The Importance of Self-Care for Parents

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More and more I am amazed (and overwhelmed!) by the responsibility of being a parent. I am constantly asking myself “Am I doing the right thing?”, “Is she getting enough veggies, enough exercise, enough fresh air?”

I’ve come to realize it all boils down to this: the better I am at taking care of myself and managing my stress, the better care I am able to give as a parent.

Stress doesn’t just influence one person but trickles into the family – and because children are like sponges – intensely aware of our emotions, actions, and words – they also feel our stress. This can manifest in various ways including temper and anger issues, attention deficits, hyperactivity, sleep disturbances, head and tummy aches.

There are several powerful ways in which we can manage stress and reduce the negative impact it has on our lives and those around us.

Nutrition plays an essential role in stress management. Unfortunately, when under high levels of stress, it can be more challenging to make healthy food choices. This can be the result of a feeling that there isn’t enough time, which leads to quick, often unhealthy food choices or even skipping meals. Stress triggers a hormonal response in the body, releasing high levels of cortisol that cause us to crave foods high in fat, sugar, and salt. Stress can also lead to mindless eating, a major risk for overeating and poor food choices.

Being aware of these tendencies and finding ways to incorporate healthy foods as part of your lifestyle, even during times of stress, will benefit everyone in the household.

Having the proper nutrients gives our bodies resilience and resistance to the negative impacts of stress. A few foods and herbs that are particularly helpful include:

Foods rich in B vitamins
– B vitamins support the nervous and immune systems and have a positive, supportive influence on the adrenals (stress glands). They can be found in foods such as grass-fed/free range meats, oats, brazil nuts, avocados, beans, and kefir.

Foods rich in omega 3
– Stress causes inflammation and omega 3s have potent anti-inflammatory action; they are also important for brain health and immune function and have a positive impact on mood. Foods high in omega 3 include:  sardines, wild salmon, flax oil, flaxseeds, and walnuts.

Calming, sleep supportive herbs
– Stress can influence sleep, and less sleep makes it harder to cope with stress – a vicious cycle. Supporting sleep and reducing tension with herbs is a safe and effective way to reduce the effects of stress. When you need a healthy nightcap, consider brewing a strong cup of any of the following combinations:

Chamomile and Lemon Balm – help to calm anger and irritability. Great for tantrums in kids and parents.

Scullcap and Oats – wonderful for nervous exhaustion and muscle tension.

Valerian and Catnip – a combo with sedative action that is great for people with insomnia who also express stress in their digestive systems, such as cramps or diarrhea.

Linden and Passionflower – also sedative and work well in combination for stress related insomnia in people that also experience headaches or high blood pressure.

Aside from nutrition, finding ways to actively release stress can make a huge impact on what you are bringing into the home. Acupuncture, meditation, and Reiki are all very effective ways of reducing stress. Finding the therapy that works for you, and using it often (during periods of high and low stress), will help induce a sense of calm that will carry through into your interactions with your family.

I understand that guilt sometimes plays a role when it comes to parents finding time for self-care. When something is so important to the health of your family, there should be no guilt but only a sense of urgency – time alone to exercise, read, get a massage, or whatever it is that fills up your cup – is not only essential, but sacred.

Introducing children to the importance of self-care done thru your modelling, is extremely beneficial to their health in the short and long term. Children are often open, receptive, and responsive to holistic therapies and giving a child tools to manage their stress is one of the greatest gifts you can offer.

For more information on how naturopathic medicine can help increase your resilience to stress, call The Pear Tree at 506-857-1300 to book an appointment.

Elderberry Syrup for Cold & Flu

Sambucus canadensis, or Elderberry, is one of our favourite herbs this time of year.

  • It acts deeply on the respiratory tract, decreasing congestion (quickly at that!)
  • promotes detoxification through our pores and digestive tract – helping us prevent and recover from the flu!

It’s powerful but gentle and safe – and a definite go-to if you have children in the house. When we start see runny noses and coughs with mucus 1 tbsp of Elderberry syrup 2-3x a day is a must.

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Recipe: 

In a small pot add…

  • 3 cups of water
  • 1 cup of honey
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup of Elderberries (We have ordered them in at The Pear Tree just for you!)*
  • 1 tsp of ginger

Let it simmer for 30 minutes. Strain out the elderberries and store in airtight container (if you’re anything like us, mason jars are all over the house and these work perfectly!).

Store in fridge. Use 1 tbsp/day preventatively or 2-3tbsp/day at first signs of cold and flu.

