Anxiety Calming Foods

Anxiety Calming Foods

Being a mama is a blessing and a joy.  Blah, blah, blah!

We’re all living the experience of motherhood so we know how blessed and lucky we are.  We feel the surges of love, pride and awe as we watch our little people navigating their way in the world.  But we also know that motherhood can bring times of stress and anxiety that our own mothers may have mentioned never goes away…

Anxiety during pregnancy is also common as it is an exciting time but full of stressful aspects like hormonal changes, body aches and pains, the worry about the growing fetus, your own health and the small issue of the birth and raising a child!

If you know you are prone to feelings of anxiety there are various ways you can help yourself control and manage these feelings.


  1. Fish – high in Omega-3’s and great for reducing inflammation and lifting moods. Contains tryptophan, an amino acid that promotes serotonin production, our happy hormone.  Best to find well-sourced, sustainable options like mackerel, sardines and wild caught salmon.
  2. Seaweed – rich in nutrients, it also contains magnesium, a calming mineral in the body, and tryptophan.
  3. Whole grains like quinoa, whole grain oats and brown rice for their high magnesium content. Eating complex carbs like these will also help tryptophan from foods like fish, seaweed, avo, eggs, tofu and poultry be more effectively absorbed in the body for the production of serotonin.
  4. Asparagus for folic acid known to help regulate mood. Keep in mind it can give your pee a funky smell but no need to STRESS about it!
  5. Blueberries and peaches are both high in vitamins and phytonutrients but also known to be packed with antioxidants beneficial for relieving stress. A great dessert or snack with natural Greek or coconut yoghurt.
  6. Almonds and seeds for zinc, iron and healthy fats. Anxiety may develop with an imbalance of copper to zinc in the body (possibly due to taking birth control pills high in copper).  If you enjoy oysters, they are also great to increase zinc levels too.
  7. Chocolate for reducing cortisol levels and improving mood. Just make sure you are enjoying a pure, dark form of chocolate not overly processed, laden with sugar and milk varieties!
  8. Maca Root found in powdered form or capsules in health food shops. This adaptogenic herb is actually a pleasant tasting root that is highly nutritious with more calcium than milk.  It helps hormone balance, improves mood, energy and sexual appetite.  Add it to meals, smoothies or desserts. (There is not a great deal of research into Maca root for pregnant women so avoid if you are pregnant).


  1. Caffeine (or at least reduce it in times of anxiety or stress) as it releases the stress hormone cortisol.
  2. Diet drinks as artificial sweeteners like aspartame are known to decrease the happy hormone, serotonin. Try sparkling water with freshly squeezed lemon or lime instead.
  3. Fried foods/processed foods/refined carbs and sugary snacks as the trans fats used in these products have been shown to impair blood flow throughout the body and to the brain, which affects mood. Refined carbs like pasta and white bread and sugary foods also cause blood sugar spikes and crashes affecting mood too.
  4. Alcohol, which can provide an initial feeling of calmness but is a depressant, so over time can cause feelings of anxiety. It also can disrupt sleep patterns, which can influence how you feel throughout the day.
  5. MSG added to foods and listed as a number starting with ‘6’ like 621-625. MSG is added to many packaged foods and many Asian foods – even sushi rolls unfortunately!  MSG increases levels of glutamate, an excitatory hormone in the brain, which in turn increases anxiety and stress.


  1. Drink more good quality water
  2. Sip on chamomile tea throughout the day for its’ calming qualities
  3. Put lavender oil drops on your pillow or in the bath
  4. Exercise for at least 21 minutes to reliably decrease anxiety according to studies.
  5. Passionflower supplements can help feelings of anxiety but should only be used short term.
  6. Ensure you get enough sleep (or make it as good in quality as possible if you are still up with your baby or kids. See my grown up sleep routine guide).
  7. Get outside for sunshine and Vitamin D as most of us are deficient. Getting hot and sweating helps rid your body of toxins also.
  8. Walk barefoot in nature on soil, grass or sand. Also called ‘earthing’ it helps us draw electrons from the earth and has been scientifically shown to have numerous health benefits including lifting mood.
  9. Breathing exercises like Andrew Weil’s 4-7-8 breathing can help calm the nervous system. Exhale completely through the mouth, inhale through the nose for a count of 4, hold for a count of 7 and exhale through the mouth for a count of 8. Repeat 4 times. 

