Episode 4: The 4 Pillars of Healthy And Happy Kids
In this episode, I’m talking about the 4 pillars of healthy and happy kids. I’ve created these from the years of work that I’ve done with families and kids. I realised that everything that we need to do to improve and optimise our kids’ health fall into one of 4 pillars.
These pillars are: Diet and nutrition, Reducing Toxins and Chemicals, Healthy Lifestyle and Natural Medicines. I discuss how each pillar impacts your kids’ health and overall well-being.
If you’re interested to learn more about these pillars, we have an online membership club that we call the Natural Super Kids Klub. This is a place where you can get all the support and inspiration you need to raise healthy and happy kids.
- Find out more about the Natural Super Kids KLUB
- Find Natural Super Kids on Instagram
- Learn more about getting more wholefoods into your kids diet
- Read about the benefits of outdoor play for kids
- The health effects of plastic on children
- Choosing a multivitamin for kids
- Learn more about choosing a probiotic for kids
- Book an online appointment with a Naturopath
Welcome back to the NSK podcast!
It is great to have you here today. Thank you so much for joining me and I hope you’ve been enjoying the podcast so far. Maybe this is your first episode that you’ve listened to, I’m still finding my groove. I must admit, it feels a little strange sitting in my office talking to myself. As opposed to what I’ve been doing for the last couple of years. The Facebook lives, they’re much more interactive. I’m enjoying this, but I’m finding it very different and the length of the podcast has been quite variable.
Just to let you know, moving forward, we’re aiming for these podcasts to be around 30 minutes. Sometimes they’ll definitely stretch out. When I have guests on, there’ll be a bit longer and sometimes they might be a bit shorter. But in terms of what to expect, that’s kind of what I’m going for. The other thing that I’m going to do, as of this podcast and moving forward, I want to make sure that I’m not overwhelming you with a whole heap of information. So what I’m going to do is at the end of every podcast episode, I’m going to give you three actionable tips. From what we’ve talked about that you can go away and implement. To make a difference not just to your kids’ health, but your overall family’s health.
So today’s episode, I want to talk about the four pillars of healthy kids. I’ve created these from the years of work that I’ve done with families and kids. I realised that everything that we need to do to improve and optimise our kids’ health fall into one of 4 pillars. And I think this can really help to cut through the overwhelm. Knowing that we’ve got these four areas that we can work on to improve our kids’ health. If you are a Klub member listening, you may already know about these four pillars. Because when our members join the Klub, they are directed to a quiz. This quiz gives them a score in each of these four areas. That gives them clarity in terms of what they need to work on as a priority to start to improve their kids’ health.
If you’re not a Klub member, and you’re wondering what is the Klub, the Natural Super Kids Klub is our online membership program. We are not open all the time. We open three times a year, and we’re probably closed at the moment. We’re closed most of the time. If you’re interested in the Natural Super Kids Klub, definitely make sure that you get on the waitlist. The Klub is a place where you can get all the support and inspiration you need to raise healthy and happy kids. We provide recipes, meal plans, cheat sheets, videos and naturopathic support all around kids’ health topics.
We talk about these four pillars a lot in the Klub and I really wanted to share this concept with a wider audience on the podcast today. I wonder if anyone has thought about what these four pillars might be. I’m going to run through them and then I’m going to give you a bit more context into each of them. We’re going to finish off with an action point to improve in each of these four areas.
The first pillar is Diet & Nutrition. Second is Reducing Toxins & Chemicals. Third is Healthy Lifestyle and the fourth pillar is Natural Medicines.
So let’s start with the first one – Diet & Nutrition. This is something we focus a lot on because our kids’ diet and nutrition has such a big impact on their overall well-being. Nutrients are the building blocks for growth, development, function of our kids’ bodies and our own bodies as well. Our body utilises nutrients to grow, to develop, to do all of the biochemical reactions that are happening within us at all times. When our diet and nutrition is optimum, then our bodies can do all of these things really well. But the truth is that, our Western diet is often lacking in nutrients. So a lot of the processes that are necessary for a healthy functioning body are not able to be performed at the level they need to be performed. Sometimes not even at all.
