Nurture Your Life is the second in my series of books on natural health (the first was Culture Your Life published 2014). Children’s nutrition is a big passion of mine. As a Naturopath and Nutritional Therapist I see many children with chronic conditions like persistent illness, skin conditions, energy and growth issues and a staggering increase in children with allergies and intolerances. With two children of my own, I feel compelled to help these kids find their strength and return them to health to help prevent more serious conditions in their future.
Weaning a child onto food is a very powerful first step in a child’s relationship with food. A relationship which is of fundamental importance to health. Think of your own love/hate relationship with food. There are so many non-foods in our diets in the west, our supermarkets are sometimes almost 80% stocked with chemical, processed and unhealthy foods. Conventional avenues still persist that rice cereal (which may be hugely inflammatory to an immature digestive system) is the food we should be starting our kids on. This book does not recommend that route.
I hope you enjoy reading it and ask questions, keep reading, become informed as to how the body works. Change your own relationship to food if need be. Lets start our kids off the right way, with foods to nurture their life from the beginning.
The more I get to know myself and others around me, the more I am reminded of the importance of taking a breath. Being mindful is about being in the present, no longer stuck feeling guilt or remorse about the past or anxious and controlling about the future. The Here and the Now. The place where we can make changes.
Healing is done on so many levels and at different times. By taking a moment to be concious about breathing, you are coming out of your brain and thoughts and connecting with your awareness and intuition. Your gut instinct and your primal needs. You are taken away from society’s pressures and the medias propaganda. You release money troubles, health anxieties, body weight stress, parenting woes, work restrictions or whatever else you are thinking about that you have no power over. You are re-plugging in to you- the real you, and that is incredibly powerful.
Sounds easy and it can be as easy as 1,2,3
1. Stop (close your eyes is completely optional)
2. Breathe in (listen and feel the breath fill you up)
3. Breathe out (listen and feel stress and tension leave with your breath.
Even if that is all you do. That can be enough- it is a great start.
Here are some more exercises I have learnt over the years;
Close your eyes and focus on your breathing.
Try and breathe in for a count of four and out for a count of four. Repeat this a few times (4-6 times)
Increase time to breathing in for a count of 6 then out for a count of 6. Repeat this a few times (4-6 times)
Increase this to breathing in for a count of 8 then out for a count of 8. Repeat this a few times (4-6 times)
( OPTIONAL)Spend some time her picturing yourself in a favourite place or looking at yourself in the mirror and seeing yourself as the perfect you.)
Return to breathing in for a count of 8 then out for a count of 8. Repeat this a few times (4-6 times)
Return to breathing in for a count of 6 then out for a count of 6. Repeat this a few times (4-6 times)
Return to breathing in for a count of 4 then out for a count of 4. Repeat this a few times (4-6 times)
This can take as long or as little time as you have!
Rainbow breathing; (This is great for kids)
Stop the bus
This is best done when you are pressed for time, need to meet a deadline, are stalling doing something that really needs doing, cant wait, cant stop! Its amazing how little it takes to stop, re-focus and actually achieve more. It is also great to use when you have a thousand things going on and you cannot get to sleep.
this can be done for 1-5 mins. Set a timer so you are not stressing about time.
Close your eyes and breathe in and out. Allow all thoughts to flow through your mind without holding on to them. without trying to solve them- just watching them. Especially when it is the last thing you should be doing! Each thought can have a shape or colour as you see it drift off. Then start to repeat, I wonder what my next thought will be…
Other exercises to get you on track:
Opening yourself up to opportunity is about trusting yourself and the universe to provide for you. Whilst breathing and being mindful of your breath, try to visualize all the things you want from your life. What you want to look lik, feel like, where you want to be and who you want to be with. Set a direction for yourself. Start listing ideas and avenues to pursue. Bring yourself out of pause and motivate your body and mind towards a purpose and goal.
List the things you are good at. Your key skills. What lights your fire, what gets you excited? List them all and all will reveal itself- it will become so obvious where you want to go- start to follow it step by step. It may be an area or path that you never considered before but will seem so perfect.
Every night before bed- try to make a list of 5 things that happened that day that you are grateful for and then what you are looking forward to for the next day. This can help you to prepare you for a good nights, restful sleep. You may even wake up refreshed and positive to start another abundant and grateful day.
Try to find other ways of being mindful every day- like taking your shoes off and grounding yourself, or walking in nature on one of the nearby trails. You don’t need to go far or for long, but try and do something every day to nurture yourself. Being in nature is so peaceful and restorative once you get out of your head. Ban all phone action whilst out there and even try it without music to distract your brain. Find what you like it may be water, or mountains, beaches or even just wandering through a city spoting nature everywhere. Feel like your feet are on the floor and your brain is in your head and your body is in control.
