How To Naturally Treat ADHD

Not unlike most children, when I was younger, paying attention in class and sitting still was difficult for me. When I was 15, I diagnosed myself with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and had a much easier time getting my prescription for Adderall (a medication commonly used to treat ADHD) from my doctor then I think I probably should have. “You want Adderall? No problem, I’ll prescribe you Adderall,” I clearly remember my pediatrician saying. Although my mom ended up taking me to a different doctor who diagnosed me with ADHD before prescribing the medication, for the next four years after that, I took Adderall daily, believing that I wouldn’t be as productive or successful without it. While I did have insanely sharp focus, I hated the side effects. The medication made it so that I didn’t want to eat, I couldn’t comfortably socialize, and I couldn’t sleep. But my grades in school improved dramatically enough that I convinced myself Adderall made me smarter and better at school.

By the age of 20, I decided I was done with the drug and the uncomfortable, anxious way it made me feel. When I went off it, my goal wasn’t necessarily to go cold turkey, but I wanted to test myself and see how I did in school without the drug while implementing some natural methods for concentrating. It took a little time, and I know this wouldn’t be the case for all people with an attention disorder, but I’ve found that I can absolutely be productive without medication. I believe that the following natural remedies can truly help with concentration and that either on their own or in conjunction with medication, can greatly benefit those struggling with ADHD.

Understanding the Power of the Gut

Our intestines contain a population of microbes known as gut microbiota. Microbiota contains tens of trillions of microorganisms, with at least 1000 different species of bacteria with more than 3 million genes (source: Gut Microbiota). A baby born vaginally gets her first dose of these microorganisms as soon as she exits her mother’s vagina. Children born through C-sections miss some of the bacteria that children born vaginally get.  Instead, a C-section baby gets her first bacteria from her mother’s skin and the skin of the doctors and nurses in the delivery room (source: heathline).  In either situation, from that moment on, everything affects the babies microbiota; the food she eats, the water she drinks, her environment, and the air she breathes. Although the baby can adapt to change, a loss of balance in the gut microbiota may result in dysbiosis (the opposite of symbiosis). Dysbiosis may be linked to a number of health problems such as functional bowel disorders, inflammatory bowel disease, allergies, obesity, and diabetes, to name some. According to author and doctor, Natasha Campbell-McBride, 84 percent of your immunity is located in your gut wall. And if you don’t have healthy gut flora, your immune system simply can’t function optimally (Source: GAPS Diet).

 

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Happy gut microbes

 

Gut dysbiosis is also commonly found in children with ADD/ADHD and other mental health illnesses and disorders like depression, or bipolar disorder.  (source: Epidemic Answers). In my own experience, I have found that by treating the gut, I could get by without medication. Another thing I found while researching is that children with ADHD typically have low levels of dopamine, which is an important neurotransmitter that promotes feelings of calm and well-being. This is why kids with ADHD, while not typically being able to sit still for too long, have been found to sit very calmly for hours on end while playing video games, since playing video games releases dopamine. With all of this knowledge, I now have recommendations for ways to balance dopamine levels and improve gut health to naturally achieve laser sharp focus.

Diet

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Eating a well-balanced diet with plenty of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, lean protein, healthy fats, and purified water will play a huge role in curbing ADHD symptoms. Eat organic whenever possible, take probiotics regularly, and check in with yourself to see how your body feels after you eat certain foods. There are a number of foods that can typically cause food allergies or sensitivities in people, such as: gluten, sugar, processed and fried foods, food colorings, dairy, alcohol, red meat, caffeine, soy, corn, and nightshade vegetables. An allergy or sensitivity to a particular food may cause symptoms of ADHD. Experiment by eliminating foods from these food groups then add them back into your diet one by one.  During this process, I recommend taking notes of your concentration, energy, digestion, and sleep before and after eating and you may just find some foods work better for your body and concentration levels than others.

Lifestyle

Quality sleep and healthy lifestyle choices will also impact your ability to focus during the day. Most people need at least eight solid hours of sleep, which means you should begin winding down and turning off the computer, television, or any devices with a blue light at least an hour before bed. Try to steer clear of caffeine, sugar, and alcohol, as these will impact sleep quality too.

