Tag Archive for health

Get Your Greens In!

By: Emily Roberts MA, LPC

St. Patrick’s Day is this Saturday, the perfect time to incorporate some greens into your diet and your child to try something new.  Make this holiday about incorporating fun, healthy, nutritious, and good for you greens into your diet.

Pistachios- these protein filled nuts are one of the most nutritious snack out there!   They are the lowest calorie nut and provide a wealth of vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants.  Grab a handful as a snack or throw them on you favorite salad.  Kids love them, and the shell makes them fun to eat.  http://www.pistachiohealth.com/

Kale Chips- now you may be thinking “there is no way something this green can taste good!” They do!  You can buy them at your local natural foods store or make your own. Kale is a super food that is by far one of the most nutritious greens and when you bake them, this leafy green turns into a crispy, delicious snack.  http://allrecipes.com/recipe/baked-kale-chips/

Kiwis- technically Kiwi’s are a berry and referred to as the kiwifruit.  They have more vitamin c than an orange, are filled with as much potassium as a banana, and contain less than 50 calories.  There are many other powerful ingredients.  Eat them on their own or add to a fruit salad for a change of pace and a pop of color. http://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/nutrition/healthy-eating/the-nutrition-of-kiwi.html

Edamame- Also known as the “soy bean,” this  vegetable is packed with protein and has heart healthy benefits.  It’s a great “green food” that can be eaten as a snack, pureed into dishes, and is even used in some deserts.  I personally like mine with a bit of sea salt and soy sauce.  http://www.edamame.com/

Avocado- One of the best foods you can eat! Avocados provide nearly 20 essential nutrients, including fiber, potassium, Vitamin E, B-vitamins and folic acid. They also act as a “nutrient booster” by enabling the body to absorb more fat-soluble nutrients, and are considered “good fat”.  So serve up some guacamole and chips, add some avocado to your next dish or eat one with a little sea salt.  Delicious! http://www.avocado.org/nutrition/

So don’t forget to wear green, head to the grocery store, and get your greens in!

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Boundaries and Children: Are We Creating ‘Generation Entitled?”

By Emily  Roberts MA, LPC

Veruca Salt from 'Charlie and The Chocolate Factory'

I am constantly perplexed when I hear parents making excuses for the physical and mental health needs of their children.  “Sam doesn’t like protein so we give him bread and pasta, we don’t want to start a power struggle. “She doesn’t like the taste of x, y, or z, so we don’t want her to be uncomfortable.” Or “I’ll let her spend the night at that house with the parents who are never home; I don’t want her to be an outcast with her friends.” A few weeks, months or years later they come to see me wracking their brains on what “they did wrong” after parenting struggles have become out of hand.  “I was only trying to make them feels safe, so I didn’t want to punish them.” “I want to be their friend and their parent.”  Well, unfortunately, it is difficult to do both, especially with a child or teenager who is testing your boundaries. 

It is the job of a child and adolescent to see how much they can get away with, “If mom gives me one cookie, maybe she’ll give me two…”  “My curfew is at 10, I’ll see if I can get away with 10:15…” Pushing the envelope is something that we did growing up, and your child will do as well. However, most of the parenting experts and psychologists I have worked with suggest the same thing, they need you to make these boundaries for them, as their brains are not at a developmental capacity to do so; boundaries make them feel safe and loved. 

Sure the tantrum over the cookie or the argument over coming in late is not ideal, and can be stressful for both parent and child, but overtime it says something deeper. “I love you enough to help you make good decisions.”  It may not register right away, but isn’t you intention to help your child grow up to be a healthy, fully functioning, adult?  Putting rules in place, and sticking to them, with a little input from your child, can make a huge impact on their future functioning.  If he/she thinks she can get away with testing the limits at home, they will likely do it at school (if not overtly then within their peer group), with friends, and future relationships.  I see this happen all the time, and so do their peers. 

A 14 year old said to me “I have stopped hanging out with her because it’s always her way, she never lets me pick what we are going to do and it’s annoying.” Their peers pick up on their attitudes of entitlement and so do their teachers, not to mention their future employers.

