As a nutrition expert and mom, healthy fats play a BIG role in my family’s food plan. In an attempt to be healthier, we often focus on fruits and vegetables with our children. Sometimes we do it at the expense of healthy fats from nut and seed sources. With nut allergies becoming more prominent amongst children, I find it even harder for parents to include these fats in school boxes! SO, when at home, focus on fats – the healthy ones that is!
Chia, ground flax and hemp are all amazing sources of fiber, omega fatty acids and protein. 3 tablespoons of hemp hearts provide as much as 10 grams of protein while flax and chia provide about half that. This makes hemp hearts a great addition to cereal or oatmeal in the morning when wanting to add in a bit more protein to our breakfast or for families with children that do not tend to love protein.
For adults trying lower carbohydrate diets like paleo, hemp hearts have far less carbohydrates than flax or chia. Children are busy growing and often have more active lifestyles than adults so typically I suggest parents rotate the seed sources of their children to optimize the nutritional spectrum found amongst them.
Sprinkle into cereals, on salads or even mix in with morning nut butters and spread on toasts or bagels. Seed fats are an amazing source of energy and fuel… so start spreading the seeds and the news!!
Dr. Kristin Heins ND, RP
Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine
Co-Author “Who Am I?” book series
School is back in and as the seasons change I am already seeing lots of runny noses in the office! Families often ask about nutrition for immune health and while there are many immune boosting herbs and foods I decided to talk a little today about pumpkin seeds…
The pumpkin seeds I am referring to are the little flat green ones- not the crispy ones we pull out of carving pumpkins. These little green guys are full of magnesium and healthy omega fats but also zinc which is an essential nutrient used by the body to fight bacteria. This makes it an awesome addition to fall and winter diets. It can be added to tail mix for snacks or mixed with other nut butters as a great breakfast addition or into power balls for snacks. Help yourself and your family stay healthier this fall!
A note to vegetarians – adding these to your diet is especially important as most zinc containing foods are those that come from animal sources.
Dr. Kristin Heins ND, RP
Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine
Co-Author “Who Am I?” book series
Watermelon is a summer favorite in my home. Sweet, crisp and refreshing it seems a win for children and adults alike. Problem is many are hesitant to eat it – watermelon has a bad reputation on account of its sugar content.I wanted to break down some facts about this summer delight:It’s true the GI (glycemic index) of watermelon is on the higher side; but, the fruit is also full of vitamin A, vitamin C, the powerful antioxidant lycopene that gives it bright colour, fiber and water! The water piece is key as watermelon is over 90 percent water. What better way to recharge after active summer time outside. We also know that fiber in watermelon helps slow down the rate as which sugars are absorbed into the bloodstream making the actual rate of sugar absorption slower.
For active families who are busy outdoors through the summer, watermelon is a healthy and refreshing recharge fruit and a great addition to a balanced diet. Below is a healthy and easy to prepare salad that makes its way to my families table regularly in summer months.
Watermelon Mint Salad:
4 cups cubed watermelon
1 orange or yellow pepper diced or cubed
5-6 mint leaves chopped
freshly squeezed lime to taste
goat / sheep feta sprinkled on top or chopped peanuts as a vegan alternative
Dr. Kristin Heins ND, RP
Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine
Co-Author “Who Am I?” book series
By: Dr. Lindsay Grieve, DC
In February 2019 a really exciting, one could even say ground breaking, chiropractic research study was published that I had to share with you. Researchers conducted a study on chronic stroke patients who had suffered lower leg weakness’ as a result of their prior strokes. The study measured muscle strength in the lower limb, to see if ONE SINGLE chiropractic session would have an impact on chronic stroke patients. The study showed that after one full spine adjustment the patients had an average improvement of 65%! Yes, you read that right, 65%!!! That’s huge!
Another great thing that the study uncovered was how the adjustment was improving the patient’s strength. The researchers included parameters in the study that could identify if the increase in strength was coming from the spinal cord or the brain. The results suggested that the strength changes were due to changes in the way the patient’s brain was communicating with the muscles as opposed to changes in spinal cord excitability. These findings are revolutionary for the chiropractic profession because they suggest that chiropractic care may be of benefit to patients with a brain injury!