 

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Yoga on a stand up paddle board requires a quiet, focused mind…

 

For both children and adults with ADHD, exercise is like medicine. It helps to get rid of excess energy, and in my own experience, I’ve found that exercise is the only time where I can pretty much turn off my mind. Exercise stimulates cognitive thinking and increases levels of dopamine, thus improving levels of concentration for hours after completion. Switching up forms of exercise, and learning new ones, have actually been found to improve organization skills, and when you combine mind-body exercises with a deep mental focus, you may even get more positive results (source: health.com). I have to switch up my exercises just to stay interested, so I like to rotate between pilates, yoga, barre, running, dance, and weight training.

Massage

Like exercise, massage also increases levels of dopamine, which is the hormone lacking in people with ADHD. The benefits of regular massage for people with ADHD have been found to result in more restful sleep, improved mood, improved social function, improved focus, and anger control. If you can’t go out and get a massage regularly, then try giving yourself a massage. You can even incorporate essential oils like lavender, frankincense, or mandarin into your massages for greater results since aromatherapy can also be a powerful tool for aiding in focus and calmness.

Work Breaks

When focusing for long periods of time is a challenge, try breaking up your workload. I’ll set a timer for myself for 20-minute periods where I power through work, followed by a brief break. During this break, I’ll do anything from stretching to browsing Pinterest, but after about five minutes I have to get back into work mode. I find these frequent and shorter work periods actually make me more productive in the long run.

 

Are you or is someone you know struggling with symptoms of ADHD?  Then let’s talk!  I am a Certified Integrative Nutritionist with a background in holistic health who would love to help you.

 

 

 

How to Win the Never-Ending Battle Against Late Night Snacking

Fighting off late night munchies can be a true battle. No matter how big of a dinner you eat, sometimes it’s too difficult to say “no” to snacking before bed.  If you are trying to sleep better or lose weight, avoid eating at least two hours before bedtime. Otherwise the food you eat will store as fat, rather than being processed or burned off (source: Dr. Hyman). If you struggle with late night eating, try these tips to curb bedtime snacking.

1- Eat breakfast. Having breakfast sets the tone for the rest of the day, but not just any breakfast. Having a high protein breakfast will keep you satiated longer and energize you throughout the day. If you eat late, you might not be hungry enough in the morning to get the right breakfast you need to power through your day, so it’s important to break this cycle.

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2% Greek yogurt with fruit, hemp seeds, chia seeds, and bee pollen = lots of protein!

Some of my go-to, protein-packed breakfasts might include chia seed pudding, eggs (with the yolk!), a smoothie with proteins such as almond or peanut butter, chia seeds, hemp seeds, greek yogurt, or protein powder. I also like to add green vegetables to my breakfasts whenever possible. A meal like any of these really gives you the brain power you need, but also keeps your blood sugar levels steady throughout the morning. When my blood sugar levels take a dip, this is when I find myself so starved I’ll reach for anything in sight, no matter how bad it is for me. Eating some protein and healthy fats with every meal really makes a difference in your overall energy and health, versus eating no breakfast or something lacking in nutrition, like cereal or a bagel.

2- Drink water. When we are dehydrated, sometimes our minds will interpret that as hunger. Try drinking water when you feel a late night craving come on before you head to the kitchen for some snacks. I like to infuse my water with cucumber, lemon, fresh herbs, or berries. I find that I can drink much more water when I’ve infused it, especially with my favorite, cucumber.

3-Eat mindfully. Eating too quickly doesn’t give the body enough time to realize it’s full. Practice chewing your food and remember to breathe while eating. The more you chew your food, the more the food is broken down, which means it digests more easily in the stomach. This is a pro tip for weight loss!

4- Turn off the tv and go to bed! It’s really easy to eat mindlessly when eating while watching tv. On occasion, if it’s getting late and I find myself getting hungry again after dinner, I will actually just send myself to bed. If I continue to stay up, then of course I’m going to get a snack to fuel me. Try having that glass of water instead or some warm almond milk or tea, then hit the hay.

5- Identify areas of your life that may be out of balance. Snacking is often triggered by emotions. Think, for example, about the image of a girl (or guy) shoveling ice cream in her mouth after a bad breakup as an example. Whatever the trigger may be, even if it’s just craving dessert after dinner out of habit, try to identify what could be causing you to have unhealthy cravings. This may not even apply to food; it could be some sort of substance abuse too. Think about the quality of all your relationships, career, spiritual practice, finances, home environment, or exercise routine. How satisfied are you in each of these areas of your life? If any aspect of your life is missing or unsatisfactory, it’s possible that this could be causing you stress, which can then lead to late night binge eating or unhealthy habits. Once you’ve identified what’s stressing you out, take measures to make improvements and reduce any stress.

