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3 Reasons to Make Homemade Baby Food

When it’s time to start your baby on his or her first foods, it’s an exciting but sometimes nerve-wracking time. Parents are naturally anxious about all of the new responsibilities that solid (or semi-solid) foods bring – choking hazards, allergies, and unwanted ingredients to name a few.

Many of us choose to make our own baby food, which is a fantastic idea for so many reasons! Here are just some of the benefits of creating your own personalized infant cuisine.

babyfood#1. It’s cost-effective. You can save a lot of money by purchasing and pureeing your own foods for your baby.  As your very own chef, you have the ability to buy your produce in bulk and then batch your baby food. Store safely and freeze, so you have a personal supply of food that you can always count on at home. Instead of doing a jar-heavy grocery store trip, your baby food shopping will consist of trips to the market to buy plenty of fresh ingredients!

#2. It’s green. Buying your own baby food is an eco-friendly commitment on many levels. You can choose to only purchase ingredients that have been cultivated with green practices by buying pesticide-free, organic, local produce.  Making your own baby food is also another way to cut down on trips to the store, consumer packaging, shopping bags and receipts. You can re-use all of your containers, or make small batches for at-home meals! Fewer packages, fewer ingredients and fewer risks make for some clean, green baby meals.

#3. It’s nutritious. You can exercise control over every single ingredient that goes into your baby food –and the simpler the better. Some baby foods contain fillers that you likely don’t want to waste time or money on feeding your infant –whether water, tapioca or other manufactured starches. This way you can ensure nothing but whole ingredients find their way into your recipes. Plus as your baby gets a little bit older, making your own purees can help you combine different ingredients and mask some of the nutrients that your picky eater might not like. Hide the taste of carrots by pureeing them with fruit, or sneak a little bit of ginger into your apple sauce. You can get creative while maintaining total nutritional integrity.

If you’re starting the transition to solids soon, make sure to stay tuned four our next Introducing Solids workshop! There’s lots you can learn about your baby’s nutritional needs and digestive system before you start this next step. Experts Aviva Allen, Registered Nutritionis, and Kristin Heins, ND, are a great pair at hosting these friendly, jam-packed sessions! Bring your little foodies, your questions, and get ready to learn.

Bon appetit!

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Bad Reputation Foods

Let’s face it: there’s a lot of health and nutrition information out there. We live in a super-saturated society of digital advice, urging us to adopt certain lifestyle and diet habits while writing off others as severely damaging. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, especially if you start to feel like your available nutritious dietary options have been halved!
That’s why we really enjoyed this Eating Well article that offers some important health analyses for a few of the foods we’re told to avoid. It’s important to balance your perspective, and to bring a realistic, sustainable approach to your healthy eating. So take a look at our list, and celebrate the tasty foods that can be enjoyed in moderation, and as part of a nutritious diet.

http://thedesigninspiration.com/articles/40-creative-and-funny-egg-paintings/Eggs
We hear lots of mixed things about eggs, but many people are scared off by the high cholesterol count.  Cholesterol definitely needs to be moderated, but as Eating Well reminds us, the cholesterol that we consume in foods doesn’t typically raise our blood cholesterol significantly. Rather, the bigger heart-disease dangers are saturated and trans fats. Enjoy eggs in moderation and pay attention to your cholesterol intake on a daily basis. For a healthier breakfast, skip the yolk and double up on egg whites –you’ll still get the protein and consistency you love without as much cholesterol and fat.

Bread, Pasta and Other Mega-Carbs
Mmmmm….if you love your carbs, you’re not alone. Carbohydrates are comforting, relatively filling and just plain tasty. But many of us know to tread with caution- When you load up on refined foods and simple carbs, you’re definitely making a poor dietary choice and increasing your risk of weight gain, obesity, and diabetes. But there’s plenty of great carbs out there too, that have an important place in your diet. These include whole grains and beans which can help provide some filling substance to a meal while also offering nutrients and protein.

http://greatbodyskin.com/why-are-gluten-bad/Gluten
We took note of this one, because it seems that going GF or gluten-free is a dieting fad these days. With so many products being marketed sans gluten, Eating Well points out that “it’s easy to think their benefits might stretch beyond the audience for whom they’re intended: people with celiac disease and gluten intolerance.” Well put! If you don’t have a medical condition that prevents you from eating gluten, there is no reason to cut it from your diet, as this won’t offer you any health benefits.

Without an intolerance causing you symptoms in the first place you won’t experience the surge in health or energy associated with a gluten free regimen. So don’t self-diagnose! There are a number of reasons why we experience digestive distresses that are easily mistaken for a gluten intolerance. A thorough consultation can help you sort out what’s making your insides unhappy.

