Welcome to episode three of incrEDIBLE family health podcast!!
This is where we start to explore some underlying causes of anxiety in children and think about ways we can avoid triggers and protect our kids!
Thanks for listening!!
Thanks for joining me on incrEDIBLE family health with Cheree Sheldon. I’m a naturopath, nutritionist and chef. But my most important role is Mum, I want to focus on getting your family healthy. I’ll do this by sharing tools and strategies I’ve learned to benefit my family’s well being, and pass them on to you. You’ll also gain incredible insights from other professionals and parents who can help you live healthier lives.
Hello, thanks for joining me on incrEDIBLE family health with Cheree Sheldon, this is our part two of meltdowns and mayhem, a journey with children with anxiety. I’m going to continue on from what we talked about last time and get right into the nitty gritty of underlying causes and talk about how do we test and how do we figure out what’s going on more underlying causes. Let’s start with screentime. It’s big. So only think about how many hours minutes that your child is exposed to screens on a daily basis. Now screens can be computer screens, iPads, TV, phones, all of that adds up to the same amount of screen time. So don’t just think about all I only have an hour on telly. But they’re got four hours on the iPad, or however much they have at school, it all counts. And the experts recommend that a child is only exposed to two hours of a day and I’m talking under 10. They recommend no screen time before the age of two. Yeah, I made that happen with my first child, it was hard. And I found when we went out there was screens everywhere. And I was like, “Oh my god, she’s watching screens.” It was important for me at that time, the brain development, I was really, really concerned about brain development because she was born early. And I was acutely aware of the research with screentime and mental health issues later on down the track. However, when you have a subsequent child, and the older child already has their set routine with screen, and then the new child comes along.
It’s very hard for baby number two to not have screentime. before the age of two, we really tried to limit that. So our older one was like you can have screentime and Sage went to sleep, Sage is my little number two. And that was often anxiety provoking for Bailey for my old one. Because Sage wasn’t a good sleeper. And it was a big massive production, to get her to go to sleep. And Bailey would be like freaking out going to bed, put her to bed get into sleep, because she knew when she was asleep in the middle of the day, she could get his screen time. Its a war at our house and we have it minorly. And I understand from talking to other mums that it often causes so much issue everyone else’s house.
But let’s talk about why there’s sometimes it’s what the child is watching or exposed to that is causing anxiety, media exposure when they are covering current events, scary concepts, things on the news in the past year. COVID-19 is hugely anxiety provoking for every human on the planet. You know, there’s so many possibilities and “what if’s” and it’s a big thing. So child with anxiety being exposed to that big, what if in that big scary concept is huge. So if that is affecting your child, then just remove the exposure and change what they’re watching on screen time. So at our house, we don’t watch the news at all. It’s anxiety provoking for my husband as well. So we’re oblivious often to what’s happening in the world, which is great. We live in our bubble, we come out of it when it impacts enough that people are talking about it in real life. And that’s enough for us. But following things on the news, is anxiety provoking for a lot of people. So I do recommend to just cut that just snip it. It’s a habit that you can lose and you can replace with something, something better, something like a wonderful morning meditation, you know, listening to some beautiful music that’s going to be uplifting and help set your body up into a calm response for the day instead of being in that fight and flight response immediately.
Scary concepts is another thing as well. So if they’re watching TV shows that have you know, monsters or violence or bullying, then that can cause a lot of acute fears. Acute fears can impact sleep. Sleep disturbance can make them more cranky in the morning. And that makes anxiety bigger the next day. So it becomes this cycle. We’ve got the power to stop that.
So screentime at night, in the dark, is a major cause of anxiety. I think teens exposed to this more than anyone, but I often got parent clients as well come in, and we talk about their sleep habits. And they’re scrolling their social medias in the dark before bed, and getting anxious. So it’s another habit that we need to break. Sometimes it’s like, well, I just need to tune out from my world for a minute, and tune into something else. But let’s try to do that in a way that’s not going to create anxiety.
