You Don’t Know How it Feels to be Me

By Michaela E. Gordon, OTR/L

Do you ever hear a kid say, “You don’t get it. You don’t know how it feels to be me!” That is the truth. We don’t know what it feels like to be them. We can only empathize and try to relate based on what we are experiencing. When it comes to sensory defensiveness, children are over responding to sensory input, which causes a fight, flight, or freeze response. It is not necessarily the actual stimuli that is the issue, but rather the way the sensory signal is being processed when it reaches the higher level pathways of the brain.

We all have some degree of sensory preference and sensitivity. And some sensitivity is good. If you were walking across a street and noticed that a car was both close and coming at you, it is a smart move to run as quick as you can! However, if you are walking across the street and you hear a car way off in the distance, but your brain says, “Run, you are about the get hit!” when that is not the case, then the brain has just sent you a false alarm, which can be confusing and distressing. If the brain is constantly misinterpreting  non-threatening sensory input as a danger, this can impact the child’s confidence while interacting with the world and can give them a sense that the world around them isn’t safe and at the very least, uncomfortable.

Here are the types of sensory defensiveness one might be feeling:

  1. Tactile defensiveness. This is the most recognized type of defensiveness. These children have strong reactions to touch information. They may complain about hygiene routines. These complaints can include brushing their teeth or hair hurts, bathing is uncomfortable, clipping their nails or getting a haircut is painful. These children complain about their clothing, refusing to putting on their socks and shoes or only wanting to wear a specific piece of clothing. These children may also have difficulty with accepting touch from others so they avoid hugs or they will report that others have hurt them because normal touch felt like a push or some other assault.
  2. Auditory defensiveness. This is also a widely recognized sensitivity. These children put their hands over their ears to block loud noises. They may refuse to go into public places or use the restrooms because of loud sounds like music or the toilet flushing. These children may be bothered by everyday sounds at home and school so they avoid situations, have meltdowns, or become aggressive due to the noise.
  3. Movement defensiveness. In the OT world, we call this gravitational insecurity where the child develops great anxiety when experiencing movement. These children do not feel comfortable moving through space, especially if their feet leave the ground. In babies, they may be fearful to stand or walk. In toddlers and children, you might see them avoiding riding their bikes, climbing playground equipment or using swings. These children usually crawl upstairs versus standing. You will often seem them keeping both their hands and feet on the ground when scared or unsure. They often cling onto parents and teachers for dear life and can’t bring themselves to go enjoy play with the other children.
  4. Visual defensiveness. These children are often sensitive to light. They may ask to turn the lights off or you’ll see them squinting or rubbing their eyes.  Their parents may need to put a screen up in the car to block the sunlight. These children may become overwhelmed with fast moving environments or fast moving television shows. These children can be easily startled by visual stimulation, especially peripheral stimulation they weren’t expecting.

If you are someone without defensiveness, these scenarios may not make sense to you. Perhaps you are a good integrator of sensory stimulation, but your child or student is not. Instead of the sensory signals informing the various parts of the brain in a rational way so the child can learn, play, and relate, these signals are heading right to the watchdog of the brain, the amygdala. The brain tells the child, “Danger, danger! You must protect yourself!” These constant false alarms can be overwhelming over time and can impact the child’s emotional well-being and their ability to participate in everyday life tasks. It can take a toll on relationships and make the child feel like there is something “wrong with them”. So when a child says, “You don’t know how it feels to be me,” you may want to answer, “You’re right, I have no idea how it feels to be you AND we are going to figure out how make this better.” In other words, we are going to figure out how to get your brain and body working in a more integrated manner.

Here’s the good news! We know that using sensory integration treatments and tools, we can retrain the brain to better understand the sensory signals so they are correctly informing the child as they interact with the world. Several things need to happen in order for this to be accomplished. The right tools need to be identified, the tools need to be implemented with frequent consistency, and the child needs to want to participate on some level. If that can happen, it is amazing how the nervous system can shift and the defensiveness can either be reduced and in some instances completely resolved.

