Potty training. It’s a stage I’ve pretty much dreaded since becoming a mom. Yes, in the early days it felt like there was a never ending amount of diaper changes. And then just when the amount of diaper changes a day could be counted on one hand, we had another baby and then we were going through diapers in record high numbers. But I really didn’t mind! I did have some worries about my child never being allowed into school because he wasn’t toilet trained, but I still thought the transition from diapers to underwear sounded overwhelming. I knew that there were likely going to be accidents to clean, that long car rides would probably get longer and that wet sheets would need to be changed in the middle of the night. With two under two that all sounded very daunting and I was determined to wait until the last possible second.
This all changed for me when a potty training expert guest spoke at my mom group. Her method sounded full proof, and best of all she spelled out everything we’d need to make it a success (see below for my list of must haves), without using bribes or rewards. Perfect! At least I might be able to avoid any sugar related temper tantrums or weird associations developing between pooping and getting treats. From that talk I also experienced a significant mindset shift as to why potty-training is so much more than just an unfortunate transition every parent must go through with their child. This was actually an opportunity to help my child achieve a pretty epic milestone of independence. I realized that my child was probably ready to be rid of his diapers long before I recognized that he was. I started to look forward to helping him achieve this developmental milestone and build up his self-esteem and confidence in himself rather than simply dread the inconvenience.
Shortly after my son turned two and a half we decided to ditch the diapers one day. He ran around naked and happy and every time he needed to go, he actually told us!! This was definitely a benefit to waiting until this age. If your child can’t communicate verbally you’ll need to be much more observant to look for their physical cues that “something” is coming. Some children exhibit the signs of readiness for potty training much sooner. Generally somewhere in the window of 18 - 34 months is prime time, waiting beyond this window can present other challenges like power struggles. For us, one of the most obvious signs our son displayed was the instinctual desire to seek privacy for using his diaper and
So the daytime was going great, but evenings were a bit of a different story. My little guy still seemed to like the comfort and routine of wearing a diaper to bed. While I don’t think this jived with the philosophy of the book (I really can’t claim to have read it cover to cover!) we went ahead and allowed the night time diapers for a little while but I wasn’t exactly sure whether we were moving forwards or backwards. Right around this time, I learned Pampers was launching their newly redesigned Easy Ups training pants. Duh!!! Training pants exist for just this reason. We were sent a surprise pack for him to unbox (see the video here) and he was pretty excited to have something that looked and felt a lot more like underwear than a diaper. The Easy Ups were breathable yet still absorbent enough to make sure there is no leakage day or night. The Thomas design sold him on wearing them right away! Because training pants fit like underwear and are different enough from a diaper he was able to make the distinction that he was not to “go” in his easy ups, but I had the peace of mind that we were protected in the event of any accidents or leaks at night.
I’m proud to say that within just a few weeks my son was fully potty trained! I learned a lot along the way and now feel confident guiding other parents through the process. Accidents are still to be expected here and there. Toddlers get distracted, overly excited, or upset and can lose track of their bodily sensations. With our little guy he can get so immersed playing that getting him to stop and take a pee break isn’t always happening. But we’re a work in progress, just like everything is when it comes to parenting. Don’t get discouraged and give up if your child reverts. Life transitions, like starting preschool, or a new sibling can often lead to some form of regression. Just stay consistent and be patient both with yourself and your little ones. You’ll all be glad you did!
My Must Haves for Successful Potty training
Book “Oh Crap Potty Training”, by Jan Glowicki. There are tons of potty training books out there, I picked this one based on the potty training expert I met and because I loved the idea of no bribes. Whatever method you choose, the bottom line is to be consistent.
Potties - Having one potty per floor is a great idea when starting out. My faves are the simply designed potties like the Baby Bjorn and Ikea. They are compact, easy to clean, don’t have any fancy bells and whistles and the basin easily separates from the base for cleaning.
The Potette - this is a travel potty that serves a dual purpose of being both a child friendly toilet seat and a fold out mini potty for on the go (like the park) and you can purchase disposable liners.