From an emotional level- please look after yourself. You are very important and worth care and attention. Only then will you be able to find better energy for yourself and your healing. Try to identify patterns of behavior and beliefs that you can reverse and change. EFT is a great tool for this- Eft is quick and easy to use and can be used for all ages and all areas in your life. Buried emotions can result in behaviour patterns, experiences can shape our reactions, find someone qualified to help you and practice everyday- you will be astounded how good you feel to get rid of some dragging baggage.
Try this meditation series. Designed for weight loss it holds all the components of being mindful about your body and connecting emotion and physical beyond weightloss. I used to listen to it both sitting at home and whilst travelling to and from work.
You may have noticed that I have not written a thing since before Christmas. It is now the last week of January and I finally feel like I have something to say!
I was very tired at the end of last year. I have a strange combination of doing everything at once and then sticking my head in the sand and hiding for a while (some of you may recognise this in yourselves). As a cancerian I retreat back into my shell for rejuvenation sometimes. Always trying to please and help others before myself has exhausted me through the years- combine this with trying to be the best mum I can be and it all just gets too much! I have always been hard on myself about this- but my new years resolution this year is not to be a new me- but to nurture, appreciate, love and try to understand the real me.
At school I was always told that I always “did enough”. My teachers would be frustrated that I did not work harder, that I had so much potential. My ambitions were huge and in my eyes hugely achievable. I was going to be in the Royal Shakespeare Company and I was going to play Beatrice in Much Ado, Elizabeth in an BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. I was going to be a respected actor and I was going to always be in work. I was going to be famous like Judy Dench not like Kim Kardashian. I loved school, the social side and the study side, I wrote all my essays the night before (I have also written 2 thesis’ now both in the week before they were due). I never needed the A’s in my life although some came- others didnt and it never bummed me out. I went to uni then I did my Masters in Acting at The Central School of Speech and Drama (one of the best drama schools in the world)- I loved it and always knew I was great. However, again, I was always told that i wasn’t exceptional. Middle range, I had potential but that I only ever “did enough”.
So I believed them. I kept on doing enough. Enough to live on, enough to get by and have fun, enough to keep me going. Then I decided enough was enough and I changed careers. I love my job and I finally feel like I am seeing things all the way through. That I am exceptional at what I do. Fear has always been my friend along the way, a reason to stop, an opportunity to stick my head in the sand. This year my resolution is to go deep and to release the fear so that I can truly reach my potential. Not as a new me, but the me that has always been there all the time. The one I have been protecting for some strange reason! I am going deep, spiritual, physical and emotional. I am determined to take the whole year (not just 30 days or for january) to explore and to do more than enough. Especially since the opportunity to combine my two loves (acting and natural healing) may become very real this year!
I feel ready, I feel inspired, I feel supported and safe. I have been hiding to feel strength to do something this year that I have run away from every other year, and I may keep disappearing from you guys over the year- I am okay with that. I am excited for all of 2015 it is going to be an exceptional year! I look forward to sharing the journey with you all, you are welcome to join me.
My action plan is as follows;
Continue to eat real food, healthy fats and fermented foods and drinks.
As you can probably tell I am very passionate about kids nutrition. It starts with pre-conception. Feeding ourselves before we have kids, while we are pregnant and then in breastfeeding and of course what we wean our kids onto; is extremely important for their health. Food provides nutrients for new cell formation and therefore supports the baby’s fast growth and development. Plus nourishing their relationship with food in a positive and fun way can provide them with a healthy understanding of what real food is and how great you can feel after eating real food.
Todays question is one that I am often asked and am happy to answer.
Can you please give me a list of foods that are great for babies to start off with.
Babies do not necessarily absorb nutrients from foods for the first year. Breastmilk is designed to do that. Formula attempts to do the same. The first 6 months of a child physically eating, is not necessarily to nourish them but to help them to acquire basic and necessary skills to eat. A relationship which is lifelong and should be encouraged. Eat for fun until they are one is very true.
The main thing to consider is that at weaning age babies may have some the enzymes to digest some proteins and fats. However until the age of 2 (or until the child’s back molars have come through) grains are not yet digestible. Baby Rice is one of the worst things you can ever give a baby as its first foods! Not only is it the by-product of industry but also the nutrients that may possibly be in it are completely unavailable. They may be full up- but they have not eaten it themselves and because it is a food that the body cannot recognise it may also ignite some inflammation. Especially if the baby is formula fed.
Fermented foods are so important at this stage and especially if the baby is formula fed. Water Kefir (see here to make it and my book Culture Your Life) is safe to use adding up to a tsp in their food a day. Please consult your naturopath if your child was a c-section, formula fed baby showing some digestive weakness (colic, reflux, intolerances, excess gas).
