Maca Ancient Peruvian Food Medicine

Maca – aka ‘Peruvian ginseng’ or Lepidium meyenni – who should try it.

I love food that ‘does stuff’. Functional food / superfood / food as medicine – whatever you want to call it, food that can make a noticeable change when you eat it is cool. 

I especially love it when there is a ‘historical uses’ & a ‘scientific studies’ reason to give it a try, as there definitely is with maca powder.

It has been used for at least 2000 years as a fertility / libido / energy tonic in Peru where it is grown on the foothills of the Andes. The Aztecs would apparently use it to promote energy, strength & stamina for going into battle, but then consumption was prohibited after the conquering of a village – to save the women from its libido-enhancing effects! 

I became interested in Maca after working in healthfood stores & repeatedly hearing positive feedback on it. I always ask customers what they use things for & if they notice much difference etc (nosey naturopath, yep but that’s how you learn). 

Maca powder is something that many women swear by for helping them through their menopausal years (stress, energy, libido) & men love it for boosting strength, libido & athletic performance. This mostly comes down to adrenal support – super important to support adrenals (ie don’t be living on caffeine & not enough sleep if approaching menopause or wanting to stay strong & virile for the long haul!) 

So for boosting general vitality I’ve always kept maca in the pantry & I use it sometimes in smoothies, or just mixed in with yoghurt whenever I feel like an added boost (you know, on days when I have a lot of conquering or ravaging to do). And of course it’s in the ‘BallBags’ protein ball mix.

The flavour by itself can take some getting used to – it’s not unpleasant, just different – ‘earthy’.  It has a sweet almost biscuity or butterscotch-like taste that works well with cinnamon, yoghurt, protein balls, smoothies, some healthy baking etc. It is just made from a dried, powdered root vegetable – so it’s kinda starchy in texture. 

Maca is considered an ‘adaptogen’ (like the ginsengs & many other ‘energy’ boosting herbs). Adaptogens support our adrenals & help us to handle stress better (wether it be mental or physical). Most people will notice more energy when using adaptogen herbs & often libido improvements as well, because when your general energy is higher, you will have more left over for lovin!  Most of us don’t really feel like getting it on when stressed, it’s about survival – your body knows that making babies is a bad idea when you feel like you’re barely surviving! 

Who should use maca and who should avoid maca? From my experience & research, some people do really really well on maca & then it’s just not right for others. Definitely worth a try if you’re suffering from poor energy, chronic fatigue, depression, low libido, are menopausal, feeling depleted, adrenally exhausted, having trouble conceiving, not ovulating regularly etc – but if you’re all good hormonally or know that you have excess oestrogen or an outta control libido then I don’t advise using it regularly at high doses (or just bear in mind that it may have an effect so be observant)!

What dosage? 

Start small – 1 teaspoon daily, but then if all feels good, you can increase – dose can range quite a bit, apparently effective from 1.5 teaspoons up to a tablespoon or 2 daily at the higher end (that’s a very ‘earthy’ smoothie, & will be way too much for many!)  

If you have thyroid issues – be aware that maca does contain goitrogens (just like many foods including kale, broccoli, brussel sprouts etc – it is part of the same family). So don’t be going overboard on kale-loaded green smoothies with added maca if your thyroid is a problem area. Also probably not advisable with hormone sensitive cancers. 

Muscle building smoothie using Maca: 

This is a post-workout smoothie for those wanting to build muscle (that’s most of us because muscle will burn fat for you, even when you’re asleep)! This recipe serves 3-4 (or maybe 2 huge footy players) so make it for the family or pour into jars for a couple of days – or you can easily do the maths for 1 serve! 

Muscle Building Smoothie

Links to some research on Maca:

Post menopausal women, sexual dysfunction, depression / anxiety.

Male endurance / athletic performance & sexual desire. 

SSRI induced sexual dysfunction

Whats your favourite superfood ingredient?
Love to hear it what it is…
Jeanie Xx
jeanie@goodmix.com.au

The Best Natural Hangover Tips

Team goodMix had a great time at the Good Food & Wine Show In Brisbane last weekend (probably not as good as the rest of the crowd, but it was fun to get amongst the party vibe!) We thought these hangover tips might come in handy – especially now that the Spring / Summer party season is coming up & everyone is stocked up on wine post event!

7 things to help you prevent OR recover from a hangover naturally, plus 13 supplements to see you through the party season!

Obviously, from a naturopathic perspective – avoiding excessive alcohol is optimal. There is some evidence that small amounts of alcohol are ok / can be beneficial (the picks are red wine, white wine, & even whiskey), but going overboard will do damage. This is what it typically feels like – & some reasons why:

Hangover Symptoms: 

  • Headache (blood vessel dilation, toxicity & dehydration…possibly also sleeping a bit twisted on the floor / couch / garden / driveway).
  • Nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, decreased appetite, cravings for greasy foods (gastric irritation & excess secretion of stomach acid)
  • Weakness, lethargy, lack of co-ordination, trembling (drastically depleted blood sugar as alcohol makes you pee out all your glycogen stores. Your energy tank =  totally drained to empty).
  • Depression / anxiety / moodiness / inability to think & focus properly / poor memory (extreme blood sugar lows, lack of quality REM sleep, liver toxicity, remembering dumb stuff you said / did).

What Is A Hangover?

When alcohol gets to your liver, an enzyme (alcohol dehydrogenase) breaks it down into acetaldehyde, which is loads more toxic to your body than alcohol (like 20 to 30 times more toxic). Then it has to break that down with another enzyme & glutathione (awesome antioxidant we produce ourselves from amino acids – protein is critical for effective liver detox). That is why we feel so crappy after the alcohol – it’s the toxic metabolites that really poison us, more so than the alcohol itself (which also does some damage on it’s way through). 

Too much alcohol means your glutathione levels get used up, so the acetaldehyde (toxic metabolite of alcohol breakdown) builds up in your system, creating that ‘poisoned’ feeling. Women cop it worse, as we produce less of the enzyme that breaks down the acetaldehyde – so our glutathione is super important to top up during party season.  The best way to reduce your hangover’s effects is to decrease the amount of toxic acetaldehyde floating around in your system. 

Then there’s the effects of the alcohol itself – it blocks our antidiuretic hormone, so we just pee out all the water that we’d normally reabsorb back into our blood stream when it passes through the kidneys (along with some vital electrolytes like sodium, potassium, magnesium, & glucose). Might not sound like a big drama – but if you unbalance electrolytes & deprive them of glucose – every single cell in your body will have severely compromised function. Meaning you as a human will be highly dysfunctional as a result. Sick day totally warranted. 

Hangover Help: 

These tips are just from a friend who is a naturopath & also likes the odd night out (not me, I am the perfect health freak & would never consider drinking anything except a green tea, herbal tonic or smoothie). Well ok, some might be things I swear by…remember I attended naturopath college from age 18-22 when I was a bit of a party girl!…I learnt a few things about detoxing during the week, which I put into practice on weekends!

  1. Hydration = critical. BEFORE you fall asleep after a big night, ensure you have at least 2-3 good sized glasses of water. If you forget before bed, it’s gotta be priority upon waking (drink slowly in the morning). You can use plain water, water with bubbles, fresh juices…THE ABSOLUTE BEST THING TO DO, PREVENTION-WISE, IS DRINK A GLASS OF WATER FOR EVERY ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE YOU DRINK, topping up & flushing out as you go. 
  2. Eat something substantial ie a meal with fat fibre & protein (remember, protein = essential for liver detox) before you start partying & also just prior to bed. Keep your digestive system moving, keep your gut & liver busy & the alcohol well diluted with other things.
  3. Sleep. Plan to get some extra both before & after to compensate for the inevitable party losses.
  4. Don’t use sugary or caffeinated mixers – these greatly contribute to the dehydration & stress on your body. Use sparkling mineral water, fresh juices Etc…steer well clear of the rum & coke & Vodka Red Bulls! Combat dehydration with electrolyte solution (or coconut water slushies with fresh fruit) in the morning – or better still, before you go to bed.
  5. Exercise in the morning (?? for real??) If you can possibly manage some movement, it will get your digestive system, lymphatic system & circulation, cranking – which means faster removal of all the toxic by-products of your night. Good idea also to prepare for a night out with a workout (nothing too challenging, just to ensure everything is flowing nicely before the toxicity hits.
  6. What to eat in the morning?….Fat of course! Grease is the traditional cure / craving for seedy folks, so I recommend go with your cravings here (within reason). Always, always opt for quality grease – ie free range, nitrate free / organic bacon, eggs, organic butter & mushrooms…maybe some bone broth…salt is fine (you’ll have peed out heaps) & always ensure that you have some fibre & greens too to assist with detox & getting your digestive system back to normal. A fresh icy juice or smoothie with fruit & veg is also awesome (I would include celery & grapefruit & definitley a greens powder).
  7. Poo. You have to get that shit out of your system, literally! Do whatever you need to make it happen ASAP after a big night out, you’ll feel so much better from that moment onwards. Tip – make sure you’re eating your Blend11 often & you should have no issues here! If you have some fluid, eat some breakfast, & do a little exercise – even just a walk or some gentle yoga / stretches, this should help immensely. Can also try a magnesium powder if that works well for you.

13 Supplements for people who love to party! A basic first aid kit should include: 

  1. Nux Vomica (classic homeopathic hangover / liver / overindulgence remedy). Perfect for those who suffer with nausea & headache.  Get a 30c potency from the health store or local homeopath, take 1 dose before bed & one first thing in the morning, then another later if required. (Don’t take more once improvement is noticed unless you start to fade again).
  2. NAC / glutathione (to break down the toxic by-products, ask in your local health store)
  3. Glutamine, aloe vera, slippery elm (your gut-lining will need these to repair)
  4. Zinc (always take with food or it can make you feel nauseous, not what you need)!
  5. Selenium (co-factor needed for glutathione antioxidant)
  6. B vitamins (energy pick up, do use a better quality supplement than berocca though!)
  7. Vitamin C (helps with detox & healing)
  8. Magnesium bath soak / spray (replace lost mg, you’re probably deficient anyway – most of us are)
  9. Electrolytes (you can get the ice blocks from the chemist, or coconut water)
  10. Probiotics – especially SB yeast (you’ll have killed off a heap of your ‘good guys’ & made way for your candida to flourish with no doubt too much sugar). Alcohol = really common cause / contributing factor to gut dysbiosis, thrush, candida overgrowth.
  11. Fibre (soaks up all the crap & gets it moving swiftly towards the exit, provides food to nourish the surviving good bacteria & get them back to a decent population. They also produce short-chain-fatty acids from the fibre breakdown, which are very healing substances for the bowel lining & act as anti-inflammatories throughout your entire body). Blend11 = great here.
  12. Greens (liver & gut love is much needed, greens are great for both). Greens Plus Aloe is perfect, esp with the Aloe vera for healing & soothing your gut, & for blood sugar regulation.
  13. Liver herbs (St Mary’s / Milk Thistle = best liver loving antioxidant. Helps prevent glutathione depletion in your liver. Turmeric is also excellent. If you like to party, invest in a quality liver supplement with both of these, & take it daily throughout the season). Cumin (the spice) is also apparently great for improving your glutathione levels, & whey protein, asparagus & barley grass would be great dietary inclusions too.

 

***IF YOU SUFFER FROM GUT ISSUES (REMEMBER PRETTY MUCH ALL HEALTH ISSUES HAVE A STRONG GUT COMPONENT), & YOU ARE SERIOUS ABOUT GETTING YOUR  HEALTH BACK ON TRACK – DON’T EVEN GO THERE WITH EXCESS ALCOHOL. 

