If you feel your kid’s mood is a little off during quarantine, check out how you can use three strategies that form the core of my Functional Nutrition and Learning Practice:
1. Learning led by child
Disclaimer: The information in this Podcast is for educational purposes only. Vaishnavi Sarathy, Ph.D. is an educator, not a doctor, specifically not your child’s doctor. Please consult your physician before implementing any supplement or diet recommendations.
Hey there, welcome to another week of perhaps sitting at home and wondering if your kids are ever going back to school. I am just signing off from my daughter’s meeting about potential options for next year. And after years of grumbling over the differences in education, quality, and accessibility between my daughter and my son providentially, it’s so happening, they’re probably in the same place right now. My son, who has been homeschooled for years now might actually be in a better place with respect to the quality of education he receives because they actually know what to do with them. I know what I’m doing.
Welcome back to functional nutrition and learning for kids. I’m your host Vaish. And that is spelled Vaish. I’m here because I am passionate about kids with disabilities getting good food, and good learning. And today we’re going to talk about the very hot subject of mood issues, especially when your kid is at home. And no, I’m not talking about your mood. I’m talking about your kid’s mode.
To be honest, perhaps we’ve never actually talked, or maybe we might never talk about your mood in this podcast if you are a mom or dad. Perhaps there are other podcasts and other people for that because we are getting to the kids. And in the nature of eye-catching articles, we’re going to do three tips to balance mood.
Now as we adjust to kids sitting at home the whole day, who would have thought right? This is literally what doctors pediatricians psychologists have been warning against for years. Kids need to move kids need to interact. Kids need to physically experience they need tactile stimulation more than us they need less screen time. They need to breathe fresh air. And perhaps we’re doing everything we were told not to do with kids virtually no two ways about it. There’s nothing we can do but this is now being considered the new normal.
Kids in masks kids in front of screens kids at home all day kids interacting with and learning from a screen as opposed to tactile hands-on experiential learning. Now, my daughter goes to a Montessori school, as did my son until he was six. Maria Montessori has emphasized beyond everything the importance of hands-on learning, of following the child’s lead of allowing nonlinear education to happen in a physical setting.
Why we have upended this entire process, there’s one thing to remember, we might be disrupting mode on a scale that we’ve never experienced. And we can all attest to this just based on our moods, right? For adults, this might be more associated with COVID, anxiety, financial anxiety, job pressures, having children at home all the time, and so on. But for kids often having an adult stressed out might be enough. Even an adult who’s clearly not in a comfortable space with the child at home, how about staring at the screen the whole day and being expected to learn from it?
How about being neurodivergent and not having the outlets you need for optimal function? What do you do?I am sure many of you are in the same boat as I am and said my son spent many of his first days in quarantine in a state of semi-depression, even though his routine was actually not disrupted that much. Because he’s a homeschool kid now that that minuscule disturbance was enough to throw him off quite a bit.
We cannot underestimate the level of disruption we’re bringing specifically to the lives of kids with disabilities learning challenges sensory needs. kids for whom a neurotypical Play Day is therapeutic and prescribed and simulated in therapy environments. Okay, enough already with making you feel bad. That was not the idea. The good news, the bad news is we’re doing stuff and the mood can be disrupted.
The good news is that no matter how bad things get, there are always things we can do about it. Perhaps each person cannot do everything. But with adaptations, most of us can do something. So let’s get started. For me what was idea number one? Mix it up education, also known by its fancy name, I love to talk about it nonlinear education.
The time is ripe to let your child learn naturally. Now, if your child is experiencing signs of anxiety, especially in relation to learning, teach nonlinearly I have done a podcast a little bit about nonlinear education. And that was episode number 33. You can scroll back about seven episodes to find that. Now, what does this mean? Let me give you an example.
For years I’ve been teaching to try to teach my son via a curriculum last year or even enrolled him in an online public school with a rigid structured curriculum that he is cognitively more than capable of doing. He has shown me numerous times he gets the math he gets the science. He gets everything else He just doesn’t perhaps get the idea of why he needs to do it or he’s just not interested.
I had to push him to cajole him to beg him to do his homework and his lessons. And I don’t know if you know this, I suspect you do. But often with autistic kids, this doesn’t work. A lot of times, it’s all or nothing. Okay? Of course, you’ve probably experienced this with your kids.
There’s also the famous stubbornness that we associate with kids with Down syndrome. Oftentimes, kids with a disability will find that the interest is 100%. Or nope, not that right. This is such a good opportunity to ditch the cajoling and the forcing to learn things, you know, my way or basically, I was going to say, my way or the highway, but more the academic neurotypical way.
This is so awesome. Such an awesome time to start with a topic or a project that is naturally interesting to your child and go from there. We feel wondering what this has to do with mood It has everything to do with mood learning is the mother of mood. Okay? For example, if we were to chat with 10, moms of kids aged seven to eight, let’s say with Down syndrome, chances are that they would be teaching them how to read or how to learn numbers.
Let’s twist that a little bit. How about if you teach them something unrelated, but something that you wouldn’t think of teaching first before you’re taught numbers? And I know I always pick space signs. How about you teach them how a rocket works before teaching them the alphabet, right? So today, I pick something else.
Let’s say it’s cows or swings to things that you would not normally associate with deep learning. But if it’s an area of interest, let’s take cows, it could be mammals, it could be grazing, it could be the intestinal function and structure of a herd of grazing animals like cows, it could be understanding herbivores and carnivores, and omnivores. It could be greenhouse emissions associated with you know, with cattle hybridizations of animals history of animal husbandry, India, perhaps where cows are revered, and the history of that, see how much you can cover from an interest-centric model. Learning happens, but not in a linear fashion. Are you wondering about swings now? I’m going to get there.