Gelatin is also nice to add to your baby’s food. Especially if there are any intolerances showing or skin conditions. Gelatin is anti-inflammatory but also hugely necessary for structural growth and development- so crucial for children. This is the one I like (find it at The Body Group if you are in Hong Kong) for first foods as it doesn’t set so can be sprinkled over fruit or cooled steamed veg.
Instead start with these traditional baby’s first foods-
ghee (even for those kids with a potential dairy issue- ghee is just the fat),
These foods can be fun for the kids to pick up, smear onto their trays and work out how to get it into their mouth, move it around their mouth (a babys instinct is to push food out of their mouth- at this stage it has very little to do with flavour)
I then move on to Foods that are hard enough to be picked up, but soft enough to help them start to chew.;
I also introduce chia (1tsp to 2 tsp coconut water, breastmilk or water)
(If you have to give them rice, lentils, chickpeas then ensure they are prepared traditionally; that they have been soaked before and cook it in bone broth)
I always eat in front of my kids as they learn by mimicking and copying whatever they see in front of them. I help them, I allow them to take the lead and I let them enjoy it.
With kids time is essential. Allow your child time and space to learn how to eat and enjoy their food. If it looks like they don’t like something, let them try it again and again. Encourage them to try. Give them some food off your plate and if possible be eating the same food as them. Be careful to notice how you act around foods- they will copy you. Be mindful about how you talk about them eating- they are listening!
Never ever say; you don’t like it, you won’t like it he/she won’t eat that.
Have you ever wondered about what a Naturopathic Doctor does? Ever wanted to see one but are confused about why it may work for you? In a nutshell a Naturopath with use only natural means to heal, repair and balance the body. Whether acute or chronic- all conditions can be dealt with using nature.
We all have different tools in our tool box, but in general you can expect to talk about energy medicines like homeopathy, Bach Flower Remedies or other vibrational remedies, emotional freedom technique (eft), herbs, healing power of foods, fermentation, accupuncture, kineseolgy, essential oils, muscle testing, breathing techniques, exercise advice, meditation and other mindful practices with other stress management techniques.
As you can see our breadth and scope of healing tools is vast. This gives us so much to draw from when seeking to help the individual. We are able to help balance symptoms, as we always concentrate on seeking and resolving the cause of the imbalance. Our knowledge about how the body works and all our body systems work together, Combined with a more open minded approach to healing free of the dogma of strict diagnosis and protocols means we can truly tailor make an individual treatment plan just for you.
I am so passionate about what I do and it is a huge part of who I am as a person and as a mother. I am constantly seeking ways to help people get back to themselves, to feel safe, secure and powerful and happy.
These are the six principles we ascribe to and all of them mean so much to me;
Six Principles of Naturopathic Medicine:
The Healing Power of Nature:
The Vital force, an inherent self-healing process in each of us which is both ordered and intelligent. Each person has their own relationship with it. A Naturopath will give the body space to have the energy to heal themselves helping to remove obstacles to healing and recovery. To help identify bodies signals and deliver options for the individual to come into line with their own healing intuition.
Identify and Treat the cause:
A Naturopath will seek to identify the underlying cause or driver of the illness rather than merely suppressing the symptoms. By resolving the cause of the issue everything else will be resolved in the ripple effect!
First Do No Harm:
Use the least force necessary to diagnose and treat. Minimise risk of harmful side effects. Avoid the suppression of symptoms. Acknowledge, respect and work with the individuals self-healing process. Refer to others for treatment when your skills are inappropriate. Know your own skills and limitations.
Doctor as Teacher:
A Naturopath will educate and encourage their patient towards self-responsibility for health. Teach them about their body and encourage the idea that prevention is better than cure. Empower them to heal themselves. A Naturopath support the healing; however you do it!
Treat the Whole Person:
Take into account individual physical, emotional, spiritual, genetic, environmental, social and other factors. Get the whole picture. Bring the body’s systems together again. Work at the individuals own pace to reunited them with their instinct and intuition.
Prevention Rather than Cure:
Emphasise the prevention of disease. Asses risk-factors, hereditary and susceptibility to disease and making appropriate interventions with your patient to prevent illness. Commit to create a healthy world where all of humanity can and will thrive.
These principles are the Hippocratic oath that all Doctors take. We just interpret them slightly differently. A Naturopath will take full history and really get to know not only the physical issues but also the emotional ones too. Each personality will need different courses of action and each person will be able to make changes at different speeds. The key to the treatment is in giving the individual the responsibility to heal.
The only person that can make you well and happy is yourself. I can give you a tool box to work from but you need to listen and respond to your body. I teach many classes to help people to start to make choices for themselves and their families. Education is key, coupled with motivation for change and you will become unstoppable!