Check out all 13 of Eating Well’s Food and Nutrition myths here!

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Heat Health For Infants

After a chilly spring it seems summer finally made its presence known through the end of June with high temperatures, humidity and heat warnings. While we’re thrilled to welcome summertime, we’ve been reminding our followers of the importance of playing smart in the sun this season. As adults, we know to apply sunscreen with a high SPF, limit direct sun exposure, and be vigilant about signs of heat exhaustion. But it can be more difficult knowing how to protect an infant in the heat. Since babies are so temperature sensitive, some new parents are unsure about how to keep their infant at a comfortable, safe temperature.

Here are some basic guidelines for your baby during the hotter days of summer:

Baby_sunIn the sun:
Babies have thin, sensitive skin, so sun exposure should be limited. Cover your baby’s arms and legs in light, cool clothing, and if necessary, use a natural sunscreen that’s formulated for infants and toddlers. Shade your baby with a hat and by draping a light sheet over your stroller if the sun is strong in a clear sky. Watch for clues that your baby is overheating or dehydrated. A red face and hot skin are the first signs that your infant is too warm. Symptoms and markers of dehydration include a sunken “soft spot” on your baby’s head, sleepiness, irritability, and a decrease in wet diapers. Babies don’t have a large fluid reserve and if they have diarrhea it’s easy for them to become dehydrated. Be extra careful in the hot weather!

In the air conditioning:
Remember that AC will affect your baby to a more extreme degree–just like the heat. It’s easy to overlook how chilly air conditioning can be on muggy hot days. While it’s often essential for comfort, air quality and sleep, just be mindful of how cold your home is when dressing your baby. Consider where the AC vent is in your nursery in relation to your crib, and cover babies in light layers for sleep.

Beach babyStaying hydrated:
Some breastfed infants may need to nurse more frequently in hot weather, but you may notice no change with your baby. Babies don’t have many adjusted dietary needs in the heat, and they get enough water in your milk supply. Make sure your toddler is replenishing fluids by keeping a sippy cup on hand at all times. At intervals in play, make sure to encourage a few sips of water. If your toddler doesn’t like to drink water, try adding frozen fruit in place of ice cubes to add some natural flavour.

Heat rash:
Infants release sweat to cool their bodies down, but because their pores are so tiny, they’re susceptible to getting clogged.  The result is heat rash, which appears as prickly little red dots, bumps or blisters on the skin. While heat rash is common and not serious, it’s a sure indicator that your baby is overheating. Heat rash isn’t typically painful but your baby may feel uncomfortable, tender or itchy. Try removing clothing in the house and letting your baby play in a diaper. A tepid bath can help to cool your baby’s skin. At bedtime a light fan is an easy way to provide a soothing breeze- just avoid aiming it directly at an infant. Heat rash should clear up fairly quickly.

Babies react to temperature changes differently, but it’s always important to remember that a small infant is much more sensitive to the heat (and cold) than an older child or toddler. Protect your baby and watch for signs that he or she is uncomfortable. Let’s make sure it’s a cool and healthy summer!

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Solving the Riddle of Seasonal Migraines

freeimages.co.uk medical imagesMigraines can be a debilitating health problem, triggered by a variety of factors from sleep habits, to diet, to the weather. Many sufferers claim they seem to become more prone to migraines at certain times of year –during the changing seasons, or in the spring and summer when they may also be plagued with seasonal allergies.

The frustrating thing about migraine sufferers is that many don’t take the time to seriously consider all of their options for prevention and symptom relief. It’s definitely worthwhile to explore natural therapies as a means of better understanding, minimizing, and preventing your migraines, not to mention nixing the dependency on potentially harmful medications often used to manage symptoms. Here are just some of the therapies that migraine sufferers frequently respond to.

Chiropractic care
Many headaches and migraines start in your spine. When your body is misaligned your nerves get very irritated, and communicate quickly with your brain. For some clients, spinal adjustments are an effective way to reduce the pressure on those unhappy nerves. Chiropractic care also helps restore mobility to patients who experience consistent and debilitating muscle tension. Blood flow to and from the brain may also be restricted when muscles are tight in the base of the skull, which can contribute to headache and migraine symptoms. The cumulative effects of rigidity and restriction can lead to severe headaches – so it’s important to target the problem at its source, rather than just treating the resulting migraine. Consider your posture, alignment, and date of your last adjustment. Could a poorly aligned spine, stressed nerves or strained muscles be an underlying cause of your migraine? A chiropractic consultation can help you find out!

