The Other F Word

Very confident, holistic-minded, mamas often reveal to me that fevers are the one thing that frighten them the most, and I can relate. I will never forget the first time my son had a fever. He was about two years old at the time and went to bed feeling slightly warm. I nursed him to sleep, but was concerned about him and didn’t sleep much myself. At around 3am (of course!) he woke up crying and clearly uncomfortable. My husband got the thermometer and his temperature read over 105. In my exhausted/semi-delirious state I had a moment of panic, and my husband, who saw it all over my face, freaked out. He wanted to run to the drugstore for tylenol and he was questioning if we should call 911. His hysteria snapped me back to reality. I know intellectually that fevers themselves are not dangerous and I also had the tools to help my little guy. I got to work and, by the next day he was much better.

The truth is, fevers are an immune response (symptom) not an illness. Most people don’t think twice about giving an over the counter fever suppressant. It is a horrible feeling to see your child in pain or uncomfortable and our instinct is to want to help them. Unfortunately, all medications come with risks and, while they may help your child feel better in the moment, they don’t help the body heal or recover from the underlying cause of the fever. The good news is that there is plenty we can do to support our children while they have fever.

As a side note, something that my clients often fear is febrile seizure. I always recommend that my moms speak to their pediatrician about your family history and risks. My research and experience leads me to believe that a seizure has more to do with temperature fluctuation and spikes, rather than the specific number.

Here is what I DO when one of my children has a fever:

  1. Look at the whole child. How is their disposition? Are they weak and listless or a sick version of himself? A weak, listless child with a low grade temperature is more concerning to me than a child with a higher fever who is playful. In our family we don’t worry about the number on the thermometer, in fact, we rarely take a temperature anymore.
  2. Hydration is key. When the body temperature rises, one of the risks is dehydration. If the fever accompanies a stomach virus, the risk increases. We offer clear broth soup, room temperature water, warm herbal teas, and ice pops every few minutes to make sure that the child is well hydrated.
  3. I increase my immune boosting essential oils, supplements and herbal remedies. Fever means that the body is fighting something. Offering specific remedies like garlic, miso, oregano essential oil, and vitamin D help support the overall immune system.
  4. Snuggle time. Whenever possible, I crawl into bed with my little one and give some extra cuddle time. Snuggles and physical affection lowers stress and lower stress means better functioning immune system. If possible, skin-to-skin contact helps regulate body temperature.
  5. Keep comfortable. One of the best things I have found to keep my feverish child more comfortable is a single drop of peppermint essential oil on the soles of their feet. It helps cool them down just enough to rest.

In addition to all of these things, we keep in contact with our pediatrician. If fever lasts more than a few days with no explanation, we’d want to get to the bottom of it. For more information, check out this article from our pediatrician.

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The information shared is based on personal experience and intended solely for general information. It is not intended to diagnose or treat any health problem or to take the place of professional medical care. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.

Are You Setting Yourself Up for STRESS?

Have you noticed nature’s cues that the season has changed? Is there snow on the ground? Have the trees lost their leaves? Are the days shorter? Is the weather cooler?

Have you noticed your own internal cues that the season has changed? Are you a little more tired? Longing for some alone time? Craving sweets and carbohydrates?

Winter is the time of year when things appear to die but, in reality, they are not dead, they are doing deep inner work. The leaves may have fallen off the trees, but the roots are quietly preparing for the next season of growth. This is our natural rhythm too. The more in sync with nature that you can be, the easier your life flows and the healthier you are, both physically and emotionally. When you go against the natural rhythm of things, you experience stress in your body and in your life.

Unfortunately our societal norms ask the exact opposite of us. Instead of resting, and truly feeling connected, you are rushing around, shopping, crossing things off your lists and doing rather than being. It can leave you feeling down, depleted, and literally sick and tired.

The good news? There ARE things that you can do to get back in sync.

