106 Reading Comprehension – Cracking the Code with Dr. Marnie Ginsberg

106 Reading Comprehension – Cracking the Code with Dr. Marnie Ginsberg

“Life outcomes are poorer for kids who are not good readers” – says today’s featured guest Dr. Marnie Ginsberg. The truth of this statement is profound for neurotypical kids. Unfortunately, most kids with Cerebral Palsy, Down syndrome, or Autism are not even allowed to become good readers or to access material that is age appropriate. 

In episode 106 – we go into one specific area of Reading Comprehension – Cracking the Code.

Dr. Marnie Ginsberg, Founder of Reading Simplified, is a reading difficulties detective who streamlines the science and art of reading instruction so teachers can rapidly learn effective techniques that help students accelerate to grade level and beyond. She also helps translate the latest understandings from science into practical, easy-to-implement activities. You can find Dr. Ginsberg at www.readingsimplified.com

If you have concerns with Reading Comprehension for your child, I have 4 strategies in a free download for you at www.functionalnutritionforkids.com/readingtools


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105 Magnesium – the how, why and what form for Kids

105 Magnesium – the how, why and what form for Kids

Did you know that there are almost 120,000 published papers studying Magnesium in Pubmed, and 150 of them just study Magnesium supporting hyperactivity. 

Over 300 study the effects of Magnesium and sleep and over 2000 publications study Magnesium and depression and it goes on. In fact last I looked, you could type in Magnesium and ANYTHING and you’d find a study for it.

But should you do Magnesium Glycinate or Magnesium Sulfate or Magnesium Citrate

Today’s guest Laura Collinwood, Registered Nurse and Holistic Health Coach, talks to us about the importance and all-pervasiveness of Magnesium – the different types and when and why they are important.

Magnesium can be a phenomenal support for Autistic people in that it supports anxiety, hyperactivity, constipation and sleep – symptoms that often co-exist. 

To know exactly what forms to use and where (a sort of bullet-point summary of this podcast) get your Magnesium Toolkit here: 


You can also reach Laura and her fantastic Magnesium Products at https://www.health-and-wisdom.com/ – Coupon MAG10 will give you 10% off.


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104 Sound Therapies for Learning and Regulation with Ange Anderson

104 Sound Therapies for Learning and Regulation with Ange Anderson

I am chatting with experienced Special Educator Ange Anderson. And this is a unique episode in that it ended up being a pretty exhaustive list of various sound therapies that Ange has used over the years and has found to be impactful in improving her students’ regulation. 

Among other things we talk about:

Sound Baths

Music Therapy

Auditory Integration Therapy, etc. 

I often talk about 6 things you can do to start impacting learning right away – and these are in my free ebook – www.functionalnutritionforkids.com/learning. To this, I would add Auditory Integration Therapy as a 7th.

Here’s a link to Ange’s book

If you enjoyed this podcast, please drop a review! 


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103 It is a VATA generation of kids – with Nidhi Pandya

103 It is a VATA generation of kids – with Nidhi Pandya

What’s common between Salads, cold milk, and lack of sleep? Nidhi Pandya, an Ayurvedic Practitioner explains that every one of these can lead to increased Vata which is a common core of most neurological issues. 

Join me as I discuss how and why thousand-year-old Ayurvedic frameworks are still relevant today in treating diseases and dysfunction, that may never have been discussed in ancient times.

We discuss:

  • Why Ayurvedic principles still work today
  • Gut Health per Ayurvedic dosha type
  • Why today’s kids are a Vata generation
  • 8 steps for an Ayurvedic lifestyle that can help kids with Autism, ADHD or neurological issues.

You can reach Nidhi at 



Nidhi talks about gut health in this podcast. If you want to get started on Gut Health basics for your child with Down syndrome or Autism, hop on to www.functionalnutritionforkids.com/guthealth and get your free guide.


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102 The Experience of Trauma in Mothers with Dr. Aimie Apigian

102 The Experience of Trauma in Mothers with Dr. Aimie Apigian

“When we have trauma patterns in our nervous system, the only possible outcome are behaviors that come from a trauma place.”

Today’s episode is all about TRAUMA and the NERVOUS SYSTEM. Until this episode, I freely admit that I might have had a misunderstanding of trauma as an event, as opposed to an experience. Dr. Aimie calls it anything that leaves a lasting effect on the body.

Whether you have experienced Trauma, or care for someone who may have experienced Trauma, I hope this episode steers toward an understanding of Trauma and How to Unravel it.

You can reach Dr. Aimie at https://www.traumahealingaccelerated.com/ and find the 21-day Journey she recommends.

If you are finding this podcast valuable, I would deeply appreciate a review at https://ratethispodcast.com/vaish



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101 Ayurveda and Bio-Individual Medicine for Kids with KP Khalsa

101 Ayurveda and Bio-Individual Medicine for Kids with KP Khalsa

Do traditional systems of medicine align with modern understanding of disease? The one question on my mind has always been that a lot of the disorders and dysfunctions we see today are rather new, at least in their extent and prevalence. How do Ayurveda or Chinese Medicine provide us with answers?

Also, how far do we feel comfortable veering from traditional food practices, and moving away from foods like wheat and dairy, which were once considered nourishing?

KP Khalsa, herbalist, nutritionist, yoga teacher and educator answers these questions in this episode.

KP has an exclusive free gift for our listeners at




Audio Transcript:

Do traditional systems of medicine align with modern understanding of disease? The one question on my mind has always been, but a lot of the disorders and dysfunctions that we see today are rather new, at least in their extending in their prevalence. So how do I invade our Chinese medicine to provide us with answers to ailments that didn’t exist in the past? And also how far or how much do we feel comfortable veering from traditional food practices and moving away from foods like, honestly wheat and dairy that were once considered extremely nourishing? You are listening to Functional Nutrition and Learning for Kids, where today I am trying to see if I can get an understanding of how to tie in eastern and western food and medicine practices to support our kids dealing with gut issues, neurological issues, and dysregulation.

I’m your host Vaish and today I’m interviewing KP Khalsa, who is the first person in the U.S. to be professionally certified in both herbalism and Ayurveda he is president emeritus of the American herbalist Guild and Director Emeritus of the National Ayurvedic Medical Association. KP Khalsa is an herbalist nutritionist, yoga teacher, and educator who’s been making holistic health approaches palatable to the modern mind for over 45 years. And I am so grateful for his wisdom today. Thank you so much for joining this podcast. KP I’m actually very, very honored that you’re on the show. And I have so many questions for you. Thank you for being here.

Hopefully, I’ll have a few answers at least. Yeah.

Let’s kind of dive in deep as we get started, when you are working, let me back up a little bit. There are so many approaches to working with kids when you have a child that has focus issues, emotional dysregulation, and mood dysregulation, and a lot of people in this audience do. They have their primary care physicians’ perspectives. And if they’re listening to this podcast, they have a functional medicine doctor’s perspective, often, how is an Ayurvedic perspective different from these two?

In many ways, they’re very similar. Ayurveda is all about a functional approach, really, the main focus of it is to get to the root of the problem, not just treat the branch not just to be the symptoms. I think that there are many very well-trained functional practitioners be they medical doctors or naturopathic physicians or something out there in the world, but they’re also many people who have taken a weekend workshop. And now all of a sudden our functional medical doctors who you know tell you to take vitamin C and take a vacation and they’ve done now they’ve done functional medicine so it’s definitely become trendy.

Functional Medicine really was an outgrowth of nature, apathy, and the functional medicine folks just decided that that would be you know, a good title for it that people could relate to. So functional medicine typically uses a lot of nonherbal supplements, but that does not mean that they’re not using herbal supplements Ayurveda traditionally of course didn’t have things like tablets of vitamins and minerals. Now, we have that and those things are all available. You know, when someone asked me the question, what is Ayurveda?

My answer is well, what is not Ayurveda? You know, with people that were writing our Ayurvedic scriptures 2000 years ago, be willing to use tablets and vitamins and drugs and you know, modern approaches to diet and such these days, I expect so, so, from my perspective, everything is aggravated, all came from the universe and anything that we can integrate, so much the better. But generally speaking, Ayurveda has a very broad perspective. So we talked about sleeping the right time, the right way, eating a diet for your particular individual physiology, herbal medicine, a very sophisticated approach, to herbal medicine, and just about everything that you could imagine that people would deal with in their daily life is some aspect of Ayurveda, functional medicine usually is a little bit more oriented toward drug and supplement, you know, the application can that be?

So a lot of times when parents start and they’re not necessarily some of them are starting with dietary changes, but some of them, as you said, is starting with, depending on who they talk to are starting with like, an arsenal of supplements because this supplement will boost your child’s focus in five days and so on. Is that from an Ayurvedic approach that you think could be disruptive to a child to start on several supplements?

Well, of course, if we’re talking about autism, one of the most notorious characteristics is difficulty with change. So all of a sudden, you know, they’re eating only white food or only, you know, fish crackers or you know, whatever it is that they do. They go for and all of a sudden, they’re being asked to chow down a whole bunch of new kinds of things, it’d be very difficult. So it’s a matter of deciding how necessary it is to get some kind of symptom improvement fairly quickly. Versus the long term, I really, in particular, defines itself as dealing with both very famous Vedic scripture that says that the purpose of Ayurveda is to preserve the health of the healthy and treat the suffering of the sick. So both are a part of that. And so symptomatic treatment is definitely available.

These are really tough situations autism adds to and other similar overlapping kinds of mental and behavioral and developmental situations. So they’re all very different in their approach and different people. But it’s not going to be something that’s going to respond to something overnight, you know, increase your child’s focus in five days, that might happen, you’d be very lucky if that were to happen, probably five years would be better. But very often, with these changes, we can see some nice changes within a few months, let’s say, and slowly things change over time, and we can get great results. And that takes me to kind of two different questions I’m gonna ask the first one is, are these we have a lot of, you know, modern disorders are these mentioned in the scriptures in the RV the corruptions at all?

Yeah. Okay. Yeah, they are, but it’s really vague. There’s a general category called goon Mata, which just is translated as insanity. And in this case, the wound means upwards. So in other words, things in the upper part of the body, that head, the brain, and there are a lot of things discussed that. But they don’t necessarily comport very well, with modern understanding. spirit possession, for example, is something that was discussed and modern people may or may not believe in that, coming back to some of the root causes. And you were talking about similarities between different forms of traditional medicine and functional medicine. I think that perhaps the one similarity is this understanding that all disease begins in the gut and we know that we know that over 80% of children who are autistic have gut inflammation and neuroinflammation. What would be the first place to start from either an herbal or Vedic perspective? Or anything from what is it that you would like to share that a parent could, you know, start right away?

Well, I read a is a complex science and but that doesn’t mean there are certain things that you can’t learn. So you have to understand from the Ayurvedic or energetic perspective, what’s going on with the child I read, it doesn’t treat named diseases, specifically, Ayurveda does name diseases, but only for the convenience of discussing them. So there’s going to be individual, if we could use the term vata, that’s one of the doses of Ayurveda. And almost all these conditions are high vada conditions, ultimately, but of course, with inflammation, that’s a Pitta condition. So most of these kids have all three doshas having problems some way somewhere in the body, and we have to carefully begin to treat all those things. If you look at autism, for example, it’s, it’s not an entity, it’s not a thing. It’s something that human beings have developed a concept and given it a name, but hey, this is via interjecting a comment here, I would interpret KPS talking about the medical model of autism, of course, from a person’s neurological and social experience, their autism is very much a complete thing, or rather very much a full experience.

It’s called the autism spectrum for good reason because you can meet 10 People with a diagnosis and all of them are as different as anybody could be in behavior, personality, and internal functioning, including digestion, but very often they have bowel irregularities very often constipation. So from the Arabic perspective, as you said, there’s great emphasis on the digestive tract and especially the large intestine, that’s thought to be the home of vata from the Vedic perspective, and usually, causes constipation. So very often, these kids have behavioral issues with constipation, it doesn’t feel good, to go to the bathroom, they have to go through laborious you know, potty training, and then if they have constipation, it’s painful and such things like that. So making sure that that’s regulated, often is tremendously helpful. That reduces all the dysfunction in the gut. And then, over time, that radiates out into the rest of the body and things go better. That’s a good starting point for many people.