Massage Therapy
Seeing a massage therapist isn’t a luxury- for many it’s a highly effective treatment option. Headaches frequently result from tension and stress, which are manually targeted during a massage session. Your therapist will also help to improve circulation throughout your body, which can draw blood away from the head, reducing pressure that contributes to headache. It’s also incredible to see the effects of loosening and treating muscle tissue. If you have a muscle injury, chances are you’ve been carrying yourself differently. An adjusted or irregular posture of any kind can cause soreness, stiffness, dizziness and headaches. So give massage therapy a try –the combination of targeted manual therapy and the valuable opportunity to reduce stress might be just what you need to manage or minimize migraines.

Naturopathic and Nutritional Counselling
Food sensitivity and allergies might also be causing your migraines. A holistic health practitioner can help you begin an elimination diet or food diary to uncover patterns in your eating that might cause headaches. Many sufferers of migraines know which foods they need to avoid in order to help prevent a killer headache. Don’t worry- this isn’t arbitrary. A nutritionist or ND can help you identify which ingredients are giving you grief- whether it’s a popular additive like MSG, or a less widely identified substance like tyramine. Tyramine, which is found in aged cheese, processed meat, canned soups and several other foods, has been known to trigger migraines in certain individuals. Without some health counselling however, you might never identify something like this as a potential source of your suffering. It’s worth looking into- The sooner you know your problem foods, the sooner you can begin adjusting your diet and lifestyle so you can enjoy more long-term management of your migraines.

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Back Pain 101 Infographic


We were recently invited to share this awesome infographic about back pain (scroll to the bottom of the article to see). It highlights many common lifestyle factors that contribute to poor posture and chronic pain. The graphic speaks for itself, but we thought we’d just reiterate some of the considerations presented.

The importance of standing posture: While we’re often reminded of the importance of sitting up straight and applying ergonomic principles to our workspace, it’s also vital that we stay mindful of our standing posture too. What’s your “go-to” stance? Do you tend to stand with one hip cocked to the side? Do you cross one foot over the other, or balance your weight unevenly? These seemingly insignificant physical adjustments can cause accumulated damage over time.

The costs of a poorly aligned spine: The cost of investing in care for your spine is nothing compared to the financial and physical toll of living with spinal degeneration, misalignment and chronic pain. We’re major advocates for investing in your health in the preventative, maintenance phase –rather than seeking treatment when you’re desperate for relief. By investing in your health while you’re young and relatively healthy, you may offset damage that accumulates over your lifetime as a result of injury or aging.

Staggering statistics: Although these are American stats, when 80% of the population is experiencing pain, there’s a problem! It’s true that back pain is one of the most pervasive and persistent health symptoms experienced in our society. Part of the problem is in thinking that your back pain isn’t severe enough to warrant attention. If you have a consistently sore neck and upper back, you may not classify yourself as someone with “back problems.” But pain, stiffness, and a reduced range of motion are always deserving of attention and treatment.

Have a look at the infographic: What postures and habits do you feel need improvement in your life?

Thanks to Top Nursing Programs for sharing! 

 
Back Pain 101
Source: Top Nursing Programs

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Food Label Literacy

Last week Naturally Savvy hosted a fantastic Twitter Party to teach strategies for reading food labels and ingredient lists! We had the pleasure of gate-crashing and offering our two cents to this incredibly informed and well-run chat. We came away inspired to promote label literacy here on the Thrive Health blog.

food labelWhile there were plenty of label-savvy participants at the party (and some very qualified, awesome hosts and sponsors!) some of the parents present admitted that they don’t really know what to look for when reading food labels, or often neglect to read labels at all. This is very normal. Firstly, we’re all incredibly busy, and nobody wants to double their grocery store time by reading the finely printed ingredient lists on everything they pick up. Secondly, many parents don’t skip the ingredient list out of a willful negligence of nutrition- they are led to trust a product by many other factors that make an impression on shoppers long before the label.  Food packaging can trick us into thinking we’re making an informed, “good” choice.

Here are some of the packaging ploys that lead us to believe something is healthy without reading its ingredient list.

Fat free/Sugar-free:
Just because a product is fat-free or sugar-free doesn’t mean it’s healthy. At all. In fact many products that have been chemically engineered to be free of fats and sugar have other unhealthy modifications.  These products may still contain synthetic flavours, artificial colours, artificial sweeteners, thickeners and more. Additionally, foods that boast a “fat free” claim uphold a societal misconception about fats- that they are all dangerous, unhealthy, or contribute to being overweight. In reality, healthy fats are vital to a balanced diet, and for maintaining a healthy weight.