This research study is great for so many reasons. One it shows how powerful chiropractic can be on changing the way our brains function. A lot of people utilize chiropractic care simply for pain relief. They go visit a chiropractor if they have low back pain, neck pain or some other painful process. This study opens the door for more research on the far-reaching effects an adjustment has on the whole body, the brain included. Another reason why this research is something to talk about is because there has been a lot of negative talk about chiropractic in our local media. Several articles have been written in the last couple of months questioning the safety of a chiropractic adjustment, particularly when adjusting children. This study highlights the benefits that just one adjustment can have on improving strength in a population that is considered “high risk” and who have permanent nerve damage. Imagine the possibilities for those that commit to regular chiropractic care…..
For more information on chiropractic care, please visit Dr. Grieve’s website! https://www.drlindsaygrieve.com/blog
Reference: Holt K, Niazi IK, Nedergaar RW, Duehr J, Amjad I, Shafique M, Anwar MN, Ndetan H, Turker KS and Haavik H (2019), “The effects of a single session of chiropractic care on strength, cortical drive, and spinal excitability in stroke patients,” Scientific Reports, 9, Article Numbers: 2673(2019), https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-39577-5 retrieved 26 February 2019
By: Dr. Tanya Cotler, PhD, CPsych
Many women, particularly in certain cultures and societies have an entrenched belief that mothers are all-capable perfect patient heroes (think groomed hair, dinner on the table, clean house, maybe an apron on, repeat clean house, smiling makeupy face). Never feeling anger is one piece of that mythical perfection. This message that anger should be warded off or pushed down has existed for many women since they were little girls. For this reason, when anger is felt- shame surfaces. The truth is, anger gets a bad rap. Anger is among the 6 basic human emotions felt from infancy. It’s felt by every human being and is often a very important feeling. Similar to the idealization of motherhood, the notion that anger is shameful is also misguided.
In my psychology practice I have termed the anger mothers commonly experience as the “agency roar”. Countless patients and peers of mine have described the experience of anger as a mom as a particular or unique beast- gripping and intense: this anger feels seriously scary for many and when expressed it is often tied to a feeling of being out of control or helpless. It also feels scary because it tends to rear its head during this phase of major identity change and vulnerability.
The term agency roar refers to what I believe is the process and underlying root to the specific anger felt by moms. In addition to actual hormonal and physiological changes that may fuel anger, there is also a psychological process that contributes to the feeling.
One way to understand anger in general, is as a feeling experienced when one is attempting self expression or more so, when one feels injustice about them or around them. Anger boils up when a person feels invisible or misunderstood; when one feels that s/he or someone they care for is not being respected or not mattering. Put simply, anger often surfaces in an important effort at self agency. In an effort to stand up for oneself, make oneself heard and one’s own needs known.
So why does this roar of agency show up particularly strongly post partum or in motherhood?
Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk largely known for popularizing mindfulness, has talked extensively about the cry that comes “from deep within our hearts” as “from the wounded child within”. He explains that “Healing this inner child’s pain is the key to transforming anger, sadness, and fear”.
When a woman becomes a mother she does not instantaneously disconnect from her self pre children. More so it’s not only her adult persona that she brings with her to motherhood but also the child part of her, and all parts of her identity from before this pivotal transformational time. She brings along the child who had her own pains, losses, failed attachments and fears. The adolescent with confusions, embarrassments and insecurities and so on. These various inner parts of a new mother are likely very vulnerable and easily triggered to the surface particularly during this phase of transition and heightened sensitivity and unknown.
For many of us, often unexpressed feelings and needs from early on can stay buried deep inside us. One of the key ways these deep needs find expression is through anger. Anger acts as a stop sign. It’s a signal- it’s there to alert you to pay attention to what’s looming ahead or rather in this case to what’s lying beneath. The anger is indicating that what’s looming is usually another very big feeling, often times a feeling that’s difficult to cope with. Like deep hurt, sadness and old angers.
The anger felt as a mom can be triggered by present day versions of early experiences that act as triggers. Anger can be the alarm bell when your partner comes home and you feel resentment for not being appreciated or understood; anger can be the stop sign when you’re inundated with feelings of overwhelm cueing old feelings of being helpless and anxious in a big world; anger might signal anxiety felt in a present day scenario of trying to hang with a new mom crew and deep early feelings of rejection getting trudged up. Anger can surface in the context of feelings of isolation or loneliness from primary supports as well as from shame over not enjoying all aspects of mothering as expected.