Research conducted by Paul Harvey, assistant professor of management at the University of New Hampshire, shows that members of Generation Y are more entitlement-minded. Many of these college-grads came from families where there were little boundaries put in place.  For employers, that means more employees who feel entitled to undeserved preferential treatment, they are more prone to get into workplace conflicts, are less likely to enjoy their jobs, not to mention, keep their jobs.  “A great source of frustration for people with a strong sense of entitlement is unmet expectations. They often feel entitled to a level of respect and rewards that aren’t in line with their actual ability and effort levels, and so they might not get the level of respect and rewards they are expecting.” Harvey says.

So what do we do?  Set up some boundaries and learn to say “no”. 

When you hear “I don’t like it…”

Okay, I certainly understand not preferring particular foods, or even places.  Especially if your child is sensitive emotionally or tactically; therefore we wouldn’t want to push them to do something that could really trigger a long term avoidance or trauma.  However we do need to give them a little push sometimes. Growing up, when I did not like the taste of the cough medicine I still had to take it.  I made a fuss then, plugged my noise, sucked it up, and drank it.  And guess what?  It actually helped me; my parents helped me feel better.  So now as an adult instead of avoiding the “yucky” tasting supplements I need to feel well, I suck it up, 30 seconds of a detesting taste and I’m on my way to feeling better.  Not to mention, if it’s as task at work or at home, I don’t feel like doing, I have learned through this cough syrup experience (and probably many others), that it will be over soon enough.  A lesson I couldn’t have learned if my mom were to let me get away with things I didn’t prefer doing as a child.

When you hear “That’s not fair!”

Such an overused term by children and teens, but we have to remember, it really may feel unfair. We cannot discount their feelings.  It is so important to discuss with them why you are making this decision and get their feedback; let them talk, they feel more invested in the processes and heard. Often times I ask clients, “Okay your parents say you need to be home by …. What’s reasonable for you?  What’s a good compromise that your parents and you will be comfortable with?  What happens if you don’t arrive on time?”  Amazingly, they are likely to follow through with the rules and consequences if they know what to expect.

When you hear “You think you know it all.”

Parents, we do not know it all and neither do our children, however they do know quite a bit these days.  It so important to let them know that we make mistakes and that we didn’t always get it right when we were their age.  It is also imperative to let them explain to you how they feel about their situation or what they think they know, before rushing to give them advice.  From years of sitting across the couch from these kids let me tell you, they perceive things much differently than you may think, validate this.  Try “You know what, I am sorry I didn’t let you explain, you may be right.” Or “Can you tell me why you feel that way?  What can I do to help you?” or “This is just my experience, I think it could be helpful for your situation.”  This way we are not telling them we know it all, we are simply assisting them in listening to us, while modeling healthy communication.

The bottom line is that if we don’t start setting boundaries now, we are enabling this child to become a less successful adult.  They are less likely to make emotionally sound and physically healthy decisions when they “don’t have to”.  When I speak to adults, those who had parents who were “friends” or let them get away with more than they “should” report wishing they had more structure, and interestingly enough, often times envy a peer who had this structure in their family.  The ones who had parents who gave them boundaries report feeling “thankful” as they now are able to set limits with themselves and with others.  Be this parent!

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Praise: Why “Good Job” Isn’t Good Enough

By Emily Roberts MA, LPC

Saying “I love you” and “great job” are phrases parents say all the time.  Often parents are so busy and frustrated that they say these words, but the child does not hear them.  Why?  The negative and often critical phrases that they hear all day are more powerful.  If you tell your child ” Your late again!” or ” Why can’t you do what I say the first time?”, they remember them, the negative charge decreases their feelings of accomplishment and self-esteem; comments like these stick with a child, and positive statements become obsolete, leading to low self worth.  If you think about it they are faced with these comments from others all day too.  Whether its a teacher “Timmy you really need to study harder” or a friend “My doll is prettier than your doll.”  Kids are faced with an enormous amount of negative feedback on a daily basis.

Dr. John Gottman reports that most parents say 5:1 critical or negative comments to their children, shouldn’t it be the other way around?    With generously using positive statements a child’s self esteem is boosted. Self-esteem is the beliefs or feelings that we have about ourselves, our self perceptions.  Self-esteem influences our attitudes, relationships, behaviors, and emotions.  Self-esteem can also be defined as the combination of feeling of being loved.  A child who is happy and has been recognized with achievements, if not loved still feels internally empty.

