This post outlines the pillars we cover in our Roadmap. These are the things you need to explore if you want to use a drug-free approach to improve your child's health, behavior, mood, development, anxiety, learning or focus.
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The Approach We Take In The Roadmap
Your child's body is designed to function well as long as it gets the right fuel and isn't overly stressed.
Symptoms are a signal that function is faltering - there is either a lack of cellular nourishment, or there's a stress load that has become unmanageable. In most cases there's a combination of the two... a "perfect storm", so to speak.
So our work together involves nourishing deeply and removing hidden stress so function can return. It's a process we call Raising Resilience.
(related post: What's Raising Resilience All About?)
Nutrition Is At The Core
Resilience is your child's capacity to manage and tolerate stress.
Stress is an inevitable and important part of growth - but we want our kids to grow from stress rather than become crippled by it. Nutrients fuel our stress response and have a profound influence on your child's resilience. So we made nourishment the core of what we do for kids.
Nutrients affect how kids feel in their bodies, how their brain functions, their energy balance, their anxiety, their ability to learn and cope with expectation.
Getting them the right nutrients can actually influence how your kids express who they are in the world. It amazes me every time I see it and think about it.
I have seen shy kids turn into social butterflies.
I have seen obsessive kids stop worrying.
I have seen anxious kids say 'yes' to new opportunities.
I have seen angry kids become loving kids.
I know it takes a leap of faith on your part to believe me. But it happens, and over the years, after helping family after family integrate a nutrition strategy into their treatment plans to help their kids, I've been able to distil a framework to make it easier for you.
Our Framework Keeps You Organized
Parents who don't have a framework as they scramble to help their kids, end up gathering more and more information without knowing what to do with it. Sound familiar?
I don't want that kind of overwhelm for you, so I offer you the framework we use in The Resilience Roadmap to organize information.
There are three phases to our Framework...
Phase 1. Nourish.
Nutrients build the structure of our bodies and drive its function. Remember... symptoms indicate a break down in function, so that means there might be an insufficiency in nutrients somewhere. We need to play detective and figure out what's missing.
I always start with nourishment when it comes to kids. If we were talking about adults I might not start here. But we're not. We're talking about kids and we have to make sure, above all else, that they are getting nutrients in while also developing a positive relationship with food and with you, in the process.
(I feel really strongly about this!! Whether we decide to work together or not, please read this related post: The Top Mistake Parents Make When Changing Their Child's Diet)
There are 8 categories of nutrients your child needs every single day (fat, protein, carbohydrate, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, enzymes, bacteria). When we can't get those needs met through food alone we can use supplements to help.
(Related posts: Do Kids Need Nutritional Supplements?)
Got a picky eater? I get it. I wrote this for you.
Phase 2. Reduce Stress & Irritation (aka reduce inflammation).
Stress of any kind - whether the source is outside the body like a family conflict or an exam or inside like a parasite or infection - will cause inflammation. It's just your body's natural response to stress.
Think of inflammation like water filling a glass. We have a remarkable ability to keep our glasses from overflowing; to tolerate the inflammation that's triggered by things like toxic chemicals, stress, smoke, additives, metals, sugar. But we can only manage so much.
When we get close to the top of our threshold we start to feel symptoms. Maybe headaches, or fatigue, or constipation, or moodiness set in. Maybe it shows up in our skin or sleep.
When we overflow we get the diagnosis. Maybe it’s Allergy, Autism, ADHD, ODD, DMDD, OCD, Psoriasis or Asthma. The symptoms that used to come and go, just don’t go away at this point and your child meets a certain diagnostic criteria.
Diagnoses don't tell us what's filling the glass.... they just tell us there's excessive inflammation and the body's no longer able to hold it in check.
Some of the possible hidden sources of stress and inflammation are:
- foods that are not being well digested
- parasites or infections in the gut
- a lack of beneficial microbes in the gut
- a lack of certain nutrients like antioxidants
- chemicals in the environment
- infections like strep or lyme
- blood sugar instability
Another way to think about it is... diagnoses indicate that stress has outweighed the body's ability to handle it. What we do in this pillar is empty your child's glass by finding hidden stressors and reducing inflammation.
Phase 3. Support Digestion From Tip To Tail.
If you haven’t heard about the profound influence your digestive system has on your entire body, I expect you are new to my world… so, welcome!! (I talk about gut, poop and all things digestion a lot)
Your digestive system is an interface between the outside world and the inside environment of your body. It houses most of your immune system and contains more neurons than the spinal cord.
Your gut is in constant conversation with your brain.
The microbes in your gut educate your immune cells, contribute to the digestion and absorption of your food, help you detoxify, help regulate your appetite, protect us against pathogens, create vitamins, hormones and neurotransmitters.
On and on it goes…. good digestion is key to good health.
Tip… if there's no conversation in your health care team about what’s going on in your child's gut, I suggest you add someone to your team who will have this discussion with you.
If you're wondering, Jess, if it's so important why is supporting digestion phase 3? Good question.
Actually, it's not. Every step of the way, starting with nourishment, we're working towards better digestion.
This phase involves doing a deep dive into what's happening in there using stool testing and targeted diet and supplement strategies as needed. It also focuses on helping you establish habits to maintain gut health once it's been achieved.
The Bottom Line
As a practitioner of Functional Diagnostic Nutrition and Holistic Nutrition I don't diagnose or treat anything specific. But what I can tell you is, moving through these three phases will help you find the stressors that contribute to your child's mood, behavior and learning issues and identify powerful opportunities to improve their health and function.
As we follow our Resilience Roadmap we explore them all, systematically, as a drug-free approach to helping kids feel and function better.
This framework keeps us organized and strategic. It helps you understand why you're doing what you're doing and makes sure you're not missing anything.
For many families it also helps clarify why they maybe didn't see the results they hoped for when they tried the few things they tried - they missed a phase or two!
So What Now?
If reading through this gives you heart palpitations and you don't know what to do next, it's because you're in the weeds. The person you love most in the world is suffering and you want to solve this for them yesterday. I get it. I have kids too.
Let me just say this: there is massive value in inviting an outside perspective - someone who can help you see the forest and the trees.