Ultimately, anger becomes the ticket- the way- to express all these really complex emotions. Anger becomes the “voice” or agency. Sometimes the only way a person feels they can be heard.
So what can you do?
If you remember nothing else from this article please know you’re not alone. Practice self compassion, talk to someone nonjudgmental whether another mother friend or a professional. Listen to your anger as your cue- your sign- that your inner child- that parts of you are needing to be heard. Ultimately remember that in mothering you still deserve to be mothered, so try to mother yourself and find the people who can mother you. You deserve to feel you matter. You deserve to feel held. And only in mattering can you patiently, and presently hold your children.
By: Dr. Tanya Cotler, PhD, CPsych
Why is it so hard for me to decide what to make for dinner since becoming a mom?
Mothering and parenting often involves a barrage of daily decisions, many of which we don’t even notice. How often do you wish someone else (maybe your partner?!) would figure out who is wearing clothes three sizes two small and what the kids are going to have for dinner? Or what about when your child asks if they could go out for lunch or stay at the park after school and you feel like they are asking you how to initiate world peace?
The difficulty with making these sometimes basic decisions is that as mothers our every day routines require decisions. All the constant choosing and deciding wears out the primary decision maker (for many that’s mom!)
Below are some of the reasons decision making is compromised:
- One of the symptoms of depression, and specifically postpartum depression, can be difficulty making decisions. When someone is struggling with depression and feels things are more hopeless or they themselves feel helpless- this often translates to seeing minimal options available or feeling that your power or your agency over your choices is missing.
- Anxiety: there is a lot of research to support how anxiety can actually inhibit decision making by disengaging the prefrontal cortex- the area of the brain specifically responsible for executive functioning, planning and judgment as well as flexibility in decisions. The prefrontal cortex allows for “calm” decision making- it removes the intensity of emotion from decisions by quieting the amygdala (the part of the brain that runs on raw emotion and instinct). The research shows that anxiety seems to interfere with being able to limit distractions, making it difficult for the person to weed through the muck so to speak. Distractions can be physical but also emotional such as thoughts or worries. Anxiety numbs some neurons in the prefrontal cortex that are specifically involved in choice making and accordingly anxiety selectively shuts down mechanisms needed for clear choice making.
- Motherhood as a period of change and loss: During a phase of life when you are inundated by so many changes (hormones, physiology, psychological, relationships etc) and losses (relationships, identity, expectations and hopes) it can be unbearable to add to the exhausting list of changes and losses. With every decision comes a loss, as well as one more thing to think about and one more thing to grieve -or at least one more thing to adjust to. Simply put, the decision- even just what to make for dinner- feels like one more thing to consider when the mind is already overwhelmed with making adjustments.
- Guilt: with guilt often comes an increased difficulty decision making. This is because part of what complicates decision making is the sense of “loss.” As described above, with every decision there is something you “gain” and something you “lose.” If someone is already feeling worried or concerned about wrong doing, or not being good enough it becomes harder to decide anything else for fear of making more mistakes.
- Insecurity and lack of trust in oneself or fear of feeling exposed or judged: With so much noise on how to mother, combined with the general idealization of motherhood, many mothers fear they will fall short or won’t be able to measure up to the expectations held out for them. This can also affect decision making. The more one feels insecure about how they are performing in their mothering role, the less likely they are going to be to rely on themselves for anything. Every decision feels like a challenge when you feel you can’t trust yourself.
- The tendency for the mothering one to take the primary role with the emotional load or otherwise termed emotional labor. The mothering one’s mind is often responsible for the executive functioning of parenting (think of it as mom as the organizer, planner, thinker, holder of all detail from who needs socks to what’s for dinner to program registration and more). This role can often keep a mom up at night running through her to-do list fearing what she missed or will miss. The perpetual cycle from “emotional labor” to anxiety to sleep deprivation to anxiety to emotional labor and back again, makes it inevitable that decisions are increasingly difficult for many moms. It’s just too much for the mind to compute constantly!