Even a single episode of heavy drinking can cause the lining of your stomach to become inflamed and bleed. Your gut flora & mucous membranes will be severely messed with, it will increase leaky gut severity…just not worth it.  I have actually heard from several people over the years about the sudden & mysterious onset of food allergies following a big weekend. Stick to nutritious mocktails made with kombucha / fresh fruit / ice / coconut yoghurt etc, & just laugh at the antics of your friends / family. And then laugh at them some more when you’re up & at ‘em enjoying life the next day & they are comatose & coping with their hangovers!!

Love to hear about your remedies too!

Jeanie
jeanie@goodmix.com.au

Natural Ways to Help Teens With Anxiety

Anxious teens will often ‘self-medicate’ with pharmaceuticals, illegal drugs, alcohol, comfort food or engage in other forms of escapism to help them deal with the complex emotions they have going on inside. 

To prevent this, there are loads of easy ways we can support their mental health during a time when their bodies are demanding so much physically & life can be tricky emotionally.

1. Protein:

Helps keep blood sugar & energy levels stable (blood sugar fluctuations can aggravate / cause moodiness – know anyone who gets ‘hangry’ when they have to wait too long for food?). Amino acids from protein also supply the building blocks our body needs to make many of our neurotransmitters, ie serotonin, dopamine, GABA. These chemicals strongly influence moods. Lack of protein will definitely contribute to anxiety, so make sure this box is ticked for healthy growth, strong immunity & stable moods in your teen.

2. Good fats:

Typical teens tend to consume a LOT of nasty inflammatory fats (fried foods, fast foods, crisps, pastries, bakery foods etc), so we really need to ensure there’s plenty of good fats coming in to compensate. Every cell membrane in our bodies requires fat as a major component. If your cell walls are made mostly from ‘cheeseburger & fries fats’, their function will be sub-optimal. Cell membranes let things in & out of our cells, so good fats are essential for the most basic foundations of how our body works. Brains are especially fat hungry, they are actually made up of approx 60% fat. Oily fish, olive oil, avocado, nuts & seeds (especially chia & flax), grass fed animal fats, coconut….include these often in your teens diet.  Add extra good fats to salads, smoothies, desserts, dips…everything. Good fat won’t make them get fat, it’s excess refined carbs / lollies / soft drinks / sugars & inflammatory foods that are the real culprits.

3. Fibre:

Teens tend to reach for the ‘white’ foods for a quick energy boost & minimal chewing (refined carbs with all the fibre removed – ie white bread, white sugar, pasta, cakes, pastries, buns etc). This leaves the good ‘fibre-eating’ gut bugs starving & supports an over abundance of the nasty ones (who just demand more sugar & carbs, keeping that blood sugar roller coaster going with all the mental highs & lows that come along with it!) When we add more fibre into an excessively ‘white’ diet, it helps decrease the rate that sugars are absorbed & it also helps ensure our gut microbial balance stays somewhat intact. Get fibre into teens wherever possible

4. Magnesium:

Such a common deficiency, & teens need lots of it, especially if they are very active / sporty or stressed with a heavy study workload. You can supplement with a powder or pilll, or have them add to bath / spray & rub directly onto skin. Especially great for teens with cramps or tight muscles. Sometimes tension headaches can be relieved by magnesium supplementation, & often constipation. 

5. Amino acids:

Found in protein, but also available in supplement form. Specific amino acids can be used in supplement form to support specific brain chemicals (work with a naturopath on this). Your teen may not need a prescribed pharmaceutical medication, it’s often possible to de-stress them using high dose specific nutrients instead. 

6. Sleep:

Between devices / social media / gaming & partying (hopefully some study as well) many teens are chronically sleep deprived. Sleep is when our brains ‘reset & reorganise’ themselves. Brains trying to function on little sleep will produce unstable moods & if poor sleep is ongoing, often chronic anxiety. Some great help here can be – hot bath or shower before bed, read a book until sleepy, no devices for the 1 hour prior to sleep, get to bed at the same time each night & wake at the same time, exercise every day – first thing in the morning, essential oils like lavender rubbed into temples or on pillow at sleep time, take passionflower (herbal tincture) 20 drops at bedtime, magnesium with dinner. Obviously no caffeine / minimise – esp after midday. 

7. Exercise:

Crucial for everyone wanting to take care of their mental state, it just has to be added into a teens schedule regularly. Find something they are interested in or at least don’t hate – & make it non-negotiable. In this sedentary world, exercise MUST be a part of life somehow, our bodies are just not designed to be as motionless as we are today! Especially when we are young. 

8. Massage:

Treat them to a professional massage once in a while, or as often as you can afford it. Even if you can massage ok yourself – do swaps, feet / shoulders / back / head…nothing better than a massage when you’re feeling stressed or exhausted. Teens may really crave physical touch,  they often miss out. 

9. Laughter:

Funny movies, fun games, inviting fun-loving family / friends around…laughing is such a great (& free) antidote to anxiety. 

10. Downtime:

Some teens have schedules so full that anxiety would be a logical side effect!! Although it’s great to ‘keep them busy / out of trouble’, they do need some downtime just like adults. Even if you thrive in a fast-paced environment, that doesn’t mean that your kids necessarily do. Their natural requirement for chill time may be more than yours. 

11. Herbs:

So many great herbs to help with anxiety. Ask a naturopath or herbalist, but look into withania, the ginsengs, rhodiola, passionflower, valerian etc. Also CBD oil (the non-psychoactive component of marijuana – this is not readily available in Aus yet, but should be soon).

12. Organising / prioritising weekly tasks:

Sometimes a lack of planning & a habit of procrastinating can lead to ‘overwhelm anxiety’ when it all just seems too much to deal with! Help your teen stay ‘on top’ of their essential tasks by sharing tips on prioritising, to do lists, time management & organisation apps…& allocating some time to check in regularly & help them organise their schedule.

13. Yoga & Meditation:

There are some great classes / retreats that teens can attend, or there are apps / you tubers to follow along with. So helpful. Even just showing them how deep breathing can help in stressful situations. 

15. Caffeine:

Many many teens are consuming huge amounts of caffeine daily without realising what it does to them (can cause insomnia, heighten anxiety, cause jitters, palpitations  etc). Energy drinks, cola beverages, iced coffee drinks, regular coffee & tea, chocolate, cold & flu medications – everyone has a different level of tolerance to caffeine, so just because it may have little impact on you, don’t assume this is also the case with your teen. 

16. Your own stress levels:

When you are stressed, that impacts your kids. If you are under too much pressure, not coping well, suffering from anxiety yourself, you absolutely need to sort yourself out as this will be impacting your kids for sure. All of the tips in this article can be applied to adults as well! Especially the last one – below. 

17. The Gut-brain connection:

IBS often first develops during the teenage years, & its onset can frequently be traced back to a highly stressful or anxious period. More & more evidence is being uncovered about how our emotions are impacted by what’s happening in our gut & vice versa. The gut & the brain function as a team, they are very connected! Anything we can do to support & nurture the gut will help support & stabilise the brain. Teens dealing with IBS absolutely need help with the mental / emotional side of things – I’m a firm believer in treating the gut & the brain simultaneously for best results in both areas.

18. See a professional:

Sometimes all the tips in the world are just not enough, you need real help. You may need to book in & see a professional to unravel the root cause/s (always best to go straight to the cause if possible!). A few visits to a skilled counsellor during the younger years could save a lifetime of anxiety / deeper mental health issues down the track! Find a professional who specialises in teens or comes with great reviews (ask the school counsellor /  other parents / look in online support groups). And work with a gut health specialist as well if there are gut symptoms intertwined with the anxiety (there almost always will be)! 

I’d love to hear about your teenager’s anxiety. Maybe something not listed here has helped?

Jeanie
jeanie@goodmix.com.au

Natural Support for Endometriosis

What is Endometriosis?

Endometriosis or ‘Endo’ (as it’s affectionately known), is a nightmare that affects more than 10% of Aussie females (& even the occasional male) at some painful point, usually starting in teenage years with progressively more uncomfortable menstrual pain & other pain associated with hormonal fluctuations.

It involves tissue like the uterine lining (endometrial) tissue growing outside of the uterus (ie the abdominal cavity, bowel, bladder, ovaries etc). This tissue responds to hormonal fluctuations throughout the month, building up & shedding like regular endometrial tissue, causing pain from recurrent irritation, inflammation & scarring.

What Are The Symptoms of Endometriosis?

  • Extreme period pain (and often pain at other times, can be daily)
  • Very heavy periods
  • Spotting before periods
  • Painful intercourse
  • Pain with bowel movements or urination
  • Bloating, abdominal discomfort
  • Lower back pain
  • Diarrhoea
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Migraines
  • Fatigue
  • Depression

What is Endometriosis Pain Like?

Endo pain can range from ‘please excuse Jenny from swimming today as she has period pain’  to ‘take me to the hospital I need a general anaesthetic’ or ‘just kill me now’ kinda pain’.

It can be extremely frustrating, excruciating, crippling, totally life-interrupting & can hinder education, career, relationships, fertility & sanity. Pain is normally (but not exclusively) in the pelvic region, & may mean intercourse, work, school, socialising and exercising are off the menu a lot of the time. Endo pain has been described by some mothers as worse than the pain of childbirth, so nothing to be sneezed at.

How Is Endometriosis Diagnosed?

Despite the severity of symptoms, for most young women it goes undiagnosed for many years (often 10 or more), which allows the situation to worsen. Because of under-diagnosis, the actual percentage of females suffering with endo may be much higher than the currently recognised 10-ish percent. To get a definitive diagnosis involves laparoscopic surgery under general anaesthetic – not simple. Most try to get by with anti-inflammatory meds, increasing until they just won’t cut it anymore, then maybe something stronger & / or the Oral Contraceptive Pill.  These are the normal treatment approaches until surgery is required to remove tissue – which can provide huge relief (until it grows back).

Severely Painful Periods Are Not Normal. They Are a Sign That Your Body Needs Help!

Please – if there are any teen girls in your life suffering with painful periods, urge them / their parents to get it looked into properly ASAP. Very painful periods are not normal, and early diagnosis and smart treatment can make a massive difference for endo progression, if that is found to be the cause.

Many a suffering teen girl will think ‘I must be just a sook’ and try to push through the monthly pain and ‘handle it’ thinking that they’re weak because everyone else seems to cope ok with their periods. This is compounded when well-meaning friends and family tell them to ’toughen up’ / get on with life. These girls can end up depressed and anxious, fearful to embrace opportunities they know pain will interfere with, and simply dreading ‘that time of the month’.  

Heart-breaking for young souls to live with such severe, recurring pain and feel like they are somehow inferior for not coping with what they assume is the norm.

The Endometriosis Gut Connection

Is endometriosis really connected to your gut health? Yep – surprise surprise, like so many other ’diseases’, endometriosis symptoms are strongly impacted by what is happening in your gut.

IBS pain and cramping can be very similar to endometriosis pain and cramping – the two are often confused, or can be found together. Around 16% of all teens are thought to experience IBS (most are female). Both endo and IBS can cause severe abdominal pain, uncomfortable bloating and painful or difficult bowel movements. Many women have both IBS and endo (jackpot!!) If your IBS gets a lot worse during your periods, you should look into endometriosis as a possible cause or contributing factor.

In one recent study, the Low FODMAP diet (known to help in most IBS cases) was found to significantly improve endometriosis symptoms, so if you do have both endo & IBS (or suspect you may), Low FODMAP is definitely worth a trial – do it seriously with help from an experienced nutritionist / naturopath to help you navigate through and find your triggers .

Often a person will have some low level of ‘dis-ease’ happening in their gut, which may not be that noticeable (gut seems to function normally / no problems), but which may form the foundation for another set of symptoms they have going on – like endo.  Endo is one of those chronic conditions you can ‘attack’ from the gut, because it’s an inflammatory disease, with immune dysfunction and hormonal sensitivity. Changing the gut environment can effectively decrease inflammation and help normalise immune function and hormonal balance.