  1. Supplement with Vitamin D3. Vitamin D is naturally produced when your skin is exposed to sunlight. If you live in the north, or if you tend to have low levels, you will want to supplement. Low levels of Vitamin D are associated with depression and many other health concerns.
  2. Bring a little Joy into your life. One of my favorite essential oils is a blend called Joy, made by Young Living Essential Oil Company. I find it particularly useful this time of year. I rub a drop over my heart each morning.
  3. Eat more fat. I know it sounds counter intuitive. You are struggling with those 5 extra pounds from Thanksgiving and I am suggesting that you eat more fat. But yes, fats are important for healthy brain function and your overall health and well-being. They will also help you absorb essential vitamins and nutrients and keep you feeling satisfied. A variety of fats are beneficial, including (but not limited to) avocado, coconut oil, fatty fish, grass fed meats and butter from pastured cows. Knowing how much is the right amount is key for optimal health and, unfortunately, there is no magic number. When I work with clients I teach them cues to look for in their body that indicate how much fat is enough.
  4. Learn the power behind the word, “no.” Sometimes, in order to say “yes” to what you need, you have to say “no” to what someone else needs. For those of us that love to please others, this can be challenging. It is also incredibly important for your overall health and well being.
  5. Eat foods that support proper kidney function. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, winter is associated with kidneys and bladder. This is the time of year to pay extra attention to the optimal function of these organs. Eating foods that support your kidney and bladder will help you feel more in sync. For ideas on how to support your kidneys, click this link.

To be 100% honest, this is the first fall/winter that I have not found myself a little down. Despite a difficult autumn and several tragedies that hit close to home, I am feeling grounded, centered and hopeful. For me, that is a BIG DEAL. I suspect that it is very closely connected to the fact that I have been using these tools to support myself (practicing what I preach ;) I hope you will find them helpful this season as well.

Dreading the Candy Coma

You might be surprised to learn that I secretly love Halloween. I love the fun costumes and the pumpkin carving and the fall decorations. It’s one of my favorite times of year. I’m not a huge fan of the candy-overload, but hey, I pick my battles.

Image Recently I was asked, during a radio interview, how to create a “healthy halloween?” Lets be real, Halloween isn’t about health. It’s about fun and, yes, candy is fun. I’m not here to put a damper on anyone’s fun. I like fun (and candy) just as much as anyone. So, let’s enjoy the day (it’s a day, not a week or a month, btw) without guilt or shame, and think of it as an opportunity to teach ourselves and our children a lesson in moderation. And, if you feel inspired to focus more on the silly, spooky and funny elements of Halloween, all the better. It’s what we do in our family and, as you can see from our picture, we still have plenty of fun. I’ve shared some of my favorite candy alternatives in a previous blog that I want to share again.

This blog post is a few years old and my kids now recognize the “goodies” in the candy aisle. We still manage to practice moderation and enjoy Halloween fun.

I still run into these creepy peeps who feel like it is their civic duty to make sure that my kids are not deprived of buckets of candy. What’s up with that? Read my story here…

What’s the Point?

So often when I tell people what I do for a living, or they hear about my green smoothies, kale, and essential oils, they say things like “What’s the point?” or “Nobody lives forever anyway.”

It’s true. Life is a terminal condition. So what IS the point? Does the fact that my friend, who drank green juice and ate an alkaline diet, died before her 40th birthday, mean that I should throw caution to the wind, toss my juicer, eat fast food, drink soda, and walk in traffic? Do my choices matter?

Over the past few days I’ve asked myself this, often. And what I keep coming back to is YES, of course they matter, but maybe not for the reasons you think.

Health is dependent on so many factors. green juices are helpful but there’s no guarantee that if you drink it, you’ll live to see your great grandchildren. Genetics, environment, emotions and so many other things affect our health. We can’t control everything, nor should we try.

But it also doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t work to take care of the things that we can, and here’s why I feel so strongly about this. You see, for me, eating natural foods, using natural remedies, connecting with nature, exercising, and tuning-in to my emotions are the tools that allow me to enjoy my life, right now.

My friend’s death was a stark reminder that life is precious, and sometimes short. Whatever time I have here, I want to spend it feeling energized, without pain, with the ability to connect and be present with my loved ones. I don’t expect to live forever, but I hope to fully appreciate and enjoy the life I have.