5.37 Now, another thing that this screentime exposure does, is it’s been shown to cause an early dementia, like destruction in the dendrites in the brain, that frightening. So they have done MRIs of kids that are exposed to different amounts of screentime and compared them, and the ones that are exposed the most have more destruction in their brains. So that’s not an incentive to like, reduce that amount. I don’t know what it’s the other thing that’s really, really linked with this screen time is that social media connection, I guess, in some people that connections great, it causes them to have a feeling of connectedness to the world, it connects them with people that other people that are like minded, which is brilliant. Other people, it exposes them to bullying in the privacy of their own home. And getting trolled from people. Getting private messages that are abusive, or really not nice. And I’ve been, I wouldn’t say a victim of that, because I just looked at it and just went “pphh whatever”. But somebody multiple times, personal messaged my business page, and insulted me, based on some videos that I’ve done, was trying to sort of engage me into an argument, I guess. And I’m not interested in that crap at all. It’s not good for my mental health. I don’t know what’s going on with their mental health. I think that’s okay, behavior. But in our children, it seems like they think that’s a safe place to let out the mean girl, or to let out that bully boy behavior. If you’ve got a child that has a social media account, then make it part of the deal, that they can access this. If however many times a week or a day, that you supervise their messages, and you make sure that none of that is going on. You don’t want to find out until you know their suicide, or their suicide attempt that they have been online bullied for however long and you were oblivious because they were too ashamed or frightened, or their anxiety stopped them from reaching out to help. That’s obviously the worst case scenario. But that’s why we need to supervise, protect, and limit that sort of screentime experience.
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8.14 Alright, let’s look at another underlying cause of anxiety. So it’s other diagnosis as other things. So kids that have been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or autism spectrum, they have an increased risk of anxiety and mood disorders. But keep an eye on those kids, it might not just be a symptom of that diagnosis, it could be something completely separate that needs to be managed as well. Now kids with weight issues often have anxiety. So anxiety is linked with higher weight. Adolescent dieting, is linked with greater risk of depression, a greater risk of anxiety. Sometimes that can be to do with glucose dysregulation. Sometimes it can be due to disordered body image. And it is a really, really great risk. So let’s talk about that. Now, I was a kid who wasn’t overweight, but I wasn’t thin by any means I developed boobs that needed quite large bra size at an early age. And that was a bit of a source of anxiety for me. What I’ve learned is that every kid goes through this change in their body. It’s normal, we all grow. We all go through puberty and what’s happening to us is different to what’s happening to our friends. Getting your period at a different time or having bigger boobs or not getting boobs or everyone else has got their period but you don’t, that could be that great source of anxiety and what’s happening with our body can make a huge impact on our mental health. So here’s my thought with that, as a parent and as a naturopath, is making our body a safe space from an early age. Getting books about body positivity, that are targeted to, you know, toddlers, to young girls to young boys, and reading them, or even over to your kids, putting posters on their walls of you are amazing, you are unique, your body is strong, you know all of that being giving them that message that no matter what they look like, that they are awesome, is going to make a difference to when that time comes when they’re like, oh, what’s happened here, like do you know what? That’s okay, I’m awesome. And that will make a big, big difference. It’s a huge conversation that we need to have on a very regular basis with our kids, to make them safe with their own bodies, and be okay with their own bodies. And I’ll share on my Instagram and my Facebook, a picture of a book that I got out of the library. And I’m reading with my girls at the moment, which is all about that, which is cool. There’s lots of bodies all the way through it. And my girls are like, I love that body. I love that body. I love that body. I love that body. And they all are young girls that you know, you can see them changing throughout the book as they go through puberty. And they’re all changing. And I love how my curvy little three year old, absolutely adores the curvy girl in the book. And my lanky nine year old is totally accepting of all of the body types as well. So I’m loving it. And I feel like that sort of exposure and that communication and having that non judgement conversations around bodies will make a difference to the anxiety that comes with body changing around puberty.