Think about our immune function, or our kids’ immune function. Our gut function, and our growth. Muscle contraction, and our detoxification capabilities. These things and so many more. They are driven by the nutrients or the nutrients needed for these functions to be performed. These functions are really important for our overall health and well-being. When we’re talking, obviously, diet and nutrition is such a big area. Let’s break it down a little bit in terms of what we need to be thinking about for our kids’ health.
The first thing to be thinking about is the macronutrients. This is the balance of protein, healthy fats or fats in general, and carbohydrates. Protein, fats and carbohydrates around macronutrients. Getting the combination of these right in our kids meals, can make a huge difference to their well-being. To their energy levels, to their mood and to their behaviour. The majority of kids that I see, have a diet that is too high in carbohydrates. Particularly processed, refined carbohydrates, and lacking in protein and healthy fats. Then we move on to the micronutrients. These are the vitamins, the minerals, the phytochemicals, the antioxidants, that are again, needed. They’re essential for a healthy functioning body.
We’re talking about things like zinc, iron, calcium, B vitamins, vitamin C and vitamin D. These vitamins, minerals and other micronutrients are often lacking in our kids’ diets. They’re eating much more processed and refined foods which deplete these micronutrients from the food that they’re eating. And also because soils are becoming depleted in these micronutrients as well, particularly minerals. If the minerals are not in the soil, then the food that is grown in that soil is going to be lacking in those minerals too. Some of this is beyond our control. But a lot of it is within our control. And I’m going to talk in a little bit about focusing on those things that are within our control.
There’s definitely choices that we can make in terms of sourcing food. From smaller farms with healthy farming principles that can optimise those nutrients that are in the soil. Therefore, optimise those nutrient levels in the food that our families are eating. So on a simple level, really a kid’s diet and nutrition is all about what they’re eating for breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner. The volume of vegetables they’re eating every day, the volume of fruit they’re eating everyday. We need to think about what choices are we making as a parent. In terms of the purchasing of the food, what food is available and readily available for our kids to be eating everyday. How and where the food is grown or raised is really important as well.
First and foremost, we want to be providing predominantly whole foods for our kids. Less things from packets and more foods straight from nature. Those vegetables, fruits, good quality protein, whole grains, nuts and seeds, those sorts of things. All the yummy things that we can make up with those ingredients. Of course, it’s not realistic to think that we’re going to move away from packet food and processed food altogether. I certainly have some processed and packaged food in my kitchen. It’s not about being perfect, but it’s about what our kids are eating the majority of the time.
If our kids are eating a lot of processed and packaged foods, they are probably getting a high intake of the preservatives. Additives, vegetable oils, sweeteners, sugar and salt that crammed into a lot of processed and packaged foods. So when it comes to diet and nutrition, we want to focus on getting more whole fresh natural foods into our kids’ diets. Less processed, packaged, refined, sugary foods.
The second pillar is Reducing Toxins & Chemicals. Unfortunately, kids are exposed to more toxins and chemicals than kids ever have been before. It’s just the nature of the Western world. There are more toxins and chemicals within our environment, within our homes. That level is just getting higher and higher. There’s no doubt that this is having a negative implication on our kids’ health and on our health as a Western society. Now the thing with kids is they’re more vulnerable to the ill effects of chemicals and toxins. Heavy metals and those sorts of things, and kids also have reduced capabilities for detoxification. What we can fairly easily detoxify as adults, kids can struggle to detoxify. Because those detox pathways haven’t been fully developed yet. And that process of detoxification also requires nutrients.
It brings us back to that diet and nutrition. We’ve got this higher need for nutrients because we need a higher level of detoxification. Which makes diet and nutrition even more important. Now, that area of toxins and chemicals can be really overwhelming. I just want to talk about this concept of focusing on things that we can make changes in. There are a lot of areas within the toxin and chemical sort of sphere, that are out of our control. I like to think about this in terms of our circle of concern, versus our circle of influence. There’s a lot of things we might be concerned about.