When we have a harmonious gut microbiome we’re more likely to have an immune system that ‘knows when it’s needed’ and when to just chill. This is because – if your gut barrier is functioning nicely (supported by a healthy gut microbiome), it will only allow certain things out of the gut and into the bloodstream where the immune system is on high alert. Conversely, when the gut barrier is compromised (often due to / aggravated by microbial issues), a heavier load of inflammatory substances will end up in your bloodstream,  your immune system goes into ‘freak-out’ mode, becoming trigger-happy and reacting to all kinds of things that shouldn’t bother it. This makes any inflammatory-immune issues you may have flare up, whether it’s eczema, psoriasis, asthma, arthritis, hayfever…or endo.

Calm the gut  = calm the immune system = decrease the inflammation = decrease the pain.  Focus on your gut, don’t just reach for the painkillers – you’ll get way better results in the long term. And to help calm the gut, mental / emotional support is paramount too. 

Why Painkillers Can Make Endometriosis Pain Worse

Using NSAID’s (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like nurofen, aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen etc) for endometriosis will reduce inflammation & pain in the short term but with continued use they will INCREASE inflammation by damaging the all-important gut lining. Inflammation leads to pain, leads to pain relief meds, leads to leaky gut, leads to more inflammation, more pain…and so on…not a cycle with a happy ending (except if you’re selling the pills)! Anti-Inflammatory drugs are not an effective solution to a chronic inflammatory disease. Great to use for one off / occasional acute painful inflammations, but not for long term stuff if there’s another approach available (and there is a naturopathic approach for endo)!

Codeine type painkillers pose a real risk of addiction, often not communicated when first prescribed – especially important for young teens who may be struggling with depression. They also cause constipation / bowel dysfunction & as a result can increase oestrogen load.  Gut microbes are heavily involved in oestrogen metabolism and excretion, and when the bowel is sluggish and lacking in microbial diversity, more oestrogen is reabsorbed back into circulation rather than being excreted. These oestrogen-influencing gut microbes are known as the ‘oestrobolome’.   Good to know that if we modify gut microbes and gut function, we can modify blood oestrogen levels – which can obviously have a huge impact on endometriosis flares, as it is an oestrogen-fuelled condition.

The Pill For Endometriosis

The OCP may slow / stop the disease from worsening, by blocking the monthly oestrogen-induced flares, but once ladies decide they do want to be fertile, & go off the pill – their reproductive communication system has some serious catching up to do!

During teenage years, the menstrual cycle is getting established – this requires communication between the brain & ovaries. Taking the pill stops this communication, stops the cycle from developing, so instead of a natural rhythm forming, you just get a fake period with no ovulation. No natural cycles happening, interrupted reproductive development. The pill hormones are not identical to the ones we make naturally, there is a list of benefits we miss out on, & a list of side effects that can come with taking the pill:

Common Side Effects of The Pill

  • nausea
  • spotting
  • bloating
  • fluid retention
  • weight gain
  • headaches
  • tender breasts
  • mood swings
  • depression
  • impaired bone density
  • decreased libido

Heavy / irregular periods are common and to be expected in teen girls, it’s part of their reproductive development that should be allowed to happen naturally. Obviously if there’s danger of pregnancy – contraception is vital, but otherwise I would run a mile from the pill, definitely give preference to non-hormonal contraceptives.  Endo progression will likely be slower with the right OCP, but there are much better ways to address it (without the list of side effects)! Other drugs (Lupron and Synarel) are commonly used to suppress oestrogen and decrease growth of stray endometrial tissue, these can absolutely help sufferers, but also have a long list of side-effects and do not allow a natural female cycle to occur. They are mostly used post surgery to slow down the regrowth of tissue.

Natural Endometriosis Support

Best to get help from a professional (ie a naturopath or integrative GP specialising in women’s health), but here are a few things to look into:

  • awareness that painful periods need attention (not just drugs to mask the pain!)
  • optimise oestrogen metabolism (support bowel and liver with regular diverse fibre, probiotics, herbs to ensure regular bowel movements)
  • trial a Low FODMAP diet (can help identify triggers and influence gut function)
  • anti-inflammatory diet (more detail below)
  • get off gluten, dairy, sugar & alcohol for a min of 8 weeks – see how your symptoms go.
  • bone broth (organic bones)
  • test for and remove any other possible food intolerances
  • decrease saturated fats & red meat, decrease animal protein (more plant based diet)
  • find a gut-repair type product (look for l-glutamine, zinc, aloe vera, slippery elm etc, or ask a naturopath)
  • decrease / eliminate poor quality ‘junk food’ with its inflammatory fats, sugars, refined carbs.
  • eat / juice use loads of turmeric, though a high strength capsule will be best for quick pain relief
  • eat / juice / use loads of ginger
  • fermented foods – sauerkraut, beet kvass, kimchi, kefir, kombucha.
  • proper regular exercise (when not in pain, make the most of it and be active)
  • get plenty of sunshine (vit D)
  • magnesium (can be rubbed into skin, bathe in mag salts or take as a supplement)
  • oily fish eaten often, or cod liver oil supplement
  • flaxseed (whole soaked seed, or ground seed – not just the oil)
  • fibre support for the gut – crucial to move bowels regularly
  • liver herbs (naturopath / herbalist can help)
  • veggie juices
  • treat complications / secondary stuff ie check iron & B12 (often low due to heavy bleeding)
  • mental emotional support (stress management, meditation training, deep breathing, counselling, massage, relationship support, reconnection with good friends, joining support groups, etc).

Being gluten free, Low FODMAP and supportive to gut integrity and microbial production of anti-inflammatory short-chain fatty acids, both Blend11 & PondWater fit nicely into an endometriosis support diet. We have received great feedback from several women using these with the IBS-Endo double!

Let me know if you have found your endo responsive to anything not mentioned above!

jeanie@goodmix.com.au

Is Cereal Unhealthy For Kids?

bowl of cornflakes | is cereal unhealthy for kids? | goodMix Superfoods

Is Cereal Unhealthy? Wondering why your cereal-eating kids are always hungry? Here’s Why!

What’s missing from cereal? Fat, fibre and protein are needed for a meal to create ’satiety’ (feeling full & satisfied) and most cereals are deficient in all! Granted, they’re designed to be consumed with milk, but just adding milk to a pile of empty carbs doesn’t fix it. Milk is actually quite high in carbs too – lactose (milk sugar) adds to the hit, with just a little protein and fat to take the edge off.  So is cereal unhealthy?

Cereal Is A Great Cheap ‘Filler’ For Growing Kids That Eat All The Time…Isn’t It??

Yes, they may be cheap ‘fillers’ but what are you achieving by ‘filling’ growing kids with such nutritional emptiness? 

Saving $$ building a new house from cheap building materials is not recommended if you want a house that lasts a lifetime. The same advice applies when ‘building’ a human body. Our body is the house we live in throughout life, you can help your kids build a decent one by supplying quality materials!

If breakfast is just cereal, you are wasting an opportunity to help nourish and strengthen a growing body with vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, good fats. Each small wasted opportunity adds up over time to create a nutrient-deficient body…a dysfunctional ‘house’ that will keep breaking & require constant repair throughout life. The classic ‘overfed, undernourished’ sick western kids we see everywhere today. 

What Happens When Kids Eat Cereal?

A refined carb and sugar-rich breakfast mean a quick blood sugar spike, followed by a surge of insulin and then a drop….which will be followed by another sugar craving. That’s how we load kids onto the blood sugar rollercoaster at the start of each day! 

When our stomach is empty and blood sugar drops, ‘grehlin’ the hunger hormone is released, setting off the ‘I’m hungry again’ response. When breakfast contains more protein, fat and fibre and less refined carbs and sugars, the rise in blood sugar is not so fast and high and the drop is less sudden & happens much later on. Energy is much more stable and longer-lasting. 

So is cereal unhealthy? You bet! For kids, boarding the cereal-induced roller coaster each day can mean poor attention and lack of focus at school, poor behaviour, hyperactivity, feeling tired and grumpy, feeling hungry soon after eating, a dip in immunity, choosing sweeter foods at every opportunity. Chronically – they’ll end up with frequent colds, flus, infections, more chance of developing chronic gut-immune issues like eczema, hay fever and allergies, exacerbated acne and moodiness during teenage years…not to mention missing out on all the nutrients that are supplied by real food whilst over-eating empty calories & becoming overweight or obese by getting addicted to refined carbs.

My kids are already addicted to unhealthy cereal! What can I do??

You can either tell the kids “there’s been an explosion in the cereal factory so they can’t make it anymore, and we have to eat ‘X’ instead”, or try the following tips:

  1. Start by adding some healthy extras into the beloved cereal bowls. You want protein, fat and fibre. BLEND11 works perfectly here, or any other nuts & seeds your kids don’t hate too much. Don’t expect this to go smoothly, but it’s “cereal with added nutrients, or we just don’t buy cereal at all kids” (that’s the eventual goal anyway, they’ll get used to real food with perseverance…& maybe threats & / or bribery). 
  2. Try making the ‘milk’ healthier. You can add HEMPSEED or a little PROTEIN POWDER into the blender with most milks and make little change to the taste & texture. ALMOND MEAL or soaked CHIA SEEDS can also be quite a subtle addition. This is a baby step, but any step is good. Your ‘milk’ could be made from a healthy smoothie.
  3. Make smoothie bowls! Just run out of cereal completely one day and say ‘oh no’ we’ll have to make something, let’s make those cool Açai bowls you see in the cafes (they always have some sort of fruit & nuts, nut butter, seeds, buckwheat, granola on top. You can use any smoothie as a base and get the kids to decorate their own, choosing from an array of fat, fibre and protein-rich natural toppings. Beware the sugary smoothie trap, make sure you are using lower sugar fruits like berries and always add things like nuts and seeds for fat, fibre and protein.
  4. Break the cereal habit with other favourites your kids are used to. Try eggs (done any way your kids like them) or healthy pancakes, leftover dinners, porridge, toast piled high with healthy toppings, smoothies, Bircher mueslis, quality granola with seeds & yoghurt…there are loads of options if you think outside the (cereal) box….anything but cereal, it’s a nutritionally tragic way to start the day and unfortunately still so common in Australia! Just chat to the kids & together figure out something that will better support them to build a healthy ‘forever home’. Give them choices and use variety to cover more nutritional bases, but make all the choices better than their current norm!
  5. Think seriously about how to bring the explosion story to life.

If you’re wondering if cereal is unhealthy you might want to have a look at our blog on Australian cereal brands nutritional comparisons.

Have a question or need some help? Email me at jeanie@goodmix.com.au

Jeanie

Related posts:

https://www.goodmix.com.au/fat-kids-why-so-many-and-how-we-can-help/

https://www.goodmix.com.au/8-reasons-your-kids-are-hungry-easy-ways-to-fill-them-up/

What Does a Naturopath Eat?

What I eat on a typical day,, when I’m at the markets on weekends & now (when I’m detoxing)!

I think because I studied as a naturopath, people ask me what kind of diet I follow – am I vegan, vego, paleo, keto, sugar free, gluten free etc…there are loads of ‘diets’ that a naturopath may recommend depending on the circumstances, but most of us are pretty normal but with a few ‘rules’ we try & stick to, different for all of us depending on our own values, health situation, living situation & of course what is trending in healthy circles!

