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Dairy-free and missing cheese? Try this simple, healthy zucchini cheese loaded with healthy protein, fat, and complex carbohydrates to keep your kids happy and nourished.

Dairy-Free Zucchini Cheese

Dairy-free and missing cheese? Try this simple, healthy zucchini cheese loaded with healthy protein, fat, and complex carbohydrates to keep your kids happy and nourished.

Dairy-free and missing cheese? Try this simple, healthy zucchini cheese loaded with healthy protein, fat, and complex carbohydrates to keep your kids happy and nourished.

Within one week of my youngest being born I was 100% dairy-free.

I had been through this with my previous two babies. So I knew the signs of a dairy reaction right away. There was no easing into it. I went from eating ice cream pretty much every evening while pregnant to strict no speck of dairy almost overnight.

It’s not fun to have to cut out dairy. But I knew how to do it. I have another son that is still dairy-free, so I just added two more family members to the mix.

Unfortunately our food reactions did not end there.

I cut out so many foods, trying to help my son’s silent reflux. We had his tongue and lip tie clipped.

What finally made a significant difference in his ability to nurse and eat was learning about histamine intolerance. I switched to a low-histamine diet and it was like magic.

What wasn’t magical was the amount of effort it took to keep the two of us nourished, and our lack of food options.

During the summer we basically lived on zucchini and ground beef as I tried to calm our bodies. Our garden was overflowing with zucchini, so I sliced and roasted some pretty much every day.

The ground beef was nourishment that I could actually digest. Plus I could cook up some burgers for us and freeze extras for another meal (an essential part of a low-histamine diet – not letting meat sit in the fridge).

I’m thankful I am an Analytical Eater that truly does not mind eating the same foods over and over. In fact, that is what I love. But I was really lacking in texture with all that soggy zucchini. My mouth needed more!

My solution? Zucchini cheese!

What are the Health Benefits of Zucchini?

Although often overlooked, zucchini really does pack a punch in terms of nutrition. This fruit, used as a vegetable, contains:

  • potassium
  • phosphorus
  • magnesium
  • calcium
  • fiber
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin B2
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K
  • Zinc

Zucchini also has a really high water content in addition to its minerals so it is great for hydration!Dairy-free and missing cheese? Try this simple, healthy zucchini cheese loaded with healthy protein, fat, and complex carbohydrates to keep your kids happy and nourished.

What Can I Do With Too Much Zucchini?

I often joke with my husband that there is no such thing as too much zucchini.

Every summer we grow an absurd amount of zucchini. And every summer I use it all up! Sure, we give away a few here and there. But I truly do my best to not let any go to waste (though the chickens get the baseball bat zucchinis that we inevitably miss).

It’s easy to use up quite a bit of zucchini by roasting it for a family dinner. My kids will devour roasted zucchini covered in herbs and garlic.

Some other fun ways to use zucchini include:

Of course we can’t eat all of our zucchini fresh. Somtimes we pick 20 in one day! So I love to freeze all of my extra zucchini.

Simply slice into rounds and place on a baking sheet. Freeze and bag. Peeling is optional. You can also freeze grated zucchini to use in bread and muffins.

Last year I froze at least five gallons of zucchini. I lost count. It’s been such a blessing to be able to enjoy it all year.

What Can Be Made With Frozen Zucchini?

Frozen zucchini works well in soups, stews, and stir fry. Frozen grated zucchini is great for zucchini bread, muffins, or scones.

But mostly I use my frozen zucchini to make zucchini cheese. I have some in the fridge at all times.

I love that I don’t have to do any peeling or slicing when I use frozen zucchini. Just put a big pile in a saucepan to cook for a few minutes and it’s ready to go!

Though you can make zucchini cheese with fresh zucchini too. That is how I do it all summer.Dairy-free and missing cheese? Try this simple, healthy zucchini cheese loaded with healthy protein, fat, and complex carbohydrates to keep your kids happy and nourished.

Dairy-Free Zucchini Cheese

Back to our low-histamine diet. I was really getting bored with roasted or sauteed zucchini. I had heard you could make “cheese” with zucchini. So I found some recipes and started experimenting.

The first one I tried used lemon juice. That was a big disaster. I think it all went in the trash. Even the kids couldn’t stomach the flavor.

Over time I figured out my own version of zucchini cheese that has been a staple in my diet ever since.

Zucchini cheese gets it’s texture from a combination of healthy fat (like butter or coonut oil) and grassfed gelatin. Now that my son tolerates butter I tend to use it for zucchini cheese. But coconut oil works just as well!

I use a small loaf pan to create a taller block of cheese that I can slice.

We use zucchini cheese on salads and sandwiches. It’s delicoius on crackers. Or I often just eat it plain.

 

Dairy-Free Zucchini Cheese

Servings 10
Author Mary | Just Take A Bite

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 - 3 cups zucchini sliced, peeled or unpeeled, fresh or frozen
  • 2 Tbsp. coconut oil or butter
  • 4-5 Tbsp. gelatin
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp. unrefined sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder optional
  • 1/4 tsp. onion powder optional
  • 1/4 tsp. tumeric optional
  • 2 Tbsp. non-fortified nutritional yeast optional

Instructions

  1. Place sliced zucchini and a small amount of water (enough to cover the bottom) in a small saucepan. Turn heat to high until water comes to a boil.

  2. Reduce heat to low and simmer until zucchini is cooked, about 5-10 minutes.

  3. Drain the zucchini and place it in a blender with the coconut oil and salt.

  4. Blend on high until smooth.

  5. Add the gelatin and blend on high until smooth.

  6. Taste and add seasoning/yeast as desired. Blend.

  7. Pour into a glass or ceramic small bread pan. Chill in the refrigerator until firm.

  8. Slice or cut into sticks to serve. Store in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.

Recipe Notes

  • The flavor will become milder as the cheese firms, so add a little more salt/seasoning than you think you need.

Dairy-free and missing cheese? Try this simple, healthy zucchini cheese loaded with healthy protein, fat, and complex carbohydrates to keep your kids happy and nourished.

Healthy Veggie Cheese

While zucchini works very well for making a faux cheese because of its neutral flavor, you can defnitely change up the flavor with other vegetables!

This is really important for the Adventurous Eaters that need variety. Plus you get a different array of nutrients.

One of our favorites is squash cheese. It has such a beautiful orange color! Not to mention it has a bit of sweetness to it. So kids really love it. It has a taste reminiscent of American cheese, so it’s often a great transition for kids that are used to a Standard American Diet (SAD).

Cauliflower is another great option if you want a white cheese with a kid-friendly flavor.

You can go a little more bold with peas and create green cheese!

What to Feed a Child Who Doesn’t Like Meat

One of my favorite things about zucchini cheese is the nutrition factor. It has a combination of protein (gelatin), healthy fat, and carbohydrates with fiber (zucchini). Lots of Real Salt adds essential trace minerals.

Sometimes I really boost the nutrient content by adding non-fortified nutritional yeast and turmeric.

So many selective eater kids struggle with eating meat. Whether it’s the texture, the chewing, or the inability to digest it, getting adequate protein is a struggle for many.

Gelatin is a great solution! And zucchini cheese is an easy way to get a big dose of easy-to-digest gelatin down.


Perfect Supplements is the only brand of gelatin I trust. It is grassfed and certified 100% glyphosate free!

Stock up now. Take 10% off with the code TAKE10 HERE!


Zucchini cheese is also great for the kids that only want to eat cheese and starch all day. You can get a great dose of both macro and micronutrients in while they still enjoy their favorite food.Dairy-free and missing cheese? Try this simple, healthy zucchini cheese loaded with healthy protein, fat, and complex carbohydrates to keep your kids happy and nourished.

Easy Toddler Snack

When I first started making zucchini cheese it was really for myeslf. Did I let my kids try it? Of course! But I was the one needing something creamy and salty.

But soon it turned into one of my favorite toddler snacks. My almost-three-year-old has been enjoying zucchini cheese with me since he could eat solid food!

I cut it into thick slices and then into sticks. Easy to hold. Easy to chew. Easy nourishment. That equals an easy toddler snack! And a great way to get little kids interested in veggies.

Is your toddler like mine and only wants to snack all day? Zucchini cheese is the way to go. Snack away!

What is the Best Diet for Picky Eaters?