Times of stress and anxiety can be very taxing so making some diet and lifestyle changes could really help you manage and cope with these periods when they appear.  Of course, if your feelings are deeper and you are really not coping or concerned about your thoughts and feelings, you should reach out for the support of family, friends and your choice of heath practitioner.  Don’t suffer in silence.  Support is there.  You just have to ask for it.


Tips to prevent fussy eating

Tips to prevent fussy eating

Having a fussy eater in the house can affect the whole family and be an emotional issue for everyone.  It’s easy for others to tell you not to stress and that it will pass but living with a fussy eater is no walk in the park.

While children’s tastes differ from adults and fussy eating will most likely NOT last forever, a study at Duke University

Suggests that fussy eating may be an indicator of anxiety, depression and other social issues later in life.

My own experience with fussy eating came when my son turned 2, which is the age psychologists suggest the neo-phobic (fear of new things) stage can take hold until around the age of 6 or 7 years.  My son also had dreadful eczema and I decided to put him on the GAPS diet, which ended up helping enormously.  It was a strict diet eliminating many foods initially.  My son wasn’t terribly impressed with being offered chicken and lamb stew for breakfast, lunch and dinner but when he was hungry enough, he ate them and I have to say he’s been an awesome eater ever since.  He was on the path of refusing everything except dried fruit and yoghurt so I believe GAPS benefitted his eczema AND his fussy eating.

My experience with GAPS will be the subject of another post but for now, here are my top tips for avoiding fussy eating.

  1. Don’t assume that your baby/toddler or child dislikes a food because they spit it out once or twice. Experts say that it can take between 10-20 exposures to a food before a child will accept it.  Persist with offering but don’t force them to try it or to finish it.


  1. Don’t offer ‘easy’ alternatives to family meals like yoghurt or crackers for fear your child will starve. Serve a family meal but allow choices (within reason) to suit individual tastes.  For instance, offer tomato OR olives, OR both, or allow the choice of condiments to give them some sense of control over what they are eating.  Allow them choices within your parameters.


  1. Don’t bribe or threaten. Try to avoid strong emotions around food.  I’ve always given my kids the choice of whether to finish their meal or not but the rule in my house has been that those who don’t finish (within reason or unless completely full) don’t eat dessert.  There is never anger or pushing them to finish so they get the dessert, it’s completely their ‘choice’ to finish and eat dessert or to not finish and not eat dessert.  (this may be low level bribery but as dessert is usually berries, yoghurt or a square of raw chocolate, it hasn’t seemed that brutal and has worked well in our house)!


  1. Don’t buy what you don’t want them to eat. When I hear mamas cry, ‘he/she will only eat sweet biscuits’, I think, ‘why are there sweet biscuits being offered?’  If you offer junk food, they’ll learn to prefer junk food.  If it’s not in the house, they won’t be able to work on you for it and YOU won’t be tempted to eat junk either!


  1. Get toddlers and children involved in meal preparation. Just giving them a bowl to mix some salad leaves, an avocado to cut up, jobs to fetch items from the fridge or pantry will help them feel involved and get them feeling and touching wholefoods.  Kids love to have tasks to complete and love to feel helpful.  If I am in a mad rush to get a meal prepared, I have given my kids a small bowl of random ingredients to mix to keep them busy which has worked to keep them entertained and me able to prepare without fingers grabbing at the real meal.  Growing herbs or fruit and vegetables is an even better way to get them keen on wholesome foods.


  1. Limit snacks between meals especially packaged and processed foods. If kids are filling up on less nutritious, ‘fake’ foods between meals they will be less likely to have an appetite for the meal you want them to eat.  Offer snacks like fruits and vegetable sticks with some cheese or nuts to keep them satisfied.


  1. Guide them from an early age to be aware of how different foods make them feel. After take away meals my kids know they’ll be very thirsty due to the high salt content.   After a good breakfast they know they have more energy than if they hadn’t eaten well.  They are also starting to admit that they also feel pretty wired after birthday parties too!  It’s not about judging the food eaten just acknowledging how certain foods make them feel so as they get older food is about making themselves feel great.