Here is an exercise for you to try to find balance that I use with my clients throughout their program. This is called the Circle of Life (source: Institute for Integrative Nutrition). On the circle there are a number of important categories listed, each one representing a major aspect of life that contributes to overall mental and physical health. Being satisfied in each of these categories is extremely important for living a well-balanced life.

Here’s what to do. Place a dot in each category of the circle. The closer your dot is to the outside of the circle, the more content you are with that area of your life. And the closer your dot is to the inside of the circle represents less satisfaction with that category. When you are done connect all the dots and see what areas of your life need nourishment. If your dots create a perfect circle when connected, then you should be living pretty much stress-free.

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6- Identify your food sensitivities. We are typically allergic or sensitive to the foods we crave the most. For many people this is gluten or dairy. Experiment with an elimination diet, or just try removing these two food groups and/or sugar for a few weeks and see if you feel any improvements. After a few weeks of eliminating certain food groups, gradually add back one food group at a time for a few days to see if any symptoms (maybe even some you weren’t aware of before) return. Other foods that tend to cause sensitivities or allergies are corn, soy, alcohol, sugar, red meat, processed foods, or nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, eggplants, etc).

If you have experimented with these tips and are still finding yourself reaching for the cookies before bed, then replace those temptations with healthier options. I can recommend peanut butter with green apple, chocolate chia seed pudding, roasted salty chickpeas, or black bean brownies.

Please leave other suggestions in the comments below! I’d love to hear from you. If you’re interested in talking about how a health coach can help you eat better and improve your overall health, sign up for a complimentary 50-minute consultation with me!

You Are Invited! Slim Down For Summer and Join Me For A Summer Anti-Inflammation Detox

17327_10204034803084733_8189935535209272625_nWho else wants to feel totally energized, vibrant, and renewed this summer? Who wants to feel the best they’ve ever felt, lose some weight, and think more clearly than ever before? If this speaks to you, then join me this summer for an anti-inflammation detox and elimination diet!

Is a detox right for you? 

• Do you have trouble concentrating and/or staying focused?

• Do you feel tired or lethargic?
• Do you experience frequent colds or flues?
• Do you have joint pain or stiffness?

• Do you get frequent headaches?
• Are you overweight?
• Have you had a change in body odor or taste in your mouth?
• Do you have dark circles under your eyes?
• Does you skin lack luster?
• Do you have acne, eczema, or psoriasis?
• Do you have constipation (less than one bowel movement/day)?

• Do you have gas, bloating, or indigestion?
• Do you look puffy or bloated?
• Do you have high cholesterol or fatty liver disease?

If you answered “yes” to any of the following questions, then consider detoxing!

What is a detox?

A detox removes toxins from the body, almost like a “spring clean” for the soul to renew your inner self. We are exposed to numerous toxins every day, whether it’s through the air we breath, the food we eat, or the products we use. Stress is a very large contributor to inflammation too, and is also responsible for 75-90% of hospital visits.

As a result of all these toxins in our system, our body becomes inflamed. Although inflammation is typically the body’s natural, healthy immune response (think redness, soreness, or swelling), chronic inflammation often flies under the radar, disengaging the inflammation shut-off button. Chronic, low-level inflammation is also known as the “silent killer,” because it develops without pain and research shows it can lead to obesity, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and heart disease among other illnesses.

There are different types of detoxes out there, but I want to focus on the anti-inflammation detox, because reducing levels of inflammation is SO critical for achieving optimum health and avoiding big health problems down the road. This anti-inflammation detox focuses on hormone balance, limiting stress levels, improving sleep, and the elimination diet, which are all important factors that’ll contribute to abundant health and wellbeing. Hormones control everything in our body from the reproductive system to mood, energy levels, sleep, and appearance. All of the sources I previously mentioned that cause inflammation also can cause hormonal imbalances, and create symptoms like irritability, fatigue, inability to lose weight, unhealthy food cravings, and even conditions like diabetes, osteoporosis, or heart disease.

