choices and teaches them the importance of self-care.

Do you have other tips on how to make H20 more fun? Feel free to share your tips below in the comments section!

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Healthy nut-free snacks for back to school part 2

It’s back to school time and you might be looking for some new nut-free snacks in addition to the ones in my previous post: Healthy nut-free snacks for back to school.

Here’s my new top 5 nut-free snacks for back to school:

  1. Chia seed pudding: This is so simple to make and you can portion out 5 cups for the week. Have your kids participate in picking their fruits and toppings. Add pumpkin seeds, hemp hearts or sesame seeds for an added protein boost. A little cinnamon, honey or maple syrup adds a touch of sweetness to this delicious pudding.
  2. Power balls: Power balls are traditionally made with peanut or almond butter but you can easily substitute this for pumpkin seed butter, Sun butter or Wow butter. Make on the weekend and portion into freezer baggies for a quick snack or lunch addition.
  3. Hummus: Home made hummus is packed full of protein and calcium, great for growing kids and healthy bones. Make hummus fun by blending it with some spinach and edemame to make ‘Green dip’ or with roasted beets to make ‘Pink dip’. This adds extra flavour as well as vitamins and minerals to otherwise boring old hummus.
  4. Quinoa salad: Add some veggies and voila! You have yourself a quick and nutritious snack. Flavour with olive oil, lemon, salt, pepper, ginger, garlic, chili flakes, balsamic vinegar, basil, dill, thyme, cumin, etc. Quinoa salad is easy to make in bulk on a Sunday and to scoop into individual portions for the week. Bonus, the longer the flavours soak the more tasty this salad becomes!
  5. Steel cut oats: Make ahead and divide into individual portions and add honey, cinnamon, berries, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds or hemp hearts for added flavour and protein.

Involve your children in the snack decision making and preparation to figure out what flavours and textures they like!

Back to school with ADHD: Natural tips to help with the transition

It’s back to school time and for those parents whose children have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) this can be a challenging time of transition.  It is a time for establishing new routines and adjusting to the structure of the school system.

Pharmaceutical medications are helpful for many children, however often parents come to my office looking for some natural options. Choosing medication is a personal decision based on the needs of your child, family and teachers. The following is a list of natural tips to help support your child with the back to school transition, regardless if they are on medication or not.

Nutrition:

  1. Stay hydrated! Equip your child with a water bottle and encourage them to finish it throughout the day. Dehydration contributes to lack of concentration and information processing.
  2. Avoid artificial chemicals: Pack lunches full of whole foods versus packaged foods which often contain artificial colours, flavours and preservatives. These chemicals stimulate the nervous system and contribute to restlessness and mood changes.
  3. Add more protein: Protein keeps blood sugar levels from fluctuating. High and low blood sugar levels lead to hyperactivity, difficulty concentrating and mood changes such as irritability and anxiety.

Check out these Healthy nut-free snacks for back to school which are high in protein!

Vitamin and mineral supplements:

  1. Consider zinc supplementation for hyperactivity and impulsivity. Always speak to your doctor or naturopath before taking supplements to figure out if they are needed and what the appropriate dose should be. Try adding more zinc containing foods to the diet such as chicken, turkey, fish, pumpkin seeds or pumpkin seed butter (great replacement for peanut butter!).
  2. Additional B vitamins can be helpful for improving cognitive function.  B vitamins are essential for producing neurotransmitters that influence mood and can be helpful for anxiety and depression. A B-complex is generally safe because the body breaks down these vitamins and you urinate them out daily.  Make sure you take a b-complex vitamin with meals to prevent nausea.  It is best to take it in the morning with breakfast because it also helps improve energy throughout the day.
  3. A fish oil supplement is the best way to get an appropriate dose of omega-3 fatty acids.  The two major types are ecosapentanoic acid  (EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA).  A combination of EPA and DHA is important for supporting nervous system function leading to improved learning, attention and concentration in the classroom.  Nourishing the brain with omega-3 fatty acids is essential for improving mood.

    Fish oil is available in liquid or capsules.  You can freeze the capsules to prevent it from repeating or purchase an enteric coated brand.  Liquid fish oil is great for children because it can be mixed into a smoothie or juice.  There are even delicious gummies and chewable capsules for the picky eater!