And if you haven’t picked up my constipation toolkit, you can do that at functional nutrition for kids.com forward slash constipation toolkit. From my very rudimentary knowledge, I read that there are three doshas which are Pitta and Kapha It’s roughly translated as air fire and earth would that be a decent approximation? So one of the things that I’ve been kind of interested in as, as I’ve just like, you know, kind of stepped into very barely stepped into the world of AI Veda is that a lot of the functional approaches seem to be very contraindicated, even though they’re aimed at healing the digestive tract, it seems like every one of them is about aggravating because we’re literally going from rice to cauliflower from, you know, you know, removing the foods that have, like wheat and dairy that have traditionally, I think, have been known to have been thought of as being more stabilizing, what is your take on that?
Well, we have to determine which foods are causing problems.

For people either digestive problems, it gives them a tummy ache or causes loose stool or constipation or whatever, then aggravates their conditions. So if you determine that eating cauliflower causes gas, and then when the child has gas, they don’t feel well or behave as well, then we have to get that out. Anyway, whatever it may be. So there’s great emphasis on gluten and cow milk products, of course, and many people try that and most people don’t find that it makes much difference, although some small percentage find that it makes a tremendous difference. So everybody is individual, you have to try some things. You know, like that, from the IVF. Perspective. milk products and wheat are very much the basis of a healthy diet generally. But we have to remember that the wheat that they were talking about 2000 years ago is different than the wheat that we’re growing today. And likewise, in India, the animal that we would call a cow in English, is not even the same animal.

It’s a zebu, which is a cousin of a cow. They’re in the same family with water buffalo and bison, and some others. And they produce a little bit type different types of milk. So many people who go to India and drink the milk from the so-called Indian cow, a bunch of their symptoms disappears, and they think great, I’m you know, it’s solved, then they come back and have, you know, milking their tea and their nose runs, or whatever. So we have to consider so many different possibilities about what a system that was developed 1000s of years ago, in another culture and a different world, a different society has to offer and use the things that clearly are effective, and not get too excited about the things that don’t work.

We want to reduce gas, Vata is instability, basically. And it dysregulation of the nervous system. And so that is clearly what we’re dealing with here. Right. But the gut, you know, if it’s inflamed, we have to deal with that. So it’s, it’s quite the dance. It’s like, you know, herding cats on a tightrope to figure out details, and gradually pull them together. But you’re right, many of the indications for a healthy gut from today’s functional medicine understanding are the things that are not so widely used from the antibiotic perspective. So I like what you said about the dance in the end. So the two things that I’m taking from what you said, are that a lot of people are resistant to changes in the diet because traditionally, these were not changed.

These were not things that were ever indicated, especially for a lot of Indian clients, I work with just removing wheat and dairy, which is kind of ridiculous. feels ridiculous to many people. But that the idea, as you said, is that that wheat and that dairy is not this week and this dairy. But having said that, the second thing you said is that we’re balancing between the inflammation and increasing the water. How do you how do people know how to do this balance? Because it seems like when people are working, are making changes, and most of them are doing so from a functional model. And what they’re doing is they’re balancing the inflammation. And when you look at even, actually any diet that I look at is, seems to be full of cruciferous vegetables and cauliflower as if you’re trying to eat vegetarian, otherwise, it’s like cancer meat. So it just, it just feels very imbalanced to me from whatever I know of an Ayurvedic perspective, how do you do this dance? How do you know what to do when?

Right? Well, for parents, there, there’s needs to be some study involved. So either they can see a practitioner understands these ideas, or they can take some kind of a course my website offers some courses on autism, and ADHD that are pre-recorded, they can go there and they come from a very wide perspective, not just from your data, otherwise, reading some books. So somehow to get educated. I read vocabulary is a little arcane. And so for people to get into that they have to start to learn some of these basic principles as we’ve barely scratched the surface here today. So either they have to become sort of, you know, they’re already the biggest experts on whatever’s going on with their child on autism or whatever it is.

They Googled every night for hours for years. learning what the internet has to say. But they’re not necessarily experts on the treatments, and they don’t know which treatments will apply to which child. So if you, if you read, you know, 50 blogs on autism, you’re going to find every theory that anybody ever has about it. And, you know, sometimes any given one is going to work for a child and another won’t.

And your website is international integrative.com Is that the website parents can go to? Okay. Can we talk about the dreaded gluten because generally in the, in the, I mean, as you know, in this world, in the functional world, the idea is, you can’t get anywhere if you eat gluten or dairy. Right. So I mean, like most practitioners won’t even see you. I used to be like that at all, at one point where, if there’s no point, even talking about the next step, if you’re eating gluten and dairy, I can do anything. What do you think? Do you think that gut healing is actually possible in the presence of gluten?

Well, yes, it’s all it’s all individuals. So again, it depends on you know, all wheat has gluten. But it’s a question of the other kinds of proteins that are in there, and what type of gluten and how much. So sometimes, kids with developmental delay are not connected to gluten whatsoever, likewise, to milk products. So I think that saying that that’s a universal thing is not very helpful. So there’s plenty of information that sometimes under certain circumstances, some type of gluten is not good for certain kids. And likewise, with dairy, and there’s a lot of information about how those things are irrelevant, and you don’t need to change them. So there are a bunch of sophisticated tests that can be done. Or you can just try it. So one could leave one or both of those things out of a child’s diet for let’s say, a month. And then if there’s an improvement, great, if not, try some other version might take a year to dial all that in.

One of the challenges is that many of these kids are sensitive to many different kinds of food. So let’s say that it’s not unusual to find 50 Different kinds of food that they’re sensitive to those, each of those foods aggravates the gut, and the fact that the gut is aggravated is one of the reasons that they’re sensitive to that. So it’s a reciprocal kind of thing. So if a child has sensitive, allergic, or some of their sensitivity to 50 things and you take out two of them, you often don’t notice the difference whatsoever. So the gold standard is to use some kind of a hypoallergenic diet. It’s often called an oligo antigenic diet, illegal means just a few. So you have them eat for, let’s say, a month, maybe five things that are known to almost never cause sensitivity in people. And then you find out what happens and often people respond remarkably, but you can’t keep them on that kind of restricted diet forever. But then you can start adding things back one at a time and find out if it has an effect.

Sometimes it’s really obvious, you know, you put them on a limited diet like that, which would not include wheat and milk, and then numerous other things. And they, they do remarkably better. And then that will give you sort of a clearer picture of their baseline underlying issues. And then you can add those back one at a time. That’s a long, tedious process, but it’s the gold standard for figuring out what’s going on with food.

Site comment. By the way, there are now a number of studies measuring the efficacy of an illegal antigenic diet on ADHD specifically, and at least one study says that over a third of children with ADHD show almost a 40% or more symptom reduction on an illegal antigenic diet and that those are pretty high numbers. You can stay tuned to this podcast to learn a little bit more about illegal antigenic diets in future episodes. Or you can actually go to PubMed right now and look up the keywords an illegal Oh ally, geo antigenic diet, and ADHD if you’re curious, and I would say that gluten and casein are likely offenders but not necessarily true with every single person and that again, it depends on the type.

So in terms of foods that people are sensitive, sensitive to what is the long goal with it that is it is a building up the digestive fire so that everybody can digest everything or in some people, these foods have to be eliminated long term. It’s the first basically yeah, building up a digestive function, of course reducing inflammation, but enhancing the digestive capability in the gut so that they fully digest everything that they’re eating, and though As nutrients can go into the blood, and things that aren’t suitable can then just go out of the body. So that would be the ultimate ideal. I’m not sure if we could say that. It, the goal is for everybody to be able to eat everything that’s probably a little bit too extreme. But generally, yes, in that, in that direction, we’ve seen some from some practices of some people that they don’t relate to this, this gluten-encasing thing at all. And they work on the digestive tract, and people are able to digest those things and do fine and progress and have great development. So I would say there’s a lot of skepticism and, you know, just disagreement about those kinds of ideas. It’s not an established truth at all that those things are problematic.

So that gluten causes leaky gut and everybody, you’re saying, is that not an asset? Which is generally considered to be the case these days? But yeah, yeah. Yeah, thank you for that. And this is, this is something I hear a lot in our VEDA about increasing the army increasing the digestive fire, can we get a little concrete on that? Is there what can parents do to get, you know, to build up their child’s digestion?

Right? Well, one thing is to not eat things that strain the capacity of the digestive tract. And so back to the wheat and milk, those are relatively heavy foods, it takes a fair amount of digestive juices to digest those, and then there would be numerous other things that might be stressful for the digestive tract. So using things that are very well digested, one could look at the stool of the child, and if there’s undigested food there, then they’re eating things that either are too heavy for the digestive tract, or the digestive tract doesn’t have adequate juices. So otherwise, we would use things that promote the production of those digestive juices, and many of them are mildly warming, culinary, spices, cinnamon, clove, coriander, those kinds of things that are very, very common. And often that makes a big difference. Right away, but we can’t use things that are too hot, because there’s inflammation in the gut. So yeah, it’s a matter of slowly working our way into all these things.

So so the two things you said were to reduce the load on the digestive system. So do not use foods that you know, they’re sensitive to or you know, that is, they’re likely to be sensitive to, for example, we dairy and, and this and the second thing is to keep the food lightly warming in terms of the spices, it contains also the temperature, or just the spices, like also the temperature of the food itself, that has really relatively little to do with it, we don’t eat ice cold food. So food straight out of the refrigerator, or iced beverages and things like that reduced to just a digestive capacity a little bit. So those would be discouraged and warm-in-temperature food, probably, again, a little bit of an effect in that direction. So one of the things that we see a lot is that people have been trained to think that salad is the perfect food for everybody. I talked to so many people who very proudly say, you know, my lunch is always a big salad. But for people who produce a lot of gas, and don’t adjust that very well, that’s not a good thing to be eating. So again, limiting and that’s broad with anyone with emotional dysregulation, probably not right? Yeah.

My next question was that related was the is Agni or digestive fire the same thing as saying stomach acid bile. And, whatever pancreatic enzymes are that that’s exactly okay. Right? So it is a one-to-one model, okay, the sum total of all those things, right? So again, the just means fire. And it’s generally when we use that term, it describes the digestive juices that are in those areas. So there are some more things than that. I mean, there are enzymes in the stomach, for example, but all of that, that adjustive juice is coming out from the stomach, the small intestine, the liver, and the pancreas all meet right at the beginning of the small intestine, and that’s Agni, basically. So we can nail down each of those specifically and treat them but the term generally means just all those things together.

I see okay, that’s helpful to know that you can start building a sort of model or a one-to-one correlation between whatever you know, physiologically and the Ayurvedic. I don’t know if I should use the word metaphors, but whatever the words are used for that. That’s a great term to use, but I use that term all the time because some of these things are not factual in terms of the way we understand modern physiology, I Aveda is one giant story about the way the body works based on things that were known 2000 years ago with some updating, but not all of them match the things we understand. That’s okay though, if you stay within the paradigm, then you can do very, very well. I’m not worried about whether these things are physiologically accurate. I’m worried about the results. And so we had 5000 years to experiment with generation after generation and gradually hone the metaphor, exactly the model the understanding up till today, it works very, very well.

And that that word that you use the paradigm, I think, is great, because otherwise, people get too fixated on why you’re, you’re saying Wind and Fire and stuff like that, right? So because I think it’s like, I like what you said about the story. And the paradigm is, in terms of the order in which you work on things. I know that the first thing I read a one-on-one, anybody who’s like Googled a little bit of either generally immediately has done a quiz on their doshas. And usually, people know that at the minimum people like me know what, Vata, Pitta and Kapha are, and we can talk our way about the three doshas, but is, when you’re working with a child,  you talk, you gave us some pointers on how to work on their digestive fire, is it important to look at what their doshas are, and kind of fine-tune that before working on the digestive prior, would this be a priority, I will do the same thing because from this point of view of everything in the body, is regulated by those three primal metabolic forces.

They have good and bad aspects. So when they escape from doing what they’re supposed to do, due to mistakes in lifestyle, diet, sleep, all those things, then they start to cause problems. So we want to figure out the proportion of those things and bring them back into balance. One thing that’s often confusing for people is that we talk about the doshas in two ways. One is the underlying blueprint for your body, we call that your constitution. And that’s something that is established by the time you’re born. And it basically sets the stage for how other things are going to work in your body.

That’s great to know over the course of a lifetime. So to keep nudging yourself back into the middle and realizing that, you know, if you have high pitta, for example, which is metabolic transformations, you’re not going to do well eating a lot of hot spices, for example. And so you learn that when you’re young, and you adjust your diet, and you keep nudging yourself so that you’re in the middle path. And things are going well, you don’t have symptoms, however, that has little to do with actually what’s going on with disease today. So the other reason is the current balance of the doshas. So usually, that’s pretty consistent with your constitution, but it can be radically different.