Happy Healing!

Your Sensational Health Experts.

*You can pick up elderberries from The Pear Tree, call ahead to make sure we’re open! 857-1300

Back To School: Well Child Check-Up

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In light of Back to School, The Pear Tree will be offering
Well Child Check-Ups for the next two weeks!!

Many children who experience restlessness and an inability to focus during class time are in need of certain nutrients and vitamins. These check-ups assess general health and development to ensure your child starts school on the right foot.

Appointments will run 15 minutes and cost $30.

Don’t miss out, August 29th – Sept 12th, Book Now with Dr. Tatlock and Dr. Blake
@ 857-1300.

Thinking outside of the (lunch) box

This fall a big change is happening for my family. My daughter starts kindergarten in September. Although she has attended day care on occasion, most of her care to this point has been at home with the help of our extended family. Having a child in school presents a couple of challenges that make me exceptionally grateful for naturopathic medicine and my awareness around the importance of wholesome food.

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So, I’m sure it comes as no surprise that healthy meals are always a big focus in my life.

With the first day of school around the corner I’ve had to do some outside of the box thinking as to how I can pack a kid-friendly, healthy meal that travels.

Let’s begin with a few general tips about healthy meal planning.

1) Involve the entire family in meal planning, grocery shopping, and meal prep. Kids who engage in the kitchen activities are more likely to eat the meals that are prepared and have better long-term eating habits!

2) Set time aside to prep and batch cook so there’s less to do throughout the week. I like chopping all my veggies into sticks for snacking or grating a few cups of purple cabbage, carrots, and celery to easily toss into salads, wraps, or stir fry. Things like quinoa, hummus, energy balls, salad dressing, overnight oats, yogurt bowls, soups, chilli, sauces, etc. can all be made several days in advance or even frozen for long-term storage.

3) Plan ahead. This is THE KEY to healthy eating. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Live by it. If you have time and are making a lovely, nourishing meal think about ways the leftovers could be incorporated into the next day’s lunch or supper. Make a plan for a week or at least 2-3 days in advance (and stick to it).

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Here are some great ideas I hope will help inspire healthy, creative, and most importantly delicious lunch boxes!

Overnight chilli or pasta sauce
– Place all chilli ingredients in slow cooker overnight and in the morning, simply fill a thermos with the goodness. Send with toasted spelt pita chips.
Note: My daughter has turned against the texture of some of the veggies we put in sauce and chilli, so I do appease her by using a hand immersion blender or our Vitamix to create a consistent texture. When making chilli, I simply add the beans after blending.

Boost your Sandwich
– Add sprouts
– Use lots of veggies such as shredded cabbage, carrots, and celery
– Include “real” meat (ideally high quality, local/grass-fed/free-range) or wild fish
– Try using mashed avocado or hummus instead of mayo
– Be choosy with your bread, go for ancient grains like spelt and kamut. Many local bakeries offer options like this OR wrap it up with lettuce or a sheet of seaweed!

Super Salads
– Get creative! Anything goes when it comes to salad (aka Goddess Bowls!)
– Add lentils, chickpeas, or beans for protein
– Vary the greens (and use more than one kind at once!)
– Toss in fruit and veggies!
– Pump up the volume with seeds, sprouted grains, or sprouts
– Modify the ingredients for less sophisticated palates and wrap them up in a spelt pita or brown rice wrap

Pack a punch with pasta
– Switch up the noodles for black bean or lentil varieties for added protein and fibre
– Try a veggie noodle using a spiraler (zucchini and spaghetti squash are naturals for this!)
– Make your own sauce (we load ours with veggies and then blend it to please our daughter’s texture preference)
– Take every opportunity to add in veggies, like in this Mac and Cheese

Snacks
– Hummus and veggie sticks
– Energy seed balls (of course being mindful of no-nut policies)
– Cheese and crackers
– Smoothies to go-go
Popcorn!
– Wholegrain rice cake with pumpkin seed butter, hummus, or avocado
– Plain, full fat yogurt with chia or ground flaxseeds, topped with berries, cinnamon, and a splash of honey or maple syrup
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Water
– We’ve all heard about the dark side of fruit juice and I recommend avoiding it. In my experience, when juice is not available kids will drink water! Send them to school with a cool, stainless steel canister and encourage them to refill throughout the day!

Let’s face it, eating clean, wholesome foods takes preparation. But I think you and your kids are worth it. I hope you do too!

Happy lunchbox packing!