Squatty Potty - this helps put the body in the proper position for elimination by helping to relax the bowels and reduce straining. Great for adults too!
Pampers Easy Ups - Super comfortable training pants in fun, child friendly designs help to make the transition from diapers to underwear seamless. They are softer than diapers, pull up and down easily (and can be ripped off at the side as well in a hurry) and are super absorbent to protect against leaks. Click here to see Hunter's Unboxing Surprise!
Seat cover - when your little one is ready to sit on the big seat I love the Ikea seat cover, and it looks and feels the same as their potty so it’s a more familiar feeling.
Pad of sticky notes - this is a tip borrowed from the potty training expert I met. Use these to cover the automatic flushers in public restrooms. The last thing a new potty trainer needs is to feel like they might get sucked down the toilet bowl with an unexpected flush as loud as a jet engine
Changes of clothes & extra underwear - don’t leave home without them!
Dry Seat for the car seat. Our car seat brand offers an insert to protect from accidents and spills. Let me tell you if you’ve ever had to remove the fabric cover of your car seat you know you’ll probably never want to do it again or at least avoid it at all possible costs!!
Thanks to everyone who joined me at the movie Vaxxed last night! We had a group of about 10 people come out to see the film and participate in a very thoughtful discussion afterwards. Everyone came to the table with a slightly different perspective and opinion which is great (we had a mix of 3 different types of health care practitioners, parents & parents-to-be at the table). The topic of vaccinations is controversial, I get it. But controversy shouldn't stop us from being able to have a rational conversation about a topic that isn't as “black and white” as some might think. After seeing the film my concerns about vaccines were re-affirmed. I am not an "anti-vaxxer" by any means, but I am “pro-informed consent”.
Here is a list of some of the concerns raised by the film and from our discussion following the movie.
At the end of the day, the bottom line for me as a practitioner and parent is to protect the health and safety of all children. I believe this is the same goal shared by the parents and health practitioners or anyone else who promote vaccinations. So let’s stop taking sides and talking in terms of “pro-vaxx” and “anti-vaxx”. Attacking one another doesn’t serve anyone. Acknowledging the risks and working to make vaccines safer should put us all on the same page.
A final note on autism - My heart broke seeing this film and witnessing the real life stories of families who lost the children they knew to this debilitating and devastating disease. Children in North America are being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder at an alarming rate. This disease is not only devastating for the individuals and families themselves, but society as a whole will soon feel the widespread impact of the staggering numbers of children who are growing up with this disorder. Our healthcare system can not handle the burden of caring for the number of children who will grow into adults with no choice but to live with full time care and support. Anything that can be done to help identify the cause of this disorder and prevent this alarming trend from continuing on its current trajectory should be a top concern for our medical system and particularly for those practitioners who work with pregnant women and young children. Knowledge is power, and the movie Vaxxed will open your eyes to another side of the vaccine story. I’d encourage everyone to see it and to start asking more questions. If you have questions about vaccinations, let’s talk about it. Follow me on Facebook, instagram or Twitter and subscribe to my newsletter.
Earlier this year you may have heard buzz that The Baby Box was coming to Canada. When I first learned of this I was in the thick of newborn baby care with my second child. I was vaguely familiar with the popular Finnish Baby Box so I was glad to learn that new moms in Ontario would also soon be receiving this package to help their new families get started off on the right foot. To be honest, at the time, I was probably most excited about the idea of a package of free baby gear. I’m the mom at the baby shows with a stroller basket stuffed full of any freebie I can get my hands on. I just love trying new products out and - let’s face it - I LOVE free stuff. Who doesn’t? But I digress! Since Pampers, who has partnered with the Baby Box Co. reached out to me to preview a sample version of the Ontario Baby Box I have learned so much more about the history, purpose and impact that the Baby Box can have - and it is so much more than just free stuff!