  1. Allow them to go through their own stages of liking and disliking foods, as there may be reasons they go off a particular taste or texture. My daughter LOVED olives at 2 then disliked them for about 4 years but eats them again now.  She’s just decided she can’t handle the texture of avocado so I put it in salads where it’s less obvious but don’t give it to her on its own.  My son doesn’t like tomato and because it’s a nightshade, which is not beneficial to those who are prone to eczema, I don’t push him to eat it.  Even though he has no signs of eczema now I figure it just may not agree with his body.  Teaching them awareness of how foods make them feel will help them explain why a certain food does or doesn’t agree with them.


  1. Finally, kids thrive on routine and love meal times.  If they become accustomed to sharing a nourishing family meal every day this will become an important part of their life growing up and will be part of their life even after they leave your home.  Keep meal times relaxed and don’t intently watch your child eating.


Both of my kids are used to receiving half of their plate full of veggies at our nighttime meal so various friends and family have witnessed comments like, ‘where are the veggies?’ or ‘there aren’t enough veggies tonight’ or ‘I need more salad on my plate, mum’.  They may sound strange, and I’m not trying to show off!  It’s just to show that they really do learn from routine so consistency is going to pay off.  Keep up the great work you do as a mama.  I know feeding a family is often relentless and tedious but it’s such an important start for your kids.




“The food you eat can either be the safest and powerful form of medicine, or the slowest form of poison”.  Ann Wigmore

I hope these tips can help you turn a fussy eater into an eating machine with a huge appetite for nourishing and wholesome foods!


What’s the Big Deal About Processed Food and Why Do People Bang on About Wholefoods?!

What’s the Big Deal About Processed Food and Why Do People Bang on About Wholefoods?!

Remember when we just ate food?  Anything we put into our mouths was considered food a while back.  Now it’s: super-foods, power-foods, wholefoods, junk foods, non-foods and on it goes.  So why do ‘experts’ keep banging on about the importance of wholefoods, and does it really matter when a grocery bought ‘heat and serve’ meal is so much easier?

Wholefoods are foods that are eaten in their natural state with no, or very little processing or refining like vegetables and fruits.  They are often grown rather than produced.

Wholefoods contain more nutrients and fewer calories than more processed foods.  For busy, weary mamas and our growing cubs, wholefoods will offer vitamins, minerals, fibre, beneficial fats and the enzymes necessary for our healthy functioning.

Processed foods are usually foods that come in packets and have a list of ingredients that typically include unhealthy fats, sugar, fillers, additives, preservatives, colours and flavours.  Often processed foods are high in calories but low in nutrition however they are arguably faster to prepare.  Examples of processed foods are soft drinks, juice, cakes, biscuits, pastries, chips, pies, hot dogs, lollies, bread and many breakfast cereals.

In recent times organic and gluten free have become major dietary trends but if an organic or gluten free item is highly processed, it will still be low in nutrition and high in calories so don’t be fooled.  These buzzwords and others like, natural, fat-free and cholesterol-free have misled consumers to disregard actual ingredients believing they are eating something healthy which is often not the case.  Don’t be bamboozled by marketing terms.  Read ingredient lists and avoid foods with ingredients you can’t identify.

Ingredients in processed foods are usually stripped of all nutritional qualities like vitamins and minerals, think white flour and sugar, and then packed full of toxic chemicals to add flavour like canola oil, MSG, colours, nitrates, sulphites, fillers and synthetic vitamins and minerals.

Food companies unfortunately do not have the health of you and your family as their top priority!  While the ingredients they add to food may taste good (if your tastebuds are accustomed to processed food flavours) they are cheap for them to maximize profit and long lasting to ensure the longest shelf life possible.

So if you want to nourish your family with wholefoods and limit processed foods, where do you start?