Each child has unique, bio-individual needs. Which is why I am so passionate about Nutrional Therapy for Kids! That being said, all kids need a balanced diet. This is especially important for those “picky” or “selective” eaters.

A balanced diet includes whole food sources of protein, fat, and carbohydrates with fiber. An easy way to think of this is meat, oil, fruits, and veggies.

Zucchini cheese meets all of the criteria! So it is a great addition to a picky eater’s diet. And getting that balance will help alleviate those picky eating symptoms.

It is also great for those “hangry” kids that crash when they haven’t eaten in a while. Zucchini cheese is a ready-to-go snack when they need something quickly!


Need more dairy-free substitutes? Grab your copy of 10 Simple Dairy Substitutes with recipes for everything from milk to yogurt to ice cream!


Allergen-Free Food on a Budget

One of the hardest aspects of having a child with dietary restrictions is the cost of the food. Have you ever compared the price of regular cheese to dairy-free cheese? Or the cost of wheat bread to gluten-free bread?

If you have, you know that allergen-free food can add up very quickly!

Which is why I love making zucchini cheese. Zucchini is a very affordable vegetable that you can buy in bulk in the summer and store enough for the whole winter. Visit any farmer’s market in the summer and you’ll see piles of zucchini. Or just ask a neighbor with a garden. They probably have extra.

Stock up on gelatin with a bulk discount or when it’s on sale HERE.

You can also watch for good deals on coconut oil.

Now you have all of the ingredients for healthy, dairy-free cheese on a budget!Dairy-free and missing cheese? Try this simple, healthy zucchini cheese loaded with healthy protein, fat, and complex carbohydrates to keep your kids happy and nourished.

Is Dairy-Free Cheese Healthy?

I’ll be the first to admit that we do buy some dairy-free cheese. It’s nice to have something that melts like real cheese when making a pizza or grilled cheese.

But I can’t say I’m thrilled about the ingredients. While not horrible, it is still a processed food with some gums and fillers.

That is why I love making zucchini cheese. I control the ingredients. And they are all whole foods that I serve my family regularly.

Is dairy-free cheese healthy? It is if it’s homemade zucchini cheese!

Is your family dairy-free? Do you miss chees? Give zucchini cheese a try!

What is HTMA for Kids?

What is HTMA for Kids?

HTMA for kids is a non-invasive test that uses a small hair sample for Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis. The goal of HTMA for kids is to rebuild and balance minerals while removing toxic metals in a safe and gentle way so your child can feel his or her best!What is HTMA for Kids?

I talked a couple weeks ago about the health struggles we faced with our oldest. But through it all I was never concerned about her not getting enough to eat or her overall physical health.

Unfortunately we entered the world of stress, anxiety, and severe feeding challenges when my youngest daughter was born.

Being my third child, I felt pretty confident. I knew how to handle breastfeeding, sick babies, diaper blow-outs, etc.

But I was not prepared for the journey to come.

From day one my daughter could not breastfeed well. Three minutes was a “good” feed for her. She was often uncomfortable. And she slept a lot more than my other kids did as infants.

Although she was my biggest baby at birth (nine pounds!), her chubby baby status didn’t last long.

During her first year of life we learned about the profound impact of tongue and lip ties. We had them clipped twice.

I also had to restrict my diet to such a severe degree that I feared we would run out of safe food. But it was the only way she could breastfeed without screaming. And no formula was safe, so that was not an option.

She developed an allergy to coconut and all things from palm trees. Even if I took a vitamin that contained Vitamin A Palmitate she would not nurse. She would scream in pain. I could not get one speck of coconut, dairy, and many other foods in my mouth or she would react. I even stopped eating gluten-free because most gluten-free grains were off the list and we both needed to eat.

Sadly, I learned the hard way the dangers of Big Pharma’s favorite way to introduce toxic substances and heavy metals into children (I won’t use the word here). Had I not made the connection when she turned one, our outcome would have beeen much different. As it was she was convulsing in my arms, her tongue was swelling, and she could not eat.

At 18 months old my daughter was nursing every 45 minutes just to try to keep her alive. And those feedings were each just a few minutes. She rarely had a wet diaper. She hadn’t gained weight in months. I fed her a lot by syringe. But the pediatrician would not help us. He simply looked at her and said, “she looks fine to me.”

That was when I learned I had to be my duaghter’s doctor. Nobody wanted to help us.What is HTMA for Kids?

Feeding Challenges in Infants

My daughter’s story is sad, but what is even worse is that I’m not alone in my experience. I know so many other moms have been through extreme health and feeding challenges in their infants but have not gotten the support and help they need.

What do feeding challenges in infants look like?

  • colic
  • reflux/GERD
  • silent reflux
  • tongue and lip ties
  • resist solid food
  • inability or difficulty breastfeeding
  • failure to thrive
  • dehydration
  • delayed development

Most pediatricians do not know how to properly diagnose or treat these symptoms.

Some may prescribe antacids, which do more harm than good in the long run. Some may suggest ways to supplement. But that is about it.

For the most part, Mom is left to struggle through on her own.What is HTMA for kids?

Feeding Challenges in Childhood

As your child gets a little older, things may get easier. But the feeding troubles may persist or even get worse.

What do feeding challenges in childhood look like?

  • refusal to eat
  • refusal to try new foods
  • can’t handle certain textures
  • will only eat a handful of foods
  • food allergies or sensitivities
  • oral sensory processing disorder

If you have a child that is labled as a “picky eater,” “problem feeder,” or “selective eater” you know what it’s like. You know the day-to-day struggles and stress.What is HTMA for Kids?

Common Childhood Disorders

What many doctors and parents don’t realize is that the picky eating is actually just the tip of the iceberg. It is a symptom of something much deeper.

It’s very rare that I have a client that struggles with feeding that does not also have one or more of the following common childhood disorders and symptoms:

  • speech difficulties or delays
  • developmental delays
  • low weight
  • rings under eyes
  • sick often
  • ADHD
  • food allergies
  • anxiety
  • neurological disorder
  • weak bones and/or teeth
  • learning difficulties
  • slow/stunted growth
  • overweight

Though these may seem like separate issues on the surface, they are all connected.

Nutritional Balancing for Kids

Sadly, we have a generation of very sick kids. Although children grow up in different homes, different environments, and different cultures, the root cause of their health problems are the same.

Two of the biggest culprits of childhood disorders, including feeding challenges, is mineral imbalance and heavy metal toxicity.

This also includes overall mineral deficiency.

While I am not a fan of oversupplementing our lives, most kids these days are getting very few nutrients in their diets.

Typical kid food is void of nutrition. Then we add stress and sugar on top to deplete any minerals that were available. It’s a downward spiral into poor health that is happening at younger and younger ages.What is HTMA for Kids?

What is HTMA for Kids?

HTMA stands for Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis. And it can be a life-saver for kids.

When digging for answers, most doctors run blood tests. And that can be helpful.

But when it comes to certain minerals and heavy metals, a blood test is not accurate enough. It only gives you a snapshot of that one moment in time when the blood was drawn. And some levels fluctuate throughout the day. So you could get signficantly different results depending on when the blood was drawn.

HTMA, however, shows mineral and heavy metal patterns for a three-month window. It’s like getting an in-depth look at your child’s health.

In addition, the body will do whatever it can to keep blood levels in a very narrow range. This is a survival mechanism. If blood levels are low, the situation is serious.

But looking at tissue levels (hair), you can see if the body is actually putting the minerals where they belong or if the body is storing heavy metals.

For example, a child may have a normal blood calcium level. However, an HTMA for kids may show a very high tissue calcium level. This means that although child’s body is maintaining a sufficient level of calcium in the blood, his or her body is also dumping calcium instead of putting it into the bones.

HTMA for kids uses a small hair sample to assess mineral and heavy metal status. It is a non-invasive procedure that is ideal for kids.What is HTMA for Kids?

What is HTMA Used For?

Many kids these days are deficient in key minerals, have minerals that are out of balance with each other, or have heavy metals stored in their tissues at toxic levels.

Unfortunately, when minerals are not present, heavy metals take their place, making it harder for the body to remove the metals.

The goal of HTMA for kids is to restore the balance of key minerals and support the body in removing heavy metals.

This is not a detox program. This is simply giving the body what it needs in order for it to function properly and remove what it does not need. In other words, the goal is to balance and restore.