A little bit of a background on where the idea for The Baby Box came from is helpful to gain an appreciation of how the box itself can impact health outcomes for babies and families. Baby boxes were first distributed to new mothers in Finland. Since the program began in 1938, Finland’s infant mortality rate has dropped from 65 deaths per thousand births to one of the world’s lowest, at 3.3. How does the box do this? The box itself doubles as a bed and mattress for baby providing a safe sleep surface for infants until they grow out of it, ~6-8 months. As in Finland, the box is meant to give all babies an equal start in life regardless of socio-economic status. All expecting and new parents in Ontario will be eligible to receive a Baby Box for free as long as they receive prenatal care and review the Ontario education syllabus created by local healthcare professionals on Baby Box University (you get a free membership inside the box). To me, as a healthcare practitioner, I know first hand that access to information & resources for new parents is key to successful parenting and better outcomes for babies.
So what’s inside the box?
Again, freebie loving side of me couldn’t tear the packing tape off fast enough (don’t you hate that?). First off, the box is super cute. Mine had an adorable owl print that would fit into even the most magazine-worthy nursery decor and is inscribed with the words “Every child matters. Every family matters.” I couldn’t agree with that sentiment more!
Here's what was in the Ontario sample box I received:
2 organic onesies - Adorable.
2 terry cloth bibs - Can’t have enough of these.
1 sleeper - For a newborn you don’t really need too many of these, particularly if you want to get in lots of amazing skin to skin contact in the early days.
Clip on umbrella for sun - What a great idea! Through two kids this is something I never had but wished I did and will now use throughout this summer. The umbrella has an adjustable attachment to clip on to the side of a play yard? lawn chair? stroller? Lots of options for keeping baby out of the sun while enjoying the outdoors.
Earth Mama Angel Baby body wash/shampoo - Love this stuff! All natural ingredient list free of all the things you don’t want on baby’s skin, like parabens, fragrance and chemicals.
Wooden Teething ring - Why give baby plastic at all when you can avoid it? Just because things are labelled BPA free nowadays doesn’t mean sucking on plastic is a great idea.
Thermometer - a nursery essential for assessing & monitoring fevers at home. Fever in young infants (< 2 months) can be a sign something is really wrong and needs medical attention. All parents need a reliable way to assess fever. But once kids are older than 2 months a healthy fever is actually your friend and an important part of your child’s immune system and defence from pathogens
Baby wrap and instructions - SO glad to see this! My absolute favourite carriers for small babies are soft, unstructured carriers like this one. Your baby feels secure and close to you and the wrap provides all the support they need to comfortably stay close to you as you go about your day. Baby wearing is one of the mainstays of Attachment Parenting and can be a lifesaver for parents with a baby who just wants to be held (NEWSFLASH - this is ALL babies, particularly in the “4th trimester”…more on this soon!)
Organic Food pouch - A couple priorities for me when introducing solids are to make homemade food that is natural, healthy and organic. Making your own baby food is actually really easy and you can make a lot in a short amount of time. But I have to say that with baby #2 time is in short supply. These pouches come in super handy at times and on the go. I love that the box is promoting organic, fruit and vegetable based first foods.
Board Book - “Not a Box” by Antoinette Portis, I don’t think they could have found a more perfect baby book to put in here - and it’s award winning! My toddler got his hands on it right away and asked me to read it 4 times in a row. Super cute book about a bunny and his ‘not-a-box’ box which becomes a hot air balloon, spaceship, racecar…etc. Kids seriously do love cardboard boxes. I love the addition of the book to promote both reading to your baby (promote early language skills, bonding, love of learning…etc.) and the encouragement of imaginative play (not screen time)
Pampers Swaddlers and Natural Care Wipes - Best diapers hands down for preventing leaks and keeping baby dry at night. The last thing you need with a new baby is the added stress of leaking diapers. Trust me, you’ll still get your up-to-the-neck blowouts once in a while (this is really a thing), but for every day business you want your diapers to keep the contents in and baby dry and comfortable. As a new parent you’ll also become a bum wiping ninja - babies give you A LOT of practice. Good wipes that hold together and glide easily make this job so much easier.