It is an honor to help children overcome these challenges. It can really have such a positive impact on their quality of life, yielding to a more comfortable and confident child. If your child or a child you know presents with sensory defensiveness I encourage you to get them to an occupational therapist.

“Dwell in possibility.” Emily Dickinson

For more information on the author, please go to http://www.michaelagordon.com 

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Real Food on the Go

By Dr. Kneale

Your foods choices are great—when you are at home. But, what if you have to spend the day driving your children from activity to activity.  Or, you have a family wedding to attend and will be away from your kitchen for a few days.

 

Not surprising, your food choices go down the drain; you eat whatever is available at the next stop light.

 

Many of my clients have told me they have been unable to figure out how to eat real foods while on the go, resulting in complete havoc with their food choices.

 

Here is a list of quick nutritious snacks:

 

A small cooler is great for daily outings while a large cooler is ideal for longer trips.

 

So you left the house and did not plan at all. Don’t worry. Here are some more tips for eating on the run!

 

Eating out at restaurants:

When at a restaurant order a double helping of vegetables. Avoid eating too much bread or chips, if too tempting, ask to skip it. Skip fried food as much as possible. Restaurants are usually happy to accommodate your needs. Some good choices would be steak, chicken, turkey, chicken enchilada, salmon, salad, gluten-free sandwich, soup, lamb, bison, etc.

Many health food stores such as Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods Market have healthy meals already prepared. My local health food store makes gluten free sandwiches with organic meats and vegetables. They also have rotisserie chicken and vegetables already cooked, along with other meals.

 

Traveling for a few days or more

Another option, if you’re going to be gone for a few days or more—and you are not flying– is to bring your pressure cooker, electric steamer or and/or crock-pot. I have done this many times when visiting family in Southern California and Arizona.  If you choose this option make sure to get a hotel room with a kitchenette or rent a place with one. You can also research the area you’ll be staying to find out what stores are going to be available to you. That way you do not have to bring all of the ingredients with you. With the Internet it is so easy just to look up pressure cooker and/or crockpot recipes on the go.

 

Where to get recipes for crockpot: Foodnetwork, Allrecipes, Well Plated. Crock-Pot I use which has lasted many years: Crock Pot

Where to get recipes for pressure cookers: Pressure cooker Foodnetwork, Skinny Taste, All Recipes Pressure Cooker  Instant pot I use:  Instant Pot

 

Slow-Cooker White Chili with Chicken

 Ingredients

6 boneless, skinless chicken breast fillets

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon ground coriander

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon paprika

Sea salt

1 pound dried Great Northern beans, soaked overnight and rinsed

4 stalks celery, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 cans green chiles, chopped

2 medium onions, diced

1 jalapeno, sliced

4 cups chicken broth

1 cup whole milk

1/4 cup masa

1 1/2 cups frozen sweet corn

Juice of 1 lime

1/2 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese, plus more for serving

Sour cream, for serving

Chopped fresh cilantro, for serving

Corn tortillas, warmed, for serving

 

Directions

  1. Add the chicken breasts to a slow cooker. In a bowl, mix the cumin, coriander, oregano, paprika and some sea salt, then sprinkle over the chicken. Add the beans, celery, garlic, canned chiles, onions and jalapeno. Pour in the chicken broth, put the lid on and cook on low until the beans are cooked, the vegetables are soft and the flavors are combined, about 7 1/2 hours.
  2. Mix the milk with the masa and add to the slow cooker. Add the frozen corn straight from the freezer and continue to cook until the sauce has thickened, another 30 minutes.
  3. Remove the chicken to a board and shred using 2 forks. Return to the slow cooker, then add the lime juice, sprinkle over the Monterey Jack cheese and stir to melt.
  4. To serve: Ladle the chili into bowls and garnish with a dollop of sour cream, extra cheese and cilantro. Roll up warm corn tortillas and serve on the side of the bowl.