Heavy metals and mineral imbalance can both contribute to a host of symptoms, such as those mentioned above. They can also be the cause of food reactions. Rebalancing a child’s minerals allows him or her to think better, feel more energetic, and act like a kid.

Child Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis

When my daughter was one, I was searching and searching for answers and help. I came across HTMA.

At the time I was really struggling with my own health as well. I could hardly eat anything due to my daughter’s restrictions, and I was so stressed that I had daily heart palpitations. I knew I was so out of balance.

I started by doing HTMA for myself in order to get both my daughter and I back in balance. We made slow progress because there were very few safe supplements and such a limited diet.

But I did learn some key information about how Vitamin D suppelements were harming us. I was able to add desiccated liver (use the code TAKE10 for 10% off) to our diets, and it was truly a life-saver for my daughter.

By doing HTMA I was able to make some simple changes that had a profound impact. My daughter got some key nutrients while allowing her body to remove some heavy metals.

As we turned the corner we were able to gradually add more foods to our diet and continued to make progress.

A couple years later I did HTMA for my daughter herself. Once again we were able to keep balancing her minerals and watch her health steadily improve.What is HTMA for Kids?

She is now six years old and a very active and energetic little girl. She has almost completely eliminated her food restrictions.

What could have turned into a tragic story instead became one of hope and healing.

Mineral Balncing for Kids

Even though we have come so far from that little infant struggling to survive, we still have work to do. My daughter is my only child that battles severe leg pains at times and has some cavities (likely due to Vitamin D supplements). We will continue to use HTMA to get her minerals in balance and remove toxins. But I know that she has a bright future thanks to HTMA for kids!

I am so excited to be adding HTMA for kids to my own practice very soon! Stay connected on Facebook, Instagram, or my newsletter (best way) so you will find out as soon as it is available.

So far we have talked about the foundations of good health, Nutritional Therapy for kids, and HTMA for kids – the physical aspects of health. But there is still more! Next up I’ll be discussing more of the mental aspect of eating. Even as an infant, a child can develop psychological blocks to eating well. Stay tuned!

How A Rotation Diet Helps With Food Allergies | Just Take A Bite

How A Rotation Diet Helps With Food Allergies

When it comes to food allergies, one of the biggest mistakes parents make is feeding their kids the same foods over and over. While it may make life easier, it could cause more problems in the long run. Implementing a rotation diet is a great strategy for feeding kids with food allergies.

Active Eater

“You should try a rotation diet.”

I first heard those words when I went through a whole assortment of tests a few years ago and the results showed a lot of latent food allergies.

My first thought: “You want me to not eat the same foods two days in a row?”

How Leftovers Impact Gut Health

I am a creature of habit and the queen of repetition. I am an Analytical Eater after all! I could eat the same food for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day for a week and not mind one bit. And if I really like something, I often do eat it every day. Plus I LOVE leftovers. I’m odd but I like cold leftovers better than freshly made food. So the idea of not eating things two days in a row was crazy to me.

My second thought: “How is that going to help?”

Turns out it helps a lot. Though I didn’t fully realize it at the time.

Why Won't My Child Eat?! Simple strategies to feed any child with food allergies, sensitivities, oral spd, refusal to eat, and more!

I went home, did more research and got started. I only had one child eating solids at the time. So it wasn’t that tough to modify meals for the family and work around my new diet. I stuck with it for a while and had fun experimenting with new recipes.

Then life got busy. I gradually fell back into old habits. I had a one year old that was always on the move. And a very smart four year old that needed lots of stimulation and always wanted to learn something new. Plus I was tired and struggling with adrenal fatigue. Back to eating the same foods all the time and feeding my kids the same foods.How to use a rotation diet to minimize food allergies and introduce new foods with ease. #foodallergies #feedingkids #healthykids

Rotating Foods for Allergies

Fast forward a year and my son was diagnosed with along list of food allergies. All the allergist told us to do was avoid the worst offenders. That was it for advice.

Ok. We can do that. No dairy, eggs, rice, beans, peas, grapes, pears and a few other foods. Not fun. But we’ll manage.

Six months later we went for a retest. The allergies were worse, and new ones had popped up.

It was then that I learned how a rotation diet can help with allergies and just how important it is.

Can you guess what foods my son now reacted strongly to?

All the foods he ate frequently and foods we used to replace his allergens. Oops. Mom fail. Lesson learned. Sort of.

Why Won't My Child Eat?!

We’ve gone through this up and down cycle of sticking to food rotation and then getting busy and slipping back into old habits many times. And almost every time we pay for it by adding new allergies.

Knowing just how important rotation is, I was very strict about enforcing it with my youngest daughter from the start.

How A Rotation Diet Works

That’s a little background. I hope I didn’t lose you at the mention of a rotation diet.

It’s kind of a strange concept. Basically you eat foods on a four-day rotation. So if you eat an apple on Monday you can’t eat an apple again until Friday.

How does that help? And why four days?

Allergies can start or worsen with repeated exposure to an allergen, especially in allergy-prone people and those with leaky guts (which includes many of us). So if you are consuming the same food day after day, any reaction to that food will gradually intensify. It’s kind of like picking at a cut. The more you pick at it, the worse it will get.

When you eat a problem food, your body produces “masking” antibodies. After four days those antibodies are gone (if you aren’t eating the food). So you can better assess if a particular food was bothering you. If you eat the same food every day those antibodies do not clear out and you’re left guessing and having reaction upon reaction. Been there, done that.

Food Rotation on a Restricted Diet

Ideally you should rotate food families. But this is not always possible. My youngest daughter did not even have enough safe foods to span four days with rotating families. So we stuck with rotating individual foods and tried not to have food families span more than two days. You have to do what works for you.

An added bonus of rotation is that it forces you to have variety in your diet, which leads to a broader spectrum of vitamins and minerals. This is beneficial for the whole family, not just those with allergies. So get everyone on board!

Sound like a good theory but impossible to implement? It’s not. I promise. It just takes some planning.

How to Start a Rotation Diet

  1. Make a list of all of the foods you can eat. You can do this for the whole family or just for the individuals with allergies.
  2. Group the safe foods into food families.
  3. Now start filling in four days, including foods from each food group (fruits, vegetables, grains/starches, fats, proteins) in each day.

I also like to group foods that we commonly eat together. For example, beef and tomatoes are good on the same day for making spaghetti with meat sauce or tacos with salsa. I include peppers and onions on those days too. Rice tends to go well with chicken or pork. I put lettuce and a few favorite salad toppings on the same day.

How A Rotation Diet Helps With Allergies | Just Take A Bite

Rotation Diet Meal Plan

Play around with it until you find a rotation that works for your family. Then start planning! Oddly enough a rotation diet can actually make meal planning easier. A lot of the decisions are made for you. The other day I was planning a meal for a day with pumpkin, rice, lettuce and cucumbers. So we had pumpkin pasta (rice noodles) and salads. Perfect!

I even manage to use leftovers by making my “day” go from dinner one day to lunch the next. So dinner leftovers can still be eaten for easy lunches. Then we start our next day with dinner again.

One down side to a rotation diet is that it can be hard to eat seasonally. It just depends on how restricted your diet is. We’ve been eating asparagus all year because my daughter likes it and tolerates it. Normally we only eat it in the spring when it’s growing in our garden. But having food options wins over eating seasonally. Not to mention on a rotation diet you can’t eat cherries every day for two weeks straight while they are fresh. The rotation is more important.

An Easy Way to Identify Food Reactions

Since starting a rotation diet with my kids, it is a lot easier to keep new allergies to a minimum and to spot an offending food right away. Sometimes people think I’m crazy when I say I can pinpoint food reactions in a couple days. But I can. It is because we use a rotation diet. This is also very helpful when re-introducing foods. It’s easy to tell right away if my child is still reacting or not. So we can try one new food a week when I think they are ready.

Before dealing with allergies, my diet was about the farthest thing from rotated. I ate the same foods day after day after day. And I paid the price with a long list of latent allergies. And I have seen firsthand how not rotating foods has negatively impacted my children.

Using a rotation diet is one of the most important things you can do for someone with allergies. And it is just one of the many topics I cover in my book Why Won’t My Child Eat?!. I’ve got tips on how to observe your child for food reactions and how to deal with picky eating. I’ve even got a tried and true method for feeding a child that refuses to eat anything (I’ve been there…for months). Plus lots more.