- Decision Fatigue– Mothers are constantly needing to decide everything from bedtime routines to what to wear (themselves, their children, their partners!) It can become exhausting and utterly depleting to be in charge of any additional, even minute, decisions like what’s for dinner. Decisions require conscious thought and attention and even when invisible (or we aren’t cognizant of it) our brains go through a process of weighing pros and cons and thinking through. An element of expending energy occurs with every decision whether we want it to or not. Taking this together, more decisions mean diminished energy reserves and willpower impacting future decisions.
There are ways we can mitigate these difficulties making decisions. If we learn from prominent leaders in our world- one trick when in a position of power and high decision making power- is to minimize other competing decisions which may be of less importance.A quick look at some business or world leaders (I.e Steve Jobs or Barack Obama) and you can see how many leaders openly talk about wearing the same color scheme everyday or limiting wardrobe to few pieces to minimize daily choice and allow more space for bigger decisions.
Of course in addition to limiting the number of less crucial decisions what’s also required is some advanced planning. For example, having a daily menu of meals that rotate each week.
Also important is to ask for help and to attempt to share decision making power with others you trust such as a partner. Like in any business partnership, this requires dividing roles. If you feel that a lot of the “mental labor” is falling on you, talk about it with your partner. Perhaps your partner becomes in charge of wardrobe while you are in charge of meals. And maybe you divide seasonal ownership over activities registration or doctor appointments.
Ultimately if you are struggling with decisions try to identify which of the many possible reasons might be contributing to your decision difficulty and then try to plug in some solutions or help accordingly. All this needs to be couched in the fact that no one can do this alone mama, we all need help, and with help it’ll feel easier.
By: Dr. Tanya Cotler, Clinical Psychologist
Don’t tell but I had that awful daydream again: New moms and scary thoughts.“ Every time I would descend a stairwell with baby Nila* I imagined falling with her. The day nightmare changes – sometimes I fall on her, or she cracks her head. Sometimes I just shake my head to make the ugly thought go away. ”Molly* sat in front of me curled in a ball , half hiding her face as she slowly shared with me the “day nightmares” she’d been referencing for several weeks in therapy but had been frightened to share. As I sat and listened, Molly’s body slowly unfolded out of its contorted shape and relaxed a bit more into the seat. She shared that she expected my face to be horrified, and opened up about her fear that if she let anyone know the scary thoughts she was having then they would be horrified or maybe worse actually take her baby away. I helped Molly label these thoughts- they are intrusive thoughts- they are uninvited and come on their own without invitation and indeed can be quite disturbing, but, they are actually quite normal.
As new mothers the idea of being solely responsible for the well being and protection of a precious new little life can be quite overwhelming and indeed anxiety provoking and therefore intrusive thoughts are quite normal and common. These thoughts are a common way for the human mind to test out scenarios especially when it’s an issue of importance or the person is in a state of increased anxiety. Well, here we are new mom (common increased anxiety) and something she cares about (clearly it’s her baby) and so intrusive thoughts show up.
Donald Winnicott, a prominent English pediatrician and psychoanalyst, coined the term “maternal preoccupation” to describe the early mental process when a mothers mind is constantly focused on her baby. He depicted the optimal “holding” environment for a new baby to thrive as one in which the mother is psychically and physically present for the infant’s needs. That is, just as a new mother is constantly physically occupied with her newborn baby’s needs (diaper, feed, nap repeat!), so too is her mind constantly occupied by nap times, feed times, and concerns over baby‘s physical and emotional safety and health. Winnicott explained that the mother’s mental preoccupation, and sensitive responding to baby, facilitates the building of a secure attachment bond which is grounded in mom and babe tuning in to one another’s feelings, thoughts and behaviors. Moreover, there is now scientific evidence to support the normalcy of maternal preoccupation. There are brain changes such as changes in grey matter, that occur in most women post partum. These changes help the mother to be increasingly empathic toward her baby’s experience, while devoting less “brain space” to other trivial stuff like memories of what was for dinner the day before (Insert “mommy brain experience” here).