    If you follow a vegan diet or are allergic to fish, omega-3 fatty acids can be found in flaxseed oil, chia seeds and hemp seed.  However, much higher doses are needed to absorb the same amount that is found naturally in fish oil.

Botanical medicine:

  1. Calming lemon balm or lavender tea: Brew a batch of lemon balm (aka Melissa officinalis) or lavender tea and store in a glass jug in your fridge. It can be added as a smoothie base, as a popsicle base, frozen into ice cubes and added to your child’s water bottle, or mixed in with a little juice. These are all creative ways to have your child experience the calming effects of lemon balm and lavender without having to drink the hot tea directly.
  2. Chamomile tea has digestive healing properties in addition to a calming effect. Paired with ginger root, licorice root and peppermint tea, these make a great addition if your child suffers from ‘nervous stomach’ or is experiencing digestive side effects from their medication.
  3. Concentrated herbal tinctures: Teas are generally safe because they are very dilute. However, if you are looking for something with a stronger effect a herbal tincture where the herbs have been soaked in alcohol and the medicinal properties of the herbs have been extracted is another option. There are many options at the health food store such as St. Francis brand Tilia Calm. Be sure to read the instructions based on your child’s weight and avoid herbal tinctures if your child suffers from allergies to any of the ingredients.

Ready Set…Meals Are Prepped! Our exclusive ONLINE program is here!

This summer I’ve teamed up with one of the best holistic nutritionists I know, Sonia Turingia from Kick Ass Nutrition to bring you an exclusive ONLINE program called Ready Set…Meals Are Prepped!

This 2 week program is only $19.99 if you sign-up by September 7th, 2015.

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Healthy nut-free snacks for back to school

It’s back to school time and lots of parents are asking the question, “What nut-free snacks can I pack for my child?”.  Having a nut-free policy is essential to ensuring the safety of those children with nut allergies.  However, removing nuts can make it challenging to provide snacks that are high in protein.  Protein is essential for maintaining your child’s energy level and cognitive function.

Here are 5 nut-free high protein snacks:

1. Nut-free trail mix: Make a baggie of sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, pretzels, toasted soy beans and dried fruit.  Easy to prep and portion in advance.

2. Hard-boiled egg: To make this boring snack a little more interesting, provide turmeric, curry spices, cayenne, paprika, chopped dill or sage to sprinkle on the egg or to dip the egg into for extra flavour.

3. Edemame: These are whole soy beans in their pods.  Easy to find in the frozen vegetable section, they can be pre-boiled and portioned for the week.  Sprinkle a little salt on them them the morning of to enhance their flavour.  Edemame make a fun snack as kids love to pop the beans out of their pods.

4. Greek yogurt: Greek yogurt is high in protein and easy to find in pre-packaged containers for convenience.  For a healthier option, purchase pure, unsweetened, unflavoured Greek yogurt in a larger bulk container.  Divide into individual portion and add honey, cinnamon, berries, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds or hemp hearts for added flavour and protein.

5. Mixed bean salad: Mixed beans are readily available canned.  Be sure to rinse the beans thoroughly before use.  You can also purchase the beans you like in dried form and make your own personalized mix.  Dried bean require soaking and boiling before use so will add to your prep time. Mix all beans and flavour with olive oil, lemon, salt, pepper, ginger, garlic, chili flakes, balsamic vinegar, basil, dill, thyme, cumin, etc.  Bean salad is easy to make and you can basically flavour it however you like.  An even simpler option is to mix a vinaigrette salad dressing into the beans for flavour, therefore no chopping/crushing of herbs required!

Involve your children in the snack decision making and preparation to figure out what flavours and textures they like!

Image purchased from: www.dreamstime.com

Image purchased from: http://www.dreamstime.com

It’s back to school time: Supplements for brain function

The end of the summer signals back to school season.  We are accustomed to the familiar commercials for school supplies, fall clothing and autumn activities.

Another back to school essential we don’t often think about includes nutritional and herbal supplements to support healthy brain function during the school year.  Nutritional and herbal supplements can help to optimize brain function leading to improved memory, concentration and learning in the classroom.