Low self-esteem is linked to a variety of behavioral and mental health problems, that your child can develop now, or later in life.  If I had a dollar for every young adult who told me,” My parents never told me they were proud of me, maybe they said it but they said a lot of things that made me believe otherwise” I would be a very wealthy woman.   It is never to late to help your child develop a healthy self-esteem.  Here are some tips to assist you and your child.

  • A good rule of thumb:  praise your child on the process rather than just the accomplishment. So “Great effort on that homework kiddo” instead of just “thanks for finishing your homework”.  This lets him know that you notice how hard he is working. 
  • Use phrases that can be generic but add your own unique twist. Rather than just “Super job!” try “Super Job on cleaning your room, it looks great!”  Adding what the praise is for helps a child feel accomplished.
  • Here are some phrases to get you started: Nice try! That really helped me! Way to go! That was awesome! I am proud of your effort! Keep up the good work! I am so proud of you! You made my day! You are such a hard worker! Thank you! Wow!  You are so special!  Well done!  Fantastic!  Great job!  Super Job!  You’ve got it!  Beautiful job!  You are unstoppable!  What a good idea!  Great job following directions!  You are such a good listener!  Good for you!  Keep it up!  You are unique!  You are so creative!  You are so precious!  You’re a winner!  I like when you do that!  Great try!  Fantastic Job!  Terrific!  You’re important!  You’re Phenomenal!   You’re such a trooper!  Super work!  You’re fun!  Great job sharing!  You are caring!  What an imagination!  Great effort!  You make me happy!  I trust you!  Outstanding behavior!  You played nicely!  You are a good friend!  I respect you!  Thank you for being respectful!  You mean the world to me!  You make me laugh!  You are wonderful!  You’re a joy!  Keep up the good work! Bravo!  Super!  You’re the best!  You made my day!  That was a good try!  I love you

Remember try and counter any negative or critical statement with a positive statement 5:1 positives versus 5:1 negatives, it helps create a child, and eventually an adult, who feels good about themselves.

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Start The New Year Off Right: Academically

By Emily Roberts MA, LPC

We generally take the last few weeks of August to help our kids get prepared to go back to school, why not now?  January is the start of a new year, and it can be for your child too. Before the fall semester we buy them supplies, help them organize, and change the topic of conversation from summer fun, to school expectations.  Now is the time to re-evaluate our expectations, implement new routines, and help our students have a successful second semester.  Here are some helpful suggestions:

1.  Discuss your expectations.   The saying “just do your best” is no longer an acceptable way to tell your child what you require from them academically.   This statement sends mixed messages, making your child unsure what it will take to make you proud.  The reality is that children do not want to disappoint their parents, even if they sometimes act as if they do.  Help your child create his own reasonable expectations for himself, ask him what his goals are for each class.  After you have listened and thought about what his expectations are, come up with your expectations and see if they coincide.   When it is the child’s plan rather than your demands, they become much more invested, and real changes will occur.

2.)  Be realistic in your expectations.  If your daughter is a genus in math, but has consistently struggled in Language Arts, it may not be realistic to expect all A’s.  As parents, we want our children to be the best and brightest, but it is critical to evaluate how realistic our expectations are.  Recent studies show that setting the bar too high often leads to low self-esteem, depression, and other mental disorders.  When expectations are set at a level where the child feels they can be successful, they are motivated to work towards it, achieve it, and often surpass that goal.  When they feel that it is impossible to meet your expectations, the fear of failure often inhibits their effort. We often hear, “Well I knew I wasn’t going to make an A so I just gave up.”  This is due to the despair created by setting the bar too high.

3.)  Use genuine compliments. When reflecting on the past  semester and current academics, make sure to focus on the positive, without too much emphasis on the negative. It isn’t enough to tell your child “good job”.  While this is meant as a compliment, students often tell us that it is “generic” or what parents “are supposed to say.”  Instead, focus on praising their effort, creativity, or something that was previously challenging.  Praise the process (paying attention more in school) rather than the product (the B+). Telling them “I’m so impressed with the hard work you put into that project, you are so creative.”  is far more meaningful because you are explaining why you are proud of them.  This type of praise sticks with your child, unlike generic complements.