Sleep Sack and Safe Sleep guidelines - The box is all about safe sleep, so this information is key to helping new parents learn what safe sleep means. Whatever sleep arrangement a parent chooses (crib, bassinette, co-sleeping, bed sharing), there are ways to do it safely. The Sleep Sack is a great way to keep baby warm in bed without the risk of loose blankets coming up over baby’s face and potentially affecting breathing.
New born hat and mittens
Organic eco-friendly diaper
Organic reusable baby wipes - SO soft
Lovey - Also so soft. I have still never quite figured out how to make a lovey work for me. I’ve tried infusing it with my scent by keeping it with me while nursing so that when I transition baby to crib he’ll feel comforted. But so far both my kids seem immune to this approach and always noticed the second I put them down! sigh…
Breastfeeding guide - Breast IS best, we know this. But what many new moms don’t know is that while breastfeeding is natural, it rarely comes naturally to moms. A good guide is a great start, but preparing yourself with go-to resources for getting help and support as soon as baby arrives is key to developing a successful and long term breastfeeding relationship with your baby
Coupons for books, nursing wear
Wet bags for dirty diaper & a carry bag for all these essentials
Oh and a gift card from Baby Box Co. in case you’re missing anything and want to purchase online from their boutique of safe certified baby products
So there you have it! I was really impressed by how many items came in the box. The contents of the box touch on so many areas of baby care and gives parents a great foundation of how to start and hopefully inspires them along these lines to continue. Safe sleep, breastfeeding, baby wearing, natural and organic products are clearly emphasized along with a great selection of useful items. Sample packs, like the Pampers diapers and wipes are full sized which is so helpful for new parents. This is great because if baby arrives before you have everything totally ready, you at the very least have the essentials to get you started.
All in all, as a Naturopathic Doctor and Mom I am a huge fan of the Baby Box! Can’t wait for real moms in Ontario to begin receiving them and for the benefits to our next generation of babies to be realized.
It's been a little while since my last blog post, getting married in late June was somewhat of a distraction! To get back in the swing of things I thought I would share a recipe I found that has become a new summer staple of our menu planning. Whether I'm entertaining guests or planning for quick and easy weekday lunches, this is a delicious summer salad recipe. For those of your unfamiliar with this grain, "quinoa" (pronounced keen-wah), it is a wonderful alternative to rice or couscous as it is gluten free & naturally high in protein. Overall this salad makes a healthy side or can substitute as a vegetarian main due to it's high protein and fiber content.
Makes: 4 servings Prep: 15 mins Cook: 15 mins
Source: Better Homes & Gardens
Seafood is an important part of a balanced diet and is a rich source of omega 3 fatty acids (DHA & EPA), which have numerous health benefits. With so many seafood choices, how do we determine which are best for our health, the environment and local communities? The Smart Seafood Guide, put out by the Food and Water Watch, aims to address many of the various concerns around purchasing and consuming seafood.
Below are the five major criteria evaluated for the seafood recommended in the guide. I encourage you to consider these criteria before making a seafood selection at a grocery store, market or restaurant.
2. Status of the Stock
3. Catch Method or Farming Method
4. Economic/Social/Cultural Significance
5. Key Species
As you can tell there is a lot to consider when it comes to purchasing seafood. Below is a wallet sized card you can download to use as a resource in helping you to make healthy and sustainable decisions as a consumer. Knowing where you food comes from can empower you to make decisions on a regular basis when it comes to everything from produce to meats to packaged goods. For more information or a list of resources about food safety, send me a message or post a comment!
As I was preparing a talk for a group of seniors on managing arthritis, I came across a great resource on the anti-inflammatory diet on Dr. Andrew Weil's website. It's a visual depiction of the diet as a food pyramid, very similar to other food guides you may have seen.
Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid – What Is It?
It is a practical eating guide that consumers of all ages can use, with tips on how to reduce risks of age-related diseases and improve overall health through diet.