Made with real…
If a food product is bragging that it’s made with real fruit, vegetables or any other ingredient, beware. This is a clever way of getting around the fact that it’s also made with many other ingredients that are not real. Made “with” is not the same as “made up solely of…” By this tactic, a fruit punch containing only 25% real fruit juice can still claim “Made with real fruit!” Unless you see a “100%” check your label to see how much of a product is indeed “real.”

Buzz-word Branding:
Lots of food products contain claims about their nutritional quality right in their name. But just because something claims to be “smart” “healthy”  “light” or “natural” doesn’t mean it’s a nutritionally balanced or beneficial choice. The worthiness of a product can’t be found in its name- it can only be found on that food label.

So what are the top food label culprits?

High-fructose corn syrup: This is a widely used sweetener that appears in many packaged foods especially sweet treats for children. It boosts calorie content, functions as a thick, concentrated sugar substance, and offers no nutritional value to a food product. Avoid low / no calorie alternatives especially if they contain artificial sweeteners. Natural sweeteners like stevia and honey are a better choice.  

Artificial flavours: Naturally Savvy makes a great point about artificial flavours: they could contain anywhere from one to fifty different chemical ingredients. Our thought? Why combine dozens of synthetic chemicals to mimic a real, natural flavour? There are so many delicious flavours and colours found in natural foods that there’s no reason to chemically manipulate our tastes.

Nitrates/Nitrites: Typically written as sodium nitrate or sodium nitrite, these are most commonly found in processed and packaged meats. The alternative to using these products is buying fresh chicken or turkey, cooking it in whatever manner you prefer and slicing it up to use in salad form (ie. Chicken salad) or in sandwiches over the following few days.

MSG: Monosodium glutamate is a commonly-used additive in many packaged foods, especially soups, sauces, prepared meals, and frozen foods. As with many of our food culprits, the easiest way to avoid MSG is to try and limit your consumption of pre-packaged foods. If you can’t avoid buying prepared foods, buy them fresh rather than frozen.

If you have any food label questions, drop us a line here, or on our Facebook page –we love to help families make informed choices. Happy (and healthy) grocery shopping to you!

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Holistic Health Apps

The health industry has definitely gone digital –and now it’s getting mobile and personal too.

In the age of user-centric apps, mobile technology and Google-fueled self-diagnosing, people feel empowered to take their health conveniently (if sometimes problematically) into their own hands.  While we definitely advocate for caution and discretion when relying on the vast world of digital health information, there are undeniable ways in which digital and mobile technology have revolutionized personal health.

One of the most fascinating (and fun!) developmmobile_phixrents we’ve seen is the proliferation of creative mobile apps to help with natural tracking, charting, dieting and motivating. Digital health apps provide a convenient and accurate way to do a variety of health-related behaviours like count calories, take medication on time, record your heart rate, and even time your contractions during labour!

Here are some of the coolest health apps catching our attention right now:

iPeriod: for much more than simply counting out those 28 days. This is an incredibly detailed app which lets women digitally monitor a wide spectrum of menstrual health factors. Its features allow for the tracking of flow density, identifying peak fertility dates, and making notes every time an unwanted menstrual symptom is encountered. There’s even an icon to remind you to get your regular breast exam!
Another nice bonus: there’s a community forum that lets you chat with other women and compare notes. We think this app would be beneficial for any woman, but particularly those who are constantly busy, experiencing unwanted menstrual symptoms, or trying to conceive.

mySymptoms: This is a food diary app for tracking and identifying food symptoms and reactions. While it shouldn’t replace a real diagnosis, it’s a great way to start looking for patterns in your eating habits that trigger unwanted side effects. This gives you a place to start when you’re ready to meet with a holistic health practitioner, nutritionist or allergy specialist.  In addition to tracking your diet, you can simply and efficiently record anything from sleep quality to bloating to mood swings. What we love about this app is that it gives patients a great place to record information that they’d otherwise forget. Often when patients come for an initial assessment it can be hard to remember what they’ve been eating and on which dates they experienced recent symptoms. With an app like this, the data recording will already be done by your first appointment –getting you and your health practitioner one step closer to a diagnosis.

HealingFoods: Based on the print encyclopaedia, this app is a useful reference guide for diet therapy. You can enter foods to see a full explanation of their natural healing properties, to better tailor a diet that will optimize your health. There are also tips for how to serve, store and prep each food. Amazing that you can carry so much information with you wherever you eat or grocery shop! This app can help you to shop smart, order wisely at restaurants, and fix a nutrient-dense dinner for your family.