  1. The number 1 best thing you can do for the health of your family is to cook and bake as much of your food as you can. Hands down, the BEST thing.  With a bit of planning and preparation you’ll get in a groove with food preparation.  It may go out the window every now and then during busy periods but stick with it.  You should definitely have the odd night off too but once you make cooking at home a priority you will get in a groove and be a pro in no time!
  2. Shop at local farmers markets for fresh and local chemical free produce and stick to the outside aisles of your grocery store where you’ll find fresh and frozen produce, eggs, healthy snacks like nuts, meats, chilled items like yoghurt and some fresh, low processed ‘heat and serve’ items like soups with short ingredient lists of seasoned vegetables for nights you need a quick meal.
  3. Fill up on wholefoods first and feed your family wholefoods so that you limit the your capacity for processed food. The fibre content in wholefoods will help make you feel full.  As you are giving your body the nutrition it needs, you’ll limit the possibility of food cravings too.

If the idea of feeling fabulous, looking great and avoiding chronic modern diseases appeals to you then you should opt for a diet of mostly wholefoods and limited or no processed foods.

It’ll change your life…….and make it longer too!



For Good Health – Do You Have the Guts?!

For Good Health – Do You Have the Guts?!

You may have read or heard that gut health impacts our entire health.  Recent research does in fact show a link between a strong digestive system and overall vibrant, good health.

You may think that poor gut health reveals itself as bloating, heartburn or a bit of gas but a compromised digestive system can cause numerous and far reaching health problems including impaired immune and nervous system function as well as impacting hormonal function and balance.

There are two closely related facets to gut health.  Firstly there is our gut bacteria or microbiome known as ‘gut flora’.  Our unique gut microbiome promotes digestive function and regulates metabolism, protects us from infection and makes up more than 75% of our immune system.

Secondly, there is our intestinal barrier or gut lining which when damaged causes permeability or ‘leaky gut’.  Leaky gut occurs when large protein molecules escape the intestinal tract and enter the bloodstream.  Proteins don’t belong outside the gut so the body responds but mounting an immune response to attack them.

According to Chris Kresser ( it is not only the digestive issues that suggest leaky gut because other symptoms are many and varied.

If you have any of the following symptoms, it’s likely you may have leaky gut (seeing a naturopath or functional doctor is advisable for confirmation):

  1. Digestive issues like bloating, gas, diarrhea or heartburn
  2. Food allergies or sensitivities where you react negatively to certain foods
  3. Anxiety and/or depression
  4. Mood swings and irritability
  5. Skin problems like eczema, psoriasis or rosacea
  6. Diabetes
  7. Autoimmune Disease like Graves or Hashimoto’s
  8. Frequent infections
  9. Poor memory or concentration, brain fog, ADD or ADHD


Causes of compromised gut health are:

  1. Poor diet choices like eating refined carbohydrates, sugar, bad fats, excessive caffeine and alcohol
  2. Antibiotics and other medications like birth control which destroy good bacteria in the gut
  3. Parasites, viruses and fungal infections
  4. Stress


To heal a damaged gut, a program called the 4R Program developed by Jeffery Bland PhD and Associates at the Functional Medicine Institute has demonstrated consistently positive results.  There are 4 steps to the program:

  1. REMOVE – offending foods and toxins. Processed foods, gluten, dairy, corn, soy, eggs and sugar are inflammatory foods so an elimination diet can identify if they have a negative impact on you.  Take inflammatory foods out of the diet for 2 weeks and reintroduce one at a time to see if they effect your system.  Parasites, yeast and bad bacteria can be identified with a stool analysis and treated with herbs, anti-parasitic, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial supplements by a naturopath or functional doctor.
  2. REPLACE – essential ingredients for proper digestion like digestive enzymes, hydrochloric acid and bile acid. Often heartburn and indigestion are blamed on too much stomach acid when in fact often the opposite is true.  Instead of depleting your gut of acid by taking antacids, consider discussing digestive enzyme supplementation with your health care professional.
  3. REINOCULATE – Restore beneficial bacteria in the gut. If you don’t have a yeast problem you can eat fermented foods like kimchi and sauerkraut easily and cheaply made at home.  If taking a probiotic supplement, forget store bought yoghurt or liquid probiotic drinks that are full of sugar and invest in a probiotic for a dose of 25-100 billion good bacteria a day.  Consume foods rich in prebiotic that feed the good bacteria and are high in soluble fibre.  These include garlic, onion, leeks, asparagus, banana, cabbage, yacon Jerusalem artichoke and dandelion greens.
  4. REPAIR – Bone broths are very healing to the gut lining and a diet rich in nutrient dense wholefoods is the best way to repair your digestive system. Slippery elm and aloe vera are particularly restorative to the gut.