So here’s a typical ‘day on a plate’ – I don’t follow any diet, just try to minimise my intake of gluten, refined carbs & sugars, processed food & artificials. I try to make sure a high percentage of what I’m eating is organic & get as much as I can locally through markets instead of supermarkets. I grow a few things in the backyard. I focus on loads of veggies & plant foods though I do eat animal products too (I’ve had a go at being vego & vegan a long time ago – not to say I wouldn’t go there again if it felt right, but for now it doesn’t).  I eat loads of fat, fibre & adequate protein, & treat carbs & sugar with respect as I know how addictive they can be (been there). I used to be a lot more concerned with ‘what is the perfect diet for all humans’ but now I think it can vary so much, from person to person & life stage / circumstances / climate / lifestyle – now I tend to just listen to my body, & tweak food accordingly.

***Today is not a typical day – I’m detoxing a bit after many holiday indulgences (I generally do it once or twice every year, new year is perfect for me). So no dinner last night, just a PondWater & this morning some chinese herbal liver / gut detox pills, some magnesium oxide powder to keep the bowels flowing, a small but hardcore green smoothie (celery, cucumber, lime, mint, turmeric, ginger & water) & a can of coconut water for ‘lunch’ at work. Afternoon will include a drink with psyllium & some pea protein, blended with coconut water & ice…& then later for ‘dinner’ another veggie smoothie  with PondWater. At the moment it’s not about deliciousness, just about resetting / functioning on minimal input & being disciplined / giving the digestive system a break for a few days & realising you really can survive fine without all the stuff you normally eat, much of time out of habit not need. If you are interested – here’s the link to the plan I use with a shopping list – you’ll feel a million bucks when you come out the other side! (a bit ordinary during is normal!)

GET THE DETOX PLAN / SHOPPING LIST & 25 FOODS TO HELP YOU DETOX ON A DAILY BASIS

Normal days:

6.30-7am:

I eat not first thing, but after a morning dog walk (& / or a surf if I’m lucky)! Gotta move before food.

Leftover market tasters don’t get wasted! Soaked Blend11 / NeoBlend & coconut yoghurt (of assorted types) will go into the blender with frozen berries, & whatever else – maybe cacao powder / vanilla essence / greek yoghurt / a banana / maca powder / cinnamon / protein powder etc. I just make a big batch of whatever combo works out yummy enough that the kids will down one too without complaining (ok sometimes when I don’t nail it there is  complaining & maybe a lunchtime smoothie for me)! We might do a smoothie bowl topped with a little crunchy granola / Blend11, or some Bircher muesli…& an omelette / egg breakfast if there’s time! Sometimes I might just have some buckwheat toast with avo / hommous / nut butter / butter on my way out the door, & I love porridge (with extra toppings) in winter. I’m totally a breakfast person, very rarely do I not want to eat in the morning, only if I’m unwell….but I definitely feel like I need to exercise before eating, even just a short walk is so much better than zero. No morning exercise = I feel a bit ‘meh’ physically & mentally…gotta do it. Lucky I’m an early riser & the dogs are too!

11am -12pm:

Packed lunch of salmon / chicken / tuna / turkey / avocado / legumes / olives with salad or just some leftovers from a dinner. Or if I’ve not been organised enough to pack something good it’ll be a few rice crackers with avo or tuna or more leftover seeds & coconut yoghurt…or I’ll graze on ‘BallBags’ tasters from the freezer – there are more days than I’d like to admit where these are my staple at work! (I get in trouble for eating the profits).

3-4pm:

Home to meet the kids (usually) for an after-school / pre-sports-substantial-snack.. Maybe avocado,, hommous or nut butter on GF toast / tamari with greens & shredded fried eggs / leftover dinner / olives & cheese with veggies & dips platter…a smoothie if that wasn’t breakfast already.  Though being teenagers, it’s pretty common they’ll walk in with some handful of garbage just to bug me!

5.30-6pm:

I often eat bits &  pieces of whatever I’m making for dinner, tasting as I go / just because it’s there & I like food…some nights I might have a wine or 2.

7-7.30pm:

Some sort of meat & / or legumes with a tonne of veggies, usually a twist on Aussie kid faves like spaghetti bolognaise or some kind of ‘Mexican’ (I can chuck all kinds of things in there, including seaweed, beans / lentils, herbs, turmeric, molasses but still make it yummy)!  We may do a BBQ, homemade pizza & greens or have a chicken curry teamed with rice / lentils / quinoa, or a fried rice to use up leftovers (& increase our resistant starch intake)!, Sometimes a slow cooked lamb or beef hotpot in winter, or shanks…there’s almost always a salad on the side,, especially when my garden is cranking. Sometimes we sign up to the meal-in-a-box deliveries for a while (I like that it forces us to try new recipes / ideas that are quick & easy to prep with no time wasted on shopping & decision-making, sometimes it’s just a matter of figuring out which kid is cooking tonight, (we try to get them all cooking, once a fortnight each when we’re on top of it)! I’ll often add extra veggies to these / & try to un-select all the bread & pasta dishes.

8.30pm:

If I’m feeling like just a ‘little something sweet’ at night it’ll be some of the Pure n Free chocolate mousse / vanilla coconut yoghurt with berries, or the caramel one with banana & cinnamon…or the ever present BallBags taster cubes! Sometimes plain dark chocolate, or just a piece of fruit. In winter I’ll often have a licorice tea.

This is a typical day at home during the week – when at markets on the weekend it’s completely different!

Market days:

6-7am: 

(after driving & setting up the stall, & usually being up from 3 or 4 am) I’ll treat myself to a hot breakfast! Usually some sort of egg based breakfast with plenty of veg. Faves are the buckwheat wraps from PBC / Brisbane city / Bundall markets & the potato cake thingies with egg / avo from Powerhouse, or an omelette at Northey St. I may have a black coffee a little later if I’m not feeling energetic enough to power through the day, though I’m trying to get out of that habit as coffee dumps me quite hard in the afternoons, & I don’t want to become too addicted / reliant on it…plus my sleeping can be a bit messed up with the early starts. I just graze on market tasters throughout the day, ie PondWater in lemon water, BixMix crackers, Blend11 with coconut yoghurt…I’m lucky there’s no need to go elsewhere for food, though I do pick up most of our weekly shop at markets & might eat some fruit too.  

2-3pm:

After markets it’s home again for a snack – usually some leftover dinner, or some delicious stuffed olives (I love the chilli or lemon, or garlic…any of the cheeses) fresh bread / toast & butter (ususally GF, though sometimes I cave if the sourdough is smelling too good) with nut butter or loads of avo…

6-8pm:

Dinner we might hang out with the neighbours & do a shared dinner or just fall into bed early ready for another early start…then Sunday nights are like our Friday so we might do something social if there’s anything on close by, can involve a few drinks which at the moment are a (slightly naturopathic) version of mojito’s using ginger kombucha, sparkling mineral water, fresh limes, ginger & mint (& a splash of bacardi or vodka). Or if the night is going to be a long one it has to be espresso martinis (made with choc coconut yoghurt of course – you gotta try it!)

So that’s me…that’s what I eat right now…Pretty much everything, not a strict food-nazi naturopath but I do have some standards!

Jeanie Xx
jeanie@goodmix.com.au

New Year New You – What’s Your Excuse?

Most Common Excuses “I can’t get healthy because…”

You may have one or more of these, or even a different excuse holding you back from getting healthy. There will ALWAYS be obstacles blocking your efforts, & you can either let them get in your way & give up, or you can find ways around them to still win at getting healthy! Make 2019 the year you stop blaming ‘something else’ for why you aren’t looking after yourself properly. Everyone thinks up reasons / excuses why they haven’t been doing what they know they should’ve been!  

I can’t afford it. It’s so expensive to be healthy!

YES, it is. Nothing worthwhile is free. Good food costs money, good advice costs money, & yes you’ll have to invest some time & energy. BUT – you will increase your energy & productivity, your mood will be better, you’ll look better, say yes to more opportunities, need less sick days, people will respect you more….getting healthy is an investment & it will pay dividends every single day of your (longer & more comfortable) life!! Invest in your biggest asset – the body that carries you through this life! You only get one!! Being healthy will cost you, but it will cost you way less than being unhealthy in the long run!

Free ebook to help : 9 Ways to Eat Healthy on a Budget

I have injuries, so I can’t exercise.

Exercise the parts of your body that don’t hurt! If your back is sore, see a practitioner who can help with exercises that won’t hurt your back. This will help strengthen it so you can move more comfortably. You can always train some part of you, even if it’s only your hands, your feet or your butt cheeks!! Be gentle with yourself, but firm – an injury is not an excuse to just curl up & die. 

 

I have an illness so can’t get healthy even if I do try.

Sometimes it’s really hard, & you might need professional help. Invest in getting the help, & then start with one small habit you know you can implement by yourself (drink more water, or add in some herbal teas / a green smoothie each day, watch a funny movie, get some sunshine, do 5 mins meditation). One small step = a start. Remember – there are a lot of people who’ve been sicker than you & become healthy again, so it’s possible for you too. Your ultimate health potential may not be as high as it could be, but don’t underestimate the body’s self-healing drive.

I’ve tried so many different diets / plans but none of them really work, I give up now.

Hmm – there are many people who have been successful in turning their lives around too…maybe you are missing something? Plans are usually just a kickstart, & not everyone will get the same results. Ultimately it’s your everyday habits that determine your long term results. By all means use plans to help you along the way, but they will not do everything for you (& you can’t just throw in the towel & blame them when you don’t get the results you want!) Instead of giving up, try changing direction – get some advice on the best kickstart plan for you!

I don’t sleep well so have no energy to make any changes.

Sleeping well is a health necessity. But you can still make better choices whilst running on limited sleep (it’s harder, but it can be done).

  • Do some exercise even if you are tired (it will help your sleep in the long run).
  • Try to get morning sunshine
  • Get off the stimulants (yes, see if going without coffee helps you)
  • Start a nighttime yoga practice
  • Learn to meditate so you can do that in bed.
  • Meditation will help you feel rested & refreshed even with less sleep, & you may find yourself drifting off more.
  • Invest in a great mattress, pillows, make the temperature comfortable & block the light / noise out.
  • Remove all devices from the room, no screen time for at least 1/2 hr before bed.
  • Use some relaxing essential oils in a hot bath or rubbed into your skin.
  • Try changing the direction your bed faces.

There will be plenty of things you can do to support your sleep efforts.

I’m too busy looking after my baby / kids / ageing parents / partner & have no time or energy left for looking after me :(

You won’t be much good to anyone if you can’t carve out some time to look after you! You literally have to CARVE it out. Your baby / kids / parents / partner / need you to be nourished, energetic & calm. You need to have your own oxygen mask on your face before you can start looking after others! Modern day life is kinda like a plane crash – grab hold of your mask – take responsibility for looking after your own needs as a priority so you can be helpful to others around you. Caring for others needs to become your reason to look after yourself better, not an excuse to neglect your health!

My partner isn’t interested / is unsupportive when I try to get healthy so it gets too hard to stay on track. I just keep derailing.

Well if your partner is the total cause of your poor health, ditch your partner!! But not before you’ve been very honest with yourself (we tend to blame our partners for a lot of things that could actually be more to do with us). Is it really all your partner’s fault? Surely your partner wants you to look & feel your best – they might actually surprise you if you really communicate your needs. And if you can both be on the same page, supporting each other to get healthier it will be so much easier! If they really are resistant / won’t see where you’re coming from you may need to consider a break to get yourself on track.

If your partner is a smoker with no intention of quitting & you really want to, it will be really hard (but still possible, better with a break), if you want to cut down on sugar & your partner brings home Tim Tams every night & teases you it will also be hard but still possible – once again, take a break apart. You need to communicate your needs assertively (not aggressively) & if they really have zero interest in helping you with what you’re trying to achieve, you need to question if you’re a good team to keep doing life together.

My job / active social life means I’m always partying – eating junk, drinking, not sleeping.