Get your copy of Why Won’t My Child Eat?! so you can take the guess work out of behavior issues and picky eating and start enjoying meal times again.

Do you have kids with allergies? Do you use a rotation diet or are you stuck in a rut with a handful of safe foods?

Get out of the rut and get on the road to better health with a rotation diet. Then take the next steps to having great eaters with the tips I share in Why Won’t My Child Eat?!.

Why we stopped the VAD Diet

Why We Stopped the Vitamin A Detox Diet…and Why Healing Diets Fail

Ever heard of the Vitamin A Detox Diet? Wondering if it is the cure you’ve been searching for or just the next dietary fad? This is our family’s journey on the VAD Diet and why we stopped it after a year.

Why we stopped the VAD Diet

I hope this is the last one.

The last post I ever write saying why yet another diet failed.

The last time I go to an extreme in the search for healing.

The last prescribed diet I ever attempt.

Though I can’t make any guarantees. I’m a tactile learner. I have to try things before I can assess them.

But I’ve done it before. I’ve done all sorts of experimenting with high this, low that, add this, remove that. Then I went on the GAPS Diet in 2010 and got my health way off track. After recovering from it, I told myself I’d never do it again.

Well, never say never. I did it again.

What is the Vitamin A Detox Diet

In November of 2018 I embarked on the Vitamin A Detox Diet, spear-headed by Grant Generux and Dr. Garrett Smith.

The theory is that Vitamin A is not actually a vitamin, instead it is a toxin. I wrote about it in detail in my post answering the question “Is Vitamin A Really a Vitamin?” It was my first post on Vitamin A – published exactly one year ago today!

I thought it was the answer I was looking for. I did a lot of reading and research. My infant was struggling with breastfeeding issues that nothing seemed to help. So I dove in.

The basic idea is to eat a very low Vitamin A diet in order to drain the body of stored Vitamin A. This in turn should resolve most health problems.

Good theory. Not so good practical application. And not sufficient evidence to support it aside from extreme examples.Why we stopped the VAD Diet

Why We Stopped the VAD Diet

Our journey started out great. I cut out high Vitamin A foods. I did HTMA to assess my body’s needs. I faithfully took my supplements. Even when the recommendations seemed to change on a daily basis. Add this. Wait, no, that will make you worse. Try this. Oh, wait, that’s not good at all (if only I could have all of the money back that I wasted on strange supplements that either didn’t work or made things worse!).

This food is on the ok list. Now it’s horrible. Oh, now it’s ok again. I knew it was a new theory and we were all learning. But the wishy-washy recommendations were a red flag.

The original time-frame of the diet was anywhere from one to six months. That seemed doable. But as time went on it kept extending – one year, two years, five years. Hmmm…

We did see some progress at first.

Then we got to the 6-7 month mark. And things changed.

I went from feeling good to my digestive system basically shutting down overnight. And six months later it still is not very functional. It’s been a hard setback to accept as I had worked so hard for years to get where I was.

My oldest went back to struggling with focus.

My eight-year-old’s eczema and food reactions started coming back.

My five-year-old’s leg pains and poor appetite returned.

My nursling started to sleep poorly and react to foods again.

Basically it all came crashing down.

I know how it goes. Detox is a crazy process. Sometimes you go two steps forward and one step back. So we stuck with it. I thought maybe it was just a bump in the road to full healing. But that bump turned into one month, then two, then three,…

It wasn’t detox at all. It was deficiency.

Does a Low Vitamin A Diet Cause Deficiencies?

I intentionally worked with a naturopathic doctor when embarking on the VAD Diet to avoid problems. As I mentioned, I was breastfeeding and of course run down from lack of sleep. I didn’t want to make things worse.

But even with multiple HTMAs, my increasing deficiencies were not addressed. I had to figure that out on my own.

The biggest deficiencies from the VAD Diet that I experienced were:

  • magnesium
  • all of the B vitamins, especially B1
  • an imbalance of macrominerals
  • zinc
  • possibly Vitamin E
  • and likely Vitamin A!

As time went on some of my symptoms got worse and worse. These included:

  • tinitus (ringing ears – multiple times daily)
  • tingling hands and feet/extremities going numb
  • low energy
  • low milk supply
  • inability to focus/think clearly
  • slow digestion
  • food intolerances
  • gallbladder pain
  • eye twitching
  • excessive thirst/inability to hydrate
  • candida/yeast/rashes/itching
  • edema
  • hypothyroid

I hit my breaking point. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. Well, I was going insane. I had to change directions. And I did.

At first I was going to go gradually. But then my body started to crave so many nourishing foods. I just let go of rules and ate what sounded good. It was wonderful!

I have still had to use supplements to get back in balance. My body is so depleted from pregnancy, breastfeeding, and restriction. It is going to take a while to get where I need to be. I look forward to the day when I don’t have a pile of supplements to take every morning!Vitamin A and thyroid health

Does Vitamin A Impact Thyroid Health?

I briefly want to address thyroid health. I was diagnosed with hypothyriodism in 2006. I’ve been on medication to control it ever since.

Ultimately my goal is to heal enough to get off of medication and control things with diet and lifestyle. But so far I’m not there. And I suspect I won’t get there until I am done breastfeeding and have some time to focus on just my health. I’ve been pregnant or breastfeeding for the past twelve years!

So for now I need medication. While on the VAD Diet I started lowering my dose. I thought I was getting better. I heard others talking about improving thyroid health. So I took a risk and reduced my medication. But I think it was a big mistake.

I started to feel all of the same symptoms I had after my miscarriage in 2013. Weight creeping up no matter how little I eat or how much I exercise. Feeling puffy all the time. Lowered body temperature. Extra tired. Sluggish digestion. All of my hypothyroid symptoms returned.

In June of 2018 my thyroid labs were great! Then I started lowering my meds on the VAD Diet. In February of 2019 my levels were getting worse. But I ignored the numbers. I felt ok for a little while. Then not so much.

I just had a new round of bloodwork (January 2020). Sure enough, it shows things have gotten worse. Actually a lot worse. I need to really bump up my medication dose. Back to where I started. I know it’s temporary, but still disheartening. My Free T3 has not been this low in years. In June of 2018 it was at the top of the range (ideal). Now it is at the bottom. My Free T4 is on the low end as well. It should be mid-range.

Now I know why I’ve been feeling some of my old symptoms return. I’m in a serious hypothyroid state right now.

So does Vitamin A impact thyroid health? I think so. There are many factors. But a low Vitamin A diet is not a diet I would recommend for improving thyroid health. It definitely made my thyroid issues worse. Do kids need Vitamin A?

Is Vitamin A Essential for Kids?

So far I’ve mostly talked about my own health. But I do want to address my kids as well. They were all on the diet. Though I never had my oldest three on full restriction. And in hindsight I’m so glad! They were able to transition off the diet pretty easily and have been making strides ever since.

Thankfully they still ate some eggs and pork to help minimize deficiencies.

What I really want to focus on is my toddler. He was on the full diet with me from day one. We ate the same foods.

On the whole he seemed to do well for a while. He was growing well and nursing well.

But there was one major red flag that I should have picked up on sooner. His speech.

All of my kids have been early talkers. My oldest knew all of her letters and could count to twenty before she was two! So when my youngest wasn’t saying anything by his first birthday I was concerned.

Just as we were starting the diet (7/8 months old) he was starting to talk. He was saying “mama” and “chick” (when he saw our chickens) and “out” (when he wanted to go outside).

And then that all stopped. No more words. Just “eh” every time he wanted to say something. He was frustrated. We were all frustrated.

I could tell he’s very smart. He loves to read and will sit through book after book and you can tell he remembered every picture and knew what everything was. But he couldn’t say anything. There was a disconnect.

I have heard others complain of this symptom as well – they can’t find the right words or finish sentences. There is some type of miscommunication between the brain and the mouth. And it impacted my son big time.

Until we stopped the diet. It was crazy. Within a couple weeks he started saying more. And now he basically repeats every word he hears. He says all of his siblings names. He names every animal and picture in the books we read. It’s so fun to see him be able to communicate effectively.

Just the other day my husband commented, “His speech has exploded in the last two months!” It truly has. My Father-in-law also commented on my son’s speech when he visited for Christmas. He couldn’t believe the difference. His poor little body was deficient as well. I’m so glad we are getting him back to full health! It gives me such joy.