When people go to those websites and take those tests, what they’re learning about is their underlying genetics and the things that happened during gestation, in other words, the body that they were born with. So autism, and you know, add Down syndrome, this whole package of these things, has genetic connections. And so we’re not going to change those, but we might change the expression of the genes by using certain kinds of nutrients, like folate, for example, is a vitamin that’s known to suppress a whole bunch of genes. So there’s a genetic component to that.

We have to be aware of how to manage that over the course of a lifetime. And then there’s what’s happening right now, like, inflamed, done. So we, from the Vedic metaphor, treat the dosha, that’s most in excess. So that would be what we call pitta, dosha, or fire element, inflamed in the gut, for example, if that’s the most predominant thing that’s causing the body to veer off in the wrong direction, we would treat that first and then just treat them in priority order. We can also though just treat specific symptoms of constipation I mentioned as an example. That’s something that’s easy to treat very quickly. And often it makes a huge difference in the way people feel.

What you said helped me connect some dots right away. So So you said you were talking about the blueprint of doshas that you were born with and what you’re having now, and I think you also used the word so what the blueprint be genetics and what you’re expressing now be epigenetics. Oh, yeah, absolutely. Epigenetics. You’re just talking about the result of whatever you’ve done since you’re born, whatever you’ve done, or whatever has been done to you, of course, in the case of kids. So the Constitution is not just genetics. It’s also what happened in the intrauterine environment during pregnancy. So there are still some things that can happen.

Some kids have autism and add because of injuries that happen to them. intrauterine Down syndrome is a straightforward genetic situation and doesn’t involve gestation. But anyway, all those things that happen added up give you the body that now you have to live in for the rest of your life, it’s more or less permanent. But some of those things, the expression of those things can be changed. And then also you can make mistakes as you’re living, most of us didn’t know when we were growing up what to do to stay healthy. And so people just go in the same direction that they were sort of programmed to, and they end up with very predictable kinds of problems.

Those are the things that we know, that we noticed, there’s an underlying genetic issue. And then kids eat the wrong foods, you know, I was talking about, you know, a child that will only eat white food or most of their diet is those you know, fish crackers, or, you know, whatever it happens, they tend to be generally picky eaters. And that’s not a balanced diet. So they’re going to develop nutrient deficiencies, for sure. Eating like that. And then the nervous system can’t get nourished and develop properly and such. So all these things go together, there’s no one on-off switch for any of these things.

What about sugar? So it is, in the past, I’ve heard about sugar as being used beneficially in Vedic medicines, as you know, I believe, and pardon me if I’m wrong there, but it helps the absorption of some nutrients, perhaps was what I’d heard from an Ayurvedic physician long ago. But sugar is very vilified in our culture now. And we know that. I mean, we already know that it’s nowhere near used in moderation. What is the role of sweet foods and sugar in our VEDA?

Well, let me just say that, in general, in our culture now, sugar, is good that it’s vilified. There’s no question about it, it’s a source of calories, but it’s empty calories, it’s pro-inflammatory people eat way too much, as you said, That’s very different than the situation in India until very recently, now there’s a sugar epidemic in India, just like anywhere else. But that’s the last, you know, 1015 years. So most people in India were living a rural life until very recently, but now maybe they moved to Bangalore and work for a tech company or something, and they’re eating while you’re talking to him on the phone, they’re eating Cheetos, and drinking Coca Cola, living rurally. And working on a lentil farm never saw sugar.

Sugar comes from India, and sugar cane is native to India. And they figured out how to make sugar. In fact, they figure out how to make white sugar Long, long ago, a couple of 1000 years ago, but it was so labor intensive, that it wasn’t worth doing it. And so they didn’t focus on it. And so people had very little sugar in their diet, you know, maybe a sugar candy, you know, on some kind of a festival day or something twice a year. And that was it. So they didn’t have the overwhelm of sugar that created the wobbliness of the blood sugar regulation mechanism as we have here. And so it was used much more as medicine. So there are some traditional medicines that include a little bit of sugar. But people not using Ayurveda would not support using half a pound a day, which is our per capita average here. So yeah, I don’t want people eating sugar, you know, whatsoever. And in fact, even those medicines that contain some sugar from Ayurveda, there are very specific kinds of purposes. For them. Sugar is cooling in the digestive tract, but of course, then pro-inflammatory when it hits the cells, but it’s pro-inflammatory when we eat those huge quantities a little bit in some medicine, not a big deal.

Okay, and I think that you have shown that that is the that’s, that’s the general theme that permeates the whatever, as we’re talking about gluten, dairy, of course, sugar is, is both gluten and sugar are done way and access now and very differently than they have ever been done. And you said that’s the case for daily too. And I think you’ve I was going to ask you the question of this, you know, everybody’s going grain free. And that’s the way to heal your garden. I know that either places a lot of emphasis on some greens and perhaps is it in the same tone that we’re gonna talk about that as well.

Yeah, exactly. So it’s all about the individual and there are certain foods that are sort of inherently difficult in some way. So again, I Aveda is thought of you know, as the medical system of milk or something people have the idea that you know, people are living on milk but most people even in India today consume an average of about three ounces a day of milk production and that’s almost always mainly yogurt. So you know, grandma has a little bit of milk in your tea in the morning. And you know, that kind of thing that’s about it. But most people have a little bit of yogurt every day, but it’s a very reasonable amount.

They’re not eating, you know, a cheese sandwich, ice cream, macaroni and cheese for lunch, all of that. So the cheese itself is different and The drastic overconsumption. So I really don’t focus on that. doesn’t recommend that at all those mild, mild quantities as long as you can digest them, for most people are fine, but they are inherently challenging. It just doesn’t mean it. The meat just doesn’t mean that needs to be forbidden completely, just depends on the person.

Thank you for that. And I think just to reiterate, when I grew up in India, the first time I had cheese was when I was in 12th grade, I think I was 16 or 17. At the time, that was even funnier, which is like the Indian cheese because I’m from South India, that wasn’t a thing there that actually never had any form of cheese until I was in 12th grade. I didn’t know that was a thing. But anyway, so and that’s when pizzas made their grand entry into India. Well, thank you so much. I think there’s there’s so much clarity and for me a lot of food for thought. I’ll put the link to Katie’s website in the show notes. So you can go check out the courses that he offers and take a deeper dive into either if you like, Thank you for your time.

My pleasure.

Thanks for having me. And that was episode 101. Thank you for listening. This time. I hope to see you back in exactly one week with episode 102. Bye.

100 How I taught my son the binary system of numbers at age 9

100 How I taught my son the binary system of numbers at age 9

Did you know I taught the binary system of numbers to my son when he was maybe 9 years old? Not only that – at the time he could go back and forth between the binary and decimal system for small numbers.

The twist is that my son has Down Syndrome, is Autistic, and non-speaking. But I wouldn’t classify him as a genius.

Over years I have worked on and refined a process that I call Non-Linear Education – that I have used to help my son overcome barriers – both imposed by society and sometimes by his multiple diagnoses.

In this podcast, I talk you through the 7 steps involved in teaching complex math (or science) to your child with Autism or Down Syndrome or other disabilities.

Download / Print the 7 steps at www.functionalnutritionforkids.com/binary

If you have enjoyed this podcast, I would love it if you could leave a review wherever you are listening!



Audio Transcript:

Welcome to the 100th episode of Functional Nutrition and Learning for Kids! I am your host Vaishnavi Sarathy – or just Vaish – and this is where we optimize learning for your Autistic child, this is where we break glass ceilings for your child with Down Syndrome. This is where we abandon the idea of intellectual delay and blaze new trails in learning and brain health through food, gut health, learning strategies, and through my very favorite tool – Non-Linear Education!

Today I am going to share a personal story that I have never shared in detail before – and this is the story of how I taught my son who has Down Syndrome, who is Autistic and non-speaking – Math – and not just Math – the binary system of numbers – and how to go back and forth between Binary and decimal – he was 8 or 9 at the time.

When I first shared parts of this story with friends and family, do you know what the first reaction was? Some of you may be feeling this right now!

It was disbelief. Some would say “No way”. I started posting about my journey on Facebook Groups at the time. I was part of a few really progressive (or so I thought) Facebook groups that were really invested in their kid’s growth.

I have since found that most Facebook groups are grounds for – how do I say this politely – wallowing in one’s opinions and struggles and hoping everyone shares them. There is actually huge value to this initially – to find your tribe, your group, your people that understand your pain. But do you know the biggest problem with finding this tribe, this group is?

It is this – if you don’t find the right tribe, most people just want their pain to be validated. But after pain, comes growth. With pain comes growth. And I was at the place where I thought people would want to know more about what I was doing, but interestingly, I was either ignored or dismissed.

And lest you think I am entering my own pity party, there are two lessons in this – lessons that are valuable to anyone seeking a journey that is off the beaten path – like teaching a child with Down Syndrome the binary system.

First, no one will validate you. No one will tell you it is possible. You just have to believe in it and keep trying new things. It is the new things part that is critical. If you do the same old rote learning system and hope to break new ground, it won’t happen.

Second, for your child, there will be no one as forward thinking as you! This is not a job to be outsourced. It has to be you.

Over years, I have gotten busier in my speaking lifestyle – creating courses, training parents, teaching kids, and tutoring, and I now have less and less time to do the ground breaking things that Sid and I did 7 years ago.

And I notice us slipping into rote learning. Because I am trying to keep his school happy, I am trying to cover curriculum, I am trying to make sure he gets his basic attendance. That we are moving at the pace that school wants us to – which is fast and shallow. And I notice that we are fast and shallow – nothing gets done. When we are slow and deep, when we sit with a topic and go where it takes us, worlds open up.

More about this in another podcast – I do want to talk about the difference in learning being fast and shallow vs slow and deep, but this is actually different depending on the age. Younger kids actually do better with a fast and shallow learning style.

I spent one week teaching Sid multiplication. Basically, all I did was say – in many different ways – that multiplication is repeated addition. I did this by saying exactly what I just said – drawing it out, showing apples, dots and potatoes in various arrays. That’s about it.

Then I thought that Sid might need to know some multiplication facts. By now, it was obvious to me that singing multiplication tables all the way to 20×20 the way I had done as a child was a terrible idea. I did consider going 6 once is 6, 6 twos are 12, and so on.. It is so tempting to ram facts into our kids that have been rammed into us. I still find it hard to resist.

But I did a few word problems for a few more weeks, and since he was homeschooled at this time – he might have been 7 or so, we were done with multiplication in a month. That’s it.

So I thought what next? I figured, why not follow the same pattern. Next month I told him, that repeated multiplication is exponents. And then we ran over some exponent forms. Again we did this for a few weeks. And I was bored.

So I thought what next – all our number systems – you see – whether binary or decimal are based on exponents – powers of two or 10.

This turned out to be a surprisingly easy concept to teach – and within the next month – we were converting simple numbers to their binary forms.

By this time, I was stunned – myself. How did this happen? What did I do? What did Sid do? What exactly is going on here?

I had no idea then, but in retrospect, I have isolated 7 main ideas that enabled my 8 or 9 year old son to start working on binary number systems.

Some people say that I must have a genius for a son. Others think I am deluded, or out to fraud the world. Of course, I have no answer for those people, but for those who think that my son is a genius – this is not the case, because when we dove into deeper equations like quadratic – when we did conventional math curriculum – we are doing it right now – 10th grade Algebra – he is not really that interested. He is doing OK, not phenomenal. It is hard for him, it is unmotivating for him.

And I know why – I am not following the 7 principles that I followed back in those days.

1. For a child – especially a child in special ed – who has been inundated with repetitive information for most of their lives – bring the information FAST and FIERY!

There is no need to go into 20 worksheets of how to do multiplication,followed by 20 word problems. Move quickly through ideas – not shallow, but just enough depth. Keep it interesting, that’s where the Fiery comes in.

2. Avoid death by worksheet. Here is a rule I want you to keep in mind for your Autistic child – the more worksheets you do on the same topic, the less likely it is they will stay focused (or learn).

3. Look around for the simplest way to teach a complex idea. For example – all I said is one sentence – Exponentiation is repeated multiplication. Don’t go on and on into details just yet. There is a time for that.

4. Don’t test, just teach. Don’t get sucked into repeated feverish testing. As long as it looks like your child is remotely engaged, and doesn’t hate what you are doing, for the beginning, teach more than you test. Beginning skills and understanding rely far more on INPUT than OUTPUT. You can ENGAGE your child in communication, like pointing, or choosing, but don’t make every engagement a TEST.

5. Don’t stay on a topic too long. Find a detour – go somewhere else – you can always come back. By too long, I mean more than a month!