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12.12 All right, moving on. More causes. There’s lots, there’s lots. So food and nutrition, affects brain function affects mental health. Mental health affects our choices of food and nutrition. That affects brain function that affects mental health. And on the cycle goes, and it really is a cycle. So if you’ve ever been in a space of low mood, where you’re like, Oh, I’m not depressed, I’m just flat, or anxiety where you’re like, I just don’t know about this, your food choices aren’t the same as when you’re in a place where you’re like, the world is awesome, everything’s brilliant. They’re just not. And often, they’re the times when you reach for something packaged, fast. Doesn’t matter what it is. Sometimes people will forget to eat. And sometimes people will overeat in those situations, everyone’s different. And sometimes it is learned behaviors from what our parents did. Sometimes it’s figuring out stuff for yourself. But knowing this, knowing that food and nutrition can make a massive impact on your mental health can be the catalyst of going, Oh, I’m not even going to buy that crap and have it in the house. Because I don’t want to make that choice in that moment. If you can’t access the coping mechanism tool that makes things worse for you, like, you know, late night chocolates or having a tub of ice cream there or whatever your go to is, whatever your child’s go to is, then you will have to make a better choice. And I’ve been there, believe me, I’m a person just like you. And I struggle with my weight and my body image just the same as everybody else.
However, we don’t use the word diet in our house. When we go shopping, do not even walk down that aisle with the lollies and the chocolates. And we don’t walk down the aisle that has just 500 packets of chips to choose from. Because we don’t want it in the house. In those moments with like, I need something I feel peckish. Sure. I’ve got to fill a void in my heart with something it’s not going to be with food, it’s going to be something else or it’s going to be with an apple, blueberries or yogurt, or whatever we’ve got on hand. And until those habits become second nature, sometimes it is uh oh my god, I
need chocolate. There’s no chocolate here. Then you okay? actually don’t need it. It’s okay. Maybe I’ll just make a really yummy smoothie instead. That’s got some cacao, and a nana when an honor and I’ll stick in some green powder, and I’ll feel awesome afterwards, instead of having a block of chocolate and feeling disgusting. That’s how food and nutrition can affect mental health. And mental health can affect food nutrition. When we break down nutrition and anxiety, we can look at individual nutrients as causes. So low iron is one, it is linked with that disordered power or metabolism that we spoke about in our last episode. If people aren’t producing enough red blood cells, when they have low iron, the red blood cells are broken down slower than if they have adequate iron. And that increases the disordered Pyrolle metabolism, because that’s the breakdown of those red blood cells. There was a study done in Japan, where they tracked two and a half thousand 10-12 year olds, and they looked at attention learning and mental health and the impacts of iron. And they showed an improvement in anxiety levels with the kids that had supplementation of iron. So that’s fantastic. If we can link that we can go “Okay. How can we get it more in our diet? Is there a supplement that we can utilize for our kids that they can easily take?” And we will talk about how to get kids to take supplements or what supplements to choose next episode. And iron is one of those that there are so many options to choose from. There’s cheaper, nasty ones that will just end up making constipated and not worth the money that you spend. There’s liquids that you think oh yeah, that will be great. But the taste, your kid won’t have long term, you might be able to get one or two in and then you’ll have a box just sitting there going, Oh, that was a waste, why bother. And then there’ll be things where you can get into them, and they’ll they’ll be fine to take. So we’ll go through the nitty gritties of that next episode. But iron in our diet makes a big difference as well. Now, if you think we have heaps of iron rich foods, we eat red meat, we are having things like dried apricots that are rich in iron, they have heaps of leafy greens, they’re rich in iron, they have legumes, they have eggs, but they still are showing signs of low iron. Things like really pale skin, fatigue, headaches, very low immunity. Pica is a sign of low iron, and that is when the kids and adults get to women in pregnancy tend to get it more often than most people. The pica is when you start to want to eat non food items like clay, or chalk or dirt. That’s a massive sign of nutritional deficiency that needs to get sorted.
So if you think my kids having all of these signs still, but we’re eating this, then nutritionally, what we want to look at is what’s happening in the gut, why isn’t it getting absorbed? Is there something that’s blocking that? Is there a parasite in the system that is eating all of the iron first, before we can absorb it? And yet that happens? really does worms and parasites often ate our iron? Before we do so can get tested for that? We can fix that. It’s all good. We can see what’s going on with iron in a blood test. Now when do you need to ask for what’s called an iron study and not just your ferritin level, we want to see the whole picture and that will give us a really good indication of what’s going on. The zinc as well. So the signs of that easy child low in zinc, that sensitivity to sounds, to smells, to taste, if they’re really irritated by what you consider little things, but they’re big irritations. That might be a sign of low zinc, if they’ve gone off meat, like if they were eating meat, but now they’re not. For me, that’s a sign of low zinc. Picky eating behaviors by zinc, sensory processing disorders, thinning hair, chronic food sensitivities or diarrhea. slow growth and very frequent infections like zinc is super important for our immune system. So if you feel like they’re always sick, then let’s look at zinc. Poor wound healing is that same line and there’s a few other things like anxiety or depression. Think comes from meats, fish, shellfish, poultry, it’s in whole grains. And one of the best veggie sources of it is pumpkin seeds. So totally recommend introducing pumpkin seeds into your child’s diet and you can get pumpkin seed meal or just buy pumpkin seeds and you know, process it until it you know looks like almond meal. And you can bake with that or you can stick that in a smoothie you can add it to your bolognese at the last minute and that will pump up the zinc that will make a big difference and If it’s really low, then you know, targeting with a supplement for short term can make a difference as well.