Whether it is Vitamin A or the other deficiencies that had the biggest impact I can’t say. I’ll probably never know. But I do know that the VAD Diet negatively impacted his development.

I also wanted to mention his size. While his speech was delayed, his growth was off the charts! That might sound like a good thing, but I’m not sure. At his last checkup he was in the 97th percentile for height. If you’ve ever seen my family, you know that we aren’t even remotely close to anything called tall.

Most people think my eleven-year-old is seven or eight because she is so short. I’m only 5’3″. My husband isn’t very tall either. So having our youngest several inches taller than his siblings were at this age seems strange.

It could just be a different mix of genes. We have extended relatives that are tall. But it could also be the diet. I have heard some claim they are getting taller on the VAD Diet. I also heard the other day that one of the best predictors of longevity is height, specifically the shorter you are, the longer you’ll live. If those statements are both true, then it would seem that the VAD Diet is shortening life span. Just an observation. But I’ll be curious to see if his growth continues at this pace or if it slows down now that we are off the diet.

Interestingly, a few days before publishing this post a reader that had been on the VAD Diet contacted me and expressed concern over her young son’s growth – how tall he was! So there may be something to it.

Salt for health

Why Salt is Important for Health

When starting the VAD Diet and working with my ND, I was told to stop eating unrefined sea salt – that it contained toxins. So I switched the family to basic salt – sodium chloride.

At first I also added potassium chloride to it to get a balance of minerals. But the potassium gave me horrible anxiety. So I quit that.

Back to just plain salt.

But it never felt right. I could hardly taste it. I had to put so much on my food. Not a big deal I thought.

But it started to be a big deal when I could never get hydrated. I would guzzle glass after glass of water without quenching my thirst. I even added extra salt to my liquids, but it didn’t help.

Then my legs started swelling on a daily basis.

My electrolytes were so out of balance. My sodium intake was too high compared with my other macrominerals.

As we were coming off the VAD Diet I switched back to Real Salt. It was wonderful!

I could taste my food again. I could feel things absorbing. My insatiable thirst went away, and my swelling went down.

Why Healing Diets Fail

Last year I tried a new diet that made big promises. And it failed us. In quite a few ways as you can see. But it’s not the only one. Ultimately most healing diets fail.

That may sound extreme. I mean, they all have some merit and of course success stories. But they also have potential problems.

All healing diets have their own spin on what food/nutrient/component is toxic/inflammatory/etc. They all have their own spin on what is healing and restorative.

But at the end of the day they are all restricted diets. And any restricted diet done long term is going to cause problems – not only deficiencies and imbalances, but also anxiety, mental struggles and orthorexia for some.

You can find some healing with pretty much any major dietary change. It doesn’t have to be a diet with a label. Any time we shake things up, it will help our bodies do some detox and healing. Within about two weeks of starting the VAD Diet I had a noticeable detox. I wish I would have stopped there.

This is why most people see progress on any healing diet for up to six months. But as they go longer they see problems arise. Their bodies get out of balance. Deficiencies are created. They have lost their ability to eat intuitively and based on their needs day in and day out.

So if you want some healing – a little detox to propel your health forward -just make a change. If you eat a lot of nuts, cut them out for a month. If you eat an apple every day, switch to grapes for a few weeks.

Any time you eat the same foods over and over you could be creating some inflammation.

Don’t jump right to a restricted diet as the solution. Just make a change. After a few weeks your body will naturally do a little detox and rebalancing and you’ll probably feel better.

It’s good for your microbiome to make changes and feed different bacteria. That doesn’t require a long-term restrictive diet.

Life After the VAD Diet

So, now what? How are we eating and how are we feeling? That is what most people ask me.

First, I don’t have any rules about how we eat. Just real, whole foods that sound good and that we tolerate. That’s it.

My girls drink raw milk. My boys don’t tolerate it. The oldest three eat eggs. My youngest doesn’t tolerate them. We all eat homemade sourdough. But other than that we are gluten-free.

I’m always playing around with foods and finding out what balance and ratios work best for us. It varies day-to-day. But it is highly individual.

As I study to become a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner I am reminded of the importance of bio-individuality. We each have a unique set of genes, stresses, circumstances, health issues, environments, and more. Even the weather and the seasons play a role. So how we live and eat on a daily basis is so individual. There is no one-size-fits-all approach.

That is how I will approach my practice, my one-on-one work with clients. Every person has different needs and by looking at both the big picture and the details we can help figure out what works best for them.

A few areas of progress since going off the diet (mostly my own) have been:

  • ear ringing is rare
  • eye twitch is gone
  • gallbladder pain is gone
  • tingling in hands is gone
  • excessive thirst is gone
  • swelling is mostly gone
  • skin is clear and healthy and soft – no more cysts!
  • hair regrowth like crazy
  • more energy and the desire to move! I’ve even done a little jogging (instead of slow walking) and have increased the intensity on my stationary bike.
  • milk supply is good
  • able to think and focus much better
  • toddler’s speech

Some things that we’re still working on:

  • digestion
  • liver health
  • candida/yeast
  • hypothyroid
  • daughter’s leg pains (we use magnesium lotion for them)
  • food intolerances for everyone

How diet impacts emotionsThe Emotional Component of Healing Diets

I also wanted to mention the emotional, mental and social impact of a highly restrictive diet. We are used to having food restrictions. We’ve been dealing with food allergies for six years. And before I even had kids I was playing around with diet.

But limiting our food choices to such an extreme takes a toll on the family. My husband was frustrated that our menu was so limited and that we couldn’t eat anywhere besides home. We even had a garden full of food that only he was eating.

It puts a strain on relationships. And it’s hard to feel so different. Not only are you going against the grain with the way most people eat (Standard American Diet). But you are also going against your group of real food friends. It’s very isolating.

Is Vitamin A Toxicity Real?

That’s a tough question to answer. I do think that you can become toxic from just about anything in large enough amounts. And there are numerous case studies of patients with hypervitaminosis A. So I do think it’s a real condition (my opinion).

But is Vitamin A a toxin in and of itself? I don’t think so (again, my opinion). I’ll leave it at that. Do your own research to come to a conclusion.

Is the Vitamin A Detox Diet Healthy?

This is another tough question since there are so many unknowns. And again, it’s very individual.

At this point in time I can’t recommend the VAD Diet to anyone. Even after writing a whole book on how to do the diet with kids, I can’t support it.

I took my book down. Even though I spent a lot of time and energy creating it. Even though it was one of my few income sources at the moment. I don’t do things just for money.

There is no real way of knowing if the progress we made at the start of the diet was from the reduced Vitamin A or if it was simply from making a big diet change and adding supplements. What I do know is that done long-term it caused serious deficiencies.

To me a detox diet is meant to be both healing and short-term. You get a toxin out and then get back to being able to eat a wide variety of food. If the toxin is in most of the food, it’s not really a detox diet. It’s a permanent lifestyle of restriction. And if that lifestyle is only sustainable with supplements because it’s causing deficiencies, it’s not a good one. Just like I don’t think a vegan diet is healthy.

If I want to detox aluminum from my body, I follow a protocol. Then once it’s out, my body is functional and I can eat a variety of food, still trying to minimize exposure to aluminum. If the toxin is in the food, then a return to “normal” is not possible. Or if you do return to what was your normal diet, then it’s hard to say you believe Vitamin A it a toxin. Else you wouldn’t consume it.

And if it is a toxin, why is it in so many foods? There are still too many questions that just don’t have good answers.

A better long-term solution is to work on the health and function of your digestive system, liver, and gallbladder. If they are healthy, your detox pathway is healthy, and you can deal with toxins effectively.Moving on after the VAD Diet

The End of the VAD Diet

As I wrap up this post, I am putting an end to my involvement with the VAD Diet for the time being. Or maybe for good. I’ll watch from a distance. It is an interesting theory. And I’m curious to see how others fare on the diet.

But I will not be writing or talking about it any more.

I am disabling the comments on this post. I have given my reasons for why we stopped and talked about our journey. This is where it ends for us. If you have an earnest question you are always welcome to email.

I am heading into 2020 with renewed energy and focus. I am getting back to my passion – to give parents hope that they can overcome any feeding challenge.