Despite worrying being part of a normal maternal mental process, at times this experience of preoccupation can also cause a mother undue distress. A mother may feel her mind is unrelenting with thoughts of baby’s well being or she may constantly obsess over bad things happening. When the anxiety feels inescapable, even the most basic decision making becomes difficult. For many this is exacerbated by the information overload and constant opinions from well meaning friends, family (and strangers in grocery lines!). When the scary thoughts feel all consuming and interfere with daily functioning or when a mother starts to develop behaviors to attempt to ward off the “bad” from happening, then it’s possible the mom is struggling with postpartum anxiety or post partum OCD. Indeed, If a new mother finds herself wondering whether her worries and scary thoughts are too much, or she struggles to know what is real or not real, then it is very important to seek professional opinion and support. A mother should not feel alone and plagued by these thoughts.
Indeed, it is common to avoid seeking advice or support because the constant worry and anxiety feels embarrassing or shameful. The problem is that shame over scary thoughts, perceiving them as dangerous and unacceptable, or as evidence of being a bad mother, can make these thoughts even more pervasive. That is, the secrecy and shame increases feelings of sadness, loneliness and guilt which perpetuates the scary thoughts themselves. Alternatively, sharing these thoughts with a trusted friend, family member or professional may help with tolerating and accepting the dichotomy of emotional experience in motherhood- the love and hate, happiness and sadness, anxiety and calm. The goal when experiencing these scary thoughts is to be able to notice these thoughts, acknowledge them, and then let them go.
A word on trauma: if a new mother has experienced an overwhelming, incomprehensible and devastating psychological experience (be it in childhood, throughout her lifespan, in pregnancy or previous pregnancies, or in labor or birth), scary thoughts can emerge as a fear of the experience reoccurring or as a fear of something else uncontrollable happening. Like a lighthouse, the mind starts to scan the environment for the next ship- the next bad thing- as if catching it before it happens will keep her safe. This form of “hypervigilance” gives power to the scary thought: it’s the belief that the mother is protecting herself or her baby by obsessing/not taking her mind off of the bad that may happen. If you are worried about how a difficult experience has affected you – and wonder if you are reacting to it or if your scary thoughts are connected to it, talking to a professional is really important and you deserve the support.
The important take home? If you would like to consult a professional about your experience of worries and scary thoughts post partum, you should always feel you can. It may be normal to worry as a new mom, but you should never be suffering in your worries. If you do not know where to turn, you can always look at PSI (post partum support international) for a list of professionals trained in perinatal mental health in your area. You are not – and should not- feel alone.
For further information or to contact the author
Dr. Tanya Cotler
By: Katrina Fiore, Thrive Family Health
It seems that 2019 is going to be yet another fast paced year with us already skimming past the first week of January. Yesterday it was December 18th
and I was picking up some last minute stocking stuffers at Winners, and then it was all of a sudden 11:59 pm and I heard my loved ones around me chanting, “Three! – Two! – One!” and we all were yelling, “Happy New Year!!” I find that it’s very simple for one to say that they are going to achieve all of our goals before the New Year actually
kicks in. I don’t know about you, but I thought of so many different meal preparation ideas. I looked on Pinterest at healthy recipes I could incorporate into my diet with the use of my versatile Crockpot, and I made an oath
with myself to ditch my after work Netflix binge habits and go to the gym for a change. At the beginning of the year, we’ve all been in that spot that we want to improve ourselves, make more out of our same ol’ weekly routine, and become a healthier, more determined version of ourselves. At the end of the day, it’s in our hands only to achieve these outstanding goals. Is that so much to ask of ourselves?The answer is NO, my wonderful Thrive friends! We are all able and capable of meal planning for the week on a work shy Sunday, dragging ourselves to the gym after a dragged out day of sitting at a desk, and finding an activity that helps us both physically and mentally whether that is short term or long-term. After reading The Conversation’s article, Top Five Ways to Boost Your Health in 2019,
I found some beneficial tips that can be used to start of 2019 the healthy, and how to stick with these alterations throughout the year. According to recent statistics, the wellness industry was worth $4.2 trillion in 2017, and keeps growing as we approach the year 20191
. Taking into account these high numbers, it’s definitely time to jump on the health bandwagon so that we can truly thrive
, don’t you think?