6. If it is not fun for you, your child is not going to learn it! This is common-sense, but very few educators actually use it. We had a Geography teacher for Sid who used to say in class “I know everyone hates Geography – it is not fun”, and Sid actually loved Geography. So don’t do that. Don’t be that person.

7. Please believe in the core of your heart that despite what every doctor, teacher, or educator has told you – your child is truly capable. This is called Assuming Intelligence, and all the steps above will fail if this one is not in place.

So here you go – there are 7 steps to teaching your child the most complex concepts in the world! And you can go to www.functionalnutritionforkids.com/binary and get a worksheet to complement this podcast. Print it out – and make sure to USE It!!

I am so glad you joined my 100th podcast, and whether you choose to teach binary math or rocket science, or poetry, I wish you the best of journeys. As I bid goodbye to you today, if you have found value in this episode, I would love it if you left a review. Here’s a convenient link for you – www.ratethispodcast.com/vaish 

Onward my friend, see you at 101!

99 Growth and Nutrition in Kids with Dr. Bill Sears [includes special segment on Down Syndrome]

99 Growth and Nutrition in Kids with Dr. Bill Sears [includes special segment on Down Syndrome]

There is often a correlation between how a child eats and how they learn. Dr. Bill Sears in this podcast talks about 4 points that he teaches kids and parents to focus on:

  • Go Fish
  • Go Green
  • Go Nuts, and 
  • Go Blue

I am so excited to interview someone whose work I followed so closely when my kids were younger. I am pretty sure I was on the “askdrsears.com” website all the time.

In this episode, Dr. Bill Sears talks about how he addresses growth issues in his practice and does a special segment just for us on how to further help children with Down syndrome who have growth issues. 

Gut Health and Growth Ebook www.functionalnutritionforkids.com/guthealth 



Audio Transcript:


There is often a correlation between how a child eats and how they learn. Dr. Bill Sears in this podcast talks about four points that he teaches kids and parents to focus on. Go Fish, go green, go nuts, and Go Blue. I was so excited to interview someone whose work I followed so closely when my kids were younger. I’m pretty sure I was on the Ask Dr. sears.com website all the time.

In this episode, Dr. Sears talks about how he addresses growth issues in his practice. And that’s a special segment just for us on how to further help children with Down Syndrome who have growth issues. William Sears MD has been advising parents on how to raise healthier families for over 50 years.

He received his medical training at Harvard Medical School’s Children’s Hospital in Boston, and the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, which is the world’s largest Children’s Hospital, where he was associate war chief of the newborn intensive care unit. Before serving as the chief of pediatrics at Toronto Western Hospital.

The father of eight children, he and his wife Martha have written over 45 books and hundreds of articles on parenting, child care, nutrition, and healthy aging. I’m guessing that most of you on this podcast have been to his website. He is the founder of the doctors. He is a wellness Institute for training health coaches, and he runs the health and parenting website.

As Dr. sears.com Dr. Sears and his contribution to Family Health were featured on the cover of Time magazine in May 2012. He has noted for his science meets simple and fun approach to Family Health, something that you’re gonna find a lot in today’s episode, you are listening to functional nutrition and learning for kids. And this is episode 99. With Dr. Bill Sears.

Bill big welcome to Dr. Sears. And like I said, I’ve been a fan of your website when my kids were younger. And it was really refreshing, you know, compared to the standard parenting advice of the time. I used to consult it all the time. So I’m really glad that you’re here. And that I get to talk to you about growth and failure to thrive. Thank you for being here.

Dr. Bill Sears:

Well, thank you, Dr. Vaish. I’m so honored to be with you. Thank you. We’d love you we love your podcast, and you do so much good for the nutritional health of so many families.


Thank you. I heard you say and I heard this statement. If your child fits or is lower than average on a growth chart, you said that it’s not a red flag, it’s a yellow flag. And can we start with that? Why is that a yellow flag and what is the Yellow Flag mean?

Dr. Bill Sears:

It’s a yellow flag because it’s easily corrected. It’s just a wave flag that says, hey, parents, maybe you should take a total look at how your child is eating. Is he eating enough or eating enough nutrition? So let’s the Yellow Flag. So you’re looking at the growth chart. And there are so many great growth charts on websites now, you can go to growth collector, you can go to growth chart collector, you can go to grow your child, so many growth charts are yours.

So go to the websites see a growth chart and see where your child fits. And then think Alright, Does my child need to eat more grow foods and you may be surprised that your child is not eating enough protein for one that’s the usual one Enough Healthy Fats because of the fat phobia we grew up with now that’s gone unfortunately we know what now we call it smart fats. smarten fat diet, not a low-fat diet. And so it’s sort of it’s actually a good flag that says hey parents, and teachers and families and all child feeders maybe need some more grow foods.


You’re calling them to grow foods I like that you know as a functional Nutrition Consultant poor growth is often a point of separation between conventional nutrition and model because a lot of times parents that go to a convention a nutritionist you’re simply adding more calories but here you know, that’s where I feel like there’s a difference when you’re looking a little deeper about is the food being absorbed or is you know what’s going on with the child. What are the first thing that you do Dr. Sears when a child comes to you and they present with for growth?

Dr. Bill Sears:

Well, the first thing I do is taken all neutral. Slow history. And I say Alright, now let’s look at your child’s growth chart. So I go on my old website there, and I show him a child growth chart calculator. And then I say, now let’s Google growth child protein, to see if your child eats enough protein, like a gram a day, a gram a pound. And so your child weighs, you know, 3030 pounds, does your child eat 30 grams of protein? So we start with that, and almost all the time, almost all the time bearish, I can say, Alright, here’s the problem.

Your child needs more growing foods. And the parents love the term grow foods is positive. Now for older children, for older children, as a motivator, we’ll say well, what’s your child’s special something? What are they really into? What are they love? And they may say, Well, my own daughter loves soccer. She’s such a good soccer player. She loves soccer, I say, Okay, call them soccer foods, like money, you need to eat more soccer foods. And, and they get it. They love that.


I like that a lot. Do you find that so one of the questions one of the things I was thinking about do you find that when you see children with poor growth, you also see correlations with other symptoms and anything from eczema to ADHD? Is there often a correlation? Or not necessarily?

Dr. Bill Sears:

Good. Another? Yes, yes, I think you nailed it. Again, there often is a correlation between how children eat, and how they learn. And the reason is, and oftentimes, say you’re in my office. And I find when I start talking about the brain, parents will pay more attention. So as you just said, sometimes the child has a learning problem. I don’t call it a disability, or disorder, there’s a difference. Not many children learn differently. But say your child has been labeled with some say, ADHD or not paying attention, or just not learning well.

I take the parents into the brain and say, Alright, point number one, your brain is the main organ in your body that is most influenced. For better or worse, by nutrition. You put smart food into the brain, you get back smart learning. Secondly, I go through, what your child eats. And I say, No, you’re feeding a little fat head. And they look at me and say, what’s that? What’s the fat head? I said, your child’s brain is mostly fat. So let’s look at the fat in the diet. And almost all the time.

I see that there are not enough omega-three fats in the most important smart fat. So I go through them on why they should eat more seafood. And I show them that I have a salmon on my wall. They’re a little piece of not a piece of salmon but a little picture of salmon. And is wearing a white coat says Dr omega the third. So I show a picture. I want you to meet Dr. Omega third, and I go through the 10 nutrients that are in a piece of wild salmon. Oh my goodness, the nutrients are incredible.

You have you have protein. You have omega-three DHA EPA smart fats. Protein Aster Xanthine what makes salmon pink? A B 12. V. O and vitamin D, are great sources of vitamin D. Choline, all these good things? And they’ll look at me oh my gosh, Dr. Bill, I never realized there was so much I’m gonna get him to eat salmon. And I said not also the brain.

The brain has the greatest garden ever grown. So what do you need to grow a garden? You need to feed and fertilize the plants. You need to water them. You need to kick the weeds out. toxic thoughts. And so I said let’s go into fruits and vegetables because fat, the fat head and the brain. Fat turns rancid it oxidizes. That’s the term Okay, so let’s eat more anti-oxygen’s fruits and vegetables. And I start with blueberries and the kids love it the blueberry is the brain Berry. And they run it.

Remember that and I give them little things to remember like, Go Fish, go blue, go green, and go nuts. Now, parents, give your children a little baggie, with an assortment of nuts, have them go through the kids like to pick out their own things when they shop, have them get four or five different varieties of nuts, make your own trail mix, put it in their pocket, and they can nibble on the nuts throughout the day. So simple things like that. Oftentimes, just increasing maybe 100 or 200, healthy calories, Jay is just enough to pick up the brain and pick up their growth chart.


That you’ve simplified that so much. So you said just I’m going to repeat what you said. Because that’s amazing. You said just in I don’t have to start increasing by just adapting or increasing 100 or so healthy calories a day is enough to pick up the growth charts.

Dr. Bill Sears:

Oftentimes, that’s enough. And it has made me know another thing I asked them if they’re having like you mentioned problems learning at school. I say what does your child have for breakfast? Oh, he doesn’t eat much for breakfast. He doesn’t like breakfast or gives them a little tart or a little piece of junk cereal. So they said well, your child must have a brainy breakfast. Write that down. Brainy breakfast mom. Right brainy breakfast because the brain has been resting all night. It needs refueling. And so I have a make a smoothie because children love smoothies. So the smoothie is all and I give my recipe a smoothie. And first of all, healthy fats in the smoothie.

Cheat a tablespoon of MCT oil, very healthy fat. Avocados. Wonderful healthy fat. Whole milk. Grass-fed organic plain yogurt or kefir. Ah, the kids love it. Kiwis, berries. I haven’t put out a nice etching get wonderful protein powders. For you know from healthy heights. I have to grow daily. I have, I have one over on my in my kitchen, or grow daily.

They have a really good one for children, three, three years and up and 10 years and up. And it’s high in protein. So a scoop of protein powder in it. And then you have as a young child, you have them help you make the smoothie, you know, take a handful of blueberries and put it in a handful of kale is the old Dr. Bill my chart.

My child doesn’t like kale, you know, we call them the sneaky Fs they’ll never know what’s in there if you put it in there. So you know, oh, ginger, if they like flavor, pineapples, a nice sweetener, papaya is usually a fruit child, you know, absolutely love or use pomegranates when they’re in season. And so that’s a type of, and sometimes children get constipated a lot. So I throw fig, you know, a couple of figs in there. Wonderful. And, and then I remember our own children.

We had so many kids to feed and I’d make a big smoothie. And off we go into the family van. And they’re drinking their smoothies on the way to school. And so smoothies. I can’t emphasize them enough vase that you can just sneak things in that children will eat and they get a taste for it. It’s very the gut feel a wonderful gut feel. And one of the things I like about smoothies. It’s a Japanese term that I love called umami. And like umami what a little baby would say when they’re nursing for mommy, umami.

What is the Japanese term meaning the mouthfeel? The mouthfeel and smoothies have that you know sit on a smoothie and they have the protein And the fat and the healthy fiber-filled carbs, lots of fiber, and it stays in their mouth longer. And then. So that’s sort of what I love to do make a smoothie in the morning, especially for kids who need a brainy breakfast.


Lots of really, really good tips there. Yeah, thank you. And I’m going to summarize what Dr. Bill said and tell you if I missed a few things. So you said Go Fish Go Blue. Then I missed two other things. I know you talked about protein. But what was the other thing I missed? Go Green and go nuts.

Dr. Bill Sears:

Right, right there you have two of those that have lots of protein in them. And nut butter for your children. They don’t like it too young for nuts and all or take a big tablespoon of almond butter. Put the smoothie on. Yum.


So let’s take a short detour to talk about, you know, maybe our favorite populations as well. So I just got to know that you also have a son with Down syndrome. And I was going to ask you this question anyway. So we know that growth issues can occur more frequently in kids with Down syndrome. Is there anything different that you do? Or do you still start with the same basics that you talked about when you’re working with a child with Down syndrome?

Dr. Bill Sears:

Well, yes, it’s the same basics that we mentioned. But a step above. And a Steven number seven, we have so many children, we have to number them a little bit. Number seven, number seven, he came into our world, differently abled, not disabled, but differently abled. He had a different set of chromosomes. And we realize and at that time, the whole field of gen of epi genetics was coming on board that we can’t change his genes are his chromosome, but we can change the way the genes behave, by the way, he eats. So that was the first thing. My wife breastfed him for three years and is very, very, very difficult. Children with Down syndrome, they’re very lazy suckers.


They are kudos to your wife because I couldn’t do it for more than six months. It was that’s a hard thing to do.