I am focusing on my schooling to become an NTP and be certified to do HTMA (hair tissue mineral analysis). I am focusing on opening my practice to work one-on-one with moms and kids.

And I’m excited to continue expanding my Eating Styles Membership.

Lest anyone think I regret the past year, I don’t. Sure there are things I would have done differently had I known then what I know now. But that is how I learn. And boy have I learned a LOT this past year.

Not only about my own health and my family’s health, but health in general. I have learned what I believe and how I want to move forward.

I have also learned to be careful who I work with and associate with. Character means a lot to me. I’ve had numerous amazing partnerships this year, but also a couple that do not align with my beliefs. In the future I will be a bit more cautious before I work with individuals and brands.

I’m learning about the work of Ancel Keys right now in the book The Big Fat Surprise by Nina Teicholz. I thought this quote about him was very profound and holds true for so many trying to do groundbreaking work in health and nutrition.

Keys wanted his hypothesis to be presumed right until proven wrong. Yet – and this is an important point – science is not like the justice system. Whereas Americans are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty, scientific knowledge is just the opposite: a hypothesis must not be presumed right until a pile of significant evidence grows up behind it, and even then, you can never be entirely sure. All that one can ever really say is that the preponderance of the evidence tends to support one idea over another. Keys’s unwavering belief in his own hypothesis, even in its formative stages and even in the face of conflicting evidence, however, suggests he was willing to stray from these scientific principles to defend it.

The fame and the desire to be right overpowers the desire to actually practice good science.

I loved this quote as well:

Resisting these ‘idols of the mind,’ as the great seventeenth-century theorist Francis Bacon dubbed them, is exactly what the scientific method tries to do. A scientist must always try to disprove his or her own hypothesis. Or, as one of the great science philosophers of the twentieth century, Karl Popper, described, ‘The method of science is the method of bold conjectures and ingenious and severe attempts to refute them.’

If someone makes a health claim and only tries to show you support of it, question them. A good scientist will try to DISPROVE his or her hypothesis. If there is no way to disprove it, then it might be valid. But if there are numerous cases/studies that don’t support it – that is a red flag. To me, that is what is happening with the Vitamin A Detox Diet. Proponents are trying to prove it, but not allowing any talk of cases where it is disproved.

As Pete Ahrens stated in 1957:

When unproved hypotheses are enthusiastically proclaimed as facts,  it is timely to reflect on the possibility that other explanations can be given for the phenomena observed.

In other words, there is far too much we don’t know yet to so boldly claim that Vitamin A is a toxin and has no purpose for the human body. This being a very small-scale epidemiological study does not prove anything. Maybe cutting some of the high Vitamin A foods simply changes one’s fatty acid balance, giving more anti-inflammatory fatty acids to balance the pro-inflammatory ones? There are many ways to look at it.

Lastly, I did want to say that today’s post was about the main reasons we stopped the VAD Diet. There is definitely more to the story on both a personal and professional level. But I choose to keep that private. So if what I wrote seems a bit incomplete, it is. But it will have to do.

Just today in my devotions I read this:

Fulfilling God’s purpose is better than popularity. Loving God’s people is better than pleasure. Having God’s peace is better than possessions. – Pastor Rick Warren

That pretty much sums up my mindset heading into 2020.

What is a healthy diet

Does a Healthy Diet Exist?

Absolutely healthy diets exist! But you won’t read about them in a best-seller or an eCourse. What is healthy is up to you. Your body knows what it needs.

I have not tried AIP, keto, carnivore, or even a candida or parasite cleanse. I don’t really intend to either. In the end they generally lead to the same destination. Not listening to your body’s needs and nutrient deficiencies.

A healing protocol should be temporary. Supplementation should be temporary. Any deviation from a balanced diet should be temporary and just a stepping stone to get back to variety and good health.

What that looks like is different for every individual. The time-frame is individual. Circumstances are individual.

I know we live in a world where everyone is looking for a magic pill or cure or that one thing that will turn everything around. Even in the realm of real food where grains are the root of all health problems and liver is a life-source. We all just want to feel good.

But feeling good will not come from one supplement or one dietary change. Feeling good takes work every single day. It takes moving your body, getting enough sleep, minimizing toxin exposure, taking time to relax, chewing well, and more. Health is a lifestyle, not a detox diet or vilifying a single food or nutrient.

Thank you for going on this journey with me. I hope you have learned right along with me, and I hope you are ready to pursue a healthy lifestyle as we enter the New Year.

With that I’m saying goodbye to the Vitamin A Detox Diet. Time to move on.

Magnesium for kids - why they need it!

Why Kids Need Magnesium – And How to Get It!

In our world of degraded soil, processed foods, and toxic pesticides, almost every child is magnesium deficient. Today I’m going to tell you why that matters – why kids need magnesium and the best ways for them to get it.Magnesium for kids - why they need it!

Call my kids weird, but they were so excited to get their own jars of magnesium lotion as stocking-stuffers for Christmas. It might seem like an odd thing for a five-year-old to smile about. But she knows just how amazing magnesium is for her health.

I’m not even exaggerating that she put it on about ten times the first day she had it! And she wouldn’t let anyone else touch it. Around here, magnesium lotion is a prized possession.

Let’s find out why magnesium is so magnificent!

What Does Magnesium Do?

A better question might be, “What Doesn’t Magnesium Do?” Magnesium is an essential macromineral that is involved in several hundred enzymatic reactions in the body.

Considered the “anti-stress” mineral, magnesium is a natural tranquilizer. This can help with relaxing muscles, including both skeletal muscles and smooth muscles as in blood vessels and the digestive tract. Which is why sufficient magnesium intake helps with slow digestion.

Magnesium also plays a significant role in heart health, again relaxing muscles and preventing coronary artery spasms. It can also lower blood pressure and is sometimes used to treat pre-eclampsia in pregnancy.

If you struggle with recurring kidney stones, it is likely due to a magnesium deficiency. Magnesium helps prevent the calcification of tissues and blood vessels (including kidney stones, atherosclerosis, and even cavities!).

Magnesium plays a role in energy levels as well. Because it helps nutrients pass back and forth across cell membranes, magnesium helps in the release of energy. This may also lead to aiding with nervousness, anxiety, insomnia, depression, and muscle cramps.

Magnesium has been shown to impact blood sugar regulation, type 2 diabetes, ADHD, migraines, and Alzheimer’s too.

These are just a few of the many roles of magnesium in the body. As you can see, it is a very important mineral!Magnesium for kids - why they need it

What are the Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency?

So how do you know if you or your kids are magnesium deficient? These days if you don’t supplement you are likely deficient. It’s sad, but true. Here are some of the common symptoms of magnesium deficiency:

  • fatigue
  • anorexia
  • irritability (tendency towards blood sugar dysregulation and acting “hangry”)
  • insomnia (anybody have kids that struggle with sleep?)
  • muscle twitching and cramping (restless legs and growing pains)
  • decreased learning ability and lack of focus (ADD, ADHD)
  • confusion
  • poor memory
  • rapid heartbeat
  • numbness and tingling of hands and feet
  • recurring kidney stones
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • loss of appetite
  • nausea
  • constipation

Low levels of magnesium can impact all parts of the body. So if you are struggling with any of these symptoms on a regular basis, it might be time to change your diet or add a magnesium supplement.

Why are Kids Magnesium Deficient?

There are many factors that contribute magnesium deficiency. These include:

  • a diet low in magnesium (see the food list below)
  • soft water
  • produce grown in magnesium-deficient soil (most magnesium comes from plants)
  • processed foods in the diet (with lack of magnesium but an abundance of synthetic counteractive nutrients)
  • poor liver function
  • malabsorption (digestive dysfunction)
  • excess sugar intake (depletes magnesium)
  • high stress levels (depletes magnesium)
  • too much Vitamin D, phosphorus, and calcium in the diet (no, Vitamin D supplements are NOT a good idea) that cause an imbalance

It seems like this should only pertain to adults. But sadly, kids are born into a magnesium-deficient world. Moms are magnesium deficient while pregnant. So baby starts off without sufficient levels. Then kids are fed processed foods with high amounts of synthetic vitamins and minerals but lacking in magnesium. Vegetables are grown in nutrient-depleted soil, so even if you eat your greens you’re not getting the amount of nutrients you need.