We all want to enjoy life with energy and exuberance so starting with our gut health is of vital importance.  If you are planning a pregnancy, remember your baby’s gut flora is possibly picked up in the womb and definitely through the birth canal during birth.  Passing on a healthy microbiota is a great start for your bub.

Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride (author of the Gut and Psychology Syndrome) states that those with damaged gut flora will crave the very foods that support the survival of unhealthy bacteria often at the refusal of others.  If your child is starting to demand processed carbohydrate foods and refuse a balanced diet, it might be best to find healthier alternatives for the long-term health of your family.


Gut and Psychology Syndrome – Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride

Dealing with Gestational Diabetes Naturally

Dealing with Gestational Diabetes Naturally

If you’ve been diagnosed with gestational diabetes it may throw you into a state of shock and confusion, especially if you’ve been eating a nutritious diet during your pregnancy.

Pregnancy is time of constantly changing hormones so try to be gentle on yourself and calm yourself with the knowledge that there are a few natural steps you can take to ensure the health of you and your growing bub.

Symptoms of gestational diabetes are usually mild but complications to mum and bub can occur so it’s important to take advice from you doctor.  A doctor may prescribe insulin therapy if required.

As the chance of both mother and baby developing Type II diabetes is increased after gestational diabetes, these steps could be important in the prevention of future problems.

Like many health issues in our modern world, a lack of nutrients combined with the over-consumption of highly processed non-foods with no nutritional value will be a major contributing factor.

After consulting with your healthcare professional, follow these guidelines and listen to your body.

  1. Eat regularly. Consume nutritious food every 2-3 hours.

A major cause of all types of diabetes is irregular eating when the body learns to expect a hit of sugar and calories but is then subjected to long periods with no nutrients.  This can negatively affect insulin receptors and mess with your metabolism.

  1. Eliminate sugar and refined grains. Get rid of the white stuff like biscuits, lollies, cakes, ice cream, white bread, flour and rice.  A well-balanced diet of wholefoods will be of great benefit to you and your growing baby.
  1. Consume carbohydrates with protein and good fats. Carbs are what affect your blood sugar so if you can limit them to vegetables, fruit and if you can tolerate it, whole grains like brown rice or quinoa, you will avoid sugar spikes.
  1. Eat small portions of carbs with the majority consumed at lunch instead of breakfast or dinner. Consider good quality protein sources and good fats your friends – protein especially will benefit the growth and development of your bub.
  1. Increase fibre in your diet by adding ground flaxseeds or chia seeds to smoothies, salads and meals. Fibre can balance levels of insulin and is important for all pregnancy diets whether gestational diabetes has been identified or not.
  1. Exercise if possible for at least 30 minutes a day. Walking, pilates, yoga and swimming are fantastic during pregnancy.  Listen to your body so you don’t overdo it.
  1. Supplementation – with Vitamin D, Vitamin C and Chromium. Vitamin D helps you absorb other nutrients like calcium, iron and magnesium so it is vital for processes in the body.  Enjoy safe sun exposure to ensure adequate levels.

There is a direct link between Vitamin C deficiency and gestational diabetes so increasing your levels of Vitamin C will likely reduce symptoms and lower the risk of developing Type II diabetes down the track.

Chromium is an important trace mineral that many of us are lacking.  Chromium in pregnant women can become deficient due to the fetus draining levels so supplementation of a wholefoods source of 200-1000mcg per day could be beneficial.  Studies show that supplementation with chromium can normalize blood sugar in some people and that it also plays a role in fat metabolism.  It can help alleviate sugar cravings and appetite in general.

Remember to love yourself enough to put great nutrition into your body.  Enjoy your pregnancy!

  • This information is for information purposes only and shouldn’t replace the advice of your doctor or natural healthcare advisor.



Katherine Tarr & Tony Isaacs (Natural News)