Today we have a guest post from Eilidh Venning from Thrive! Lifestyle Solutions. Eils, as she is know, is a mum, natural health advocate and practice manager. She has worked in Chiropractic offices internationally and has worked with many families. Babies and mums are her main focus with interests including fertility, pregnancy, birth, infancy and childhood.
How would you like to be a family that goes through life without the need for medications?
If you are reading this then you are, at the very least, thinking about you and your family’s health. Whether you are trying to introduce a new lifestyle for yourself and want your whole family to benefit, or your child has a chronic degenerative disease (obesity, asthma, diabetes, learning disorders, pain, depression, anxiety, allergies) and you are looking for non-invasive, drug free solutions. This article contains, in my opinion, the most important things to consider when it comes to your family’s health.
Studies have shown that the choices you make will affect your family for at least 3 generations to come. The momentum of your lifestyle choices will make it easier for the message to be carried down to your children, your grand children and even your great grand children.
Most people think that we can start making these lifestyle changes from birth, but I’m going to go even further down the line to pre-conception. Preparing your body to be the best it can be to carry a child. Some of you might be thinking “oh $h!t, I’m a bit late for that” but whatever your starting point, we can make it work for you and your family.
The earlier you can make healthier lifestyle changes the better, but it’s never too late!
You will also notice that I am calling these lifestyle changes, that’s because we are aiming to create new habits, routines and rituals, not flash in the pan, once off, temporary, yo-yo diets or exercise routines.
As humans you should be eating foods that are biologically appropriate, high quality (as best you can afford) and that are nutrient dense. The current western diet is laden with foods that are not fit for human consumption, poor quality processed crap and that is grossly lacking in nutrients. There is far too much to say about nutrition in just a few sentences so if you want to know more about this, then you can click here to get your FREE copy of “The Philosophy of Food” by Dr Greg Venning.
You know the saying “monkey see, monkey do”? Children take their cue from us as parents. It is best to make lifestyle change as a whole family. No point having one plan for one person and another for everyone else, that just causes frustrations and makes it less likely that the change will become a lifetime habit. It also means that you are not spending more time than you need to in the kitchen, cooking 2 or 3 different dishes at every mealtime, and can spend that time with your family.
With all the supernormal stimulus that children are exposed to on a daily basis: caffeine, sugar, MSG, flavourings, alcohol, salt and processed fats, the best advice I was ever given was “if it comes in a packet and has 3 or more ingredients (and if any of them is on the list of SS above) then ditch it and move on.” You might be thinking that this doesn’t leave many other options but there are lots of things you can make using these whole, fresh ingredients without the added crap: meat, fish, foul, eggs, vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds. Click here for my Healthy Lunchbox Ideas.
I’m going to use the word movement here because I don’t like the word exercise. To me, exercise seems like hard work or doing something I really don’t like and I know that many of you as parents will feel the same. I want my children to grow up LOVING movement.
Movement is an essential nutrient for creating health. Movement of the spine acts like a windmill that generates power through your nervous system to fuel your brain. You need to move your body daily. Daily movement doesn’t have to be going to the gym for an hour (or two), there are some easy ways to increase your daily movement and get the children involved too:
- Walking the dog round the park
- Jumping on a trampoline for 10 minutes
- Dancing all out, like no one is watching, to your favourite songs on the radio
- Crawling around on the floor with your toddler (if you want to know how to do a perfect squat, watch a toddler!)
- Tickle fights
- Taking the stairs instead of the lift or escalator
- Use your baby as a weight for some of your movements – Breah’s favourite is when we do ‘row row row your boat’. She sits on me while I do my sit ups. When she was a little bit smaller, she also loved lying underneath me while I do press-ups because she gets a kiss every time I get down to her cute little face, now she lines up next to me and joins in!
Find out what your kids love to do early in life and stick with it that way they are less likely to grow up to hate movement and exercise. Don’t force them to do something they don’t like. This also applies to you too: if you don’t like running, don’t join a running club!
My last point in this section is about non-exercise movement. This means not sitting in front of a TV or computer all the time. Turn off the TV and do some movement together as a family. Set up a standing desk at home that the whole family can benefit from. Peak Chiropractic in Claremont, Cape Town have been demonstrating the “Straighten Up South Africa” initiative by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to some of the local primary schools and have now been asked to help with a standing desk trial with some schools throughout the country. If you think that your child’s school would be interested in taking part, you can get in touch here.
