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This season, the transition for kids returning to school after a playful and sometimes exhausting summer begins.  To spare yourself and your little ones the stress and upheaval of a new routine, prepare their bodies for the transition.

Early Mornings

The transition to living a life on schedule is a dramatic shift in some households where kids have been able to sleep in to their hearts content.  Sleep deprivation can cause significant challenges in mood and behavior.  Even missing 30 minutes of sleep per night can cause a young student to operate at a whole grade level below what they’re authentically capable of!

Crank back the clock gradually by re-setting the bedtime routine.  Setting the bedtime back 15 minutes each night is enough to shift the system without causing the confusion and insomnia of trying to get to bed too early.

Sleep support for the routine’s transition:

–       Chamomile tea is a safe and yummy sleep aid for all ages.

–       Passionflower solid extract is useful to help calm hyperactivity.

–       Valerian tincture is useful for adults to get to sleep earlier, but is not recommended for children due to its affect on neurotransmitters.

–       Warm baths with Epsom salts and lavender flowers is a luxurious way for anyone to relax, ideal for the whole family!

High-Paced Activity

Keeping up with the intellectual demands of the school year can be an abrupt transition from summer’s freedom.  Mental overload is a true obstacle that can be very intense for some kids.

Nutritional support to help the brain thrive:

–       Blood sugar balance – breakfast feasts are an important way to give your kids the tools their brains and bodies will need to perform their best.  Approximately 30% protein, 30% vegetables and 30% complex carbohydrates (whole grains) is the formula for optimal blood sugar.  This is especially important during phases of significant growth.

–       Omega 3 fatty acids – supplementing the brain with omega 3’s in the form of liquid or chewable fish oils gives kids a neurological boost for extra synaptic activity.

–       Fresh fruit or protein snacks are key to keeping the energy going.  Crackers, sweets, breads, cookies, pretzels and other carbohydrate full packaged foods will encourage a blood sugar rush and predictable crash that won’t be appreciated by the teachers.

Afternoon Ease

Just when they’re completely wired or totally zapped, kids return home from their active day at school to deal with all the aspects of family life.  Chores, homework, connecting with family and the myriad of activities they’re involved with can push stress over the top.  Assist the afternoon ease by facilitating a stress free after-school time and help their bodies learn stress management early.

Tools for after-school ease :

–       Afternoon napping – Surveys of individuals who routinely nap in the afternoons demonstrate greater productivity and brain function.  30 minutes of quiet reading or just lying still sharing stories of the day’s activity can help make this down time appreciated.

–       Attention – while focus is a challenge for many kids at school, attention it is something everyone benefits from when received from others.  Make the transition out of school activity a special time for parent-child connection.

–       Tea time – the tradition of afternoon tea is especially helpful for the transition from one hectic thing to the next.  Licorice root is a very sweet, delicious herb that helps balance stress.  Combined with lemonbalm or another nervine herb greatly balances the mood.

–       Nature – spending time in nature greatly reduces stress hormones in the body.  Plan some after-school nature exploration, hikes or just a picnic out back.

Immune Assault

Back to school means back to the plethora of immune exposures that for some can be year-long sniffles and sneezes.  While it is beneficial for the immune system to be challenged, the way we deal with it makes the difference between a beneficial experience for the body or a harmful one.

Boost the immune system naturally-

–       Herbal allies – boost immune activity with elderberries and astragalus while feeling well and Echinacea when an illness tries to creep in.

–       Hydrotherapy – supporting fevers naturally is the best way for the body to improve overall health.  The fever process encourages dramatic detoxification, improves gene transcription and eliminates an illness.  Stopping a low-grade fever can create confusion in the body and leave a pathogen to settle into the body. 

–       Homeopathy – safe and effective, homeopathic medicines allow for quick symptomatic support to the challenges of colds and flus. 