We might be concerned that the council workers are spraying chemicals in the playgrounds around our homes. But there’s not a lot we can do about that. Yes, we can sign petitions and do some work to try and reduce this or stop this. It is a harder thing for us to change, than the products that we’re using within our homes that can be increasing the toxic load for our kids. There’s a lot that is kind of out of our control and that is that. Those are things that we can think of in our circle of concern. But we want to try and differentiate. It’s a great idea to get a big piece of paper when you feel overwhelmed with this sort of thing. Write down those things that are in your circle of concern. Those things that you’re concerned about.
Then a smaller circle within that and putting those things that you can actually change within that circle of influence. This can be really empowering because feeling unempowered really stops us from taking any action. So we want to feel empowered, like we can do something. I just want to get a bit more specific in this area of toxins and chemicals. There is a whole heap of things that we can talk about. But we’re talking about things like heavy metals that are used within our environment. We’re talking about things like synthetic fragrances. Which are abundant within our homes or many homes, in things like personal care products and cleaning products. Fragrance sprays or room sprays that we use around our home and so many more.
And these are something that we want to be minimising and eliminating in our homes for sure. Plastics and the chemicals that are found within plastics are another big example of things that we can start to make changes step by step. Changes to try and reduce. And when we’re talking about plastics which can feel really overwhelming, a good place to start is the kitchen. It’s not essential for us to get rid of all plastic from our kitchen but we want to try and find alternatives where we can. As those plastic storage containers get old and loose lids, replace them with glass, or stainless steel storage containers. Little things like that those plastic utensils. When plastic gets hot, the chemicals within that plastic leeches into the food that we’re stirring with that utensil.
So we want to try and move towards wooden or stainless steel or bamboo utensils in the kitchen. Things like pesticides and preservatives in the food that we’re eating are toxins and chemicals. It’s hard to get away from them completely but we can make a shift to minimise our kids exposure or intake of these things. There’s even a lot of chemicals in the water that we drink. The obvious ones are caught chlorine and fluoride but there’s a whole heap of other chemicals and toxins in the waters. The water that we drink. We want to be thinking about a really good filter system for our drinking water.
Of course, things like cleaning products and personal care products. From creams, deodorants, makeup, body washes and shampoos. All of those things have chemicals and toxins in them unless we are buying the eco-friendly, naturally-based cosmetics and toiletries. This is a huge project to try and make your home low-tox. We do want to make sure that we’re doing it step by step. As you run out of products, replace them with a healthier. More naturally based option.
Then there’s things like building materials, furnishings, paints and varnishes. Things that pest control that we use around the home as well. That can all have toxins and chemicals in them. You can see how the load of these toxins and chemicals can quickly build up and be detrimental for our kids’ health. So a step-by-step approach here is the best.
Now let’s move on to the third pillar- Healthy Lifestyle. This encompasses quite a few different areas but it’s really important that we’re focusing on a healthier lifestyle for our family. In this day and age, it does take a little bit of effort. Because we have more of an indoor lifestyle these days. I mean even just from a generation ago, kids were playing outside so much more than they are now. We didn’t have so many office-based jobs for adults and so everyone has more of this indoor lifestyle now. In so many ways, it’s not doing any favours to our health and well-being.
We also have full of schedules. Our kids have got full schedules, activities, extracurricular sports and all kinds of things that they need to do. There’s less kind of downtime and unscheduled playtime for kids. No matter how old they are compared to just a generation ago. We have the distraction of technology, of all of the different technologies that are designed to entertain us. These things are not great in terms of a healthy lifestyle either or too much time on these things definitely is having a detrimental effect on our kids’ well-being. Physical, mental, emotional, and parenting is another area that I kind of pop here under the healthy lifestyle umbrella.
So when it comes to our kids and moving our kids towards a healthier lifestyle, we want to be thinking about how much activity are they getting. Our bodies need to move and so we want to be increasing that active time every day. We also want to be increasing that all important outdoor time and we can do these things together. More active outdoor time has so many benefits for our kids’ mental health, gut health, for immune health, and so much more. There is definitely benefits for adults as well in this area too. Healthy lifestyle means that our kids are getting adequate sleep and their sleep environment is nice and healthy. We don’t want them on screens until the very last minute before they go to sleep.