4.)  Use this semester to get to know your child better. Initiate conversations with your child to learn more about them.  Ask about their goals for the year, for the next five years, or even their lifetime aspirations. Ask them about new interests, current trends, or something you saw on T.V., things they may know more about than you (this lets them feel in control and will often get them to open up). Keep these conversations to an age appropriate level. A good place to try this out is in the car. Use a song on the radio or a recent news story to ask their opinion, and then LISTEN; try hard not to judge them on what their saying.  More often than not, you will find this technique will lead to deeper, more meaningful conversations.

5.) Avoid “Yes, but….” phrases.Comments like: “Good job in English, but I bet if you would have studied more you would have made an A.” or “If you just had the study habits of your brother, then you would get better grades,” send the wrong message. While your intention may be to motivate your child to work harder and aspire toward greater achievement, comparisons rarely have this desired effect.  Children will often withdraw and feel as though they are not good enough to make you proud until they can be like others, which may never happen. When their self-esteem is compromised by feeling inadequate, their grades will often suffer and their effort and focus generally decreases.  Make the basis of the conversation about what they need to improve on, rather that alluding to the success of someone else or what your child hasn’t achieved.  When having this conversation, make sure to point out what makes them unique in your eyes. 

Implementing all of these strategies at once can be a bit overwhelming.  Focus on the dialogue that you feel will be most beneficial for your child first, then once you are comfortable, continue to integrate new strategies.  When children of any age feel that they have a voice and are being listened to, they generally are happier and more communicative with their parents.  This leads to a lifetime of better conversations and a better relationship with your child.

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What is Gluten and Why Shouldn’t I Eat it?

By Nikki Jackson-Drummond, CCN

Have you ever wondered what gluten intolerance is and why it has received so much attention recently?  Is this just a new fad from the health food industry or something to take notice of?  How do you find out if you or your child is gluten intolerant?

The answers to these questions might be surprising….

The Basics about Gluten

First, let’s be clear on the meaning of gluten intolerance.  It does not mean allergy.  Gluten intolerance is a physical condition in the gut.   It basically means that your body is not able to digest gluten proteins (from wheat and other grains).  Instead, the body begins to attack these undigested proteins as if they were a foreign invader, damaging the micro-villi that line the small intestine.  The lining becomes inflamed, which reduces the surface area available to absorb nutrients. 

Common symptoms of gluten intolerance:

  • Headaches
  • Depression
  • Sleep problems
  • Impulsivity and/or aggression in children
  • Poor Focus/ Poor Memory
  • Weight Gain or loss
  • Bloating and/or diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Joint pain
  • Eczema/Psoriasis
  • ADD/ADHD
  • Low Iron levels
  • Neurological disorders

It All Starts in the Gut

The severity of gluten intolerance may range from gluten sensitivity all the way up to full-blown celiac disease, a true “allergy” to gluten that is an inherited autoimmune disorder.  This is no fad.  In fact, many people are gluten sensitive or intolerant and have absolutely no idea.  In 2000, gluten intolerance was estimated in 1 out of 2500.  Today that statistic is an astounding 1 in 133! 

The misuse of words by the media has caused lots of confusion on this topic.   However, the differences are profound. 

Gluten Sensitivity Can be Fixed 

Put simply, if you test “sensitive” to gluten, take it out of the diet for at least 6 months.  The gut heals and gluten can gradually be re-introduced.  However, some folks may not be so lucky.  Removing the gluten and healing the gut can take care of the symptoms, but removing gluten from the diet must be permanent if there is a true intolerance. 

Why Are More People Gluten Intolerant Today?