“Eat your fruits and vegetables”. You’ve surely heard this from time and time again growing up from your nagging parents, and hey you may even be that nagging parent now. However, this statement will never not be true. Science is gathering more and more research every day that a vegan based lifestyle is the best thing for our health in the long run. Whether that’s true or not, incorporating fresh fruits and vegetables can only benefit your health. Not only does it make your skin glow, it has a major impact on brain function. It is proven that for every additional 100 grams of fruit or vegetables eaten, there is a 3% reduction in the risk of depression. In the winter months, it’s easier to fall into a depressive state, as the weather is colder and it’s gloomy outside. I’d like to think that nobody would like to begin their “new year, new me” phase with any sort of depressive thoughts. Well! Eating fruit and vegetables can help you decrease these tendencies that the winter season may bring. If you feel like you need more of a boost than what eating your daily dose of fruits and vegetables provide, then Polyphenols may be a beneficial thing to add to your morning this year. Polyphenols are micronutrients that we get through certain plant-based foods. Certain foods have a higher dose of Polyphenols than others. These types of fruits and vegetables include dark berries, apples, peaches, nuts, and seeds. They’re packed with antioxidants and potential health benefits.These phytochemicals are naturally occurring fruits and vegetables, and are responsible for helping you to stay healthy. Unlike vitamins, they aren’t essential to our health, but they do prevent diseases and keep the body working effectively by keeping the immune system strong and giving us an anti- inflammatory effect. They are especially beneficial to take if one has an existing health issue, such as diabetes, cancer, or cardiovascular. They may help prevent the progression of these issues.
Though eating healthier is a way to improve our overall health, sitting less is also a way to help our bodies. Sometimes it can be difficult to incorporate exercise into our busy schedules. It almost seems like we’re always sitting, don’t you think? Whether you’re at your desk at work, you’re in class, or on the TTC. That’s the underlying issue, and you have to train yourself to change that starting today! Exercise not only helps reduce the waistlines, but also helps create the right balance between energy in and energy out. What I usually do that forces me into a workout routine for the week is pre – paying for my workout sessions or buying a gym membership. I will pay in advance for my activity online (thank goodness everything is online now-a-days). This forces me to bundle up, and face the bone chilling wind that winter has to offer.
It’s funny that I just told you to minimize the act of sitting in the New Year, and now I’m going to tell you to get more sleep as well. According to The Conversation, a healthy adult should be getting at least 6 hours, and a maximum of 9 hours of sleep throughout the night. A better night’s sleep not only keeps your brain ticking for the day ahead, but also improves your dietary intake. If one is suffering from sleep deprivation, they are more likely to crave food than they would if they had gotten a proper amount of sleep the night prior. According to research, sleep deprivation can increase your daily intake by 400 calories. That being said, make sure to get a good night’s sleep, but don’t overdo it as too much sleep also increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
If you’ve already made it this far on my health rant, you might as well hear about how drinking more water can better your health as well. I know, you’ve heard it time and time before. Some days you can’t tell whether or not your headache is from your lack of water, the weather or lack of exercise. Majority of the time, it’s probably from that basic necessity of life that oh right! You need! According to recent studies, even being 1% dehydrated can impair your ability to concentrate. This can either impair your performance at work or at school, and can increase your stress levels (and who needs that in 2019?). In order to tell if you could use more water in your diet, you need to check what colour your urine is. If your urine is bright orange, then you are lacking water and need to dose up. The perfect colour for your urine is pale straw, and if you obtain that you are perfectly hydrated. Keep it up!
The underlying area that these tips and techniques help with is stress management. Actively contributing to your health through eating your fruits and vegetables, taking a supplement, minimizing the Netflix binge watching by taking up a fun activity, getting a good amount of sleep to work that brain of yours, and drinking water like it’s wine are just the minimum of what helps reduce the stress in your life. But boy, do they ever make a difference!
Thrive is so grateful to be a part of your health goals and wants to help you feel your absolute best! Our practitioners are here to help you optimize your health and well-being all year long.
And with January already coming to a close, it’s a great time to create your S.M.A.R.T. Goals to set you up for success in 2019.
S is for SPECIFIC - Describe your goal as much as possible, with a clear vision and description of what you would like to achieve.