When our kids or ourselves are looking at a screen, it reduces the production of melatonin. Melatonin we need for a healthy sleep and to get off to sleep easily as well. That screen time prior to bed, particularly the small screens, the phones, iPads, computers, is really detrimental to healthy sleep cycles. Healthy sleep quality. So we want to be thinking about that particularly if our kids are moody and have behavioural issues. Their sleep could be being affected by that screen time prior to bed. Stress is another thing that’s not often talked about in terms of kids. But our overall lifestyles are more stressful. Mum and dads are busier, kids are busier and so this stress can definitely have a detrimental effect on our kids health.
When it comes to our parenting style, stress levels as parents, our ability to be able to provide healthy food, and not be so stretched and stressed. We are relying on takeaway, or convenience foods more often than we should. These things are fine in moderation and in the odd occasion. So many families these days are just getting out of that habit of cooking and spending that valuable time as a family together because there’s just so much going on. So those family rituals, those family time for connection are so important. And unfortunately, in the modern lifestyle that we lead today, there’s less and less opportunity for these things.
I’m sure as you’ve been listening, you have been thinking about some of the areas within that healthy lifestyle pillar that you could start to improve on. So I would encourage you to just choose one thing that you can work on as a family, I think that is really key here. We can’t expect our kids to go and play outside. If we’re sitting inside on our phones. We can’t expect our kids’ stress levels to be nice and balanced if we are stressed all the time, and stretched all the time and so just choose one thing and start to
And the fourth pillar is Natural Medicines. This had to be in the air because this is my thing as a naturopath. So this is really all about using things like nutrients, herbs, homeopathics and flower essences. All of those different wonderful modalities that can fall under natural medicines to support health. To treat health issues or symptoms as they come up, and most importantly, to prevent health symptoms and conditions. This can include a whole heap of different things. One of these could be using nutritional supplements to fill the gaps in your kid’s diet. One example might be omega-3.
To get enough omega-3, our kids need to be eating fish and or seafood three or more times a week. There are a lot of families out there that would not be eating fish and or seafood three or more times a week, including my family. Some weeks we aim for that but we definitely don’t always achieve it. So you might want to look at an omega-3 supplement to ensure that really important nutrient for our kids’ brain and nervous system health is being met. That is just one example and it’s really hard to figure this out for yourself. So seeking professional support is always recommended from a naturopath or a nutritionist. And that is certainly something we can help with online consultations here at Natural Super Kids.
We can use natural medicines to build up and heal the gut. This is an important area, and an area that a lot of kids need supporting. The truth is that, our Western diet and lifestyle is not great for our gut health and our microbiome diversity. I’ll be talking about this in upcoming episodes of the podcast. Building up gut health is a really good area to be focusing on because it has so many benefits to overall well-being. Immunity, brain, mood, sleep and behaviour to name a few. It helps make sure that our kids are absorbing and utilising the nutrients that they’re getting from their food really effectively as well.
Natural medicines can be used to boost the immune system, particularly in winter. When our kids might be getting sick a little too often for our liking. So we can use nutrients and herb to support a nice robust immune system so they don’t come down with as many infections. There’s all kinds of different ways that we can use natural medicines. I do recommend always getting professional support by a qualified practitioner in this area. Rather than just seeing something on an ad that you think might be beneficial and giving it a try for your child. You can actually save a lot of time and money by getting professional support because you might be giving your child something they don’t really need.
They might have a need for something else that you’re completely missing. The quality of the natural medicines that we are giving our kids does make a big difference. You definitely don’t just want to be choosing the cheapest probiotic or multivitamin or omega-3 supplement from your local supermarket. They will not be nowhere near as good a quality, as potent as absorbable, as high quality practitioner products are. So like I said, this is something we can help with at Natural Super Kids. We have a range of different appointment options.