Dr. Bill Sears:

That’s the golden time of six months. That’s when the brain is growing so fast. So I congratulate you on that. Because they those those those little suckers their hearts are so good for you. So that’s the first thing breastfeed next, you only start growing foods. You don’t start on junk food. His very first food was avocado, avocado. No, no, this rice cereal and all this much protein and fat and rice cereal. So we start them off on avocados. And his second food was wild salmon. Must be wild. I would mess a little bit up just a little bit up a little fingertip.

Put it on Stephens’s tongue a little bit more, a little bit more, and a little bit more. And by two years of age, he had a little piece of salmon almost every day. By two years of age. He craved salmon. Wow. We also started among smoothies that we talked about when he was around two years of age. He would help me make me grab a handful of blueberries and throw them in and all that called The children love messy stuff and so he didn’t mess and now when he’ll wake up in about an hour or so they’ll come down and the first thing he does he holds his hand up.

Does my smoothie. And so he is now programmed, programmed for healthy food. And I think why he’s he craves it, instead of just like it is here’s my theory on that vase you start early on with healthy foods grow foods, and the tongue likes and the tongue sends the tongues very enriched with nerve fibers. So you put this healthy food on the tongue goes like and it sends text messages to the craving center of the brain. And the brain says like feed me more Don’t feed me more the brain sends text messages all the way down the vagus nerve, the biggest nerve in the body down to the gut, the gut has called the second brain. And the gut says, Hmm, like.

You have that, that network, that greatest social network, neurological network going between tongue and brain and gut three times, four times a day, for the first two years, and by two years of age, that network is imprinted. That’s why I think it’s so important. Also, one other thing too, with, for children with Down syndrome, movement, movement, movement, movement, as as a fact my doctor mom said it all out, go outside and play. And I tell the kids to sit and stew is bad for you. Since two is bad for you, movement mobilizes the immune system. So we got Stephen and as many sports as we could. And I still remember that seeing kids was Down syndrome is very empathetic.

They’re very caring, and they hug other children. I remember Stephen is in, a race one time with other kids, right, other children with special needs, and they’re running and running and running and running fast. And he likes to win. So he’s running real fast, and the child next to him falls down, even stops in the middle of the race, picks up the other child helps him to get up and they complete the race. You know, that’s not a typical child.


Know, it’s not gonna happen. And so many lessons, I mean, it’s just a, it’s just such an enriching eye-opening experience. Having a child with Down syndrome, it’s just a really, it’s just so another Oh, another thing too, one other little chapter for parents.

Dr. Bill Sears:

Down syndrome, sometimes, some children with special needs, don’t have good appetite control, they will overeat. And one of the things we found, if I had if a parent were to ask me of say, a parent with a child has Down Syndrome and asked me, Dr. Bill, give me one, give me once one sentence, just one till I can do the rest of his life, her life. Keep your child lean. Learn how to keep your child lean, that has the right amount of length does not being skinny, I mean means having the right amount of body fat and body muscle for your child’s body type. And that is what we just mentioned, feed them grow foods. See our group’s growing food is nutrient dense.

Run them move them a lot, movement. Swimming, I’m going to have to put swimming at the top of the list. Because oftentimes children with special needs will have some motor problems. You know, they’re sometimes not coordinated. It is a swimming pool. There’s no right way to do it. They can swim the way they want. And they love it. So Steven Stevens still swims every day. And so, weather permitting, parents keep their children’s lane, get them moving, especially nowadays movement mobilizes your immune system. Movement mobilizes the immune system. So it’s another reason to move more and sit less.


To summarize what you said about your recommendations for children with Down syndrome your basics remain the same. So when we talked about growing foods and eating blue foods and fish, I said to go nuts, green, and all of the nutrient-dense foods, they remain the same but you’re making a bigger point about starting when the child is younger.

I think that automatically means avoiding refined carbs and refined sugar because that’s usually like first foods there’s you know, there’s rice and in sometimes in Indian culture, there’s sugar and so on. So there’s so your kind of setting the patterns up early as opposed because it’s once the sugar pattern gets going that’s really hard to override.

Dr. Bill Sears:

It is and you mentioned them You’ve just mentioned the bad word because this is parents we have a problem. The incidence of type two diabetes, the most preventable illness on the planet, the incidence of type two diabetes had has tripled in young children in the last three years tripled just the last three years.


Last three years

Dr. Bill Sears:

The last three years are true. Wow. No, so So and that so and that’s due to two bad words sugar spikes, sugar spikes.


So COVID situation cost a little bit more.

Dr. Bill Sears:

Yes, I think they were sitting there first two things sit inside and stew they would sit inside worrying worried depresses the immune system and makes you overeat. Secondly, they would eat junk food. So type two diet and type two diabetes and obesity have tripled. Alas, last two years, so this is why I want parents to look at labels.

Look at labels. Alright. Very little sugar at it. Maybe a little bit. So okay. But avoid sugar slurps Secondly, kids will love this little analogy. I play the game with them. And I say now you have good sugars and bad sugars. A good sugar plays with friends, protein, fat, and fiber. A bad sugar doesn’t have any friends. So bad sugar you put in your mouth. And it goes into your bloodstream real fast and hypes up your brain. And you use it too fast. And then you slump later on and you can’t learn at school.

You have a sugar slump later in the morning. But a good sugar. A happy sugar. A smart sugar has three friends fat, protein and fiber. And those three friends hold hands with the sugar when you’re eating it, so it doesn’t get into your bloodstream too fast. It slowly gives you energy which is what you want. And you know what? Do the kids get it? They’ll come home sometimes WLC they’ll remind Mommy, I want the happy sugar. Is this smart sugar? Does this sugar eating? Does that have to have three friends along with it? That’s why things like you like a smoothie, for example, our vegetables, and avocados, those have fiber, protein, and healthy fats with them that keep the sugar from spiking.


Right is definitely an in a state where pretty much every meal is blood sugar spiking for kids. And it’s really hard to pay attention in the morning if your blood sugar is going up and down. The child is going to school with a breakfast like that. I have to round things out. So we’ve got some really good advice on working with to grow foods and learning foods and sugar which kind of ties into both of them, for neurotypical kids for kids with Down syndrome. Or finally, I wanted to ask you to do these so do growth issues.

If parents don’t do anything to growth issues? Will children eventually catch up? How does that work? So what is when you went? Because there’s sometimes when you talk to parents, a lot of the advice that pediatricians conventional pediatricians will give parents is that your child will catch up. And how true is this?

Dr. Bill Sears:

Yes, that’s true. That is true. They will catch up. But it doesn’t mean you just sit and do nothing. You know, they have an I have a bunch of here’s a fact here’s my little here’s my role is smoothie making book called Dr. Poo. Okay. I give that to the kids when they come to the office and they read it because it has in there a summary of a lot of what we’re talking about on how to make a smoothie.

Why fiber is so good for you? Whey protein is so good for you? You know, proteins, the top grow food and it’s So yes, they will catch up. But see you want them not only to catch up on the chart, but you want them to catch up with habits, habits that last a lifetime. And this is why I stress parents early on, early on.

You know, parenting in a nutshell is giving your children the tools to succeed in life. What better tool is the craving for growing foods? Wow, what a tool. Can you imagine? What do you feed your children right now and for the first five years, 10 years? And they’re still eating that same food. 5070 years later. Thank you, mom. Thank you, Dad. Thank you, teacher.


Yes. I love that. Thank you. Thank you for making this. You know, explanation. So simple, and especially what you said in the end. It’s a very nice mentorship that it’s, it’s not just catching up on the group chat. It’s catching up on good habits. It’s catching up on learning. It’s catching up on just living a more wholesome life. Right. So yeah, I really like that. Thanks for sharing so much with our audience. Dr. So much. You’re so generous, I love talking to you. And I know that people can reach you at askdrsears.com. Are there any other resources you want to direct the audience towards?

Dr. Bill Sears:

Well, yes, askdrsears.com. And then we have the Dr. Poole book I showed. And another book I think they would really love like was called that the healthiest kid in the neighborhood. In the neighborhood. For adults, like adults with Down syndrome modeled as adults, we have the healthy brain book, The Healthy Brain book and we donate all the proceeds from the healthy brain book to charities. And then if you want a little book to reach for your kids, we have eaten healthily, and feel great.

A little picture book. So you can go on our website you can go on Amazon and all and, and children read to your children show them pictures. Children love to see pictures like grow foods, football foods, and soccer foods, and pretty hair foods that they love to they love to make the connection between what they eat, how they think and how they look, and how they feel.


Thank you again for your time.

Dr. Bill Sears:

Thank you. I love to be in with you.


This is such a fun way to present such important information and I’m never going to forget to sit and stewing is bad for you for the rest of my life. In the meantime, if you know where to find Dr. Sears www.askdrsears.com. This is also in the show notes and you know where to go for a gut health cheat sheet. If you’re worried about gut health, your child’s gut health is related to their growth www.functionalnutritionforkids.com/guthealth. See you next week on the 100th episode of functional nutrition and learning for kids. Bye.

98 Moving your child with Down Syndrome beyond Purees – with Dr. Kay Toomey

98 Moving your child with Down Syndrome beyond Purees – with Dr. Kay Toomey

How can your child progress beyond purees?

Today’s episode is part 2 in the series on Feeding Disorders in Down Syndrome – we are continuing on from Episode 92 with Dr. Kay Toomey who leads us through a beautifully detailed explanation of the hierarchy of what feeding should be like, especially in children with Down syndrome. 

This particular episode comes with several handouts that Dr. Kay Toomey references. I recommend that you have all of these open while listening to the podcast – to give you the best experience. 

You can go to www.functionalnutritionforkids.com/feedingsos to get these handouts and my own set of notes that you can print out.

You can find Dr. Toomey at www.sosapproachtofeeding.com



Audio Transcript:


How can you track progress beyond race? Today’s episode is part two in the series on feeding disorders in Down syndrome is continuing on from Episode 92. That’s where you’ll find part one with Dr. K two, again leading us through a beautifully detailed explanation of the hierarchy of what feedings should look like, especially in children with Down syndrome. You are listening to functional nutrition and learning for kids where we learn to overcome nutritional, physical, and educational hurdles to optimal learning and equal education. I’m your host Vaish.

This particular podcast episode comes with several handouts that Dr. Toomey references. They’re all in the show notes. There’s a link there and I recommend that you have these open while listening to the podcast because Dr. Toomey references these over and over again. Now if you want the link here, it’s functional nutrition for kids.com/feeding.

SOS, yes, /feeding so as you can get these handouts there. And I’m sure you’re all familiar with Dr. To me if you’ve listened to Episode 92, or maybe even before, for those of you who are new to her work, she’s a pediatric psychologist who has worked with children who don’t eat for almost 35 years.

She developed the SOS approach to feeding as a family-centered program for assessing and treating children with feeding problems. She speaks nationally and internationally about her approach. She helped to form the Children’s Hospital Denver’s pediatric oral feeding clinic as well as the Ross Medical Center’s pediatric feeding center.

She co-chaired the pediatric therapy services department at Rose Medical Center prior to entering private practice, she has been the Clinical Director for Toomey and Associates feeding clinic, and then the SOS feeding solutions, before shifting into clinical consultation to focus on her teaching. She is currently the president of me and Associates.

Now if you want to know more about Dr. Toomey, or the SOS approach to feeding, the link is the SOS approach to feeding dot coms. Like me, I’m sure you’re also going to be amazed by Dr. Toomey his breadth of knowledge and depth of knowledge. There is a lot to unpack in this podcast, which is why I highly recommend you go to functionalnutritionforkids.com/feedingSOS. Okay. And that’s where we have Dr. Toomey’s notes and my notes because I had to take a lot of notes during this podcast.

Welcome back. Dr. Toomey, this is so exciting to have part two of the conversation we were having last time. So if at least to me, one of the mind-blowing things that you shared last time is that the number one priority of the body is not eating, but it’s breathing. And even though it is you know, common, it seems like common sense now that you’ve said it, but I never thought about it like that.

The number two priority is postural stability. So I know we’re saying into a further deeper conversation. But do you want to share with us anything so we can like maybe like a quick recap of that so we can move on?

Dr. Kay Toomey:

Absolutely, absolutely. What we’re going to talk about today is oral motor skills for children who have Down Syndrome and as well as children who are on the autism spectrum, that really this applies to typically developing children as well. But we’re going to talk specifically about why children with Down syndrome end up staying on purees so long, and how we can help them begin to master the skills they need to transition from purees to textured foods, we know that the foundation of all eating is going to be the breathing as you brought up. And then the next foundational piece that everyone needs is that postural stability.