It is an interactive educational graphic to help today’s families prevent disease while eating well.
It is a simple tool that promotes optimum health and healthy aging by providing dietary advice that addresses inflammation.
What Does An Anti-Inflammatory Diet Do?
The anti-inflammatory diet is a blueprint for a lifetime of optimum nutrition. Simple changes in how you eat can help counteract chronic inflammation, a root cause of many serious diseases, including:
- Heart disease
- Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases
- Age-related disorders, including many cancers
- Autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
HEALTHY SWEETS How much: Sparingly. Healthy choices: Unsweetened dried fruit, dark chocolate, fruit sorbet, Why: Dark chocolate provides polyphenols with antioxidant activity. Choose dark chocolate with at least 70 percent pure cocoa and have an ounce a few times a week. Fruit sorbet is a better option than other frozen desserts.
RED WINE How much: Optional, no more than 1-2 glasses per day, Healthy choices: Organic red wine Why: Red wine has beneficial antioxidant activity. Limit intake to no more than 1-2 servings per day. If you do not drink alcohol, do not start.
TEA How much: 2-4 cups per day, Healthy choices: White, green, oolong teas, Why: Tea is rich in catechins, antioxidant compounds that reduce inflammation. Purchase high-quality tea and learn how to correctly brew it for maximum taste and health benefits.
HEALTHY HERBS & SPICES How much: Unlimited amounts, Healthy choices: Turmeric, curry powder (which contains turmeric), ginger and garlic (dried and fresh), chili peppers, basil, cinnamon, rosemary, thyme, Why: Use these herbs and spices generously to season foods. Turmeric and ginger are powerful, natural anti-inflammatory agents.
OTHER SOURCES OF PROTEIN How much: 1-2 servings a week (one portion is equal to 1 ounce of cheese, 1 eight-ounce serving of dairy, 1 egg, 3 ounces cooked poultry or skinless meat)Healthy choices: Natural cheeses, lowfat yogurt, omega-3 enriched eggs, skinless poultry, grass-fed lean meats, Why: In general, try to reduce consumption of animal foods. If you eat chicken, choose organic, cage-free chicken and remove the skin and associated fat. Use organic, reduced-fat dairy products moderately, especially yogurt and natural cheeses such as Emmental (Swiss), Jarlsberg and true Parmesan. If you eat eggs, choose omega-3 enriched eggs (made by feeding hens a flax-meal-enriched diet), or organic eggs from free-range chickens.
COOKED ASIAN MUSHROOMS How much: Unlimited amounts, Healthy choices: Shiitake, enokidake, maitake, oyster mushrooms (and wild mushrooms if available) Why: These mushrooms contain compounds that enhance immune function. Never eat mushrooms raw, and minimize consumption of common commercial button mushrooms (including crimini and portobello).
WHOLE SOY FOODS How much: 1-2 servings per day (one serving is equal to ½ cup tofu or tempeh, 1 cup soymilk, ½ cup cooked edamame, 1 ounce of soynuts), Healthy choices: Tofu, tempeh, edamame, soy nuts, soymilk, Why: Soy foods contain isoflavones that have antioxidant activity and are protective against cancer. Choose whole soy foods over fractionated foods like isolated soy protein powders and imitation meats made with soy isolate.
FISH & SEAFOOD How much: 2-6 servings per week (one serving is equal to 4 ounces of fish or seafood), Healthy choices: Wild Alaskan salmon (especially sockeye), herring, sardines, and black cod (sablefish), Why: These fish are rich in omega-3 fats, which are strongly anti-inflammatory. If you choose not to eat fish, take a molecularly distilled fish oil supplement, 2-3 grams per day.