 

Pressure Cooker Chicken Soup

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil

5 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch-thick diagonal slices

3 large stalks celery, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 large yellow onion, cut into a large dice

Sea salt (Baja Gold Sea Salt has lots of minerals!)

One 3-pound whole chicken

One 3-inch piece peeled ginger, halved lengthwise (optional)

6 ounces rice noodles (about 4 cups)

Directions

Special equipment:

6-quart Instant Pot

  1. Turn a 6-quart Instant Pot® to the high sauté setting. Add the oil and once hot add the carrots, celery, garlic, onion, 1 tablespoon salt. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables are slightly softened, 4 to 5 minutes.
  2. Add the chicken, ginger, if using, and 8 cups water. Follow the manufacturer’s guide for locking the lid and preparing to cook. Set to pressure cook on high for 20 minutes.
  3. After the pressure cook cycle is complete, follow the manufacturer’s guide for quick release and wait until the quick release cycle is complete. Be careful of any remaining steam, unlock and remove the lid. Remove the ginger and discard. Use a pair of tongs to remove the chicken from the pot and put into a large bowl and allow to cool for several minutes.
  4. Switch the Instant Pot® to the high sauté setting and bring the soup to a boil. Once at a boil, add the noodles and cook until al dente, 4 to 5 minutes.
  5. While the noodles are cooking, use 2 forks to remove the skin and bones from the chicken and shred the meat into bite-size pieces. Season the chicken generously then add the meat back to the pot. Yummy! Ready to eat!

What if you are traveling with your family and everyone is starving. The only “restaurants” are fast food. Now what? It may not be the best case scenario but ALL of us have been there.

 

Here is a list of healthier choices for fast food stops:

  • Chick-fil-A: Grilled chicken nuggets, chicken salads , multi-grain breakfast oatmeal, grilled market salad
  • Chipotle:Burritos, tacos, salads with a variety of meats, veggies, beans, rice and guacamole, vegetarian salad
  • Cheese Factory: Steaks, fish, seafood, salads and various appetizers.
  • Dunkin Donuts: egg and cheese English muffin
  • Wendy’s: Many chicken salads, as well as grilled chicken wraps, chili, Jr. hamburger
  • McDonald’s: McDonald’s offers several healthy salads, mostly made with chicken, vegetables and fruit, small hamburger
  • KFC: Grilled chicken pieces and a side of green beans or corn cobs, Kentucky Grilled Chicken Breast (on the bone) and a side of Green Beans
  • Subway: whole grain bread and include plenty of vegetables in your sub. Veggie Delite (6-inch)
  • Taco Bell: veggie power meal bowl, Fresco Grilled Steak soft taco, power meal burrito, chicken soft taco fresco style, bean burrito, breakfast burrito, spicy tostada
  • Carl’s Jr: charbroiled chicken salad, 1/3-pound lettuce-wrapped thick burger,  low-carb charbroiled chicken club
  • Burger King: tendergrill chicken sandwich, tendergrill chicken garden salad, Whopper Jr., veggie burger

 

Just take your time to read through the menu. You will most likely find something that is healthy, or can be made healthy with simple modifications.

 

I hope this makes your day trips and travels healthy and happy!

More information about Dr. Kneale

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Healthy Snacks to Pack for Your Kiddos

By Joy Feldman

 

Need some healthy food ideas to pack for your kiddos? Don’t stress, these are easy.

Here you go:

 

  • Mozzarella or cheddar cheese sticks
  • Rolled slices of turkey or chicken breast
  • Thermos filled with hot soups or chili
  • Quinoa Tabouli with blue corn chips
  • Mini Turkey meatballs on a toothpick
  • Apples with almond butter
  • Fresh fruit with whole milk yogurt
  • Hummus with veggies
  • Snap Peas
  • Green Beans with yogurt dip
  • Assorted nuts
  • Kale chips
  • Mozzarella with basil and cherry tomatoes on a toothpick
  • Mashed egg and avocado on gluten free bread or crackers
  • Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
  • DIY Applesauce
  • Sliced Turkey and Chicken
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Baked Sweet Potato Fries
  • Roasted Chickpeas

 

 

Here’s to your health!