When I close my eyes I see my friend’s smile beaming across a room, her bright blue eyes sparkling. I recall a picture of her holding her babies close, so in love and present with them. And so, when I ask myself if she would have thought it was worth it, I truly believe she would say, “yes.”

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photo credit: chainsawpanda via photopin cc

Natural Remedies for Stressful Times

Image Autumn has arrived! There are so many things that I love about this season. Where I live, here in the Northeast, the skies are the most gorgeous blue and the leaves are beginning to turn brilliant shades of orange and red. I love that it is cool enough to turn on the oven without blasting the a/c and that the cooler evenings mean the start of soup season. And, while there are so many things to love about this time of year, there are some things that I don’t. I don’t enjoy feeling rushed to get the kids out the door in the mornings. I don’t enjoy feeling over scheduled and having to decline invitations, fundraisers, and volunteer opportunities etc.

Basically, the main thing that I don’t enjoy this time of year is the extra STRESS that seem to accompany the falling leaves.

Back to school, sports practice, homework, traveling for business, family functions, fund-raisers, music lessons, teacher conferences…and that’s just a regular week. Toss in a family emergency, illness or move and it’s no wonder that we’re all stressed (including our children). Next month I’ll be sharing with you an exciting program, from an incredible colleague, to help you simplify and de-stress your life. In the meantime, I wanted to offer you a few natural remedies that I find absolutely essential for survival this time of year.

  1. Stress Away essential oil blend from Young Living.  I’m not gonna lie, I’ve been known to refer to this oil blend as my “drug of choice”. I wear it almost every day. Somehow the combination of vanilla, lime and lavender (there are other notes in the blend as well) transport me to a tropical paradise where children don’t have tantrums and dinner is already made ;) .
  2. Peace & Calming essential oil blend from Young Living.  A hectic lifestyle can be difficult for children too. I do my best to simplify, give them plenty of unstructured play in nature, and limit the activities, but often it isn’t enough. When my child is having a hard time decompressing at the end of the day, I give them a bath with two drops of Peace & Calming oil and it helps tremendously. And, by the way, it works for the grown-ups too!
  3. Yoga.  We all know that yoga is great for children and adults. It helps with both the physical and emotional effects of stress. Unfortunately, it isn’t always possible to get to a class, so I have come to rely on my Yoga Deck. I often let them choose a few cards and we do the poses together after school.
  4. Rescue Remedy.  Having a particularly traumatic day? Rescue remedy is a combination of five Bach flower essences, blended specifically to help you cope with stress and trauma. When my kids were babies, I’d carry a bottle of Rescue in my diaper bag because almost every day would feel traumatic.
  5. Immupro.  Of all of the remedies I’ve listed here, the one thing that will help you cope with stress, more than anything else, is sleep. Unfortunately, that isn’t always easy to come by. I’ve found that, for some clients, a supplement like Immupro can be game changing. It contains a small amount of melatonin and a combination of immune boosting mushrooms to give your immune system a boost and help your body get into a good sleep rhythm.

Do’s and Don’ts: Packing a Healthy and Delicious Lunch

Image Some moms celebrate the freedom of having the kids back in school and some moms wish the summer would last just a little longer, but I’ve yet to meet a mom who doesn’t, at least occasionally, dread making lunches (and to think…it’s ONLY September!)

Even if you have adventurous eaters, you run out of ideas. Your kids get bored. You forget to run to the store. Don’t you wish you were like those other moms (ya know, those “supermoms”) who pack an inspired, healthy lunch, that their kids look forward to eating?

This may look like dinner to some people, but in our house it could be a snack. After a long day at school, children’s bodies and brains need fuel from real food, not filler.
If you’re already feeling drained and dreading the lunch drama, check out my Do’s and Don’ts list below. And remember, you’re doing the best you can, you aren’t a superhero (and neither am I).