Even over the last ten years, cases of gluten intolerance are on the rise.  There are several factors:

  • Dysbiosis:  Some people may not be able to digest gluten because they have gut dysbiosis, an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in the gut.  Dysbiosis can occur from taking antibiotics (especially if used more than once every few years), or from eating foods you can’t digest.  For example:  feeding grains to infants before they can digest them can cause dysbiosis.  The overgrowth of “bad bacteria” along with the undigested fragments of gluten can trick their immune system into thinking the undigested food particles are from the bad bacteria. 
  • Genetics:  Some people may have the gene responsible for improper digestion of gluten, although it has not yet been identified. 
  • Food Quality:  We all know that food today is much more processed and genetically modified in many cases.  We also know that breads today are not made the same as they used to be.  In fact, the gluten proteins found in grains today are structurally different from the grains our ancestors used.  Scientists have recently discovered a peptide in gluten (which triggers the intolerance) that did not exist in ancestral grains. 


How Do I Get Tested?


Click here.  Gluten intolerance is identified with a simple blood test.  As a clinical nutritionist, this is one of the first tests I order when patients do not respond well to neurotransmitter balancing.  We’ll  send you a test kit and then go over the results to devise a diet that suits your body’s needs.  The lab I like to use for this testing will also test for 19 other common food sensitivities, 10 food additives, and 10 food colorings.  You’ll receive the following:

  • Food Intolerance Test kit
  • Results identifying both food intolerances AND food sensitivities
  • 50-page Guide to living with food sensitivities
  • Half-hour consultation with Clinical Nutritionist
  • Gut restoration protocol
  • Price:  $225

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In-Home Genetics Testing: What Are You At-Risk For?

By Emily Roberts, MA, LPC

Have you ever wanted to know if you or your child is at-risk for developing different diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes?  Many adults we work with are and looking to optimise their health, and decrease the risk of potential life threatening diseases.  Many of the parents we work with  have one or more adoptive children, and know very little about their biological background, let alone their risk for developing diabetes, cancer or heart disease.  Those who opt to do genetic testing want to know their potential risk in order to take the best preventitive care possible and alleviate worry over the unknown.

Advocates of in-home genetic testing argue that testing may motivate parents and children to take preventive actions, while critics believe personal genetic tests may provide inaccurate or incomplete information that may worry parents and children more than it helps them.  However, if we are unaware of the genetic make up of the child (due to adoption) this route may be the easiest in preventing future diseases, and allows parents to be steps ahead, rather than worried about the unknown. In the study listed below, of those parents who are interested in genetic testing, “96 percent think it may give them the chance to prevent diseases and may help parents recognize children’s health problems earlier. The poll also shows that 90 percent of parents who express interest in genetic testing for their children are also interested in genetic testing for themselves.”

As adults, if we know that we have a genetic predisposition to a particular disease, this test accurately tests YOUR risk, dispelling the fear of the unknown. Variations in your genes crucial to your B-vitamin metabolism and the ability to manage oxidative stress.  Individuals that show suboptimal results for the genes can be at increased risk for ineffective utilization of B-vitamins and potential for cell damage caused by oxidative stress, both of which can in some cases lead to increased risk for certain diseases and cancers. 

A recent poll by University of Michigan Health Systems found most parents are interested in testing their children. Nearly all interested parents believe it may give them a chance to prevent disease; most uninterested parents believe it will cause worry.”  To see the article in full click here

For more information on Neurogistics Genetic Testing click here or contact us at info@neurogistics.com

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Thirsty? Are You Getting Enough Water?

By Emily Roberts, MA, LPC

Are you getting enough Water? Let’s face it, most of us consume more caffeine then we do water, and with the summer heat, getting hydrated is more important than ever.  Many of us are running on energy drinks and soda, without even thinking about how many glasses of water we have had.  The bottom line is adults and children in the United States are dehydrated, which consequently effects brain chemistry and ones overall health.  Adequate hydration is important for proper brain functioning, as mild dehydration can impair your ability to concentrate, compromise your digestive track, and cause a decrease in energy.

To calculate how much water one needs divide body weight by three to yield the minimum water needed to detoxify the brain daily, if one is exercising heavily divide the body weight by two.  See the table for The Beverage Institute of Health and Wellness recommendations. http://www.thebeverageinstitute.com/

Most children are not getting enough water either, without this we see the same symptoms as we do adults, plus a lot more irritability and focus issues.  It’s important to make sure they are drinking plenty of water when they are outside playing, especially in these warm summer months. Studys show that children will drink up to 50 percent more water if it’s flavored (certainly, adults will too).  Make sure the flavored drinks they consume are all natural, made mostly from water, and do not have added sugars, dyes, or flavors. Here are some other creative ways to get children, and adults, to get their recommended H2o for the day.