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Just Right Challenge

By Michaela E. Gordon, OTR/L

Occupational therapists are known for using the term “just-right” challenge. The term  was originally coined by occupational therapy Dr. Jean Ayres and later used in other occupational therapy frameworks. The just-right challenge can be looked at from many different points of view and becomes a little more complex when assessing this in children. I say this because adults have such a large influence on the environments they present the children with. For instance, every adult has their own individual perception of the world and what they find easy and challenging. The adult then has to either pair their point of view or shift their point of view in order to create situations that aren’t too easy for the child that there is no satisfaction in the activity, but also not too hard that the child feels so frustrated they stop trying to meet the challenge. To press further on this, there are also so many different types of parenting, teaching, and coaching styles, which adds another layer of complexity when it comes to challenging our children with some adults presenting with an authoritative outlook, some with a passive outlook, and some with a balanced outlook. How the environment is laid out for the child will influence how he/she perceives stress, how they go about completing tasks, how they interact with others, and how they see themselves and their abilities.

 

For simplicity, I offer an analogy of how I approach creating a just like challenge for children.  I see myself, the adult, as the earth and the children as the seeds. As the earth, I am a steady, enduring medium in their environment. I am taking it all in, monitoring by sensing what is going on inside me, what is going on around me, and sensing how the child is sensing the situation. I know as a seed, they are going to need just enough sun, just enough water, and just the right timing for the blooming of the flower to occur. If we overdo or underdo during a time of growth, we take away opportunities for the flower to bloom and to flourish. Again, we are monitoring, pacing, and making the child feel safe as we plot out the environment.

 

As we know, life is organized and disorganized all at once. The best is when we see the seed coming out of the ground, starting to sprout. However, there are other times in the process where either us the adult or the child have complications that arise and we have to problem solve not in a way that fixes the situation and makes it perfect, but challenges us as we patiently wait for the development of what we planted.  Perhaps there was a lack of water or maybe the sun didn’t come out one day. Sometimes that happens. Perhaps the flower is feeling lonely or they are upset because they are not growing as fast as other plants. The flower may not want to wait and they want to be a full grown flower RIGHT NOW! We get it right? But our job isn’t to just fix all that for the child or to bear down on them with unrealistic expectations. We can’t neglect the flower and we can’t pull the flower up from the ground and make it grow. It just doesn’t work that way. Our job is to be that steady ground, never wavering, showing up, shifting with what comes up in the moment. And in all honesty, it feels good to meet a just-right challenge. Enduring roadblocks, boredom, and some uncomfortable feelings is worth it when you begin to master and adapt to what shows up.

 

Here are some tips for creating just-right challenges:

  1. Give yourself just-right challenges! Where are you too hard on yourself and where can you implement a little more discipline? Once you have an idea how you operate, then you can observe how your child operates.
  2. Make a list of child’s strengths and weaknesses. Where do they thrive and where are things hard for them?
  3. Once you know your child’s strengths, really highlight those! We all have a purpose, talents, and gifts. Put them in just-right situations and let them shine!
  4. Once you know what is difficult for them, create situations that you feel are doable and allow for room to adjust to either something more simple or complicated. Example #1: Your child is afraid to ride their bike. You have been pushing them to ride out on the street, telling them it is not scary, encouraging them that they can do it. You see they can sit on the bike and even pedal the bike, but looking down that long sidewalk seems daunting to them. This is showing you, the challenge is too hard, even if it doesn’t make sense to you. You would make the challenge easier by practicing pedaling in the driveway. Then the next challenge would be riding to a cone you put out or a certain crack in the pavement and with each mastery, going a little further. Example #2: Your child despises handwriting. They may cry and scream, refusing to participate. Once you get them to the table, they scribble on their book or do everything but practice making the letters. You might not know if they find it boring, meaningless, or maybe it is really hard them. So your next step is to explore. The next time handwriting practice comes around, you don’t avoid writing in the book, but you add a fun element. Perhaps they can make their letters with chalk and use a wet sponge to write over the letters. Maybe you write letters on their back with your finger and they have to write out what they think the letter was. These additions will help not only help them sensory-wise by adding different tactile mediums, but will also make the task feel more playful and purposeful. Once you have done this, then you write just a few letters or words and you can graduate the amount over time. Another example is having them trace letters if the task is still too hard.
  5. Just-right challenges add up! It might seem at times what you are doing isn’t making a difference or that it’s taking a long time to master a skill. However, all kids benefit from persisting and embracing challenges. Remind your children of how far they have come and how far they can go.
  6. Allow frustration and failure. These are ok things to experience and they will not hurt your child! I am not talking about extreme frustration and failure because that’s not just-right. It can be so hard to watch a child struggle, but I feel when I let them struggle, I am really telling them that I trust them, that they got it, and I know they can move through whatever the challenge is. It’s very empowering to the child.