B vitamins, being low in B vitamins really, really impacts your mental health. They support your neurotransmitter production. They’re really important for detoxification as well. B6 is linked with pyrolle disorder, b 12, is really, really strongly linked with depression, anxiety, B9. So that’s folate is linked with methylation cycle disorders. And that can really impact your mental health as well. And how do you know if they’re low in B vitamins. The red flags for B vitamins are big. So tingling could be a sign of tingling in your hands and feet. So if they’re saying they’ve got pins and needles a lot, if they’ve got muscle weakness, shortness of breath, and shortness of breath can also be a sign of low iron. If they’ve got a really short attention span, if they get a scaly rash around their nose or their mouth, when kids get that little red, like a line sort of thing, either on their eye crease or in the corner of their mouth, then that’s linked with low B vitamins, anxiety, depression is big, fatigue, hair loss. And like B vitamin deficiency is really serious. If you’re completely deficient in B vitamins. Not only can you have that numbness and feeling of muscle weaknesses in your arms and legs, but it can lead to paralysis, it can lead to convulsions, it is a serious thing.
So let’s talk about where you get your B vitamins. b 12, you can only get from animal protein, or from foods that are supplemented with B 12. So vegetarian processed foods that have added b 12. But for the whole food, b 12. Source, it only comes from animal protein. So if your kid doesn’t eat much animal protein, or if you’re raising your child, as a vegetarian, supplementing with B 12 is essential. It’s not just I think they’ll need it. They need it. They need it for growth and development. They need it for the neurotransmitters. They need it every single day. What I recommend is to go and chat to your naturopath, nutritionist, your awesome local health food shop and get the best quality be 12 drops or spray that he can get and get it into your child that way. Don’t worry about a powder or a tablet for child just the sprays the easiest way, the drops of your kid is super sensitive, you can get creams made up, they can get them absorbed that way. But that’s an essential nutrient that you need to have in.
B9 is your folate, so that comes from our leafy greens, our seeds, it’s in some animal proteins as well. Same with B6 meat, legumes, lots of fruits, in soy. The other B vitamins, there are cofactor B vitamins. So often you might think, oh well what’s B1 important for B2, they’re like the hand holders. So they’re not the big gums. But they’re like the they’re gonna grease the wheels of everything else that happens, they are just as important that their needs are met. So things like avocado, broccoli, whole grains, nuts, eggs, they’re really important to add in. When we talk about diet, having an incredible Family Health. I want to talk about having this whole food whole grain eating a rainbow experience, where we are having really good quality animal protein, or we’re supplementing with protein that our body can breakdown into the amino acids to support our neurotransmitters. And getting enough b 12.
We’re having heaps of fiber and fibers in there so it feeds our gut bacteria in a really, really positive way. And we’re having some fermented foods that it’s going to do the same thing.
But the rainbow is the most important thing in there. So getting all the different colors across our day, from our fruits and vegetables will ensure that our nutrient levels for our vitamins and minerals, what we call our micronutrients are getting met. We’re nearly to the end of this episode. I really want to thank you for listening. Every time you and you get to feed your child, there’s an opportunity to nurture and nourish your body to have your neurotransmitters supported, to improve our gut health and to get everything really, really optimized there. So that’s going to help change our habit and change what we’re leaning towards when we think about that food choices in terms of supporting our mental health. And not just as eating, you know, if that makes sense.
25.05 Thank you so much for listening to this episode of incredible Family Health. I’m Cheree Sheldon, I look forward to exploring this topic more with you next time. I’ll see you then. Bye.
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