HEALTHY FATS How much: 5-7 servings per day (one serving is equal to 1 teaspoon of oil, 2 walnuts, 1 tablespoon of flaxseed, 1 ounce of avocado) Healthy choices: For cooking, use extra virgin olive oil and expeller-pressed organic canola oil. Other sources of healthy fats include nuts (especially walnuts), avocados, and seeds ? including hemp seeds and freshly ground flaxseed. Omega-3 fats are also found in cold water fish, omega-3 enriched eggs, and whole soy foods. High-oleic sunflower or safflower oils may also be used, as well as walnut and hazelnut oils in salads and dark roasted sesame oil as a flavoring for soups and stir-fries, Why: Healthy fats are those rich in either monounsaturated or omega-3 fats. Extra-virgin olive oil is rich in polyphenols with antioxidant activity and canola oil contains a small fraction of omega-3 fatty acids.
WHOLE & CRACKED GRAINS How much: 3-5 servings a day (one serving is equal to about ½ cup cooked grains), Healthy choices: Brown rice, basmati rice, wild rice, buckwheat, groats, barley, quinoa, steel-cut oats Why: Whole grains digest slowly, reducing frequency of spikes in blood sugar that promote inflammation. ? Whole grains? means grains that are intact or in a few large pieces, not whole wheat bread or other products made from flour. PASTA (al dente), How much: 2-3 servings per week (one serving is equal to about ½ cup cooked pasta). Healthy choices: Organic pasta, rice noodles, bean thread noodles, and part whole wheat and buckwheat noodles like Japanese udon and soba, Why: Pasta cooked al dente (when it has ?tooth? to it) has a lower glycemic index than fully-cooked pasta. Low-glycemic-load carbohydrates should be the bulk of your carbohydrate intake to help minimize spikes in blood glucose levels.
BEANS & LEGUMES How much: 1-2 servings per day (one serving is equal to ½ cup cooked beans or legumes). Healthy choices: Beans like Anasazi, adzuki and black, as well as chickpeas, black-eyed peas and lentils. Why: Beans are rich in folic acid, magnesium, potassium and soluble fiber. They are a low-glycemic-load food. Eat them well-cooked either whole or pureed into spreads like hummus.
SUPPLEMENTS How much: Daily Healthy choices: High quality multivitamin/multimineral that includes key antioxidants (vitamin C, vitamin E, mixed carotenoids, and selenium); co-enzyme Q10; 2-3 grams of a molecularly distilled fish oil; 1,000 IU of vitamin D3 Why: Supplements help fill any gaps in your diet when you are unable to get your daily requirement of micronutrients. Click here to learn more about supplements and get your free recommendation.
VEGETABLES How much: 4-5 servings per day minimum (one serving is equal to 2 cups salad greens, ½ cup vegetables cooked, raw or juiced). Healthy Choices: Lightly cooked dark leafy greens (spinach, collard greens, kale, Swiss chard), cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, bok choy and cauliflower), carrots, beets, onions, peas, squashes, sea vegetables and washed raw salad greens. Why: Vegetables are rich in flavonoids and carotenoids with both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. Go for a wide range of colors, eat them both raw and cooked, and choose organic when possible.
FRUITS How much: 3-4 servings per day (one serving is equal to 1 medium size piece of fruit, ½ cup chopped fruit, ¼ cup of dried fruit). Healthy choices: Raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, peaches, nectarines, oranges, pink grapefruit, red grapes, plums, pomegranates, blackberries, cherries, apples, and pears - all lower in glycemic load than most tropical fruits. Why. Fruits are rich in flavonoids and carotenoids with both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. Go for a wide range of colors, choose fruit that is fresh in season or frozen, and buy organic when possible.
WATER How much: Throughout the day. Healthy choices: Use purified water or beverages made with purified water, such as unsweetened tea, sparkling water, or water with a small amount of fruit juice for flavor. Why: Water is vital for overall functioning of the body.
While we've been doing our detox this month I have also been making a conscious effort to plan my meals and do a lot more cooking at home. I personally find it can be a challenge to get all my servings of fruits and especially veggies, so planning out what we are going to be eating has been a huge help! By going to a local farmers market and choosing seasonal produce I've also been inspired to try a few new recipes out when figuring out what exactly I should do with the 4 different types of winter squash (squashes?) I came home with (pumpkin, butternut, acorn & spaghetti). So far we've roasted and pureed the butternut into soup, made a super healthy (and delicious) gluten free pumpkin pudding (twice!), baked the spaghetti squash and used it as a replacement for actual spaghetti and are planning on having the acorn baked with a bit of butter and brown sugar tonight!
