Trick or treat! 3 healthy alternatives to handing out candy for Halloween

With all the hype about childhood obesity in the news, parents often ask, “What can I give out instead of candy for Halloween?”.  Here are 3 healthy alternatives to candy for your little trick-or-treater:

1. Stickers! Kids love stickers, and there is no shortage of pumpkins, ghosts and zombie stickers to handout.  Stickers don’t cost a lot and you can put together a awesome sticker bag complete with eerie glow in the dark stickers for your trick-or-treaters.

2. Halloween themed school supplies such as pencils, erasers, clips and notepads are fun and useful for kids.

3. Jewelry: Eyeball necklaces, spider rings, pumpkin scrunchies, and glow in the dark bracelets are a great alternative to candy and can be reused next Halloween.

Happy Halloween!


3 tips for preventing ear infections

I am pleased to announce that I am now the official natural medicine expert for the Ottawa Mommy Club! This blog post is the first of a series of articles on children’s health which will be published on the Ottawa Mommy Club website.  Enjoy!

 Children are at an increased risk for developing an ear infection compared to adults because of the structure of their Eustachian tubes.  The Eustachian tube connects the nose to the throat and allows fluid to drain from the middle ear.

 In children, the Eustachian tube is situated horizontally, resulting in a decreased ability to drain.  As your child grows, their face structure changes so the Eustachian tube becomes more vertical, allowing for improved fluid drainage from the middle ear.

The naturopathic perspective to preventing ear infections is to ensure the environment in the middle ear does not promote the growth of bacteria.  Since there is less drainage from the Eustacian tube, fluid and mucus can build up creating a warm, dark and moist environment in which bacteria thrive.  This kind of middle ear environment makes your child more likely to develop an infection.

The following 3 tips create an optimal middle ear environment and prevent ear infections from occurring in your child.

Tip #1 – Optimize fluid drainage from the middle ear

Ensure your child’s head is elevated above a 30 degree angle while bottle feeding.  In an older child, you can position their head above 30 degrees with a pillow while they sleep.  The elevation allows gravity to assist in draining fluid from the Eustachian tube.

Tip #2 – Avoid allergens which cause an allergic response leading to inflammation and increased mucus and fluid production in the middle ear

Cigarette smoke, pets, dust, laundry detergent, carpets, new paint, scented body lotions and bath products, artificial flavours and food colouring, as well as certain foods are common allergens.  Reducing your child’s exposure to these allergens can help decrease inflammation and thus increased fluid in the middle ear.

Tip #3 – Strengthen your child’s immune system so they are able to prevent and successfully fight an ear infection

Eat foods containing nutrients that support your child’s immune system.  Brightly coloured fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins A and C which support immune system function.  Vitamin D is also a necessary vitamin and many foods are now fortified with it. Zinc is a mineral which helps the immune system and can be found in chicken, turkey, nuts and seeds.  Omega-3 fatty acids decrease inflammation in the middle ear and are found in fish, flaxseed and nuts.

Avoid foods that depress your child’s immune system.  Foods high in sugar, artificial colours and flavours impair immune system function.  Foods high in these ingredients include: pop, certain juices, candy, chocolate bars, packaged foods like cookies and baked goods.

If your child is exclusively breastfeeding, adding or removing the above foods from the mother’s diet can help.

Have a question or interested in learning more? Feel free to e-mail Dr. Simone at or book a FREE ‘Meet the Doctor’ appointment with her at the Alta Vista Chiropractic and Massage Clinic, 1690 Bank Street, 613-731-5775.

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!