Is your job worth sacrificing your health for? Are you maybe out-growing some of your friends? If you’re serious about getting your health on track this year, it may be worth re-evaluating a few things, like the people you spend most of your time with (surround yourself with people that you aspire to be like, because you will end up like the people you hang out with). 

My job is really sedentary so I can’t exercise enough.

Does your job take up 24 hrs 7 days per week? No – then that is not a valid excuse! Sorry :- /

My job is really physically taxing, & that is all I have the energy for.

I hear this from all the nurses / tradies / physical labourers – but just imagine how amazing a good stretch or a swim would feel for those tired, overworked legs & back at the end of a shift?!  If you have a job that keeps you active, great – but chances are you’ll be doing really repetitive stuff & your body will still be suffering because the ‘load’ is unbalanced – wearing you out in places whilst others remain unchallenged. Your energy may improve with some sort of exercise to help balance what you already do with work.

I’m just too lazy, I can’t be bothered putting in the effort to be healthy – I feel ok as I am & I am happy enough.

Well why did you even bother to read this?? If you are happy enough & don’t want to make any changes, don’t. Easy! But if there is a part of you that wonders what it would feel like to spring out of bed with energy each day & ditch the tracksuit pants & baggy tees for a bikini….then just try. Try changing one habit at a time. Get one change down pat, then move onto the next once you are confident you have it nailed. You may just surprise yourself – small steps are easy to take!

This year – try looking after your body as though it needs to last you a lifetime (hint – it does). Have this mentality clear in your head when you write a shopping list / are walking through the supermarket aisles, are deciding what meal to order / what food to put on your plate / tossing up wether to buy another pack of cigarettes / bottle of alcohol / soft drink / iced coffee. All the small decisions you make in a year add up the body you’re trapped in (or feeling great in) at the end of the year! All the times you were ‘too tired / too busy / not feeling it’ add up to the fact that your shorts no longer fit, or you’re puffing & red faced after a small flight of stairs. Stick a note or a picture somewhere you’ll see it daily to remind you to think like this every day! Value your health, if you’re still alive you’re luckier than many & you still have something to work with!

Make a list of the healthy habits you can start incorporating into your life from NOW! I’ve made a start with a habit suggestion below, even just adding this one habit in will literally change your life!

Check out how this amazing women went from overweight and unhappy to Bikini Model and stoked!

Habit Suggestion – Morning Movement!

Do some type of exercise first thing in the morning. Decide on something you can squeeze in, something you don’t hate (wether it’s 5 minutes dancing around in the kitchen with your toddler on your hip, as many chin ups as you can do in your doorway / garage, a burn around the block with your kid on a scooter, or a quick lounge-room yoga or pilates class from an app you’ve downloaded…just get into the habit of MOVING every morning, before you think about starting your day, to be healthy in today’s world, making time for movement is a MUST!!

If you make yourself tick that box before anything else for the day, you’ll succeed. It will be hard for 2 weeks if you’re not already in this habit, be prepared for some resistance! If you get through the first 2 weeks, you should be feeling so much better you’ll be motivated to keep the habit. If you start work really early & morning is just totally impractical for you, you’ll need to figure out another time of the day that will work, & commit to it. Ie – if there is a gym / sporting club you drive past on your way home each day – could be worth exploring. Or a friend’s place…or maybe adopt an energetic dog (they will demand an afternoon walk!) Can you cycle to work? Take the stairs a few times? Swim? Use a different train / bus stop that requires a brisk walk on your way home….if you are serious about feeling better you’ll find a way to make it happen!

You need to spend some time thinking of your own habits to start – what little steps can you realistically take this year to make it healthier than last ? Try listing 5 habits, but prioritise & just start with ONE, then once that one is in place, firmly in your life, try starting another. One good habit that you can stick to for months / years is more effective than a ‘total life overhaul’ that you give up on after 2 weeks!! Baby steps, small changes at a time, but just stick to them! One small victory will give you the confidence & self belief to attempt bigger goals later.

Happy New Habits!

Xx Jeanie

Overweight and Unhappy to Bikini Model and Stoked!

Earlier in the year, Brad & I had the pleasure of attending one of the Gold Coast ‘Miss Fit Bikini Model Extravaganza’ (MFBME) heats. I must say – I’m not normally a fan of the whole beauty pageant / bikini model scene (I just think fake boobs, orange tans, body oil & lame ‘I want to create world peace’ type statements) but this one is totally different in that the focus is on fitness & health, i.e. celebrating & showcasing how eating & moving well translates naturally into healthy & gorgeously fit bodies. Our pick of the bunch (it was really hard to pick) was Brook-Lin, because we were so amazed at her 35kg weightloss! Here’s the story – her journey from being overweight & unhappy & not taking good care of herself to a fit, healthy & happy, stunning bikini model, who treats her body like it’s the only one she’ll ever have! 

1.Do you know how you ended up overweight?

About 7 years ago I was going though a really rough patch, I lost the most important people in my life & it all went downhill from there with depression, anxiety & started to binge eat.

2.At what point did you realise you wanted to make a change?

A night 2 years ago was my major turning point in my life – I didn’t want to wake up another morning.  I was scrolling though Facebook & saw an 8 week challenge advertised. I messaged her at 11pm saying I would be at her 5am class in the morning. I wanted to hold myself accountable, I took cash & paid her upfront for a whole challenge. That’s where it all began.

3.Did you feel inspired by anyone in particular? Who has influenced & guided you along the way? Did you have to do a lot of research / educate yourself?

When I first started properly training 2 years ago I didn’t know or have anyone that influenced me. Not long into my weights training I decided to further my knowledge in the gym & studied to be a personal trainer. I am always learning & trying new things in the gym & it has been amazing seeing my clients feel amazing in their own skin too.

4.Do you have any new rules / ideals / standards / preferences for the food that you eat now?

I control my portion sizes, I fuel my body with healthy fresh food, I eat a balance of protein, carbs & fats. I always stay hydrated especially when training.

5.Do you just eat whatever sometimes too?

Of course – having a balance is very important to keep your mind and body happy.

6.What does a regular food / drink / supplement / workout day look like for you these days?

I eat 5 times a day 😊

Soon as I wake up I will have my PondWater greens with water.

I will either have eggs and spinach with my greens on top or oats for breakfast.

Snacks are either protein shake, rice cakes, goodMix Blend11 or dark chocolate.

Lunch can be Greek yogurt with protein, a chicken & veggie wrap. dinner can be gluten free pasta with veg chicken/turkey , stir fry, healthy pizza.

I train 6 days a week 6 weights & 1 cardio session (clubbersise).

3 lower body & 3 upper body.

7.What was it like in the past?

I used to either be at work or sleep, I used to binge eat, I would drink 2L of coke a day, Maccas was a regular thing or I wouldn’t eat at all.

8.For you – what feels more important, eating really well or moving & challenging that body…or are they equal?

Eating well is important for me physically but training helps challenge my body & mind, so to me both would be equal. 😊

9.The beauty pageant stuff – were you always a ‘girly girl’, or did you learn a few things from entering the competition?

I haven’t been much of a girly girl, but it was amazing to feel like a princess for a day & be able to show my girly side. I achieved things I didn’t think I ever would. I learnt how to pose , how to speak in front of a crowd & most of all feel completely accepted in my own skin.

10.Was it super competitive, or did the girls support each other?

It was beautiful – the girls, judges, the whole team were so supportive and lovely. I still keep in contact with a lot of them and love seeing them progress on their own journeys.

11.Who would you recommend enter the comp / what do the girls get out of it?

I would definitely recommend FBME, it’s a comp for all women who live healthy lives and it celebrates the fact that fit looks different on everyone. It’s a comp where you can feel beautiful in your own skin and express your personality. It also connects you with a team of like minded people that will help you & support you ❤️

12.You’ve obviously changed a lot physically – do you feel like you’ve changed mentally as well?

100% fitness & health changed my life!

I was depressed for so long and it feels amazing to finally be able to feel like myself, to finally be able to find this side of me that’s been trapped since I can remember.

12.5..and if so, what came first – the physical, or the mental – or did they both evolve together?

The mental side first, the physical took awhile, I wanted to be happy more then anything.

13.What would you like to say to anyone out there struggling with their weight & feeling trapped in a body that they don’t feel great about?

You are not alone, everyone is on their own journey. Sometimes to grow we need to push outside our comfort zones to make great things happen.

14.Can we see a before pic?

We’re not all cut out to be bikini models, but if it’s on your bucket list, this is the best comp to enter – get in touch HERE. I just wanted to share this story because I was really curious about the transformation – so inspiring! Brooke-Lin’s journey really illustrates…

a) the power of just making a start, following that survival / self preservation instinct that something has to change & acting.

b) sometimes you gotta commit / make it hard for yourself to back out or quit

c) adversity can be our friend / teacher & help us become stronger, grow as a person, end up where we need to be…if you experience a decent ‘low’ you can then really appreciate the highs in life.
d) the weird journeys we go on towards finding & living our passion & purpose – so great to be able to help empower others, from a place of experience & understanding.
e) the power of getting mind & body working together in sync, sometimes one has to ‘drag’ the other along until it catches up!
f) the importance of recognising self-destructive behaviour & having the guts to really change / reverse it
g) that someone can be outwardly really smily & happy but you just never know what’s going on inside, we’ve got to always be mindful of that.
h) nice to see a bikini comp that really values health / nutrition / training / nurturing the body rather than ‘just do whatever it takes to get skinny for the swimsuit’. Beautiful, hard-working, inspiring, healthy girls challenging themselves & supporting each other to get out of their comfort zones (& into tiny bikinis & heels in front of a crowd)! That’s some serious motivation when you feel like slacking off!!)
You can follow / get in contact with Brook-Lin here:
Need some motivation – Celebrate Women 

Strawberries with Needles, or Chemicals?

Already Contaminated?

I don’t mean to kick a strawberry farmer when he’s down, but the needle scandal makes me wonder…what if all the chemicals used to grow Australian strawberries were as obvious as needles? Now is the time to eat strawberries – conventional or organic – so they don’t go to waste & the farmers can stay in business, but I just have to raise the point..most of our strawberries have always been contaminated…just in a less spiky-scary way.

There are loads of harmful things hidden in the food we eat. Aside from the current scandal, what about the things we can’t see, feel or taste?  At least you can tell if there’s a needle in something, not so easy to detect & avoid a chemical residue. I love strawberries, I buy organic when they are in season / I can afford them / I find a bargain, though sometimes I just buy the cheap, chemically grown variety & I don’t feel really great about eating them or feeding them to the kids. Not meaning to bag strawberries – I just want to raise a point now with all the needle noise, what about the chemicals that are already contaminating Aussie strawberries? How long will we just accept these for our kids? A quick rinse under the tap does not make a chemical-free berry! Strawberries are right at the top of the dirty dozen listproduce with the highest levels of chemical residue. They are difficult / expensive to grow organically, hence they will cost more when grown naturally / properly. Needles may turn out to be the least of our worries!

Mountains of Waste!

I think a lot of people who are used to cheap food become really desensitised to the wastage factor “who cares if the kids don’t eat the whole pile of mac & cheese we just served up for dinner, the packet only cost us $3.50 & all we had to do was shove it in the microwave with some water. If they won’t eat it, just scrape it into the bin & who cares”.

ARRGHHH!! Not enough care factor goes into food manufacturing, shopping, prepping…not enough money is invested in quality food & as a result food is just not valued the way it should be…& the kid’s growing bodies are also undervalued. If you put a lot of thought into feeding the family well, pay good money for quality fresh produce that’s been grown naturally, & spend time in the kitchen preparing it, you’re not gonna be happy to see it wasted & your kids won’t grow up thinking it’s ok to just chuck food out.  Our great-grandparents would roll in their graves if they knew how many kgs’s of strawberries were being dumped because some loony-tune has stuck needles into a few punnets & everyone is freaking out. Wasting them is craziness, everyone needs to just chill out & chop them up!