 

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” -Lao Tzu

 

 

To find out more about the author please go to: Michaela Gordon

 

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How am I ever Going to get my Child to eat Fresh Foods?

By Michaela E. Gordon, OTR/L

 

I am sure that there are many parents out there that have the struggle of getting their children to try new foods and adding those foods consistently to their repertoire. Literature shows that approximately 25-40% of typically developing children and up to 90% of children with disabilities have issues related to feeding and eating (Clawson, et al, 2008, O’Briend et al., 1991). A child’s acceptance of food is influenced by their biological make up, their culture, and their individual experiences they have around food.

 

There is a developmental, sensory-motor process to introducing different food consistencies to an infant and child. The infant will start with breastfeeding or bottle feeding since they are suckling and sucking with very primitive fine motor abilities. As the baby’s head and trunk stability develops, pureed foods can be introduced. From there, more solid foods can be added as the baby’s ability to manage and chew food becomes more efficient. As the baby ages, they begin to pick up food with the fingers, manage a sippy cup/open cup, and begin to use utensils. Challenges with recognizing or managing food textures, temperature, and tastes as well as oral motor or fine motor challenges, can all influence your child’s ability to try new foods and to continue to expand their food repertoire.

 

Children also go through developmental phases of rejecting previously accepted foods and they can also become picky with trying new foods. These phases are not long -term and if they continue for a long period of time, these issues could be related to other sensory-motor or social-emotional difficulties.

 

Interestingly, there is literature indicating that taste buds are influenced by what we eat. For instance, if the child eats processed foods and then you try to introduce a whole food such as a piece of fruit or vegetable, the child may perceive the whole food in a completely different way due to the processed items their taste buds are accustomed to. The child may not accept the food you’d like them to try because of the other foods included in their diet. It’s similar to when you try to eat healthy. At first, it’s so hard to stop eating the processed food. Once you get on a roll, you wonder, “Why was it so hard for me to stop eating that? I love vegetables!” Then after a while, you might start to eat “cheat foods” again. Next thing you know, you feel like you are picking up your baby spinach like a stack of hay and painfully enduring every bite, while you dream of your next favorite splurge. Kids are no different!

 

Lastly, food and drink consumption is not just a part of our survival mechanism, but it is also a social experience. We commune and celebrate life through food with friends and family. We begin to create associations between our emotions and the foods we eat. Some associations can lead to unhealthy eating habits, taking us away from food for nutrition and positive communing with others. Some of us comfort ourselves and our children with sugary or salty processed foods when we feel sad or lonely. Some of us have intense conversations during mealtimes, leading to negative associations, which affects the food experience. A parent may become upset and get involved in a power struggle over the child eating his/her food, which leads to mealtimes becoming an enduring experience rather than a relaxing, enjoyable experience.