We talked about last time, that’s because you only have so much motor brain power available to you at any one point in time. And so that if you’re using up all your motor brainpower to make sure you’re not going to fall over a fall on your head. That’s why postural stability is so important. It’s to protect the body protect the brain, so you’re not falling over while you’re trying to eat. If you’re using up all of your motor brainpower to make sure that you’re stable, you’re not going to have the motor brain power leftover that you need to make your mouth work correctly.


And when I was just like last time, I remember say repeating the sentence twice when you talked about the motor brain power because it’s such it’s it’s so important to me, but I just want to intervene and ask I’m guessing this becomes even more important when you have apraxia because the motor brain power is is is struggling even more.

Dr. Kay Toomey:

That’s actually a really good point. That wasn’t exactly where it was gonna go. I was gonna talk about its especially important postural stability for children with Down syndrome because they have low muscle tone. But for children, for example, on the autism spectrum, we know that those children have a much higher percentage of apraxia or difficulties with motor planning is, you know, I guess a more generic term to use and you are absolutely correct if you have a difficult time using your muscles either because you have low tone, or using your motor system and your muscles, because you have motor planning difficulties and you can’t coordinate the muscles and the motor movements very well, you are already taxing your motor brain.

And so that you are coming into every feeding with less motor brain available, to begin with, because you’re going to have to set aside a certain amount of motor brain just to take care of those issues, either the effort that’s going to be required for the low tone or the effort that’s going to be required because you have motor planning difficulties. So you’re going to be starting with less motor brain power in the first place. So postural stability is absolutely key.

For these children, and especially for the children with Down syndrome, we need to be thinking about postural stability that not only gets them in that 9090 90 positions, 90 degrees at the hips, 90 degrees at the knees, 90 degrees at the feet. So that means they must have a footrest, that their foot can, you know be flat, they are also typically going to need some kind of site support. And we talked about last time that their preferred chair is the fully adjustable wooden chairs like the trip trap chair, the height right chair, there is a chair called an abbey.

That’s a pretty good one as well. And unfortunately, those adjustable wooden chairs don’t have side supports. And so you’re going to need to build in some kind of side support for the kids to help them with making that transition from purees. To texture table foods because purees don’t take as many oral motor skills as texture table foods do. And, and so postural stability, we have to really put in those extra supports. If we want our children to transition to a more difficult oral motor task, then puree. So the easiest thing to do to create side supports in your child’s chair is to actually go buy a set of yoga blocks.

They were not very expensive, they’re but they’re very hard. They’re very hardy, they’re durable. And then depending on you know how crafty you are, I guess that one thing to do is to go to a craft store and buy the double stick Velcro and strip it on the sides of the chair, put a strip on the bottom of the yoga lock, and you just attach the yoga blocks to the side of the chair. Now if you’re like me, and you’re not very clever, duct tape is wonderful. But just duct tape the yoga blocks onto the chairs well that it comes like an arm is that what you’re saying?

Dr. Kay Toomey:

So it becomes essentially an armrest correct? And, and so that’s what we’re looking for, we’re looking for better side support, we’re looking for better hip stability. And then it’s nice for the children to have someplace to rest their arms if they need to. But you really want those yoga blocks right up against the hips. So you kind of potential has to squeeze the child in just a little bit.

You don’t want to squish them, you know too much. But you do really want those side, yoga blocks the side support to actually be touching the child’s hips and thighs so that they have that really good side support, then what they will be able to do is sit up very straight. But if they need to wing a little bit or Prop A little bit, they can put their elbows on those side arms, instead of having to lean forward on the table.

When you lean forward, what happens is that you put your head and neck in an incorrect position for chewing. And if your listeners want to prop their elbows on the table or their desk, they are going to get themselves in that position where their head and neck are kind of forward. And then if you try to chew, you’re going to see it’s much more difficult than if you sit upright with your head balanced on your neck.

How much easier is it to chew when you sit upright with good posture? Obviously, the big challenge for children to transition from purees to texture table food is the skill of chewing.

Now everybody thinks that chewing is the end-all and be-all skill, but it’s actually tongue-in-movement. That is the foundation for chewing. And so I am going to bring up a handout that we’re going to go ahead and sin and let your readers look at. And it is a handout that’s called the developmental food continuum. It actually thought I had the handout up and I apologize, it looks like I have too many things open on my computer right now.


I nobodies. And for those of you who are listening to the podcast, there will be a link. So you can watch this on YouTube if you want to see the handout.

Dr. Kay Toomey:

Excellent. Excellent. So I’m going to bring up two handouts that we are going to hopefully be able to use you know what I am. Let’s see if I can. There we go. So there are going to be two handouts that go together. This first one is called beginning food exploration. I’m going to have people read through this when they get the biggest reason why we need this handout is because of the notification on the bottom, we’re going to use a very specific type of food texture, to help develop the tongue movements that children need to learn in order to transition from purees on textured tables. And it’s something that we call an SOS a hard module.


We can use a hard munchable. Right?

Dr. Kay Toomey:

Yeah. And the term means specifically to use a long, hard, very hard stick shape food. The job of this food is for the child to only Munch up and down on it, to not actually break a piece of it free, so that they can learn the tongue movement first before they have to learn how to chew. And so let’s see if I can bring up the developmental food continuum.


Tell me to flash if you can see this. I can see it okay, yes.

Dr. Kay Toomey:

Judge the developmental food continue. So knowing about how children learn from an oral motor standpoint is obviously we begin with breast and bottle feeding. And initially, breast and bottle feeding has a reflexive oral motor movement that’s sometimes referred to as a suck sometimes is referred to as a suckle. It more or less means the same thing. It’s where you cut your tongue around the base of the breast nipple, or the bottle nipple, and you the tongue forward and back to draw the fluid into the mouth.

This is a reflexive movement at first, but your reflexes for eating actually go away between four and six months of age. And between four and six months of age is typically when some kind of puree or spoon feeding is introduced. And for children with Down syndrome, we are going to actively encourage families to use the spoon and to use purees with these children.

There is another approach out there that’s referred to as baby lead weaning where parents just put adult table food on the tray in front of children. And research shows that children with Down syndrome do not do well. With that approach. I say baby-led weaning actually skips the full left-hand side of this page. And baby-led weaning starts in children at about the nine-and-a-half month age range. That is a challenge. If you are very typically developing.

Many kids will have already acquired some of these earlier skills, even if they don’t practice with a spoon. That is not what happens with children who are at risk for feeding challenges. And we know children with Down Syndrome have a much higher percentage of risk for feeding difficulties.

For example, we know that 60% of children with Down syndrome are actually going to struggle with aspiration. So that 60% of children with Down syndrome, right from the beginning of breast and bottle feeding, are going to be struggling with the coordination of sucking, swallowing, and breathing, so that they can get the food down correctly and not spray.

We know that because of the low tone, these children are much more at risk when you have a child present risk or developmental delays, you don’t get the luxury of skipping steps, you have to do every step because your child needs to master and practice every step along the way. Because the steps are not going to just happen for these kids.

We need to start with the student feed. And we are going to start with spoon-feeding somewhere. At four and six months of age, typically, the biggest readiness signal for starting purees is if you put your child in a seated upright position, that they can hold their body and their head upright for five to 10 seconds before they follow. So they don’t have to get into a seated position. If you put them in a seated position, you can give them some side support. If you put them in a seated position, can they hold their head and neck upright and keep their body upright, for between five and 10 seconds?


So this is an indicator that your child is ready for spoon feeding, that is an indicator that they’re ready to begin the spoon feeding.

Dr. Kay Toomey:

Now from our last talk, we talked about the fact that with little bitty babies, between four to as much as six to eight months of age, we’re actually going to support their stability by letting them lean back a little bit. Yeah, Infant Feeding chair. And that would be what I recommend for your families with children with Down syndrome is that they purchase an infant feeding chair, like the first year’s chair that we talked about last time and that you begin the spoon feeding where the chair is doing a lot of support work for them until they’re really and truly able to sit upright by themselves for long periods of time, that’s when you would move them into one of those adjustable seats.

You’re going to begin with them in a slightly reclined back position when you start the spoon feeding. But they have to have the ability to hold their head up and some core strength. And that’s why you test this by putting them in a seated position. See how long can they stay before they tip over. And we’re looking for only five to 10 seconds. And so once you start the baby foods, what you’re going to see if they’re going to reflexively try to suck on a spoon, right?

That’s the reflex that’s in place. This is why when you first start spoon-feeding your baby, a lot of the food comes out at you. Because what the babies are doing in that cycle is forward back. Because they’re trying to stop along the spoon. Some of it’s going to get pushed down, and some of it’s going to get pushed back. And what your child has to do in this stage is they have to shift from that reflexive cycling motion to voluntarily controlling the cycle to only moving the tongue backward. And that’s why we start with very thin baby food cereals.

We also start with thin baby food cereals. Because around six months of age, children are going to lose what leftover iron and zinc they have from their mother and the pregnancy. And you now need to supplement their iron and zinc with fortified baby cereals. So around typically for a child with Down syndrome, I would say six months you would be introducing thin baby food cereal usually mixed with some formula or mixed with some breast milk. And those early feedings are not about trying to get volume in your child.

Those early feedings are about trying to support your child in learning how to move from a reflexive cycle where they actually can control that cycle and they can slow Them on and try to move the tongue forward, but then slowly move the tongue back so that more of the food comes into the mouth, instead of going forward, back forward, back, forward-back, and pushing most of it out. When you see your child low dam, and really start pulling the cereal backward into the mouth, that’s when you would introduce that thin baby food puree. So typically what most baby food manufacturers call is stage one. And we really want families of children with Down syndrome to be practicing this with the spoon. Many families because of the pouches are going to give their children the pouches.

The problem with the pouches is that you suck the pouch like you do the breast or bottle. So the pouches are not going to teach the babies any new skills. And so if families of children with Down syndrome are starting their children on the pouch, they may get some volume of puree in their child, but their child is perpetuating old oral motor movement that we don’t want to be perpetuating.


So this food continuum you’re making the point of this is not just nourishment, it’s you’re planning both, you know, the oral motor skills that the child needs to go to the next step. And this is maybe even more progression of oral motor skills than the nourishment itself.

Dr. Kay Toomey:

Exactly. Actually, you are absolutely right. In the first couple of months of practicing on the spoon, it is not about the volume on the spoon, the child is still going to get the majority of their calories from the breast and bottle. The first couple of months of using the spoon is about practicing learning new oral motor skills, about learning new flavors of things.

One of the other challenges with the pouches is they typically add all of the things together. And so the baby food pouches taste very similar to one another. And, and that we don’t want that either. Because boom, texture table food tastes really different. And if your child is only getting one flavor, because they’re eating pouches, and all the pouches more or less taste the same. Many of the pouches are mixed with Apple and apple sauce. So the apple becomes the overriding flavor. Or many of them are mixed potentially with carrots or so your childhood, like


A taste intelligence that we’re developing in detail.

Dr. Kay Toomey:

Yes, you have to build their flavor palette.


Right? That’s a nice word. Because it because food tastes really different.

Dr. Kay Toomey:

Whereas, you know, if you’re mixing all the flavors together, you only have one flavor. Most of us do not just eat one flavor at a meal, we have several flavors at a meal. So it’s the first two months of working with the spoon are not about volume or nutrition. It’s a little bit about nutrition. Because we need that extra zinc, we need that extra iron.

We need those extra vitamins and minerals. But it’s really about learning about developing the flavor palate, and about learning how to move the tongue differently. And one of the questions you asked me is, the parents of children with Down Syndrome have asked you why did these children stay on puree so long? Well, one reason is that if parents are using pouches, and not practicing on the spoon, their child isn’t learning any new skills. And these children have to practice with the spoon to learn some new skills.


And I may be jumping many steps here and asking you this question. Feel free to come back to it later. Uh, one of these things was now perhaps we all know like, you know, 18-year-olds and 20-year-olds were still on fully pureed foods, can they come back to this continuum?

Dr. Kay Toomey:

Ah, you know, 1820 years is a long time to be doing the wrong or motor patterns. And I would say try it. And, and, and see where you can get how I feel about working with any child who has any kind of development is that we’re going to go into teaching them a new skill with the belief that they can learn And then and that the child is going to tell us and show us how far in the process of learning the new skill that they can actually get. But I like to teach them the new skill, we have to have the right steps in place. Because as I said earlier, these children are not going to be able to skip steps and learn the skill. These children have to master each step one at a time before they can go to the next higher part of the skill.


We can try it, but also with the understanding that some patterns have been very deeply ingrained. So it may, it may take a long time, but it may be worth trying.

