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.


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

Natural remedies for cold and flu season for the whole family

Natural remedies for cold and flu season for the whole family

Yesterday I felt it. You know the little tickle in your throat? The little ‘itch’ deep in your ears? I knew it was the start of a cold or flu so I decided to fight it!


Cold and Flu viruses are uncomfortable and annoying, especially for many of us with busy lives today. We tend to dose ourselves with over the counter cold medicines to suppress our symptoms so we can soldier on which is logical especially if you are a mum with young children!

But think about the last time you were ill, was it at a time when you were tired, run down or stressed? I know for me, and I suspect for you too, feeling an illness coming on is our body’s way of communicating our need to chill out, slow down, rest and for goodness sake, press the pause button on life!

Like having a baby, there is never a convenient time to get sick but our bodies are pretty amazing at knowing what they need, and when they need it. Imagine if more people listened to their bodies and didn’t go to work while suppressing an illness, there would be fewer germs around!

A fever is an important process the body performs to fight the virus while the mucus produced acts as the rubbish disposal carrying the bacteria and virus out of us. Without even knowing it, we’re brilliant at making ourselves well again!

Of course the best way to deal with a cold or flu is to prevent catching it in the first place! A nourishing diet of real food based on vegetables and fruit can help you ward off viruses. Good quality sleep and regular exercise will also support a strong immune system.

However if you feel yourself succumbing or notice symptoms in your little ones, here are my top 10 tips to fight off the virus, decrease the intensity and shorten the duration without resorting to cold, flu and cough medications that will only suppress symptoms.

1. At the first sign of a cold or flu I put a dropper full of 3% hydrogen peroxide in each ear. You will hear bubbling and when that subsides, drain onto a tissue and repeat on the other ear. This remedy has worked more often than not for me but it has to be done very soon after the first symptoms appear. More on using hydrogen peroxide can be found at

2. As soon as the symptoms start I also take a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and after gargling briefly, I swallow it. I do this about every hour or 2 until symptoms disappear. I use this method on my kids as well.

3. As soon as I hear someone so much as sniff in winter I light an oil burner (with a beeswax tea light candle which can clear the air as well) and burn oil like oregano, tea tree or eucalyptus. Good quality oregano oil would be my top pick.

4. I also use drops of oregano oil in coconut oil to rub on my kids’ chests and on the soles of their feet (then put socks on) before they go to bed. My kids have had temperatures only to wake up fine in the morning with this method.

5. I start supplementing more in winter to prevent illness and choose to use good quality Vitamin D (preferably from the sun but if unavailable a supplement is fine), Vitamin C, Olive leaf extract and zinc.

6. I nourish the family with homemade chicken bone broth and also cook more with coconut oil, garlic and up our intake of fermented foods. Gut health is so important when boosting the immune system.

7. I make sure everyone in the family drinks plenty of good quality water to keep hydrated.

8. If someone is struggling to drink water a fresh ginger, lemon and honey tea can sometimes be a bit easier to drink. Boil on the stove with plenty of water and the other ingredients to suit your taste. I usually cut the lemons in half and put it all in (skin included) with sliced ginger and just a bit of honey.

9. Wash hands often to avoid spreading germs.

10. Finally, and most importantly, REST. When you are sick with young kids this can be extremely difficult but even short naps throughout the day will help you recover sooner. In this instance, a bit of TV will be fine! 😉