Health Benefits To Expect From This Detox:

  • Improved hormonal balance and fat burning with better liver function.
  • Relief from the effects of harmful excess estrogen (sex hormone).
  • Reduced insulin and less inflammation.
  • Restored serotonin activity and enhanced mood, memory, and focus.
  • Maximized activity of thyroid hormone (energy hormone).
  • Support of the breakdown and clearance of cortisol (stress hormone) from the body.
  • Better appetite control, freedom from cravings, and enhanced fat burning through improved leptin levels.
  • Diminished cellulite.

From this detox you will also learn to identify food sensitivities and allergies, which I will get into more just below.

Detox Details

1. Media Detox

This portion of the detox might be hardest for most. Although you will not need to abstain from media entirely, the more you can power down (especially before bed), the better. This will help greatly to reduce stress levels and improve sleep.

2. Restorative Sleep

Getting quality sleep is extremely important for balancing hormones and reducing inflammation.  It also makes it easier for us to stick with our health goals.

3. Replace home goods, cleaning products, and beauty products with natural, chemical-free products

Although this can be costly, over time I recommend switching out products for natural, chemical-free, or homemade versions to reduce and eliminate toxins. Think about it, over 80,000 industrial chemicals have been developed in the last 80 years, and these chemicals are found in almost every commercial product you use! These chemicals completely disrupt hormone balance and contribute to life-threatening illnesses.

4. Stress Management

Most of us suffer from stress in some way, whether it’s environmental, from food, work-related, relationship-related, personal, or psychological. When stress goes untreated, it suppresses the body’s immune system and ultimately manifests as illness. Stress is also a huge contributor to digestive troubles. Throughout this detox I will be coaching participants on ways to reduce and eliminate stress, since stress also leads to inflammation!

5. The Elimination Diet

It’s hard to pinpoint food allergies or sensitivities, so this part of the detox will help you discover your trigger foods. Over 10 days, we will eliminate some of the most toxic or most commonly allergenic foods from the diet: sugar, processed foods and hydrogenated oils, alcohol, caffeine, corn, dairy, cigarettes, red meats, citrus fruit, peanuts, night shade vegetables, and gluten.

Don’t freak out. You may be thinking “well what’s left for me to eat?,” but that’s where I step in.  Not only will I be coaching you through this process, but I will also set up a support system with the rest of the group members. I will provide you with delicious recipes, meal plans, and whole food education, and don’t forget, I will be joining you for this detox too!

After the ten days of the elimination diet, then the real work starts. Over the course of about three weeks you will begin to reintroduce one food at a time back to your diet. Introduce a food, see how you feel after eating it for two days, then eliminate that food again and start with a new food for two days. This process repeats itself until you’ve tested out all types of inflammatory foods.

The great thing about this detox is that you will feel so much better afterwards that it’ll be easier to incorporate this type of eating on your own.  You’ll be resetting and refreshing your body, so you may even notice that you might not even crave some of the foods you used to crave before, making healthy eating way more convenient!

What You’ll Get With This Detox

For $50.00 (USD), you will receive health coaching, group support, recipes, meal plans, and tips to set yourself up for lasting health improvements!  My health coaching services are normally triple this rate, so take advantage of this opportunity!

Here is what to expect:

-the anti-inflammation overview packet

  • information I’ve compiled about the detox
  • detox Q & A
  • list of foods to eliminate
  • list of foods to include
  • types of activities to include

-tips and tricks that’ll help with the detox, but will also help you after the detox

  • stress management techniques
  • whole food education
  • identifying and deconstructing cravings
  • group health coaching with check ins a couple times a week
  • helpful tips to help you through the detox

-recipes and meal plan

  • a sample meal plan for 10 days
  • recipes for every meal

-group support

  • access to a Facebook support group with other members
  • a partner to share triumphs and set backs with and to have as an accountability coach
  • I’ll be regularly posting tips and tricks here to help with the detox

-unlimited email support with me

  • I’ll be available to answer any questions via email

Join Me!

If this detox speaks to you, then please write me an email so I’ll have your contact information!  This detox will begin the week of July 13, 2015, but it is important to give yourself at least a week leading up to the beginning of the detox to get yourself ready!

You can reach me via email at jessicakhealth@gmail.com and don’t forget to visit my website and sign up for my newsletter www.jkhealthcoach.com.