M is for MEASURABLE - It’s important to be able to measure your goal, so be sure to include a metric system with a target that you are wanting to reach.
A is for ATTAINABLE - Your goal should be challenging, but ensure it is also realistic.
R is for RELEVANT - Is your goal consistent with other goals you have achieved or set for yourself? Does it align with your current and long-term plans?
T is for TIMELY - Set a start and end date for when you’d like to have your goal achieved by. This will help you with time management and give yourself a little bit of urgency.
From the entire team at Thrive, we wish you a happy and healthy year ahead!
By Dr. Lindsay Grieve, DC
Becoming a mom has been such a life-changing experience for myself. As a “modern-day” mom I try to be a variety of things for my son: role model, health advocate, provide a loving & nurturing environment and help my son grow up and develop into the person he was meant to be. Oh and did I say fun? I want to do all of the above and also be remembered as the “fun mom”….am I asking for too much?
With all those objectives in mind I make an effort to prepare healthy meals, incorporate fun activities, play dates, get him to bed in a timely manner, teach him to move his body, challenge his mind and exercise his brain. Yes you read that right, exercise his brain!
There is so much growth and development that happens in a child’s first year of life. By the age of 1, the brain grows 2.5-3x it’s size from birth. 1,000 to 100,000 brain synapses are formed in the first year of life alone. By the age of 2, the brain reaches 80-90% of it’s adult volume. And by the age of 6, they have formed almost all of the major sensory and motor pathways they will need for their entire adult life. That is an immense amount of growth and development in a short amount of time! There are a lot of things, particularly in modern-day, that can interfere or hinder a child’s normal growth and development: birth trauma, skipping milestones (ex: going from sitting straight to walking, missing the crawling stage), overuse of “screen-time” (iPad, computer, cell phone, video games, TV, etc), lack of movement and stress.
Did you know movement and brain function are inter-related? A large study conducted in California assessed 1 million students over a 10 year period and found that just 20 minutes of walking improved a child’s ability to concentrate and improved their overall performance on an academic test. Movement and cognition happen in the same parts of the brain and use the same pathways. Our ability to think, control our emotions, pay attention, understand math, learn to spell and use language are all related to our body’s ability to move well.
What if I told you that you can help stimulate your child’s brain by doing specific exercises? When we practice movement patterns we build nerve pathways and establish connections in the brain. A study was conducted in 2003 that looked at the effect of 6 months of brain-coordination exercises on kids with learning difficulties. The children who were in the exercise group had significant improvements in reading, writing & comprehension, dexterity and speech fluency. When they followed up with those kids 4 years later the children had still maintained those same improvements….it’s long lasting!
Tonight try these 3 brain stimulating exercises with your little ones. (Some of the exercises may be challenging at first but the exciting thing is, the brain will catch on.) Get down on the floor with your kids and and make it a fun activity. My son has a blast doing them and some of the exercises are even challenging for me too! We aim to do the exercises every other day.
Log Rolls: great for stimulating the vestibular area of the brain.
Have your child lay on their stomach with their arms out overhead. Keep the body straight and try and encourage them to use their abdominal muscles to slowly roll onto their back. Continue rolling back and forth and work up to 12 rolls to each side.
Inch worms: Great for increasing central muscle tone and overall increasing stimulation to the whole brain. This exercise incorporates cross-body movement which connects the two halves of the brain.
Have you child lay on their back on the floor with their arms at their side, knees bent and their feet flat on the floor. Instruct them to roll one shoulder up and backwards well pushing a little with their feet. This will drag and push the body along the floor. Then roll up the opposite shoulder and do the same. Continue the exercise for 2 minutes.
CrossCrawling: This is great for integrating the left and right sides of the brain. All actives of the brain require input from both sides of the brain and this movement is essential for optimal brain function for all forms of learning: Reading, thinking, math behaviour, emotional control and planning. Cross-crawling is also essential for training the eyes to cross the midline and for the eyes to focus and track.
Get on your hands and knees. Move the opposite arm and leg forward at the same time. Try to focus on your hands when you do this exercise. Continue for 60 seconds.
For more information and video demonstrations of the above exercises, check out Dr. Lindsay Grieve’s website and blog: www.drlindsaygrieve.com