 

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photo-back-to-school-image19997055

 

Top 5 Supplements for Back to School:

1. Multivitamin: A multivitamin includes a combination of vitamins and minerals to ensure the body has an adequate daily supply to prevent deficiency.  With our busy lifestyles it can be difficult to have great nutrition everyday and a multivitamin can be helpful for ensuring our brains are nourished with the nutrients we need.

Choose a multivitamin appropriate for your age and take the recommended dose with meals to increase absorption.  Liquid and powder multivitamins are great for children because they can be mixed into juice, smoothies, applesauce or yogurt.

2. B-complex vitamin:  In addition to a multivitamin supplement, additional B vitamins can be helpful for improving cognitive function.  B vitamins are essential for producing neurotransmitters that influence mood and can be helpful for anxiety and depression.

Make sure you take a b-complex vitamin with meals to prevent nausea.  It is best to take it in the morning with breakfast because it also helps improve energy throughout the day.

3. Omega-3 fatty acids: A fish oil supplement is the best way to get an appropriate dose of omega-3 fatty acids.  The two major types are ecosapentanoic acid  (EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA).  A combination of EPA and DHA is important for supporting nervous system function leading to improved learning, attention and concentration in the classroom.  Nourishing the brain with omega-3 fatty acids is essential for improving mood.

Fish oil is available in liquid or capsules.  You can freeze the capsules to prevent it from repeating or purchase an enteric coated brand.  Liquid fish oil is great for children because it can be mixed into a smoothie or juice.  There are even delicious gummies and chewable capsules for the picky eater!

If you follow a vegan diet or are allergic to fish, omega-3 fatty acids can be found in flaxseed oil, chia seeds and hempseed.  However, much higher doses are needed to absorb the same amount that is found naturally in fish oil.

4. Gingko biloba:  Once you ingest the essential vitamins, minerals and omega-3 fatty acids, gingko biloba is a great herb for increasing circulation to the brain and ensuring those nutrients are delivered to where they need to go.  Gingko biloba itself increases neurotransmitter function in the brain helping to improve cognition and short term memory.

Gingko biloba is available in capsule and liquid tincture form.  Putting drops of the liquid tincture into a cup of boiling water will evaporate the alcohol leading to a more pleasant taste.  Adding a bag of your favourite herbal tea will also mask the flavour of the gingko.  Cooling this tea and making popsicles are a wonderful way to help children ingest herbal remedies.

If you are taking blood thinning medications it is best to be cautious and speak to your primary healthcare provider before starting gingko biloba.

5. Water: We don’t often think of water as a supplement but I frequently prescribe water as part of one’s  daily lifestyle routine.  Increasing water intake prevents dehydration and improves brain function, restlessness and focus in the classroom.

Schedule breaks to the water fountain or carry a water bottle to remind you to drink water frequently.  Adding slices of lemon, lime, orange, cucumber, apple or berries to your water will give it a fresh taste so you don’t get bored with plain old water.  Peppermint or spearmint leaves are also a refreshing twist!

We all know the recommended 8-10 glasses of water per day and it is important to make this a priority.  Such a simple lifestyle change can make a significant impact on how you feel.  Go ahead and give it a try!

It’s back to school time: 5 tips for packing a healthy lunch

It’s back to school time, and whether you are a pro at packing school lunches or you are new and looking for ideas, the following 5 guidelines will ensure you pack a fun and healthy lunch everyday!

1. Choose a rainbow of colour for fruits and vegetable snacks to ensure your child receives a variety of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Fruits and vegetables are also excellent sources of fibre.

2. Pack a protein source such as chicken, fish, tofu, beans and nuts.  Eating protein with a meal will provide energy to build strong muscles and bones for your growing child.

3. Water is needed for your child’s body to function optimally and can help improve concentration in the classroom. Ensure your child is well hydrated, especially when they are active outside in the sun.

4. Invite your child to be involved in the process of packing a lunch by asking them what their favourite fruits and vegetables are.  Choice increases the likelihood that fruits and vegetables will be eaten.

5. Make lunch fun! Write a note, allow your child to decorate their lunch bag, pack some stickers, etc.

Feel free to share your healthy lunch ideas in the comments section below!