In addition to being great tasting, winter squash are also very healthy! For example, winter squash, like other richly colored vegetables, provide an excellent source of carotenes. Generally, the richer the color, the richer the concentration. They also offer a very good source of vitamins B1 and C, folic acid, pantothenic acid, fiber, and potassium. Winter squash are also a good source of vitamin B6 and niacin.
Studies have shown that due to their carotene properties, winter squash exert a protective effect against many cancers, particularly lung cancer. Diets that are rich in carotenes (especially pumpkins) offer protection against cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. Studies have also shown that pumpkin seeds are helpful in reducing symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the lungs are associated with Autumn. In TCM theory, one of the functions of the lungs is to extract Qi from air, using it to nourish the tissues and internal processes. Part of this Qi, along with the Qi from food, goes to build Defensive Qi. This Qi is similar to the Western concept of the immune system. Indeed, because the lungs interact directly with the outside environment, they play a very important role in fighting off external pathogens. The beta-carotenes in winter squash help boost the Qi of the lungs and can help to ward off respiratory conditions like coughs/colds!
So if you didn't have a good reason to eat squash yet this fall, now you do! Please feel free to post recipes!
My soon to be future parents-in-law have established a healthy tradition in their household...one full month of healthy eating (no desserts), lots of physical activity and most importantly no alcoholic beverages. After a summer of BBQ's, parties, adult beverages and junk food...this annual fall "cleanse" comes at a great time of year. The fall (like the spring) is a great time of year to detoxify your body and prepare yourself for the coming winter season.This year my fiancee and I have decided to take up the challenge of saying goodbye to the occasional drink for one entire month as well as eating a healthy diet of mostly fruits and vegetables. We are not intending for this to be a major detox but the dietary guidelines we will be adhering to are meant to provide our bodies with lots of vitamins and minerals from whole, unprocessed foods.
The guidelines we intend to follow over the next four weeks are:
1. No alcohol - alcohol dehydrates you, is a source of "empty calories" i.e. calories that do not provide nutrition, and can impair fat metabolism. While we like to enjoy alcohol in moderation, this month we will be giving our livers a good break!
2. Eat a mostly plant based diet - with fall being harvest time it's a perfect time of year for us to get lots of fresh, seasonal produce at local farmers' markets. Great veggies to consume at this time of year for detoxification and health include kale, swiss chard, spinach, beets, jerusalem artichokes, squash, apples (organic!!)...etc.
3. Drink a minimum of 2 litres of water per day (aka 8 glasses) - staying adequately hydrated is so important to one's health. It also helps to remove waste from the body by making sure your kidneys are able to flush out toxins. In addition to fibre, water also helps to keep you bowels regular and eliminating potentially harmful toxins and waste. If you don't love water on it's own, add a lemon wedge (good for the liver) or a few slices of cucumber and mint for great flavour!
4. Supplements - as a naturopathic doctor, even I sometimes find the myriad of supplements, vitamins & minerals available to be overwhelming. My daily personal regime includes only a few key nutrients - fish oil for omega 3s, Vitamin D, Vitamin C, a B complex vitamin, and a probiotic. To give my liver a bit of an extra boost this month, I'm going to be adding an herbal liver formula containing milk thistle, alpha lipoic acid, dandelion, turmeric...among others!
5. Regular physical activity - since I know how easy it is to let exercising fall by the wayside, this month we will be making a conscious effort to find ways to incorporate activity into our everyday routines. Riding our bikes or walking instead of driving, attending aquafit with my mom and sister, regular yoga and generally enjoying the gorgeous fall we're having by spending more time outdoors.
Ok - so that all seems easy enough right?? I'll be posting periodically throughout the month to let you know how we're doing and share some other detox tips!