Most of the strawberries (& other fruit & veg) grown in Australia ARE contaminated, with chemical residues we can’t detect. This is a bigger issue than needles! Consumers are conditioned by supermarkets & food / agricultural giants to think that food should be dirt cheap & last for months / years on a shelf.

I’m all for saving money & finding a bargain, but I also appreciate (& will pay for) food that has been grown or made naturally, without the use of chemicals. I wish that was the case across the board, so I try to do my bit & support organic growers & smaller manufacturers whenever possible – that is the only way to get to a chemical-free future, if we support organic farmers & artisan food producers. If there were no $2 punnets of strawberries (or $3.50 mac & cheese packets), you’d just pay what it really should cost for them, the real cost of real food. Strawberries are a difficult & fragile thing to grow, chemicals are the cheapest & easiest way to increase yield / profit / decrease labour costs…but what is the cost to our health when we accept this type of food production? Organic & artisan produced food is more expensive, yes – but you’ve got to ask yourself…would you rather cheap, industrial, mass-produced, contaminated food to feed your family, or try to get the uncontaminated wherever you can, if at a higher price?

We all need to do our bit here – let’s get the strawberry farmers through this crisis (just buy them regardless), but let them know that in future, we’d prefer organically grown. 

Try this tasty Strawberry Smoothie recipe!

Regulation of Harmful and Addictive Substances (like Food and Beverages)

Should parents form a collaborative group with local drug manufacturers & dealers to educate teens about using drugs responsibly?

Should we work with drug manufacturers, encouraging them to reformulate, decreasing the potency & addiction potential of their offerings?

Should we introduce a labelling system that shows exactly what the contents of the snaplock bags are?

That’s the government approach to our current ‘lifestyle disease’ crisis (read: ‘crappy processed food’ crisis). With this approach to addictive drugs or food, we could probably save a few lives, but…I think we’ll still have some serious problems!

See below, my recent email / rant to health minister Greg Hunt & the reply from Senator Bridget McKenzie (For the record, I’ve never been an email ranter – this is a first). 

My email:

“Hi Greg – I have some questions for you. I hope you can help.

I’m a mother of teens, I run a health food business & I have years of experience working in both the health food industry & in pharmacy, helping Australians who are trying to lose weight, get healthy & battle chronic conditions caused largely by poor diet. I am really concerned about the health issues kids of today will begin to face as a result of what I can only describe as government negligence in the control of food & beverage availability throughout our country.   

Who regulates the availability of food & beverage products throughout Australian retail stores – is there even any regulation of what products are allowed onto supermarket shelves? Can I please have email / phone contact details & a description of their role within the preventative healthcare care / food regulation systems?

Why are food & beverage products with known addictive qualities that are now known causes of metabolic syndrome, diabetes & heart disease still available for purchase by minors & people incapable of making an ‘informed purchasing decision’?

I’m interested in the legalities – I can see from your bio online that you’re well acquainted with the Aussie legal system. I’m wondering, is this generation of children / teens going to be able to (rightly?) sue the government who has allowed this practice (harmful & addictive substances being made readily available to & marketed towards minors) to continue, for damages resulting from their diabetes, obesity & cardiovascular disease? These illnesses are now known to be caused largely by addiction to & overconsumption of these heavily sweetened products, which are addictive due to their high sugar content (& often also laced with other addictive substances like caffeine – things like energy drinks / ice coffee / cola drinks). Why today, in 2018 is a bottle of highly sweetened, nutritionally empty, caffeinated beverage still readily available for children & teens to purchase (in large quantities, daily – or even multiple times daily, if desired)? This is happening all over our disgustingly fat & sick country today. These products should not be treated any differently now to cigarettes & alcohol, given their known harmful health effects & addictive properties.

The sale of products of this nature should be regulated to protect young Australians (& take pressure off our healthcare system which is needlessly being drained, paying millions or even billions every year, caring for people with preventable, diet-induced illnesses).

I’d like to raise awareness & help the kids out there who are developing type 2 diabetes & cardiovascular disease as I write – the kids who will cost Australia billions over the next 40-60 years – because our government can not (?) / will not take the necessary action to protect them now.  This is particularly a problem among Australian indigenous communities. I feel that these kids should have every right to sue when they become chronically diseased…at what age can a child make ‘an informed choice’ about their health? At what age can a child walk into a supermarket or cafe & purchase a can or bottle of coke (or multiple bottles) every day?

Please let me know who would be best to contact in regards to this matter?

Thankyou.”

…ok so that was a bit of a rant, BUT…crappy products that nobody needs or benefits from (other than those making a big fat profit) are for sale on every corner making us big & fat. They are a MASSIVE contributing factor in the ‘lifestyle disease’ epidemic we face. It costs me money, it grosses me out, it makes me really sad & angry & yeah it puts me in the mood to have a bit of a rant!

So, I wrote that email, then forgot all about it until this lame-ass reply came through, which I feel compelled to share, because it is so lame.  Tell me what you think. Am I over-reacting? Or is this approach going to get us nowhere?

(Double click to read)

I was momentarily impressed as I opened the envelope, revealing the fancy letterhead, printed on thick, expensive paper, from someone with ‘Hon’ in front of her name. But I was completely unimpressed by the content. It basically tells me that nobody has the balls to take action where it’s badly needed.

My interpretation & commentary below

The government recognises the burden of disease associated with poor diet. (But seem totally happy to keep carrying it & paying for it with tax payers $)?

They appreciate my suggestion to impose limits on the availability of processed foods, however they prefer to educate, support & encourage Australians to adopt a healthy diet & lifestyle, not wanting to regulate what’s available for purchase in shops. (Parents, let’s fill the fridge with softdrink & lollies but read the kids a heap of health magazines & see what happens)…

They are committed to providing a safe food supply & ensuring consumers have access to sufficient information to make informed choices about food they purchase. (They also seem quite happy to place very unsafe food items in amongst that safe food supply, readily available for people incapable of making an informed choice about what they ingest & become addicted to).

FSANZ is the authority responsible for the ‘food standards code’ & determines the requirements for food sold in Australia & NZ. (FSANZ must have a very easy job, there really don’t seem to be many requirements when you spend an hour or so reading processed food ingredient labels in the supermarket)!

FSANZ requires labelling on energy drinks to communicate that the product contains caffeine, how much it has & that they are unsuitable for children, pregnant women & those sensitive to caffeine. (Ok so that makes the product ‘suitable’ for teenagers, men & the elderly who AREN’T sensitive to caffeine…there are not many of those, so how do these companies sell enough product to make them commercially viable? Hmm – maybe people aren’t reading / taking any notice of the labels? These products are actually only ‘suitable’ for people who want to waste money on addictions, get diabetes & die younger than they naturally should. Suggest a label change, though still doubt that people would read it). 

Food products are regularly checked for compliance. (Phew, lucky someone is working hard, keeping us all safe from our food. LOL).

Improving Aussie’s dietary patterns is a complex task, there are many contributing issues. We need a community-wide approach as well as individual behaviour change. (Yes, yes, yes & yes. But we also need to consider just removing some of the worst crap from our supermarket shelves)? Just start with regulating the supply of sugar-laden caffeinated beverages to kids / teens. They can at least choose their addictions when they are old enough to understand what addiction means).

The Government recognises that Australians are eating more processed foods, and they are doing a lot of things to help them get healthier. (They might be doing ‘a lot of things’….but are they neglecting to do the most effective things?)

Government is working with the food industry & public health groups, trying to promote healthier options & reducing saturated fat, added salt & added sugars. Some of their initiatives include:

‘The Health Star Rating’. Aimed at getting consumers to avoid foods high in salt, sugar & saturated fat, thus encouraging manufacturers to reformulate products, decreasing these ingredients in order to have a better rating. (The Health Star Rating is voluntary, so if your product is garbage, you can just ignore it. Plus – the system was developed in consultation with food industry & thus has little credibility. Do you really develop a regulating system in conjunction with the people you want to regulate?? This is pretty soft regulation. Give me an image of a depressed, morbidly obese person, covered in acne with an amputated leg slapped on the front of all soft drink cans & lolly packets any day, over a few stars on the front of ‘healthier-than-most’ cereal boxes. We need to be tougher on this, it’s got to be spelled out REALLY CLEARLY to the people who are still shoving this stuff into their shopping trolleys every week).

The Healthy Food Partnership’: a collaboration between the government, food industry & public health groups. Aimed at tackling obesity, encouraging healthy eating & empowering food manufacturers to make positive changes to their products. Everyone seems really committed to make this work. The aims are:

  • promote healthy eating, working towards improvement targets.
  • normalise healthy eating & encourage people to enjoy healthy foods.
  • make changes in education, food advertising, availability of foods through outlets & in food service, influence population behaviours…& ultimately rates of overweight & obesity.

(This is all well & good, but meanwhile – people are still dying & getting sick needlessly, & we’re all paying through the nose for their healthcare, & the expensive army of people out there getting paid to encourage, empower, influence & normalise. How about we just tell it exactly like it is ‘your kids will suffer from disease & die early because you keep buying X Y & Z for them to eat / drink each week, meaning the rest of Australia will be paying for your health care expenses)?

People are dying early – kids are not getting the chance to grow up healthy, 30% of them are on the road to obesity, diabetes, heart disease & early death before they even reach their teens. (No wonder so many are also depressed & anxious before they reach their 20’s). A major contributing issue is that the government allows food companies & retailers to fill our stores, trolleys & mouths with poor quality ‘food-like’ products that directly cause / contribute to the development of disease.  Millions (maybe billions) of tax dollars are spent on ads, promotion, education, liasing gently with food companies, caring for end stage diseases…we could save everyone a lot of time, money, hassle & resources (not to mention lives) if we just took a firmer approach & fixed the food standards to regulate some of these addictive & harmful substances that we clearly aren’t capable of consuming safely?

End of rant. Am I a health-nut psycho…or do I have a point here?

Leave me your thoughts in a comment below or send me an email…

Jeanie
jeanie@goodmix.com.au

Private Health Cover & Natural Therapies – 2018 Update

You may have read this blog ‘Is Australia Moving in a Healthy Direction?’, that I wrote last year when natural therapies & private healthcare were making news in Australia, & seen some conversations & petitions on social media…but it’s all gone really quiet now. Ever wonder what happened?

Well, I’ve been wondering. Did the public put enough pressure on the government that they’ve realised their error?  I made a couple of calls this morning, & after a lengthy chat with some (very helpful) private health fund phone-answering-people, here’s an update of where it’s at:

The Australian government has indeed decided that from April 2019, our private health funds will no longer be able to offer both the government rebate for private health cover AND include the following therapies in our cover:

  1. Alexander technique
  2. Aromatherapy
  3. Bowen therapy
  4. Buteyko
  5. Feldenkrais
  6. Herbalism
  7. Homeopathy
  8. Iridology
  9. Kinesiology
  10. Naturopathy
  11. Pilates
  12. Reflexology
  13. Rolfing
  14. Shiatsu
  15. Tai chi
  16. Yoga

Feeling Ripped Off?

So that means we’ll keep paying the same amount for our ‘extras’ policies, but this list of therapies will no longer be covered / you can’t claim for these services anymore & will have to pay the full cost of each treatment.  Or – potentially, (depending on what the health funds decide to do), you can look for a fund that will still offer cover on these extras, but you’ll have to pay around 30% more for your policy (there will be no government rebate for these private health policies).  

Switch Time?