 

That’s a lot to think about right? Here are some tips to help you to start work on increasing your child’s food repertoire:

 

  1. Walk the walk! If you want your children to eat fresh, wholesome food, then you, the parent needs to be an example of that. It’s good for you and it’s good for them. If you don’t eat fresh foods, you will realize that your taste buds aren’t necessarily craving those vegetables, but rather something processed liked a bagged snack or sugary treat. It’s a group effort to train the taste buds in the family so your bodies recognize the food that will keep them vibrant and healthy!
  2. Shift your mind from the American children’s menu! Yes, children tend to prefer more bland, simple foods as they are developing, but it doesn’t mean we should feed them fried foods, processed foods, and sugar-filled foods. You can make simple foods and keep them healthy. I love Joy Feldman’s cookbook, Joyful Cooking: In The Pursuit of Good Health. It has a wealth of information about preparing fresh foods and she also has a section of fun ideas for kids.
  3. Some children like the spicy, salty, sour and more flavorful foods! It’s also important to know that some children need the extra taste in order to recognize the food they are eating. There are many spices and herbs to enhance the taste of food.
  4. Children are smaller than parents so you want the meal to be appropriate to their size. Some kids will feel overwhelmed by the expectation of eating a lot of food and just won’t eat it all if the plate looks as big as them!
  5. Your child’s plate should exude compromise! What I mean is that the plate should have 1-2 things they like to eat and 1 thing you’d like them to try. There is no bribing or guilting them if they don’t eat the food. However, there is also no extra food given to them if they are still hungry and they haven’t eaten what was offered. If you have a child that is strong-willed and refuses to eat the offered food or you have a child that is not ready to accept that food for other reasons , you will want to plan for healthy, smaller meals or snacks in between so they have more intervals of eating.
  6. Don’t give up! It can take up to 25+ times of food exposure before a child might eat a food. That’s a lot of times. So just be patient as you expose them to the foods.
  7. Eat at the good ‘ol kitchen table! Some parents don’t realize how much their kids are snacking and drinking because they don’t sit for a proper meal. Parents are usually busy and on-the go, so I realize this is hard, but it’s a good habit to teach children to stop and eat. It is also a good habit for you too!
  8. Move those bodies! Mealtime can feel long to a child and you may find that your child doesn’t want to sit to eat. You may even find yourself chasing your child around the house trying to get them to eat their food. Instead of that, have your child jump on a trampoline, rock back and forth on a therapy ball, get some bike riding or swinging in, or wheelbarrow walk them to the table so they get out all their wiggles out before they eat.
  9. If you feel you are having a really hard time getting your child to eat, you may need a referral to an occupational therapist or other specialists to rule out other aspects that may be impeding their eating development. You can contact your local occupational therapist and inquire about feeding supports.

 

In today’s world, we have many food options (or at least we are led to believe we have “food options”) and it’s no wonder that parents are up against so many food struggles. Be patient and kind with yourself and your children. Your job is to present them with opportunities to eat fresh foods and their job is to eat it. May you and your children be vibrant and healthy!

 

For more information about the author, please go to http://www.michaelagordon.com/

 

References:

Clawson, B., Selden, M., Lacks, M., Deaton, A. V., Hall, B.,& Bach, R. (2008). Complex pediatric feeding disorders: using teleconfereing technology to improve access to a treatment program. Pediatric Nursing,  34(3), 213-d216.

Feldman, J. (2012). Joyful Cooking: In The Pursuit Of Good Health.

O’Brien, S., Repp, A. C., Williams, G. E., & Christophersen, E. R. (1991). Pediatric feeding disorders. Behavior Modification, 15, 394-418.

 

 

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Healthy Children for our Future

Healthy Children for our Future

By Joy Feldman, NC, JD

We all know that it “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” Yet, we seem to have lost our way in feeding children nutrient rich food. Ninety percent of the food we purchase today is chemically prepared and processed, devoid of rich minerals and vitamins.  Given that our young people have tremendous internal demands on their bodies for growth and development, what we feed them is of paramount importance.  Remember, there are major developments occurring in children as they are building a system and laying down structures to create a hundred trillion cell construction project, that not only boasts a most impressive design, but also exhibits unsurpassed resiliency and healing capacities. To keep this finely tuned machine in tip top shape, we need to honor and respect it, and most importantly, we need to recognize that we derive our energy from the foods we consume.