Plus so many kids struggle with digestive problems and even autoimmune conditions that inhibit them from absorbing the magnesium they do ingest.

Kids have to deal with a lot more stress these days – from more intense school work to less time outside to EMFs to technology to pharmaceuticals to toxins to lack of sleep to poor posture…it all adds up. And stress rapidly depletes magnesium stores.

Then there is the big push for Vitamin D supplements. I’ve talked about it before –  it’s just not a good idea. It will lead to imbalances in the body, including lowered magnesium levels.

As you can see, it is very easy for kids to be magnesium deficient these days. In fact, it’s probably rare to have kids that aren’t deficient. Thankfully there are solutions!Magnesium for kids - why they need it

Best Sources of Magnesium for Kids

It is essential to get sufficient magnesium in your diet – whether from food or supplements. Some of the best food sources of magnesium include:

  • dark, leafy greens
  • nuts
  • seeds
  • beans
  • avocados
  • bananas
  • buckwheat
  • cocoa
  • molasses
  • whole grains
  • fish

Although I am a huge fan of a food-first approach, it’s not always possible to eat enough magnesium-rich food. Especially these days when most “healing diets” exclude almost everything on that list! A lot of the magnesium-rich foods are hard to digest and include problematic components like oxalates, allergens, and gluten. If your diet is lacking magnesium, you can also supplement. Some good supplement options include:

  • magnesium lotion
  • magnesium oil spray
  • epsom salt bath or foot soak
  • magnesium malate
  • magnesium lysinate, glycinate, chelate (I use THIS brand)

Topical magnesium is more easily absorbed and utilized by the body. So if you don’t need the laxative effect of a magnesium supplement, opt for lotion, spray, or bath.

Also note that magnesium is an alkaline mineral. Which means it can reduce stomach acid. So if you are going to supplement, it’s best to do it away from meals, before bed, or in combination with Vitamin C (ascorbic acid).

Can you Get Too Much Magnesium?

Although very rare, it is possible to have magnesium toxicity. Most excess magnesium is eliminated in the urine or feces.

If calcium intake is very low and magnesium intake is high (via supplementation), you can have an imbalance.

Symptoms of magnesium toxicity include:

  • muscle weakness
  • fatigue
  • sleepiness
  • hyper-excitability

Unless you are supplementing with doses of 1,000 mg or more a day, this is likely not an issue. But always strive for balance, no extremes.Magnesium for Kids - why they need it

Does Magnesium Help Kids Sleep?

As mentioned earlier, magnesium has a tranquilizing and calming effect. It helps you relax. It helps your muscles relax.

This is so important for kids. In my mind, kids should be running around all day, getting exhausted, and crashing hard when they hit the pillow at bedtime.

But that is not the reality for most kids. Even my own kids struggle with sleep sometimes. Especially my oldest. Some nights she lays in bed awake for hours. It pains me because I know it makes her worry. Then the lack of sleep on top of that worry is more stress.

A dark room and a calm bedtime routine are both helpful. But our go-to solution is magnesium lotion. My daughter can actually feel the difference. She rubs it on her legs and belly before bed and usually falls right to sleep. It’s like magic.Magnesium for Kids - why they need it

Magnesium Lotion for Growing Pains

My youngest daughter is a good sleeper…unless she has leg pains. Some nights she wakes up just sobbing in pain. We’ve taken her to the doctor and done x-rays. No physical problems.

It’s what doctors call “growing pains.” It’s sort of a bogus term because it really just means they don’t know what causes it. I say it’s magnesium deficiency!

If we are faithful about using magnesium lotion every night, my daughter is pain free. But if we start to slack, it comes back. She calls it her magic lotion. I do too. I hate seeing her in pain. The other night it was so bad I had to resort to OTC pain medicine. None of my natural remedies would help. That was my wake-up call. We need to be diligent about using magnesium lotion every single day.

In adults these same pains are often termed restless legs. It’s a big red flag for magnesium deficiency. If you or a loved one suffers from restless legs, work on magnesium levels. Sufficient magnesium will reduce or eliminate muscle cramps and spasms. Topical magnesium lotion right on the legs is great for this!

How to Make Magnesium Lotion

After reading all of that you want an easy solution, right? Well, I’ve got one. Sort of.

The first step in treating magnesium deficiency is always to work on diet. Increase food sources of magnesium when possible.

After that my favorite solution is magnesium lotion. Oils are good, but they are sticky and itchy (not great for kids). Epsom baths can work, but you don’t always have time for it. Plus it’s not an ideal solution for young kids as you can’t really regulate the magnesium levels.

That’s why I love magnesium lotion. I did a whole tutorial on how to make DIY magnesium lotion with just TWO ingredients. You can read that HERE.

For stocking stuffers I also went a step further and made a really nice lotion for my girls. I used this magnesium lotion recipe and then added some essential oils to fit their personality and needs. It was a bit more work, but totally doable. And the end product is awesome. My girls are raving about how soft it is.
Blog Photo 5

The Best Magnesium Lotion for Kids

But let’s be honest – how often do we have time to make lotion? And who has shea butter and bees wax sitting around all the time?

The easiest way to get quality magnesium lotion is to buy it. There are quite a few brands of magnesium lotion. I’ll be honest – I don’t trust most of them. They have questionable ingredients. And frankly they smell strange and still make you itch.

Except for one. The only magnesium lotion that I trust and buy is from The Magnesium Lotion Shop.

This lotion is made with only four pure ingredients. It goes on easily and smells nice. Plus I always love to support small, family-owned businesses versus big corporations. Check it out HERE.

All of our products are made by hand in small batches. Our primary goal is quality, and we encourage customers to contact us directly if they ever have any issues. Our product has passed both micro bacterial testing and the USP 51 preservative challenge test (for consumer safety), results can be seen here. We use only natural ingredients: Magnesium Oil, Apricot Oil, Mango Butter and Beeswax – no funny, artificial, hard to pronounce substances are in our product. Out lotion is preservative free. – Mike Crumbs

Sufficient magnesium is such an important factor for good health. I’m thankful there are numerous ways to increase magnesium levels, including transdermally through magnesium lotion. It’s the perfect solution for both kids and adults!

Do you struggle with magnesium deficiency? What is your favorite way to supplement? Have you seen any health improvements when using magnesium supplements?

Having trouble navigating all the different types of magnesium? This guide will help you!

How I Gave My Daughter A New Start: Natural Remedies to Help Mouth Breathing

Does your child seem to sleep poorly or wake up grumpy? There are many causes, one of them being how your child breathes. There is natural help for mouth breathing to get a well-rested child.

How we are putting an end to mouth breathing through natural treatments and palette expansion.

Every parent does it. Every night.

Before you get in bed you check on your sleeping child.

You stand there for a minute watching them lay there so peacefully.

Unless your child is a mouth breather.

Then you see covers strewn about and a child tossing and turning. You hear snoring and snuffling.

Sleeping While Mouth Breathing Looks Anything but Peaceful

Not only does it look bad, it is bad. Mouth breathing has a big impact on health and behavior. Here are some of the effects of mouth breathing.

  • Restless sleep/change positions constantly.
  • Lack of clean oxygen to the body (that comes through the nose).
  • Bad breath and body odor.
  • Sensitive teeth/chewing problems/dental problems.
  • Adrenal fatigue/lack of sleep.
  • Sleeping problems/hard to settle down/inability to nap.
  • Lack of focus/symptoms of ADD/ADHD.
  • Hyperactivity.
  • Mood swings/tantrums/meltdowns.
  • Oral sensory processing disorder.
  • Narrow mouth/palette.

This list of symptoms should not describe any child. But it does. My daughter included. She had displayed every single symptom on this list at only seven years old.How do I stop mouth breathing in my kids? We are putting an end to mouth breathing through natural treatments and palette expansion. #mouthbreathing #oralspd #kidshealth

Why do Kids Mouth Breathe?

Mouth breathing happens during the day and night and can have a variety of causes. For my daughter the root issue is environmental allergies.

Her first symptoms started at a very young age with chewing problems and sensitive teeth. She needed pureed foods until age two. But things really started to get worse around age three when she stopped napping and could no longer settle down during the day.

We played around with diet and removed gluten and anything artificial. We saw some improvement, but not enough.