Okay. So suppose your child loves swings? Where would you go from there? Gravity pendulums, Galileo, who discovered key properties of pendulum motion, the scientific revolution that happened during the time of Galileo, the moons of Jupiter that Galileo saw for the first time, angular momentum, right? Do you want me to keep going? Learning is a key regulator of mode, and variety in learning is even more important. And as we change input and keep building in variations that feed into a child, we build new neural pathways and make different responses to the same problem available to the child.
If you Google a bet, you’ll find that many many there are many, many links for depression in children with learning issues. So the opposite correlation is very well known, right? Is that if you have mood issues, you have trouble learning? But in my experience, if you flip this, when you provide learning on the child’s terms, mood can also be positively impacted.
That was the summary of idea number one, education learning knowledge education, education is a dry, conforming topic. So let’s make it interesting and exciting learning right? Eye learning on the terms nonlinear education on any learning on the child’s terms. Idea number two is a recipe as your child consumes most of their meals at home, this is a fantastic opportunity to address micronutrient deficiency.
B vitamins, magnesium, a mineral in which, which many, in fact, one study I think found that 10 out of 11 healthy women were magnesium deficient. Other studies have found that at least 50% and up to 80% of patients hospitalized for airway issues, diabetes, and even patients that just request magnesium tests are deficient in magnesium, but also other nutrients that are commonly deficient or vitamin d omega three fatty acids. And all of these have correlations with mood disorders.
I am absolutely not here to get your child to have 20 supplements to address all of these issues. One recipe that I have that is particularly delicious is a pumpkin seed flax state milk with a dash of matcha powder. It’s beautifully green. It’s like gorgeous like green in color. micronutrient dense can be as sweet as you want it to be. And honestly, the ratios are very forgiving. But if you could use Add two tablespoons to four tablespoons of pumpkin seeds, two tablespoons of cashews, a couple of dates, a dash of vanilla essence, and four cups of water and just blend them together and you can strain them if you want, if you want to a smoother consistency. If you’re doing matcha, please matcha powder which is green tea, please do this during the day and add a teaspoon of matcha. To this.
There are many studies on the effect of green tea phytochemicals on mood focus, oxidative stress, and much more. I find green tea to be such a superfood that I find excuses to get some matcha into my son every day. He loves it. But it’s a cultivated taste. High tryptophan foods that are the mood-balancing seeds that pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and even sunflower seeds. Now while there is numerous foods that there are studies on that people know to be supportive of moods.
A specific food that I’m going to talk about today is blueberries because I just love blueberries, one to two cups of blueberries a day may improve the mood in kids. Now you can check out Dr. Michael Greger’s excellent summary of research articles on his website nutritionfacts.org. You can google neutral or you can just Google nutrition facts and blueberry and mood. They’ve also been seen to improve cognition and mobility in adults. And this was two cups every day for six weeks.
Just imagine right now this particular mood-balancing you know you can call it the milk that I talked about you can call it flavored milk and elixir wherever you want. I need to get a fancy name going for this recipe maybe I will by the time I send an email out. But I like this as nighttime green milk without cacao powder or obviously chocolate milk with cacao powder. When we add mineral-rich highly available ingredients in superfoods we’re making one yummy drink, calming mood balancing, and micronutrient-dense micronutrients a price doesn’t sound too enticing. I’ll try again.
Now here’s my framework again. So we don’t do much at night because it might be too stimulating. You can do two to four tablespoons of pumpkin or sunflower seeds, soaked dates or maple syrup to sweeten vanilla essence water, and one tablespoon of cacao nibs or just cacao powder. Okay, so blend and serve warm or cold. Obviously, as I said, But ditching the matcha This is a sleep-supportive nighttime drink. We can also blend with bananas and our blueberries for a bigger tryptophan, magnesium-rich Phytonutrient probably smoothie by this time, that’s extremely mood supportive. Do not expect a miracle after one day. Remember that stores take time to build.
Idea number three. In my model of a functional growth permit, the three levels are gut health and nutrition as foundation movement as the language of the brain. See episode three, an equal and appropriate, and relevant education. Now we’ve covered two of these three. How’s your child moving during these times, regardless of the range of motion of your child, there are functional movement strategies that will work for most kids. These movements can be passive or active.
Consider yoga rhythmic movement therapy or MRI that is reflex integration or Anat Baniel method, cross patterned movements such as swimming, maybe that’s not accessible now, but it could be running. It could be crawling, regardless of age could be Qi Gong, it could be Tai Chi, and more. Remember that these movements can be passive, in which case they are done to the child depending on their level of mobility, or active where the child can do it themselves.
I’ll be covering more about micronutrients for mood in my breakfast challenge which starts again on the third of August, which is Monday, you can join a tiny url.com/breakfast Challenge 2020 Those are my three load balancing ideas. Thank you for listening everyone. If you have another mode-balancing activity that you liked, drop me a note or an email via functionalnutritionforkids.com. Or find me on my Facebook page facebook.com/functionalnutritionforkids or on Instagram where my handle is Dr. Vaish Sarathyso that’s drvaishsarathy. I hope to see you all at the challenge. Signing off.
This is your host, Dr. Vaishnavi Sarathy music like always is by Maitri who’s ready. But another piece that I need to record said is up to more poetry as well. And today as I sign off, I’m going to share a few lines from one of my favorite poems that Sid wrote a couple of months ago. Let’s not be sad. There’s power in our madness and more power in our love.