There will likely be some big changes & a lot of people switching health funds around this time, depending on what the individual funds choose to do in response to the government policy change.  Either way – it boils down to some really useful preventative therapies becoming more expensive to proactive health-conscious consumers, so that more $$ can be directed into the pharmaceutical industry & ‘end stage’ treatment of illnesses. Unfortunately, many of the most costly illnesses to our healthcare system (i.e. type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease) are also the most preventable, given early support from some therapies on the ‘no-longer-covered-list’ (i.e. if you consult with a naturopath semi-regularly throughout your 20’s / 30’s / 40’s (sometimes even just once would be enough), the chances of you ending up with diabetes & heart disease are SOOOO much lower, as they’ll help to direct & support you with healthy diet /  lifestyle choices, & supplements where appropriate to maximise your health & vitality, rather than just treat illnesses as they come up).

What Were They Thinking?

Let’s encourage Australians to take even less responsibility for their health! We’ll offer no financial support for those wanting to be proactive, we’ll just channel all the funds into treatment of end stages of illness – when health is severely compromised already…often by diseases that could easily have been prevented, given the knowledge & support. Sad face. Angry face. Eye-rolling face. Good thinking guys.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m very aware & grateful for the amazing access to affordable medical care that we enjoy here in Australia, I just believe we should also encourage the use of natural therapies as well.

Massage Less Accessible, Psychiatric Treatment More Accessible.

Stress-relieving, mental-health-promoting remedial massage will no longer be covered under your private health policy from April 2019, but – feel comforted that with other changes made to the system recently, it’ll be easier to get psychiatric treatment when you need it. So if you have private health cover & are forced to stop getting your ‘now-too-expensive’ regular massage next year (& require immediate psychiatric treatment as a result – I’m sure it happens lol), rest assured that you’ll be well covered :)

Love to hear your thoughts – will this change impact the way you manage your health? However you feel about it, it would be a great idea to book everyone in for a massage / treatment / consult & make the most of your wellbeing cover while it’s still valid!

Jeanie Xx
jeanie@goodmix.com.au

FAT KIDS – Why so Many and How we Can Help

*Fat kids = kids who have an amount of body fat that’s above the healthy level, meaning there is something metabolically happening inside them which will predispose them to a long list of health conditions if they stay fat.

They might be super-cute, lovely, happy & seemingly healthy kids, & their parents may seem to be doing everything right – but the bottom line is that they’re overweight & they’re unwell (or will be).  We need to do something about it – overweight kids grow into overweight adults (& they don’t get much choice in the matter if they’re well on the way before their teen years). It’s gotta start with mum & dad…trouble is, we’re a few generations into this epidemic now, & kids learn their eating & lifestyle habits from mum & dad – who are often overweight due to these themselves.  So…I’m just exploring a few of the reasons I believe we’re all getting so fat, & offering some tips to help the kids who are looking like joining the early obesity crowd!

I’m totally guilty of many of the parenting ‘fails’ I’m going to mention here, this isn’t meant to be blaming or judgemental. The point is just to highlight where we’ve been collectively ‘messing up’ & what we can all start doing right now, to help save our kids from a lifelong struggle with obesity & all the health consequences that go along with it.  

What’s Happened In The Last 30 Years?

When I was in school (1986-1997), there were only ever 1 or 2 fat kids in the classes. In any classroom of say 25 kids, you’d see maybe 1 or 2 kids that were carrying an unhealthy amount of excess fat. It was relatively uncommon. Anyone my age or older will back me up on that. Fatness in kids was rare, you’d see it much more in older people.

Today if you visit an Aussie school & go for a wander through the classrooms, you’ll notice there are a LOT more fat kids, 25% of them or more are overweight. That means at least 1 in every 4 of our school kids are:

  • at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes (many are well on their way). It’s no longer called ‘adult onset diabetes’ as so many young people are being diagnosed.
  • more likely to die early from cardiovascular disease (Australia’s biggest killer).
  • more likely to be suffering from anxiety & depression (that will worsen as they get older)
  • more likely to develop asthma, certain skin issues, arthritis, gout, liver & gallbladder disease & some cancers.
  • physically unable to participate in activities they’d love to try.
  • going to struggle with a tendency towards obesity for their entire life (overweight kids generally turn into overweight adults).
  • more likely to have menstrual problems, & trouble having children themselves

…& the list goes on, & the scary thing is that many of these health issues used to be ‘adults only’. It’s not fair, the kids didn’t choose this path, they’ve just found themselves stuck on it. How? Why? A few factors in combination I think…

Screens, devices & games became the dominant leisure activity:

From as young as 18mths (sometimes even younger) you see kids being introduced to ‘screentime’ on an iPad or similar device. It used to be just the TV you had to limit as a parent, but now there are highly addictive ‘portable TVS’ that kids are taking with them on outings because it ‘keeps them happy’ so parents can have lunch / do their work / talk to their friend / have a meeting / go to the hairdresser / shop in peace. Whoa – what are we training our bubs to do here?? To seek happiness, entertainment, & companionship in front of a screen? And teaching them nothing else that we would otherwise be using these opportunities & outings to teach.

Some argue that devices are great to alleviate / eliminate boredom – maybe, under certain circumstances, every now & then…but remember that boredom is actually a really valuable feeling for our kids to experience, they should feel it often. It is the absolute mother of creativity in children, the ‘blank canvas’ that gives rise to new ideas. Give a few children NOTHING to do, & they’ll soon make-up something crazily creative & fun. We don’t want to deprive our young kids of this type of experience & limit chances to develop their creative skills. 

Kids who grow up in front of screens from a young age often seem completely lost without one when they get older. They can’t communicate as effectively, they have fewer face-to-face social skills & they can’t easily entertain themselves like kids who’ve grown up practicing these skills every day instead of just pushing buttons. Ok – the button pushers may end up better prepared for some of the tech jobs in future, but really – what kind of an excuse is that?! It’s the one I hear from parents who like to eat their lunch in peace!

So screen time is not something you wanna encourage / allow in really young kids for ‘non-obesity-related reasons’ – but also think about this. When do you ever see a young child sit still naturally for more than 5 minutes at a time, unless they’re feeling unwell? Maybe some will play quietly when doing things like Lego/ blocks/cars/drawing (do kids still do those things?) But they’re not spending large chunks of their time completely motionless as they will in front of a device. And they’re not so addicted to their real-life block-building that they’ll chuck a wobbly when asked to come outside / have dinner / leave it for a bit to talk to Nanna. Try taking a favourite iPad game away from an engrossed kid – it’s scary to watch the level of addiction that such young people are developing. 

What to do: 

If your kids are still babies, don’t introduce them to device-land, hold off for as long as possible!! As tempting as it may be to just give in for your own sanity, keep your little ones away from iPads / smartphones as long as you can, at least in your home. Don’t worry, they’ll soon catch up & become tech-savvy once they get their hands on them later in life! It’s like junk food & sugar – you’re never going to be able to protect your kids from the crappy addictive food surrounding them forever, but you’ll make your life sooo much harder by introducing this stuff early. Who wants to eat broccoli when they’ve tasted cupcakes??  Who wants to play with wooden blocks when they’ve had a go at Minecraft? Supply the lego / blocks, don’t supply the devices. Because…who wants to deal with addiction & behaviour problems in 7-year-olds? Allowing little kids to stay glued motionless to a screen for hours on end getting a constant stream of addictive dopamine hits is detrimental to their development & to their health, & constantly using a device to ‘babysit’ for you is borderline child abuse. They’ll turn into the teenagers who rarely leave their rooms cos they’re too busy gaming. (Parents of those teens argue that their teenagers are safest locked up in a room gaming, better there than on the streets…& they kind of have a point…but really, it’s still about making life easier for mum & dad & it’s not supporting the kid’s development).

People say about kids & gaming ‘moderation is fine’. The problem is that addictive things are very hard to consume in moderation :( 

If your kids are already fat & addicted to games (or even if they’re not overweight), you can strike a deal with them – they can play their beloved games only on days when they’ve burnt some energy in the morning. The best time to get fat kids exercising is first thing in the morning. They won’t feel like it at first (they’re insulin resistant so not much energy can get into their cells to burn), but early morning is your best fat-burning opportunity, before food. Make it a fun outing – skate park, scooter or bike ride, group fitness class, beach walk / swim / surf / kayak / dog park, swimming pool, bushwalk, yoga together, dance in the kitchen, ball games…whatever suits the kid, just do something with them to get their muscles working (that will burn any stored energy leftover from the night & mean that when it’s all gone, they’ll have to switch to fat for fuel). They’ll feel more energetic & the more you can develop & strengthen their muscles, the better their metabolism will work. Start this ideally before they’re teenagers as it can be really hard to get teens out of bed early (or get them to do anything with you)!

Early Food – Pre-conception, Pregnancy.

One of the biggest factors in the ‘childhood obesity epidemic’ is what our kids are eating early in life – even what mum is eating during pregnancy (& before) can shape her child’s metabolism & be the starting point of a lifelong battle with obesity & disease.

If you are into eating poorly – fine, you’re an adult woman & not really interested in looking after your body, that’s your choice, not a problem. Just don’t get pregnant!! That’s unfair, mean (& really quite dumb too)!

     No 1 – your child starts life with a huge health disadvantage that is your fault for not taking the responsibility of growing a new human being inside you seriously.

    No 2 – you’ll often have a much harder time with that baby / child, dealing with preventable illness & behavioural issues as they grow.

    No 3 – the rest of the population has to put up with their behaviour & pay for the health issues that you’ve created through negligence.

Come on mums! I sometimes think that growing a child should require a license (or at least a compulsory course on health & nutrition first). It shouldn’t have to, but the ‘food’ companies that are feeding us such crap everywhere don’t make it easy for mums to stay on track through a time when nutrition is so crucial (& cravings can be so strong!) 

What To Do:

Eat the best quality fresh, natural wholefood you can during pregnancy & breastfeeding, avoid the crap & know that you are literally providing the building blocks for your child’s early development. It will pay off later, plus it won’t do you any harm either! And if you don’t know the difference between good food & crap, you owe it to yourself & your unborn child to do some research / get help to understand it. And dads – you’re not off the hook, you need to eat properly & cut the crap to support your partner too, the responsibility is huge, so you can at least help out with moral support & not bringing home any tempting junk! If anyone out there is still silly enough to be smoking cigarettes (that’s mum or dad) during the pregnancy period – know that you’ll have increased your kids’ chances of becoming diabetic & obese (before it’s even been born) because you didn’t have the sense / self-discipline / care-factor to quit.

Double Income Family = Double The Kid’s Kgs?

There’s definitely some truth here – there’s a correlation between the rise of childhood obesity & women working more hours outside the home. I’ve been a stay at home mum, a part-time worker / mum & a full-time working mum & I know, with both parents working long hours all week, it leaves very little time or energy to put into shopping properly, food planning & preparation.  You just do what is quick & easy.

Families with 2 full-time working parents are much more likely to grab a quick takeaway or eat out than eat a healthy home-cooked meal together. This means their kids will be consuming a lot more trans fats, sugar, refined carbohydrates & less fresh vegetables at many of their evening meals. Older kids are also more likely to munch out on junk food after school with no parents home, & less likely to be participating in after-school sports (no taxi service!)

The ‘rush-rush’ nature of our lifestyle now means that kids may also have a higher level of baseline stress (as their busy parents will), & higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol have been found in overweight kids. Stressed out parents & kids eat more carb-rich ‘comfort’ foods & will also get less sleep (making them more insulin resistant & likely to store belly fat).