For more information on tools for natural medicine and optimizing your child and family’s health, visit us at Stillwater Healing Arts in Lyons today!  Now registering for our upcoming season’s classes on tools for everyday wellness.  Our 6 week THRIVE! series teaches individuals how to use herbs, homeopathy, hydrotherapy, nutrition, mindfulness and more for everyday ailments and health.  Visit us online at http://www.stillwaterhealingarts.com.

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By this time of year, packing school lunches has moved beyond a morning chore to a nearly painful morning ritual that can easily lead to the intolerable battle of wills with elementary school kids (or adults for that matter) in some households!  Here are some ideas to ease the struggle or just inspire the daily habit.

Sandwiches and single serving packaged foods can get extremely boring and may not pack the biggest nutrition for their buck.  Yogurts and snack crackers often contain more sugar and preservatives than the value of their nutrients.  Even many of the foods marketed as health foods contain additional ingredients better off left in the chemistry lab.  Save money, eat healthier and create less environmental waste by getting creative with homemade packed lunches.

Ideas to make morning’s easier:

–       Engage kids in their own lunch creations.  Have them select ingredients from the fridge to begin a creative project of making their own lunch the night before.

–       Purchase re-usable travel containers (local crafters have many cute options available) to help snacks seem interesting.

–       Always deal with food prep after having an adequate breakfast with enough protein to help the blood sugar be stable.  Hypoglycemic irritability can account for many kitchen tantrums (of any age group).

Quick, easy and healthy options for packed lunches:

–       Hard boiled eggs – ideal protein/fat ratio for keeping blood sugar happy and if they’re free range organic eggs they can be incredibly beneficial for cholesterol levels!  Healthy fats are especially important for growing children as they approach the era of major hormonal changes.

–       Lettuce wraps – Skip the bread and create a veggie rich lunch by taking large lettuce leaves and wrapping them around tuna fish or smoked salmon.  Can also add sprouts, cheeses, mayo, rice, quinoa and spices to keep it interesting!  Makes for a better option than the average PB&J if you take a lettuce leaf, swipe a bit of peanut or almond butter through it and layer it with raisins or other dried fruit.

–       Veggie Sticks – skip the puffs, instead pack some lightly steamed veggies for food that’s just as fun to eat and actually warrants the energy expended while munching.  Puffed foods incur high heat exposure, which makes their natural oils no longer beneficial to consume.  A light steam to chopped carrots, broccoli and beets makes the valuable nutrients in these vegetables easy to digest and their natural sweet flavor more pronounced.

–       Trail mix – while it is easy to imagine the M&M filled sugar hunt of many commercial trail mixes, you can create healthy and less expensive options by purchasing nuts and dried fruit in bulk and mixing it to your preference.  Consuming nuts and seeds is the single best way to get the balance of vitamins and minerals in your daily diet.

–       Dried fruit or fresh fruit cut in a unique way can be a fun addition to a packed lunch.  Fruit is often a big hit with kids and can provide an abundance of antioxidants and immune boosting vitamins.  But, fruit sugar will aversely affect the blood sugar levels if there is not already a substantial protein or fat in the body.  The mixture of fruits and nuts makes for a great balance.

–       Left-overs!  Chicken salad, veggies and rice or soups may not be the first thing that comes to mind for a kids lunch but can be a great and easy way to get the job done.  Many families recognize that their dinners are far healthier food choices than the other 2 meals of the day.  Perhaps making “dinner” every meal throughout the day is a better way to go.

The goal for a healthy packed lunch is to come home completely eaten.  Helping kids engage in their food choices can be helpful to their interest in eating it as well.  The goal for the day’s nutrition is to provide the body with an overwhelming quantity of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants found mainly in freshly prepared vegetables, meats, nuts, legumes, whole grains and fruits.  Regardless of how we get the nutrients in us, the most important factor for maintaining growth, energy and concentration during the day is to ensure adequate blood sugar balance and a low-additive diet to prevent the body from getting irritated by unnecessary ingredients.

For a personalized approach to nutrition, schedule a consultation today at Stillwater Healing Arts in Lyons, Colorado.

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