How Allergies Impact Mouth Breathing

At five years old we had her tested for allergies and discovered severe dust mite and mold allergies. The allergist put her on a steroid nasal spray. Although hesitant we tried it for a while with no improvement. So we turned to more natural remedies.

How we are putting an end to mouth breathing through natural treatments and palette expansion.

Natural Treatment Options for Mouth Breathing

My daughter is now ten and breathing through her nose most of the time. It is quite amazing to see the difference in her health, mood and behavior. She has been given a new start after years of mouth breathing.

Every child is different and responds differently to treatments. But if your child is a mouth breather it is important to figure out what works for them and find a way for them to get quality oxygen and sleep. Here are the treatments we have used.

  1. Speech therapy – We saw a speech therapist for three years. It is great for calming the body, integrating reflexes and training the mouth. Being able to do exercises at home that open the nasal passage is also wonderful.
  2. Remove food allergies – Allergies to food can cause inflammation anywhere in the body, including the nose/airway. You can figure out allergies through formal testing, an elimination diet, muscle testing or trial and error. Cut the offending foods out completely while you work on healing.
  3. Clean the whole house and clear out the bedroom – Dust and mold allergies are some of the biggest offenders. Dust mites live in mattresses, pillow cases, couches and stuffed animals. Dust collects quickly on dressers, toy boxes and bookshelves. There are some simple solutions.
  • Use dust mite covers on the mattress and pillow case.
  • Change bedding weekly and wash it in hot water.
  • Remove stuffed animals from the bed.
  • Clean the floor regularly. Wood floors are ideal. If possible remove carpet.
  • Remove as much clutter from the bedroom as possible.
  • Dust regularly in the bedroom and the whole house.
  • Keep windows free of mold.
  • Diffuse essential oils – Essential oils can provide a tremendous improvement in breathing. A blend of lemon, lavender and peppermint diffused through the night is effective for clearing airways. Purification is great too.
  • Palette expansion.

How we are putting an end to mouth breathing through natural treatments and palette expansion.

Palate Expansion for Mouth Breathing

Palate expansion has had the biggest impact on my daughter’s health. Her mouth breathing has caused her palate to gradually become narrower and narrower. We found a naturally minded dentist that focuses on expansion plus reshaping the jaw. It is not just the typical expander for a few months and then move on to braces.

There are a few different methods of expansion. We are using Biobloc Orthotropics. It is a three year process with several phases. First the mouth is widened to allow room for all of the teeth and to open the nasal passage. Then the jaw is reshaped.

My daughter is breathing through her nose more in the night and getting better quality sleep. She is using mouth exercises to practice keeping her mouth closed during the day to retrain her jaw. No more sitting with her mouth wide open!

We also use tape over her mouth at night. I know it sounds strange, but our orthodontist suggested it…and it really works! You can buy special tape already cut in strips or use a hypoallergenic medical tape. Just avoid it if your child has a cold or is really stuffy. You can read more about mouth taping here!

Instead of bad breath daily it is only an occasional problem. She is also much more efficient at eating. Instead of a meal taking an hour she can finish in about ten minutes.

Looking for more ways to figure out why your child struggles with meal times? Check out Why Won’t My Child Eat?! Mouth breathing is just one of the many culprits.

How do I stop mouth breathing in my kids? We are putting an end to mouth breathing through natural treatments and palette expansion.Can you Eliminate Mouth Breathing?

We have many days now of greatly improved focus and attention and with less hyperactivity. She is able to quickly get herself ready for school in the morning and stay on task at school.

Her adrenal health is gradually improving as she gets more sleep and we continue with a nutrient dense, allergen free diet. Her hair and nails are stronger. She has not had severe skin problems this winter for the first time in years.

The mouth breathing is not 100% gone, but it is drastically decreased. We are still using tape at night and doing mouth exercises during the day.

Is Your Child a Mouth Breather?

Don’t let it go untreated. It will change the shape of the face and impact overall health. Find the root problem (i.e. allergies). Then seek appropriate treatment to eliminate it.

Finally consider palate expansion to undo the structural damage, keep the nasal passage open and create a beautiful smile with enough room for all of your child’s teeth. I’m so thankful we stopped the mouth breathing in its tracks and my daughter has been given a new start. Her smile says it all.

How we are putting an end to mouth breathing through natural treatments and palette expansion.

This post is linked to Savoring Saturdays.

How Raising Animals Helps Picky Eaters

Can raising animals help picky eaters? You bet it can! By teaching the new generation about where their food comes from we will raise adventurous eaters and healthy individuals.Can raising animals help picky eaters? You bet it can! By teaching the new generation about where their food comes from we will raise adventurous eaters and healthy individuals.

I can’t even count the number of times I’ve heard someone ask if you can’t have eggs because you are dairy free. Let that sink in a minute. Eggs…from chickens. That has nothing to do with dairy. It’s a completely different animal! Unless they know a secret I don’t and can milk a chicken!

What’s really sad is that it is adults asking this. Adults. That don’t know eggs are not dairy. Just because they are close together in a grocery store (as if that means anything about where they come from!). That doesn’t bode well for the future of our children. Food knowledge is not being passed down.

Kids have no idea where their food comes from or why it even matters.

This needs to change. I think food education (about REAL food) should be taught in schools and should be fundamental knowledge. It’s hard to make good choices about how and what you eat when you don’t even know there is a choice to make.Can raising animals help picky eaters? You bet it can! By teaching the new generation about where their food comes from we will raise adventurous eaters and healthy individuals.

Parents are Responsible for Food Knowledge

It is up to parents to turn this around. Because let’s face it – kids are bombarded with neon-colored packaged junk everywhere they turn. From a very young age my kids help in the garden, planting, weeding, harvesting. They also help in the kitchen (with their skills from Kids Cook Real Food) preparing food from scratch. And they help raise animals.

Right now we just have chickens. We hope to expand to other animals in the future. But for now we are enjoying our little flock.

My seven year old feeds the chickens and collects the eggs every day. All of the kids like to help care for our hens. They are learning by first-hand experience.Can raising animals help picky eaters? You bet it can! By teaching the new generation about where their food comes from we will raise adventurous eaters and healthy individuals.

Raising Healthy Chickens

But I am adding a new tool for learning. I recently received the book Proven Techniques for Keeping Healthy Chickens by Carissa Bonham.

It is a great resource for all of your chicken questions. And I love how easy it is to read! Every subject has one page (kind of like a daily devotional). So you can quickly browse the whole book or go right to the topic you want and easily find the answer you need.

Since my oldest two can read they will be reading this book to give them a better understanding of chicken care. We have some chickens that are molting. So I’m going to let my kids use this book to figure out how we can help the hens through it.

Prevent Picky Eaters

Not only does this give them knowledge and a better understanding of how to care for God’s creation, it helps them not be picky eaters.

My kids know all the work that goes into raising healthy eggs. They appreciate the nutritional value. And they know not to be wasteful. For them it’s not just about food on the plate. It’s everything that goes into getting the food there.

The same holds true for our garden produce and our apples. A jar of home-canned applesauce isn’t just applesauce. It’s pruning trees, picking apples, making and canning the sauce.

I hope to instill an appreciation and love for well-raised food in my children. They can turn up their noses at processed pseudo-foods. But when it comes to real, nourishing food they will be the farthest thing from picky eaters.Can raising animals help picky eaters? You bet it can! By teaching the new generation about where their food comes from we will raise adventurous eaters and healthy individuals.

How You Can Raise Adventurous Eaters

Whether or not you raise your own food or animals, it’s important that your kids know where their food comes from. You can visit a local farm or even just try growing a tomato plant in a pot.

And grab some good books about raising animals like Carissa’s Proven Techniques for Keeping Healthy Chickens. Your kids will learn a lot. And the pictures are so cute. Who doesn’t love page after page of adorable chickens and eggs?!

I did not grow up farming, so I’ve been learning a lot about chickens myself from this book. Even as the one that mostly only deals with the food once it’s in the house. Carissa’s book taught me about  how to properly clean eggs to prevent spreading bacteria. I had no idea you shouldn’t run them under water!

Food knowledge is so important for this new generation. And feeding kids real, nourishing food will improve health and help prevent picky eating.

Whether you’re raising your own chickens or you just want to learn more, check out Carissa’s book here.

How much do your kids know about where their food comes from? One simple step you can take today is to provide quality books about real food for your kids to read.