  • Sparkling water- this is a favorite among kids and adults I know.  These come in subtle flavors such as mixed berry, lemon, lime, and grapefruit.  I am currently obsessed with the strawberry flavor at Whole Foods, I drank 32oz without even realizing it.
  • Fruit and Vegetable juice- remember many fruits and vegetables are high in water, I suggest diluting juice with 25 percent water to get more with great flavor.
  • Broth based soups and Popsicles- believe it or not, they are high in water content and contribute to your daily fluid intake.
  • Tea- weather its iced tea, green tea, or decaffeinated tea, this is a great way to get flavor and nutrients, as well as hydration.
  • Emergen-C packets- one packet in 8 oz of water gives you 1000 mg of vitamin C, 24 vitamins and minerals, and a great taste to boot.  They make water fizzy, tasty, and full of nutrients; great for kids and adults. http://www.emergenc.com/

Remember, drinking water is the easiest thing you can do to increase hydration, detoxify your body and brain, and help you with optimal health.  By now you are probably reaching for a glass of water (yay). Make sure in these hot summer months, you and your children are getting enough to drink!

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Having Fun on Vacation with the Kids? It’s Possible…

Tips for Summer Trips with the Kids

Many parents are taking about upcoming trips and most are worried; worried because last year’s vacation was a disaster.  Meltdowns, long car rides, tantrum throwing in public, un-restful night’s sleep…..

Here are a few tips for preparing for a successful summer getaway:

Before you go: 

Develop ground rules so there are no surprises.  Sit down as a family and make a contract (no matter how young the child is) and bring it with you, encourage them to discuss what they want to do while you are visiting, and what rules should be in place, along with consequences if these rules are broken.  This can include by is not limited to:

  • If we are in public and you are having a difficult time, tell us, so we don’t have a meltdown in public.
  • You may get ONE souvenir when we get there, under $10.00( up to parents). Letting them know ahead of time, will decrease the chance of them asking for everything in sight. 
  • If you­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­ ­­­­­­­­­­­­­_______________ (insert behaviors here, hit, bite, kick, scream) at us or your siblings you will have ______________(consequences).  Immediate consequences work best. Make sure there are more than one behavior and consequence listed.
  • Follow through with these rules, if you don’t children will keep doing it.  It’s up to you to set the standard and the boundaries.

What to Pack:

  • In long car rides or on planes, pack activities that your child can easily access; their DS, coloring book, reading material, travel-sized games.  *While in the car or on the plane surprise them with a new toy.  This will be exciting for the kids and a new activity to focus their energy on.
  • Snacks.  Making sure kiddos have a snack every few hours is a key for happy travels.  Keeping a cooler of healthy, protein rich snacks with you is ideal for keeping their brain chemistry optimal and reducing meltdowns.  If your child is on a special diet, bring those items as well, just because their on vacation, does not mean that their bodies can handle foods that can be damaging to their system.  Fruit, nuts, cheese, yogurt (keep it frozen overnight and it will stay cold for hours), peanut butter sandwiches, veggies and hummus. 
  • Pack vitamins and supplements (yours too).  This is imperative for a stress-free vacation.  If we forget for a few days, that is understandable, but for most kids, vacations are exciting, and along with exciting, bad behaviors can emerge.  Individually bag and label their supplements for each day and time of dosage; carry them with you; this will insure they are getting the fuel they need.
  • Let them help you pack.  As frustrating as it may be, when they know what’s in their suitcase, and they picked it out, your kids will most likely be apt to wear it, not fuss over it, and feel a sense of pride for helping.  Many kids who have a difficult time adjusting to new surroundings find that bringing their blanket and pillow from home (some even sheets) help them sleep better and feel more comfortable in new surroundings.

I like Michele Borba’s tips (Today Show Contributor and Parenting Expert) http://www.micheleborba.com/blog/2010/07/22/back-seat-sanity-savers-for-road-trips/

Please add your own success tips.  We hope you have a wonderful summer and a stress-free vacation!

In Good Health,

Emily Roberts, MA, LPC

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