If you think you're ready for a detox or cleanse, get in touch with me to book an appointment where we can discuss your health needs and create a plan for your own personalized detoxification strategy. Contact Dr. Jackie
Not all of us can afford to go 100% organic every time we shop. The solution? Focus on those foods that come with the heaviest burden of pesticides, additives and hormones. According to the Environmental Working Group, consumers can reduce their pesticide exposure by 80% by avoiding the most contaminated fruits and vegetables and eating only the cleanest. If consumers get their recommended 5 daily servings of fruits and veggies from the 15 most contaminated, they could consume an average of 10 pesticides a day. Those who eat the 15 least contaminated conventionally grown produce ingest less than 2 pesticides daily.
A very handy way to identify which foods you should focus on buying organic is by following the "Dirty Dozen" & "Clean Fifteen" lists. The "dirty dozen" are a list of the top 12 most heavily sprayed fruits and vegetables. By avoiding non-organic produce found on this list and focusing on eating more of the clean fifteen, which are the least sprayed, you can significantly reduce your toxic exposure from the foods you eat.
Check out EWG's guide to Pesticides in Produce here and download the food lists.
I recently gave a talk to a group of women about hormone balance. This topic really seems to resonate with women of all ages - from puberty to menopause and beyond! Why do so many of us experience uncomfortable symptoms related to our fluctuating hormones? So many factors are involved in the complex interplay between hormones that goes on in our bodies every minute of every day. One important factor in this day and age that can affect our hormones are Xenoestrogens, and luckily with some simple lifestyle modifications this is one cause of hormone imbalance that we can take steps to avoid.
Estrogen is the main sex hormone in women and is essential to the menstrual cycle. Although estrogen exists in men as well as women, it is found in higher amounts in women, especially those capable of reproducing. Xenoestrogens are chemicals that can mimic the hormone estrogen and produce symptoms of hormone imbalance in the body such as breast cysts, ovarian/uterine cysts, female cancers, PMS...etc. Xeno literally means foreign. So xenoestrogens means foreign estrogens. Some of the 100,000 registered chemicals for use in the world have hormonal effects in addition to toxic and carcinogenic effects. It is critical to minimize our exposure to chemicals in order to prevent imbalances in our hormone health and our overall health!
Here is a list of tips to limit your exposure to xenoestrogens in your day to day life:
- Use glass or ceramics whenever possible to store food and water. Heat up your food using a glass or ceramic bowl covered with dish. When plastic is heated, it diffuses very rapidly into food.
- Eat organic produce, meat and dairy to avoid pesticides which build up in the food chain
- Use BPA (Bisphenol-A) free products, look for this hard plastic products such as drinking bottles, baby bottles...etc. Some canned foods are also lined with BPA containing plastic
- Use natural home care products, cleaners and detergents
- Avoid inhaling fumes from things like paints, solvents, exhaust...etc.
- Do not use anything on the skin with parabens or phenoxyethanol in them. This includes shampoo, soap, makeup, hand lotion, body lotion, and toothpaste.
- Use condoms with spermicide instead of using the birth control to avoid harmful synthetic estrogens (I often help my patients transition off of the pill)
- Drink filtered or reverse osmosis water
- Eat more whole foods vs. processed foods which can have artificial ingredients and chemical preservatives in them
Keep in mind that these tips don't just apply to women and hormone balance. Everyone can benefit from minimizing their exposure to chemicals which not only affect our health, but the health of our environment. As a naturopathic doctor, I frequently help my patients make these and other beneficial lifestyle changes that can improve overall health and reduce the risk of disease and cancer.
Doctor Jackie's Blog
A place for me to share my own experiences as an ND & Mom, things I find interesting in the world of wellness & medicine, share recipes, health tips and home/DIY self care ideas. Between 2012 & 2016 I got married, moved twice and had two kids! But I'm back and have SO much to share with you now. Becoming a mom has completely changed my world and my practice. Stay tuned for lots more from me :)