DO’s

  1. DO send them with the healthiest version of what you know they like. I’ve found that school lunch isn’t the best place to experiment. Here are a few lunches that my moms have had success with: macaroni & cheese, chili with chips, chicken soup, spaghetti with meatballs, bacon, egg and cheese sandwich, fried rice.
  2. DO remember they may not eat what you send. The cafeteria can be distracting and often there isn’t enough time for slower eaters to finish their food (that’s for another newsletter topic!)  The best thing you can do is to be prepared to feed them their healthiest meal AFTER SCHOOL. Most kids come home starving by 4pm. If, at this point, you offer “fillers” like crackers, cookies, ice cream, etc., you’ve missed a great opportunity to fill their hungry bellies and tired brains with nutritious foods. After school snacks might be one of the most important meals of the day for school-aged children and, since they are likely hungry, they’re more likely to eat healthier fare. Here are a few of my favorite after school snacks: hummus with cut veggies, soup, scrambled eggs, fresh guacamole with chips, oatmeal smoothie, english muffin pizza. And here’s a little secret, I actually feed my kids “dinner” around 4:30pm. Later, when we eat as a family, we can enjoy the meal together and I am less concerned with how much dinner they eat because I know they’ve already been well fed.
  3. DO pack their lunch in fun, interesting and eco-friendly containers. I’m coveting one of those stainless steel boxes from www.planetbox.com but haven’t bitten the bullet yet. I use the reusable baggies from http://www.snacktaxi.com/ and http://www.lunchskins.com/ for sandwiches and when I’m packing a wrap or bigger sandwich I use a reusable wrap like this one .  For hot things like soups, stews, chili, meatballs or mac & cheese, I love my Thermos!

Don’ts:

  1. DON’T assume that since school food standards have been improved that the food in your child’s cafeteria is healthy (or palatable). Many parents rely on school lunches and it is our right and responsibility to know what is being served (a copy of the menu often doesn’t reflect the real story) so ask to pay an in-person visit to get the whole truth (a wig and sunglasses may protect your child from embarrassment).
  2. DON’T fall trap to pre-made lunches that are loaded with salt, MSG, sugar and other ingredients that are harmful to children (and other living things). They may be convenient in the moment but so not worth the cost of your child’s health and well-being.
  3. DON’T assume that if you pack your child with a healthy lunch that they’ll be subject to ridicule or peer pressure. Several parents have actually approached me asking about what I sent for my son’s lunch because their child wanted what my kid had.

My Swiss Army Knife

This past weekend we went with my husband’s extended family on our second annual camping weekend. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a foodie. I love to cook, eat and share delicious food, and so do my husband’s cousins. Needless to say, more than half of what I packed for our trip revolved around food (we joked that our camping trip was more like a cruise with round the clock gourmet meals).

Image The trouble is, packing all of the food left little room for my emergency kit of remedies. (Full disclosure: when we went away for our 2 week beach vacation, I took a small suitcase of supplements, homeopathic remedies, creams,herbs, essential oils, etc… just in case.) Camping requires me to be a little more strategic. I left the supplements and most homeopathics at home (thankfully I took the one for bee stings because my son grabbed a bee as he was collecting firewood!) and most of the other stuff too. I brought my essential oil bug repellent and band-aids. One of the few essential oils that I took with me was my lavender. In this week’s newsletter, I’ll share why lavender is such an important essential oil to have on hand.
I’ve been hearing from so many of you that you’d like to know more about essential oils.

Don’t forget to scroll to the bottom of this message for information about two upcoming opportunities to learn more about essential oils. One is a teleclass, so you can listen from anywhere or catch the recording!! Hope you can join me!

Nature’s Swiss Army Knife

Lavender has such a wide range of uses, it is sometimes called the Swiss Army Knife of essential oils. On our recent camping trip lavender (and a regular Swiss Army Knife) were two essentials in my pack. I hope this list will give you an idea of how beneficial this oil can be and give it a try!