 

Wayne Gretzky, the all-time leading scorer for the NHL, wisely noted, “that you miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” Children’s health and the ability to contribute to our society, is predicated on their well-being.  Let’s give it our best shot in this New Year.

 

So what can you do in 2017 for your young people?

  1. Feed your family more nutrient rich proteins, vegetables, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats.
  2. Make a small garden and teach your children where healthy food comes from.
  3. Get them involved in the kitchen with you.
  4. Be an excellent role model.
  5. Join forces with friends and take turns weekly cooking a healthy

 

In this New Year, let’s join together, and create an atmosphere of support where we can overcome health barriers and create wonderful new successes.

 

Joy Feldman is a writer, author and lecturer. She is the author of Joyful Cooking in the Pursuit of Good Health and Is Your Hair Made of Donuts? Learn more at www.joyfeldman.com or www.isyourhairmadeofdonuts.com

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Meet your New Best Friend

Meet your New Best Friend

By Joy Feldman, NC, JD

 

Now that the school year has begun, are you stressing about preparing a delicious home cooked meal for your young ones?   More often that not, the last thing we want to do after working all day is to cook dinner. With a fast food chain at almost every corner, we find it rather convenient to just swing by and grab burgers and fries for everyone. However, that’s not promoting health and wellness for our children.

 

Let me introduce you to your new best friend, the slow cooker! Known as one of the best timesaving kitchen appliances, the slow cooker was invented to make everyone’s life a lot easier and less stressful.

 

The concept behind this is simple: just add in the necessary ingredients and turn it on. Over the next several hours, the meal will slowly cook and your house will be filled with wonderful smells, and you’re guaranteed to have dinner ready by the time you get home.  Some advantages include:

 

  • The ability to cook throughout the day with minimal supervision.
  • Low temperatures that help retain nutrients in food
  • Food that does not overcook and or burn
  • Easy cleanup

 

Here is a simple recipe that is nutritious and delicious:

Smashing Sweet Potatoes and Parsnips

Serves 6

Ingredients:

4 cups of sweet potatoes, diced

3 cups of medium sized parsnips, peeled and cubed

4 cups of water

2 tablespoons of butter, melted

¼ teaspoon of sea salt

½ cup of chopped apples

 

Directions:

Gently oil the inside of the slow cooker

Place all ingredient inside

Cover and cook for 6-8 hours

 

Here’s to your health!

 

 

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Junk Sleep

Junk Sleep

By Joy Feldman, NC JD

 

Our young people are spending an inordinate amount of time in front of screens—yes, those handheld devices that beep, ping, and tweet. A large-scale poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation reported in 2013 that 72% of all children and 89% of all teens have at least one device in their sleep environment.  And most of this technology is used near bedtime, that same report found.  It’s time for all parents to take note! These electronic gadgets are negatively impacting our children’s sleep—they’re resulting in Junk Sleep.

 

What is Junk Sleep? “It’s sleep that is neither of the length nor of the quality needed for the brain to get adequate rest so that it can perform properly at school. According to a poll conducted by the Sleep Council, among 1,000 teens, 30 percent got only 4-7 hours of sleep and 25 percent said they fell asleep while watching or listening to some other gadget. The Sleep Council stated “junk sleep could rival the consumption of unhealthy junk food as a major lifestyle issue for parents of teenage children.”

 

Sleep is crucial for children’s wellness. It plays a pivotal role in the development of the brain, memory, attention, immune function, and much more. So what can you do as a parent to ensure that your child has a great night’s sleep?

 

  1. Remove items that interfere with sleep—that includes electronics, TV’s, and all handheld devices.
  2. Your child needs at least 30 minutes of no electronics to transition to bedtime.
  3. Establish a regular sleep schedule.
  4. Keep bedroom cool and comfy.
  5. Create an established bedtime routine.
  6. Quiet, calm, and relaxing activities that include dimmed lights, peaceful music, and soothing scented diffusers.