Mental and emotional stress is often overlooked but it plays an integral part in creating health. Stress can often build up over time and prevent your body from performing at it’s best. There are many things that may influence your family’s stress levels:
- Loss of a loved one – a close relative, friend or pet
- School (or work) problems – exams, bullying, peer pressure
- Getting too involved with the adult world – watching/listening to the news
- Relationships – siblings, parents, friends, work colleagues, the boss, divorce, step-families
- Technology – computer crash, cell phone signal
You don’t have to shield your children from the world but you want to protect their innocence for as long as possible. You can do this by not having the news on 24/7. When you are in the car with the radio on, turn it down or change channels when the news comes on. Only watch the news on TV once the children have gone to bed or get the headlines sent to you via e-mail/on your phone or tablet. It is good to be informed about what is going on in the world around you but not to let it consume you.
Try to praise your children for their actions. That way they don’t get tied too much to the outcomes. A child who puts in all their effort and comes in third place should be praised for doing their best. There are going to be times in their lives where circumstances conspire against them and they won’t reach their desired outcomes, they need to know that this is OK and is not a reflection of them as a person. It allows them to develop an internal barometer for success and fulfilment.
In our lives there is a perfect balance of challenge and support. Growth happens at the border of challenge and support. Give a child too much support and they grow up juvenile and dependent: challenge them too much and they will become precocious and independent. A child who is too independent will push their parents away. To maximise the influence we have in our children’s lives we need to both challenge and support them in equal measure.
Rest & Restore
Sleep is vitally important throughout your life. Your body grows and repairs while you sleep. Sleep is also vital to:
- Immune function
- Memory formation
- Processing information
- Hormonal balance
- Microbiome health
Often life gets in the way of sleep. There are so many other things you could be doing, like looking after the family or work. Here is a great article on sleep by Dr Justin Petzer:
Getting rest doesn’t just mean getting a good night sleep; you also need to schedule some quiet time or down time where you can just sit and be a family together. Whether you use that time to play board games, have a walk in nature or sitting around the table together having dinner it doesn’t matter. Unstructured play time is also important too, especially for children. It is all too often that children’s schedules are packed full of activities and they go from one club or group to the next, every day of the week.
Your mind and body thrive in nature. Your genes expect you to be in nature. The texture, sights, sounds, smells, all calm your nervous system.
It may surprise you to know that as a country with a lot of sunshine, most of the people living in South Africa are deficient in vitamin D. You have been taught from a very early age that the sun is bad for you and to stay out of it, cover up and slop on creams when you should in fact be getting sensible exposure to the sun. Your body needs the sun to help it synthesise vital vitamins. Vitamin D is also important for calcium absorption and laying down bone. Sensible exposure includes exposing most of your body to the sun (torso and arms or legs) for between 10-30 minutes a day between the hours of 10am and 2pm without any protection. Fairer skins will need less time.
Get the dirt under your fingernails, the sand in your shoes, the wind in your hair, the rain on your face…embrace it!
The Nervous System
Your body is controlled by your brain and nervous system. If there is interference or misalignments which are choking your nervous system (subluxations) only allowing 60% of the messages to get through then your body is only going to function at 60%. This can sometimes lead to symptoms such as neck pain, back pain, headaches, fatigue or lead to hormone imbalance, injuries, chronic diseases… When there is interference with the function of your nervous system, it doesn’t just compromise your physical well-being. When your nervous system is not functioning at it’s best, your body will not be able to make the best of the hard work you have been putting into your family’s lifestyle changes. A vitalistic Chiropractor is trained to locate and correct these subluxations freeing up your nervous system to allow your body to function optimally, to heal and regenerate. Find out more about vitalistic Chiropractic care here.
Each of these pointers is powerful on it’s own however your body is not a machine that is separated into different parts and can be manipulated or replaced without regards to the whole. Your body is an ecosystem that flourishes when it is provided with the correct environment. Your body is intelligent and responds with a purpose to its environment. We need to listen to it and acknowledge what it is telling us. Addressing these pointers individually will get average results but addressing all of these pointers together will allow you and your family to Thrive!
If you want to find out more about my journey to health and vitality you can read my story here.
Eils is mum to Breah and in her ‘spare time’ away from the practice and her family her passion is to help other families become healthier and enjoy life more. Get more free resources from Thrive! Lifestyle Solutions.