Ranging from an express consult where you can just ask a question or get some advice on a particular issue. Or some particular supplements that you are thinking might be beneficial for your kids rather than guessing yourself. Get some professional support in an express consultation. Right up to our full consultations where we put together an individual treatment plan based on your child’s health picture. Natural medicines are a great way to support your family’s health and they will often also mean that you have less need for things like antibiotics or Ibuprofen or steroid creams because you’re supporting that innate healing mechanism within your child’s body and children respond so well to things like herbal medicine, and homeopathy, and nutritional medicine.
So they are the four pillars we had. Diet and nutrition, toxins and chemicals, healthy lifestyle and natural medicines. Just to finish off, I just want to give you an action step that you can take in each of these areas.
For food and nutrition, my big tip would be to focus on getting more nutrients in first and foremost. Think about how you could increase the nutrient intake of your kids’ diet. Could you add some more grated vegetables to dinners? Even if they’re stirred through a bowl and a sauce? Could you add some more vegetables into the lunchbox? Switch from a refined white grain to a whole grain? Add some more nuts and seeds which have lovely protein, healthy fats, minerals and vitamins for your kids? Could you add some good quality protein to their breakfast or their lunch. So thinking about how can you get more nutrients in and that will naturally start to crowd out the more processed packaged food as well.
For toxins and chemicals, there are a lot of things that you can work on in this area. It will be different for different families but I would start with plastics and start to reduce the amount of plastics that you’re using in the kitchen. When plastics are heated, as I said before, the chemicals from the plastics are unstabilised and leached out into their environment. And often if you’re using plastics in the kitchen, that will mean into the food that you are cooking or storing. So you definitely want to move away from using plastic with heat. Heating things up in plastic, stirring things with plastic utensils, storing hot foods in plastic. Start to think about how you can minimise the use of plastic with in the kitchen with heat as a first point of call.
When it comes to healthy lifestyle, this one’s easy – more outdoor time as a family. Us adults need more outdoor time as well. Go camping, visit a local national park, go hiking, go to the beach. Spend more quality time together in the outdoors. For natural medicines, there’s a whole heap of different things that you could try in this area. I would start by thinking about your kids’ nutrient needs. Filling the gap between what they’re eating and what they need. In terms of vitamins and minerals, and a good place to start could be a good quality multivitamin.
You can find a blog on our Natural Super Kids website all about multivitamins and choosing a good multivitamin for your kids. That would be a great place to start, omega-3s and probiotics are also a really good idea for a lot of kids. We’ve got some blogs that I’ll link in the show notes where you can find more information about choosing the best supplements and products in these areas.
Hopefully those action tips are helpful to give you a bit of guidance, because we’ve covered a lot today. I hope I haven’t overwhelmed you with all of this information. But really coming back to it, there’s these four pillars that we need to work on improving continually for our kids health. We’ve got diet and nutrition, toxins and chemicals, we’ve got healthy lifestyle and natural medicines. I’ve given you quite a few different examples of things that you can start to work on in these areas. Maybe just write them down, stick them on your fridge as a reminder that these are the areas that are going to make a big difference to your kids’ health.
If you are a Klub member, you can log into the membership site. We have a very handy way that you can find all the content that we have within the Klub that will help you make progress in these areas. We’ve literally got a button for diet and nutrition, toxins and chemicals, healthy lifestyle and natural medicines. If you click on that button, all the content, the videos, the cheat sheets, the recipes that will help you make progress in that particular area will come up. You can just work through those one by one.
And if you’re not a Klub member, that sounds like something that would be really helpful for you. Make sure you get your name on the waitlist. We are opening the doors in March 2021, if you’re listening to this before then. If you’re listening to this after then we generally open the doors to the Klub in March, June and October. So you can pop your name on the waitlist if it’s not those times. And you’ll be the first to know and be invited in as a member of the Natural Super Kids Klub.
I hope you’ve got some good tips from today’s episode and I’d love to hear from you. If you want to tag me in an Instagram story sharing something you learned from today’s episode, or send me a DM on Instagram. You can find us on Instagram at Natural Super Kids, and I’d love to hear from you and hear what your takeaway from this episode was. I will be back next week with the next episode. I’ll see you then.