  • Relief from a burn
  • Alleviate a headache ( checkout this research on migraines)
  • Help to calm an anxious child or aid in mom’s relaxation
  • Sleep aid
  • On a diaper rash or other skin irritation
  • To calm seasonal allergies
  • To reduce the swelling of a sprained ankle
  • Around (never in) the eye for pink eye
  • On an insect bite, to help take the sting out
  • Prevent or heal an infection in a wound (checkout this clinical research for care of episiotomy recovery)
  • Combat fungus overgrowth
    and the list goes on…

Five Tips: Must-have essential oils for summer

Here is my list of “must have” essential oils for summer. Seriously, I take these babies with me EVERYWHERE!

  • It’s HOT out there and peppermint essential oil is cooling. I love putting 3 drops into a small spray bottle mixed with water. The mist is wonderfully cooling and even soothing for a sunburn.
  • Purification essential oil blend works great as an insect repellent. I use it in combination with peppermint, Thieves and geranium for our family’s bug repellent. I also use Purification to ease the pain from a bee sting.
  • Lavender is incredibly soothing, calming, and my go-to burn remedy. Mist with some peppermint for a soothing after-sun skin care.
  • I am a lot more active in the summer (swimming, biking, running, walking, etc.), and, especially in the beginning, my body feels it! Deep Relief essential oil blend helps soothe sore muscles.
  • Anyone who knows me well knows that Stress Away essential oil blend is my perfume. I never leave home without this oil. NEVER. EVER. Maybe that’s why people always say I look so calm ;)

Not just any Essential Oil Will Do
Here is why I choose Young Living Essential Oils for my own family, and I hope you will too

Young Living holds itself to a very high standard in the way that they grow and distill plants to create essential oils. Young Living Essential oils are therapeutic and food grade. They have such powerful healing properties that many hospitals around the country are using Young Living oils in research studies. When choosing an oil for my family, it is most important that it be 100% pure. Please remember that when you use something topically, it is absorbed into your body through your skin, so using food-grade products, even on your skin, is extremely important for your health. If you are interested in purchasing essential oils, please click here or drop me an email.

Baby Steps for a Healthier Family

I’ll bet you’re familiar with all of these, and you probably know that you “should” be doing them. Even these small “baby steps” will take your family leaps and bounds towards a healthier future.

Drink more water. There are so many fancy drinks on the market, all claiming to not make you fat, and quench your thirst, but nothing beats good old water. Get your kids on board by making it a game to count the number of glasses each family member drinks a day.

Eat fewer white and beige things. It’s a good general rule of thumb, the most nutrient dense foods aren’t pale, but bright and colorful.

Make fat your friend. We need good fats for almost every function in our body. Trust me when I tell you, fat isn’t what makes you fat, the white stuff (see above) does.

Don’t ignore your cravings. Your body talks to you all the time, and if you are listening, you’ll receive very important information. Cravings can often be your body’s way of telling you what it needs more or less of.

Get an accountability partner. Finding someone who supports you, and will lovingly nudge you in a healthy direction, is essential for creating change.

Are you tired, hungry or really just thirsty?

If you crave sweets, feel tired all the time, are constipated, suffer from headaches, have dry flaky skin, or feel thirsty, then you may be mildly dehydrated. Try these tips to improve hydration.

1) Calculate how much water your body needs. Figure out how much you weigh and divide it by 2. That is approximately how many ounces of water you need every day. If you haven’t been drinking enough water, don’t try to increase it all in one day, or even in a week. Gradually work up to it. And remember, if you’re pregnant, nursing, or if you exercise a lot, you’ll need MORE water. Herbal teas and juices count, but try to get most of it from water.

2) Sip, don’t chug. Drinking water slowly helps aid in absorption. Try sipping water with lemon or orange slices.

3) Pretend you’re a camel and carry your water with you. I always bring a reusable, stainless steel water bottle, wherever I go.

4) Schedule it. Set reminders, timers, and specific times for when you’ll drink your water. Don’t wait until the end of the day to gulp down a days worth of water.

5) Stash it. Keep glasses or pitchers of water in areas where you know you’ll be. In the car, at the changing table, near the TV, in the office, in your gym bag, near the nursing chair. Whenever you see the water, take a sip.