Dr. Kay Toomey:

Yes, I think it’s worth trying. Absolutely. So So once the child loses their reflexes for eating around six months of age, they are now going to have to voluntarily move their tongue in a way that’s going to support their eating. And they’re going to do that by instead of going fast back and forth, back and forth, slowly drawing the tongue just backward to pull the food into the mouth, and keep it in the mouth. And as I said, that happens usually around six, or seven months. And they do that within baby foods, what you’re going to start seeing around seven, or eight months, is you want to see, the tongue actually starts to cut under the spoon, and the lips closed down on the spoon.

I don’t have a spoon on me, but I’m gonna borrow my pen. So we want to see the tongue cut the lips close. So another unfortunate error that parents will sometimes make in trying to feed their children is they are putting the spoon in and scraping it up against the teeth or the palate, or they’re dumping the food on the child’s tongue. Neither of those two things is going to encourage the child to learn this skill.

When you scrape the food into the roof of their mouth, or you dump it on top of the tongue, you as the adult are doing all the work. And so the child doesn’t learn the skill. So when you feed the child, and what you want to do is you actually want to stop with the food right in the front of the mouth. Just dive straight in right in the front and wait and give your child a chance to cut their tongue around the spoon and close their lips on the spoon.


And I feel like this add in another way you’re giving the child some control over their own intake and not forcing food on them. So at least I mean, it sets the stage so much for like future decisions your child is making.

Dr. Kay Toomey:

Absolutely. And you want them to be in control. Because when they are in control, they’re going to be safer than when the grown-ups are trying to just dump food in their mouth, right? Actually, put accidentally put it back too far. And then we could cause a choking episode and aspiration episode. Whereas when the child is doing it under their own voluntary control, they’re going to be much more cautious than we are as the grown-ups.


Not to mention feeding right?

Dr. Kay Toomey:

Well, exactly. For children with down syndrome, right, yeah. So so once you see that your child can actually close their lips on the spoon, and cut their tongue on the spoon, then you can go to the thicker baby foods. So we start usually with like peaches and apples and sweet potatoes and carrots because they’re thinner. And by the way, it’s a myth out there that if you start your baby with fruits that they’ll only eat fruits and they’ll become sweeter holics and they won’t ever eat vegetables. We know that innately human beings a predisposition to not eat vegetables, vegetables are bitter. And we are genetically predisposed to not eat bitter things because they are things that can be poisonous.

Typically things that are bitter are poisonous. And so there’s a genetic predisposition to not actually eat vegetables. And so it’s actually better if you start with fruit first to make the first experience pleasant, happy, and exciting for them. Then the second food you introduce is one of the sweeter vegetables like sweet potatoes or In pure carrots, and then over time, you know, so we recommend you alternate, a fruit for three days and new fruit for three days, then a new vegetable for three days, then a new fruit for three days and new vegetable for three days. And over time, you can start building on the fruits and vegetables that are a little less sweet.

Hopefully, as they gain these oral motor skills, you can shift into the ones that aren’t so thin. And you can go more to the stage of baby foods. And things like peas, not only are peas kind of bitter, but they’re pretty thick as well. And you have to have good skills to be able to manage the thickness and to slowly get used to different flavors. And so what you’re going to see then, is that people think we move from thin purees to thicker purees to purees that have Funston what people call the stage three baby foods, we actually do not progress that way. And that’s why there’s a little stop sign. Before stage three, I see. Yeah, on the page, we actually have to go from the thicker purees, or the really evenly matched table food purees to the opposite end of the texture continuum. to that group of foods.


We call that so counterintuitive, I would never have thought that.

Dr. Kay Toomey:

We learned that you can do what’s called a mixed texture that has a thin puree background with chunks and bumps in it until you’ve learned to chew is this


For kids with a risk of like you said oral developmental delay every child on the planet.

Dr. Kay Toomey:

I see. And, and so going from stage one to stage three baby foods is not developmentally appropriate, you actually have to shift over to the right-hand side of the page and get tongue control first.


So if the listener is not watching this on YouTube, what I’m gonna say right now is go to functional nutrition for kids.com/feeding. SOS, where I have Dr. To me you can download everything she sent. And there you can pull this up and just pause this video or audio, for now, if it’s video, you’re probably seeing it but if it’s audio, pause it pull it up, because you can see the STOP sign that she’s put in. I was very surprised to see that stop sign because it was like what’s going on there? How are we going in a very counterintuitive way. And that’s what he’s talking about now.

Dr. Kay Toomey:

Yeah, exactly, exactly. So what we want to do is with this boom, once you see the lips close on the spoon, and the tongue cup under the spoon, we want to on purpose begin to give fairly thick, either table food purees, like a pudding, you could even do or most people will introduce is a custard style of yogurt. Custard style, like Greek yogurt, tends to be very thick. Or you can mash up table food like a very ripe banana into a very thick but even mash, we don’t want lumps and bumps in it.

So it needs to be super evenly matched or you really cook up some carrots, and you evenly mash those. So you’re going to get a little more texture, a little more thickness. And what that bigger texture and bigger thickness do when it comes to the spoon is it draws the tongue to do what we call a tongue wave. And so with the soft mesh table foods and the table food smooth purees, we’re building on the early skill of moving, closing the lips moving the tongue back to now actually doing a wave. So I want you to think about if you were going to eat a spoonful of cheesecake.

When you put that cheesecake in your mouth, what most of us do is we cut our tongue around the base of the spoon, and then we kind of pull it into our mouth and squish it into the palate we call this what we do. And that’s what that tongue wave is that tongue wave squishes those thicker textures into the palate and draws the food back and there’s usually some suction involved too.

So the and that’s what you want to see that tongue wave and the tongue wave is what we want to be practicing on the spoon. But at the same time, we now need to introduce a texture group called Hard munchables. And the hard munchables are going to be explained in that other handout I showed you called beginning food exploration. And a hard munchable is a long hard stick shape food that’s so big and hard that your child’s not going to get a piece of it off. It needs to obviously be small enough to fit in their mouth. It needs to be big enough, they can’t get a piece off. So we’re not going to use baby carrots. We’re not going to use a carrot stick, we’re going to peel the whole entire carrot. We’re going to use stock to use a raw asparagus stem.


Oh, that’s hard enough as well. Okay,

Dr. Kay Toomey:

yes, yes, we’re going to use something like raw lemon grass stems, you could use something like a very hard, hard beef jerky, you could use a big, really fat sphere, at least the size and shape of a big fat marker of something like Hichem you could potentially use, you could use the stem of broccoli raw, and make it about the size and shape of a really big fat marker.

The goal of heart munchables is for the child to put this stick shaped food in their mouth, and we get to begin to move it around with their tongue. So the heart munchable needs to be long enough that the child can get their hand fully on one end, and the other end all the way to the back molar. And exactly, so about the size and shape of a pen, or a big fat Mark pens will be to them a big fat mark. And what the child is going to do is that first, when they put it in with their hands, their hands, their hands will move it back and forth.

When you put something in the side of your mouth, you are going to actually activate a reflex called the transverse tongue reflex. And your transverse tongue reflex is a reflex that happens to notify your mouth that you just put something hard in the mouth, and the tongue automatically goes over to figure out what you’ve put in your mouth.

We have to get control over this reflex in order to advance to table foods textured staple foods. And the way you get control over this reflex is by putting long stick-shaped things in your mouth. And so at first, you stick it in your mouth, the reflex happens but as you move your hand that your mouth at first your tongue follows what their where the hand is moving to hard munchable. But over time, in practice, the tongue will start moving in the opposite direction of where the food is.

The purpose of the hard munchable is when you see the child can put something in their mouth and actually move their tongue freely all over the inside of the mouth versus getting stuck up against the food. You know they have voluntary control over this reflex. Now I’m going to stop sharing, oh no, I don’t need to stop sharing, let me know VOSH. If you can see this new handout that I just I


can I can see the two bins?

Dr. Kay Toomey:

So you can also work on developing this skill by practicing with teething toys. And so that’s what this handout is that I’m making available to people we want parents during meals to actually be using true food. Outside of mealtimes. We want parents to create a shoe bin of Big Stick shape things that are kinds of examples of stick-shaped teething toys that you might put in your shoe band.


For those who are listening again, this is another handout it’s called Cubans and this is also if you click on that link you will also get a sender.

Dr. Kay Toomey:

Similar to twitch but you don’t have to use oral stimulation choice may be spoon is a great thing to put in a tube in children Toothbrushes are great to put in a tube in a rubber snake would be a great thing to put in a tube in massagers, the three prong massagers that have the three little legs. Yeah, I like them. Any, those are great because they vibrate as well. So anything that’s a long, hard stick shaped thing, is what we want to be having the child use outside of mealtimes. during mealtimes, we want to use actual food.

This is how children learn when I’m quite a bit older than probably many of your listeners. And, and back in my day, when we were very young infants, what we used to do is we used to give children things like steak bones to not, we used to give kids, the rinds of watermelon, to not use to do this naturally. And the issue became that people weren’t watching their children carefully enough. And so children had choking episodes.

That’s why this beginning food expiration out, hopefully, you can see this says on the bottom of it, they ever leave a child who’s learning how to eat unsupervised, because any child who’s learning how to eat, especially if you’re using a hard Punchbowl of some sort, is potentially at risk if they’re not supervised for having some kind of a choking episode. So when you choose your hard munchables, during your meal times, you want to make sure they’re long enough that your child really and truly can’t get a piece off. And at the bottom of the developmental food continuum handout. There are other examples of hard modules.

For example, a whole dill pickle is a marvelous word munchable frozen french toast deck, you have to carefully watch your child as they’re working with the hard munchable to make sure that a piece doesn’t get loose, right? If your child is, you know, got enough strings or enough tea, that they can get a piece loose of one of the hard munchables you’re using during meals, you have to stop using that food as a hard Lunchable. And you have to find a different card munchable to use.

So this is this food group, the hard munchables are how we help especially children on the autism spectrum, advanced with their eating by practicing with the hard Munch bowls, because they’re a single uniform texture, but they have different flavors. And so it’s a safe texture for kids on the autism spectrum to explore and get new flavors that are used to new flavors. And the goal is to get this voluntary, side-to-side tongue movement that is what we’re looking for.

Yeah, once you can see that they have voluntary side-to-side tongue movement, then you’re going to work on something we call meltable hard solids and multiple hard solids are going to be things that would dissolve very quickly in your saliva. And at first with kids with Down Syndrome and children on the autism spectrum that are stick shaped again. Because when you give a child a stick shape food and they put it in their mouth, the leading edge of the stick is going to land on the back molars, which is food needs to be transferred to in order to learn to chew it properly. So things like graham cracker sticks, veggie straws, snap pea crisps, baby.

Those are all great stick shape mountable, right and as the child practices with that stick shape mountable. Then you can move to the small meltable pieces, like the baby cereal puffs that are out there. Little you know, pieces of something like pirate booty, you know, a small piece of some veggie straw. You could use So, the skill we’re learning with those meltable hard solids is something called tongue tip lateralization.

If you put the tip of your tongue on your very last molar. That movement that you just did is called tongue tip lateralization when we have a small piece of food in the front of our mouth. From the front of our tongue, we have to transfer that food to the back molar. In order to chew it correctly. The foundation of chewy is first getting voluntary control over the tongue reflex. So that you can move your whole tongue voluntarily from side to side. And then the next skill is to move the food from the side to the back. Molar. Because in order to texture table food, you have to get the food onto the back molar. So what we call tongue lateralization, voluntary tongue lateralization movement of the tongue side to side, we bring on board with the hard munchables. And then we work on tongue tip lateralization with the meltable hard solids.

When you see that your child can voluntarily transfer a piece of food from the front lips to the back molars, then you can introduce cubes of table food, because, in order to chew food, it has to start on the back molars. And we start this process with very meltable foods. Because when children are learning to eat, they’re not good at the skill. And if they don’t get it to the back molar, we want the food to melt away in your mouth, right, and not accidentally fall backward and cause them to choke.

Right. And then we go to what we call soft cubes. Soft cubes are things that are so soft, that if your child doesn’t get it to the back molar, and the food accidentally falls on top of the tongue, like the middle of the tongue, they can just squish it into the roof of their mouth and still swallow down. Right. So a stock cube would be like a very right piece of avocado, a piece of peach that’s been soaked in peach juice, a very soft piece of boiled potato. Once they can manage stock cubes, then you can go to what we call soft mechanical food. And the soft mechanical foods have to go to the back molars because they actually require some chewing or reading. So things like pasta is a soft bread is if stuff mechanical, very, very soft meat.