 

Here’s to your health!

 

Joy Feldman is a writer, author and lecturer. She has an international private nutritional consulting practice and has authored Joyful Cooking in the Pursuit of Good Health and Is Your Hair Made of Donuts? To find out more information: joyfeldman.com or isyourhairmadeofdonuts.com

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A Healthy and Nutritious Summer Fieldtrip

 

A Healthy and Nutritious Summer Fieldtrip: Global Cooking with Your Children

By Joy Feldman, NC JD

 

 

With school finished and many unplanned summer days ahead, please don’t fret over those three daunting words, “Mom, I’m bored!”  Listen up. I have some healthy suggestions to entertain even the most difficult offspring.  So grab your book bag and head to your local library for an adventure. Yes! The Library.

 

Head over to the coolest section of this happening place and help your little people pick out their favorite cookbooks. Create a Passport for each one of your children and provide them with their golden ticket to journey to Italy, France or Africa for example.  Learn about the country’s culture, music and hip culinary scene too. Encourage them to thumb through cookbooks and then ask them to pick out their favorite healthy recipes. Once healthy food choices are made, have each child pick out a different course of the meal to prepare for dinner.

 

Ok, now head over to the farmers market or local grocery store to create your international meal.  Discuss the different foods and spices you have found and even investigate their healing properties. Let the children smell, touch and sample the foods and herbs they chose allowing them to travel the world from their own home. Make sure to include lots of fresh vegetables, proteins and healthy fats.  Voila, a fun and delicious nutritious lesson for all.

 

And since children can be notoriously picky eaters, I hope this global adventure helps by allowing them to have input in the kitchen as well as a new opportunity to taste new foods.  Remember, you are likely to have better success when dinner is on the table and they all helped plan a beautiful meal from around the world. They will never ever know that this adventure opened up them up to new foods. Shh… Mums the word.

 

Here’s to your health!

 

Joy Feldman is a writer, author and lecturer. She has an international private nutritional consulting practice and has authored Joyful Cooking in the Pursuit of Good Health and Is Your Hair Made of Donuts? To find out more information: joyfeldman.com or isyourhairmadeofdonuts.com 

 

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Halloween the Healthy Way

Halloween the Healthy Way

By Joy Feldman, JD, NC

Halloween is just around the corner and soon spooky goblins and wicked witches will be parading down your streets. There will be Halloweens school feasts,  Halloween parties with friends, and even Halloween festivals.  So, what are parents to do if they want their wee ones to stay away from all that sweet stuff?

Make sure that during this time your family is fed wholesome clean food, loaded with minerals and other assorted nutrients to help them stay strong and healthy.   Sugar can be harmful and throw off the body’s homeostasis, as well as result in other significant consequences.  More importantly, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, sugar can suppress the immune system. So, let’s have some healthy and fun food options to share with our kids so that they maintain their health and wellness.

 

Here are some simple and fun Pumpkin Recipes:

 

Pumpkin look alikes:

1 bag of Cuties (tangerines or mandarins will also work well)
4 stalks of celery

Peel all oranges, best to do right before serving (or store them in an airtight container).

Cut the celery in half lengthwise, then chop into 1″ piece of celery, place in the top of the orange. Easy as that you have cute Halloween Pumpkins treats

 

Ghostly Pumpkin Pudding:

3 cups of pumpkin puree

3/4 cup honey

2 Tbs blackstrap molasses

3 Tbs cinnamon

1 tsp sea salt

4 eggs, slightly beaten

2 cups scalded milk

Mix in order given.

Pour into buttered dish and bake 10 minutes at 450 and then 40 minutes at 350 or until set.

 

Here’s to your health!

 

Joy Feldman is a writer, author and lecturer. She has an international private nutritional consulting practice and is the author of Joyful Cooking in the Pursuit of Good Health and Is Your Hair Made of

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