Thanks to Sara Showalter for drawing our attention to such an interesting list of mobile health applications! Check them all out here and choose your favourites.

Do you use any holistic health apps? What features would be most beneficial to you?

 

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Getting Acquainted with Your Central Nervous System

When we champion chiropractic care, we consistently mention the central nervous system. For many new patients, this might not mean much (or make any sense). Many people associate chiropractic with bones, rather than nerves, joints, muscles and the brain. We encourage you to learn the basics about the central nervous system, and how it functions to keep our bodies running optimally.

Why is the Central Nervous System Important?

We liked the way this article from Natural News describes the central nervous system’s critical role in the human body’s everyday participation in a fight for survival. Your body is working each day to confront a barrage of assaults –free radical damage to your cells, environmental stressors, chemically reactive molecules, and other toxins. The body’s incredible ability to communicate within itself, protect itself, and heal itself keeps us healthy and thriving in spite of these everyday onslaughts of harmful contaminants. The central nervous system is like a governing body that controls all of the channels by which that healing occurs.

http://www.livescience.com/22665-nervous-system.htmlBody-to-Brain Communication

As Natural News points out, the movement of energy from your brain to your nerve systems is fueled by information collected from receptors throughout your body. The brain relies on a process called “proprioception” –the effective movement of information from those receptors in your muscles or joints all the way to your brain. As you can imagine, we want to pave the way for a fast and healthy flow of information.

But this brain-body information exchange can be compromised by nerve stress caused by misalignment and trauma. The accumulation of damage resulting from poor posture, minor injuries and an unhealthy lifestyle can all affect your nerves and stress hormones. As a result, there’s a slight breakdown in communication between your receptors and your brain, and your body’s healing time slows down.

Enter chiropractic.

A chiropractor’s aim is to restore your central nervous system so that your body is well-tuned to keep healing itself effectually. By re-aligning the spine and reducing nerve pressure, chiropractic care plays a useful role in decreasing your body’s stress. In this way, chiropractic care shouldn’t be conceived of as a treatment. It’s an important therapy that frees your body to take better care of itself. Too often we overlook the body’s innate ability to heal. When our bodies aren’t functioning optimally or healing properly, we see the symptoms rather than the cause. Chiropractic isn’t just treating your symptoms –it’s adjusting your body’s natural systems and structures so they can do their job.

To learn more about your central nervous system and how chiropractic can benefit you, book an appointment with Dr. Jennifer Wise!

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4 Natural Health Tips for Summer

The sunny days between all of the cloudy, rainy ones are giving us some hope for brighter days. Many families are making plans for the summer, and it’s exciting to finally be anticipating more time spent outdoors. We want our clients and community to enjoy a safe and healthy season, so we thought we’d share some basic and natural tips. High temperatures and sunny days can mean adjusted dietary and health requirements for the whole family.

glass of water1. Fluid replacement: During day trips, team sports, active play and afternoons at the beach, be sure to drink plenty of water and encourage your children to do the same. But skip the sports drinks-Children don’t often sweat excessively, especially during moderate play. Any fluids your child may lose are easily replaced with plain fresh water. Sports drinks contain unhealthily high doses of sugar, artificial colors and flavors, and chemical additives –so be careful what you reach for to replenish fluids and quench thirst.

2. Choose healthy frozen treats: Popsicles and other frozen snacks are a family favourite during the summer –and they can be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet. Skip the artificially flavoured freezies and sugary ice cream, and make your own snacks instead. Opt for frozen bananas, smoothies, or homemade popsicles that use natural sugars and flavours.

Baby sun3. Be sun-smart. Choose a high SPF sunscreen and remember to re-apply every 1-2 hours that your family is in the sun. When possible, take refuge in the shade and minimize direct sun exposure to your skin. Have your children wear brimmed hats and light, cool clothing. You may want to avoid sunscreens that contain oxybenzone, a chemical that is thought to affect hormone levels and cellular health. And it goes without saying- children of all skin types and tones need sunscreen. For fair-skinned children, choose an SPF of 30 or higher.

4. Support your immune system, particularly before big day trips or family vacations. Eat a vitamin-rich diet that features lots of vegetables and probiotics, and be sure to get plenty of vitamin C, even during warm weather. If you know your children are picky eaters during travel, plan ahead when you pack. Take multi-vitamins and easy-to-grab nutritious snacks. Front-load their diet on busy days by sneaking some extra fruit and veggies into a breakfast smoothie.

Wishing you and your family a safe and healthy start to summer!

 

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