What To Do:

Value the role of parenting as much (or more) than what you do for a career. You are raising new humans, this is a big thing, absolutely worthy of sacrificing some income & your own career progression for a while. Just be prepared for the unimpressed ‘oh’ you’ll get from ’super-mums’ when you explain that you’re a stay at home parent by choice. I applaud full-time parents, those who make the decision to spend the time bringing up their own kids rather than paying someone else to do it. If you can’t see a way to work less – you need to plan better so exhaustion & lack of time doesn’t mean the kids eat KFC or beans on toast. Get quality food delivered (there are loads of companies offering these services now), make breakfasts super-nutritious (our website has loads of easy ideas), make the after school feed count (i.e. veggies, protein, good fats – have something pre-made i.e. leftover dinner or ingredients for a quick platter/ smoothie / bowl), use a slow-cooker so dinner is ready when everyone gets home exhausted, save leftovers in the freezer for crazy evenings…& just don’t make fast food an option, kids will always demand it if they know you’re likely to cave…if you need a takeaway at least make it closer to real food, like a Thai or Indian dish with loads of veggies, or choose food from a quality restaurant. Don’t teach your kids that drive-thru food 3 nights a week (or even 1 night a week) is normal / ok. It might be normal now, but normal doesn’t necessarily mean ok (look at the size of ‘normal’ kids & their ‘normal’ parents these days!)

Stress Factor:

Stress can start as young as the first year of life, when many bubs are placed in a daycare situation, away from their home & family for long hours each workday. An early return to work after childbirth doesn’t make much sense when you think about how nature has designed the baby-raising process to work. No matter what your opinion on women at work & stay at home dads, it’s pretty clear that the original design was for mums to be the primary carers early on, at least until 2 years of age (in countries where there is no pressure to wean early, babies normally still breastfeed until at least 2, giving them a great start nutritionally as far as gut health & immunity are concerned, as well as the stress-relieving aspects for both mum & bub). Many studies have shown that breastfeeding is protective not only against many childhood infections but also against obesity & metabolic syndrome.

What To Do: 

Might be worth staying home that little bit longer…it’s only a few years out of a lifetime. So worth it to pour your energy into building that strong emotional & nutritional foundation early on for your child. Remember home is only a low-stress environment if you’re a low stress kinda parent, you may have some work to do on yourself if that’s not the case! We don’t want to start daycare too early & train bubs to eat pre-packaged, processed ‘lunchbox food’ as a toddler, it’s bad enough that these are everywhere at school. And formula feeding should happen out of necessity when breastfeeding is impossible, not just for convenience / getting back to work quicker. Sorry again, getting our kids back to healthy = getting back to nature, & that means the first few years hanging mostly with mum. Mum will absolutely need a ‘village’ to support her through this time, so seek out fellow villagers. People who have similar values & similar aged kids to take turns with childcare, plus grandparents / aunties / uncles / neighbours etc.

Antibiotic Overprescription: 

Following on from the breastfeeding / daycare discussion – let’s look at antibiotic overuse (the 3 are all tightly connected & relevant to obesity). Australian kids get more unnecessary antibiotics than most in the world (second only to Italy apparently) – we’re chronic overprescribers! A big cause is pressure placed on Drs from parents needing to get back to work ASAP. Kids attending daycare from an early age are prescribed more courses of antibiotics each year than their stay-at-home friends (stressful environment, lack of regular breastmilk & the immune-challenging germ-fest maybe). These antibiotics can alter the child’s gut microbiome for 2 yrs or more. Antibiotic prescription in kids may have decreased over the past few years, due to increased awareness of the issues they can cause, & concerns about the looming antibiotic resistance crisis, but most kids in daycare (& many at home) will still be getting more than 1 course every 2 yrs, enough to potentially leave them with gut microbial & metabolic changes that predispose them to diabetes & obesity later in life. Livestock are given antibiotics to help them get heavier quicker, & it works the same with kids.

What To Do: 

Minimise infection risks in that crucial first few years by keeping them away from daycare environments while their gut-immune system is developing! Don’t rely on antibiotics as your cure-all for childhood infections, they’ll wreck your kid’s gut-immune function & they’ll be much more likely to get the next bug going around, etc etc. Educate yourself – see a naturopath or functional / integrative GP, read books about keeping kids healthy in the first place so that their immune system can deal with infections. A lot of this comes down to a good diet, exercise, sunshine, stress reduction & patience – just allowing time to rest, nurture & get back to health after an illness. If you’re dealing with a fat kid who’s been raised on antibiotics already, you’ll almost certainly need to do some pretty intensive gut work to decrease their candida overgrowth (candida – a yeast – tends to take over the gut when you kill the bacteria they compete with). People with a candida overgrowth will crave sugar like a demon (it’s actually the candida that makes you crave it – so you need to rebalance that gut so your good gut bugs crowd out the candida). Get help from a naturopath with this.

Lunch-box Treats:

Pre-packaged ‘lunchbox foods’ are a pet hate of mine, I wish we could just get rid of that whole aisle in the supermarket so kids would stop asking the parents who do make an effort for ‘normal food like everyone else gets in their lunchbox’! (By normal food they mean Nutella on white bread & chips). Fresh fruit & veg / leftover dinners can hardly compete with the brightly coloured & conveniently packaged processed, sugary, salty, artificial yumminess that is marketed to our poor addicted & obese kids.

What To Do:

Keep little kids at home eating healthy fresh ‘adult food’ as long as practical, this is the time you need to spend training their taste buds. Also, take them shopping regularly with you from a young age (without the iPad lol) & explain that some food companies only really care about making lots of money & that they don’t care if their products are making people sick. They trick us into buying their crappy ‘food’ by making it look & taste really good, but we need to be smarter than them or we will get really sick & fat, see – like that person (point out a really atrocious trolley full of processed crap with a morbidly obese person pushing it, should not be too hard to find in the average supermarket)!  Most of your shopping should be fresh fruit & veg, great to grow some yourself – esp snow peas, beans, cherry tomatoes, berries etc.  So exciting to watch them grow & great for little hands. Train your kids to eat good food & keep the treats away until you’ve got a healthy palette established. They need to know that their food choices can create their bodies, their energy & their feelings, & that their ‘bad bugs’ ask for the bad foods.

Sweet Drinks:

These are one of the biggest obesity contributors I feel. People don’t think of them as ‘food’ (calories) because they are liquids & so easy to consume alongside a meal. But they can turn a good meal into a nutritional nightmare. And they replace good calories with totally empty ones, zero nutrition & plenty of sweet poison. IF YOU DO ONE THING ONLY TO DECREASE YOUR CHILD’S CHANCES OF BECOMING AN OBESE OR DIABETIC ADULT, STOP THE SOFT DRINK.

What To Do:

Water water water. Fresh juices with veggies in them are fine, but better still smoothies, not juices so the fibre is still there. No bottled juices, no sweetened milk, no soft drink. Just flat out none when they’re really little – they don’t need it, you’ll just train their body to crave these & create a world of unhappiness for both of you. If you say no every time, they stop asking eventually (or they don’t start until much later). Tell Nannas not to give them crap early, plenty of time for that later when it’s literally everywhere, then you’ll probably need to create some ‘occaisions’ where you’ll say yes so they don’t develop a total complex. You need to loosen the rules as they get older & start to figure out they’ve been deprived of some of the ‘yummiest’ treats in the world all their young life! Soft drinks / juices should never have a permanent place on the shopping list / in the fridge / at the table – they are for parties & special occasions etc. Don’t have them at home just staring at everyone asking to be consumed, that’s how addictions start – with a few repeated doses. At parties & restaurants, you can ask for a mix of half lemonade & half sparkling mineral water / soda water (that way everyone is happy but you’ve halved the sugar intake). You can offer sparkling water with fresh lemon or lime at home in place of other ‘fizz’.

Cereal:

Another huge contributor to the childhood obesity epidemic. ‘But we only buy the healthy cereals’ I hear you say.  LOL!! You are deluding yourself if you think there are any healthy cereals. The ‘healthy cereals’ found on supermarket shelves, while lower in artificials & sugar than the ‘cereals-nobody-should-ever-buy-eat-or feed-to-their-kids’, are literally just processed lumps of carbs designed to be bathed in a soup of milk & usually topped with something else that’s also sweet. A massive insulin spike to start the day, a bowl full of nutritionally-lacking carbs with very little fat fibre & protein will mean a quick energy hit, then a dive that will mean they’ll crave something sweet again soon after breakfast.

What To Do:

Focus on including plenty of fat, fibre & protein for breakfast, so the kid’s blood glucose stays more level throughout the day, don’t keep smashing their straining pancreas with carbs.  Things like full-fat yoghurt, coconut yoghurt, natural protein powder etc can be added to porridge or smoothies, also use nuts & seeds, or try eggs, beans / lentils, check out our recipe page for yummy & fun breakfast ideas that contain loads of fat, fibre & protein nutrition. Even good quality sourdough wholegrain toast / or gluten-free if required, piled high with nourishing things like avocado, hummus, pesto, nut butter, sprouts, etc etc etc are a million miles ahead of a bowl of cereal for our poor little fat kids. A keto style approach may be worth looking into, also intermittent fasting (but get a professional to help you with these).

Poor Sleep:

Being so constantly connected to their devices & as a result of our too-busy, stressful lifestyles, our kids aren’t getting the sleep they need to maintain healthy metabolisms – especially our teens. Cortisol = hormonal metabolism wrecker, & poor sleep leads to higher cortisol. Studies on sleep-deprived people show that sleep is absolutely crucial to keeping us out of the diabetic / insulin resistant / metabolic syndrome state. Throw into the mix that many teens like to be out & about late at night socialising on weekends, possibly drinking a lot of caffeinated beverages, experimenting with drugs & alcohol…or maybe they’re really sporty & are up early for training every morning before school…either way, it’s highly likely there’s not enough sleep happening.

What To Do:

Set some rules around devices, it’s actually best that you pay for the phone & the data bill so that you have good reasons to be in control of its use, i.e. agree on a time before bed where there is no more device use (at least 1/2 an hr before bed). Devices shouldn’t be plugged in to charge overnight in bedrooms, make a designated spot for everyone to charge their phone at night (parents need to make rules for themselves here too to set a good example)! High adrenaline games are a no-no before bed too, no TV’s or gaming consoles in rooms either, or firm agreements around their use. If teens are anxious / stressed out – think about magnesium baths or supplementation (magnesium is a massively common deficiency & is also crucial for healthy blood sugar metabolism). Consider magnesium especially if your teen is heavily into sports also. There are herbs that can help with sleep & anxiety as well- passionflower is a fave of mine (ask in your local health store). Massage is super-beneficial for teens too, & can help lower cortisol levels & improve sleep, even just a foot rub or shoulder massage before bed.

I’ve tried everything! 

Don’t feel like it’s entirely your fault – as parents, we can only do the best we can with the information we have at the time. You get new info, you change tactics. Just don’t ignore new info when you have access to it, & keep looking for it.  The childhood obesity battle we can fight to a certain extent ourselves as parents, but it’s also got to be fought on a group level with the big food companies (who are massively to blame for this epidemic). We’re surrounded by ‘easy but not best’ options that they produce (to meet our demand, we have to take that responsibility) with regards to our diet & healthcare. These guys are pretty formidable adversaries for anyone to take on – but we can at least all give them less of our dollars each week!

If you’re a fat kid or you were & have now become a fat adult – don’t lose heart (or lose it at your parents), it’s obviously not just parents that are the issue, this is an epidemic with multiple causes. There’s so much new research & knowledge out there that can help you get your metabolism back to healthy (in case you feel like you’ve exhausted all your options). A lot of it now is pointing back to rehabilitating the damaged gut ecosystem. You can change your cravings, your metabolism, your mental / emotional state just by changing your gut bugs. And as always – we have to get back to nature, we’re so far removed from the way humans should be living & raising their kids, & not just with food.

Let me know if a specific ‘fatloss for kids’ e-book would be useful (I’ll write one), & I’m also interested in your own discoveries along the parenting/weight loss journey. Make a comment below or send me an email anytime.

Jeanie
jeanie@goodmix.com.au