Now I understand why those foods are so the horse so hard to chew. I’ve observed it in my son and I still wonder how come he can have a crisper like, you know, like a Preseli texture thing. But now if he has broccoli, he’s following the whole broccoli and what’s going on here. So I see that now.

Dr. Kay Toomey:

Yes. So a lot of kids can do those crunchy foods because you can do what we call rabbit munching on your front teeth. Right. And you can break them into little enough pieces, that when you mix them with saliva, you can squish them into the roof of your mouth and still get them down. And that is not a correct oral motor movement pattern. We don’t want to be teaching children that pattern. So, so the hard munchables get voluntary control over the reflex. So you can move your tongue laterally from side to side.

The multiple foods next are going to work on that hung tip lateralization to the back molars. The soft cubes are going to practice actually, up and down munching on the back molars. The soft mechanicals practice shifting the job side to side on the back molars. And then you can move on to mixed textures where you actually have a true chewing motion. So this is going to be the process that families with children with Down Syndrome and Autism who are not transitioning or purees need to go through the children to learn each skill at a time before they can progress to those harder bigger. Yeah.


And that is so so thorough. So thank you, doctor, to me that is so thorough, and as people, I’m hoping we’ll look at the handouts while listening to the talk. That is when you really I mean it’s kind of beyond thorough. You’ve really broken it down pretty much into every step that people have to do. Like I was actually thinking of my son some of the clients that I work with, with I could see like some many of the holes that we’ve kind of fallen into eating one food at a different like, you know, maybe developmental stage when they’re not really an eye.

I’ve heard people talk about developmental stages of crawling, you know how sometimes people will forcibly make people sit or walk, kids, sit or walk in walkers with Down syndrome. And that conversation I’ve been privy to, and it was very obvious to me that, you know, a kid should not be on a walker until they’re ready to walk or a kid should not be forced to sit for long periods of time in our in car seats because you’re like missing developmental stages, you kind of like you have, it would be ideally people would crawl, kids would crawl before they walk then by army crawl all of that. But, you know, you brought that same thing to the oral motor part where now these are the steps that you need to go through and we’re doing so much jumping, we’re in such a hurry. Right?

So Right. Yeah. And understandably so because we want our kids to eat good food and, you know, be able to outsource the food a little bit, maybe for some people.

Dr. Kay Toomey:

Yeah, right. It’s very much about that. One of the reasons why children stay on purees for too long is because people are trying to jump those developmental steps, and the children can’t do it. And so the children resist. And, and if we teach them each of the skills individually, then they will progress on to more textured tables. And we work with children with Down Syndrome and Autism every day. And we teach them how to do the skills and transition them off their purees.


And as always, they can reach you at SOS feeding.com. Correct. Absolutely. And if you want to work with Dr. Tony, enter the team, you can, you can return.

Dr. Kay Toomey:

Yeah, as we talked about the older the child is, the harder it is to teach those new skills, but it’s still worth trying. And it’s still worth connecting as is true for any skill.


I mean, I can’t learn languages now as much as I did when I was a kid. I think that’s just universally true for everybody. But Right.

Dr. Kay Toomey:

Right. Yeah, it gets harder as we get older, doesn’t it?


Well, thank you so much. I mean, you’re such a wealth of information. There’s just like every time we talk I can think of like five other topics I’d love to talk to you about. So maybe I get one talk again sometime. But thank you so much.

Dr. Kay Toomey:

Thank you and your listeners for their time.


I have put together everything that Dr. Tony references plus my own set of handy notes on functional nutrition for kids.com/feeding SOS, I noticed the episode was so full of information that a list of action items would probably be super helpful to you. I found myself taking furious notes while listening to Dr. To me. I went back over and over again and deleted and redid the notes so as to just keep it simple for you. And for me.

This is episode 98 of functional nutrition and learning for kids. For those of you wondering yes, I did remove the episode on vegan diets, it’s going to be back because I wanted to give you a more complete picture by adding in a lot more research. So look forward to that in the next few weeks or so that we’re going to get a more complete picture of the pros and cons of a vegan diet, where it should be used, and where it should not be used. Until next week. Bye.

97 TWO biggest myths in nutritional interventions

97 TWO biggest myths in nutritional interventions

TWO biggest myths in nutritional interventions (and the reason most dietary changes don’t work).

Did you know that 10-30% of children with ADHD don’t respond to medication, or worse, experience adverse effects to these medications?

It is high time to try easier and more effective strategies such as dietary changes for brain health.

If Food is Medicine, there should be nothing that can go wrong when you enter the area of Nutritional Interventions, right?

No, there are two huge areas where people slip up over and over again, and this is the reason “healing” diets don’t work for many many people.

MYTH 1: Everything is OK in moderation.

If you are trying to make an active change, it is important that the areas that are healing are significantly higher than the areas that are inflammatory. In fact, at least for a short time, you may need to shut off the inflammatory foods.

This is of course hard, because inflammatory food is usually addictive. But taking every food that causes inflammation out of the diet is almost impossible.

That is why, in my signature course offering R.O.A.R [Roadmap to Attention and Regulation] – which is open for enrollment now, I take care to not stress the parent with too many factors to control and remove.

R.O.A.R.  [Enroll or Waitlist]

Psychiatric Times Article



Audio Transcript:

Hey, you’re listening to functional nutrition and learning for kids. I’m your host, Dr. Vaish if you’re looking to demolish boundaries set on your child’s learning on intelligence. Whether your child is autistic or has Down syndrome, you’re in the right place.

Today we’re going to discuss the two biggest myths and nutritional interventions. And the reason most dietary changes do not work. And this is a short episode. This week, I saw an article in the psychiatry times about emerging research on dietary intervention for ADHD symptoms. Now, the reason I’m focusing on ADHD symptoms is these symptoms are often common in many children with disabilities, okay, when we’re talking about focus issues when we’re sometimes they’re talking about learning disabilities, sometimes we’re talking about impulsivity and hyperactivity, right.

So I’m really more interested in the symptom than the diagnosis. But coming back to the article, you can find this article by simply googling dietary interventions for ADHD, emerging research, and considerations. And this article reminded me of a not so recent podcast I had heard from Huberman’s lab but summarized many treatments for ADHD symptoms, among which included elimination diets.

Now the names for these diets that can sound pretty fancy are called oligo antigenic diets and oligo is spelled o LIGO the word oligo. antigenic literally means few foods. And that to me is super scary, right just listening to foods your child can only eat a few foods. But Dan Well, it’s a short term elimination diet short term also being a keyword that removes foods that are most commonly known to cause a reaction. But this article interested me a little bit more because I pulled out a few really interesting numbers, and one is that between 10 to 30% of children with ADHD do not respond to medication, or worse, they experience adverse effects from these medications. Now, adverse effects of Ritalin include increased irritability, new child, difficulty sleeping, and decreased appetite. And adverse effects of Adderall include loss of appetite, nervousness and insomnia.

So they have similar side effects to many medications, generally, including disruption and appetite, some irritability, nervousness and loss of sleep. Now, one of the reasons that side effects bother me is that many of the side effects can make working with your child harder, which is really the opposite of what one hopes for When taking medication. Now, 10 to 30% is no small number. And in this context, it makes absolute sense to look at dietary strategies. Because what is the worst thing that can happen when you try a natural intervention? Right? Well, it turns out there is the worst thing that can happen. And that is why we’re going to get into the two big myths of this entire food is nutrition idea.

Now food is a medicine idea. And if you’ve been following my podcast, and my work, you know that my focus is predominantly on using food as medicine, but there are two big ways that this can go wrong. Ready? Let’s go especially when you’re trying to support brain health.

The first big myth of nutritional intervention is that everything is okay in moderation. This myth likely originates in the weight loss industry and if that is your goal, and I sincerely hope that it’s not because we are talking about children here that that was someone’s goal. And if someone was not a child, then maybe everything may be okay in moderation. And even then there is a big maybe, especially since the volume we’re doing is counting calories. This idea everything is okay in moderation does not work for healing diets. The foundational principle behind the healing diet is that food is medicine. For everyone in this world, some food is medicine and some food is inflammatory. And if you’re working with a child that has gut issues, that is struggling with neurological issues, there may be many more foods that are inflammatory.

If you are trying to make an active change, it is important that the areas that are healing the foods that are healing are significantly higher in number and quality than the foods that are inflammatory. In fact, for a short time, you may need to shut off the inflammatory foods. Now there are multiple keywords here. One of them is definitely for a short time when we’re making change. All successful changes are made on a timeline and this is a fact that is often missed.

We’ll come back to this. Now, shutting off inflammatory foods is hard because inflammatory food is usually addictive. But taking every food that causes inflammation out of the diet is almost impossible. That is why my signature course offering role, which is a roadmap to attention and regulation. This is open for enrollment. Now, I take care not to stress the parent with too many factors to control and remove. In fact, enrollment to lower ends today and you can sign up at functional nutrition for kids.com/ Raoul, the link is in the show notes wherever you’re watching this episode and in the event, you reach this link, it’s no longer open for enrollment, you can sign up for the waitlist and I’ll tell you when it’s open.

Coming back to the article, I was talking about the dietary interventions for ADHD, emerging research, and considerations. It is interesting to note that it’s so interesting, that every one of the research ideas that all have all of what they had cataloged is emerging research is something that we actually cover as strategies and draw and there’s actually much more that we cover. There’s really happy to note that. Now the first myth is the myth of moderation, which doesn’t work. Moderation doesn’t work because eating inflammatory foods in moderation is not a good idea. The second point in this idea in this myth is that what you think is moderation may not be moderation right when my son was having only Paratus in yogurt for lunch, Weetabix with milk for breakfast and just to drink of milk for dinner, I did think he was eating healthy food in moderation.

Whereas I fail to see that every meal contains exactly the same food wheat and dairy, there was actually not helpful unless you count sugar and the occasional banana. When we think our children eat sugar in moderation, what’s often happening is that our kids are eating refined sugar at every meal combined with refined flour, disrupting their blood sugar, and creating an addiction to sugar. And I know kids who eat wholesome sweeteners like maple syrup, but there is no moderation and there is still an addiction to sugar. That’s how it works. Now the third idea about moderation is that addictive foods like refined carbs and sugar cannot be eaten in moderation. So moderation in itself is not bad. It’s actually a great idea.

If it is done within certain constraints of a healing diet. Some dietary constraints actually lead to major diversity of food choices. So you’re sitting if you constrain your diet a little bit, you actually end up eating more diverse foods. In my case, my daughter and I are currently on a vegan diet for a short time. I don’t believe a vegan diet works long term for everyone, especially people with gut issues. But this short term constraint has made our eating habits so much cleaner without much effort. Now just because I can’t have extra breakfast right now. I am eating and enjoying quinoa amaranth porridge for breakfast that I haven’t tried in years.

Today. I actually had a black rice beet porridge this morning. And yes, you heard that right. I’m noticing that these polishes are actually keeping making me feel a little bit more grounded and stable. It’s really feeling very fantastic in my body. There is a key point, a timeframe. I’m not going to be vegan forever, probably not. Whenever we’re trying to make a change, we’re trying to do this within a timeframe. Now our vegan diet, for now, is just for three weeks though we may renew our vows, depending on how we feel. The second big myth in the nutrition industry is the opposite of moderation. This does not mean going on a super restrictive diet, maybe the illegal antigenic diet or the gab site or the SCD diet or a keto diet for a long time. Okay, this is not what we’re talking about.

The opposite of moderation is not mega restriction. Long term diets that limit multiple foods can have disastrous effects on your kids God’s help and can be infinitely hard to get out of. Many restrictive diets can be incredibly healing to some people, but in the short term, and this is the keyword in the short term. When you’re removing more than 10 food groups, it may be time to think again about when and how you’re going to stop and reintroduce healthy foods. This is why in the roadmap to attention and regulation, I introduced the idea of what I call a least restrictive diet.

This is a term that I adapted from special education where Sharon Jorgensen, a visionary in the field of education, brought the idea of a least restrictive environment for teaching kids with disabilities. More on that in another podcast, but I think it’s high time we talk about the least restrictive diet as well. A diet with no restrictions is going to be a disaster for the three reasons I mentioned earlier.

Healing and repair require some constraints. A diet with too many restrictions can also cause inflammation over the long term. So today as you exit this podcast, maybe you can think about what the least restrictive diet looks like for your child and isn’t doing its job. And if you are interested in it, this works for you right now you can sign up at roadmap to attention and regulation. Still, open enrollment today and you can sign up at functional nutrition for kids.com/roar. Bye.