Raising my children on a vegan diet requires a lot of attention to ensuring they receive the nutritional benefits they need to grow and develop. This includes not only essential vitamins and proteins, but also healthy fats, which are an indispensable food group for growing children.
As much as 70% of the human brain is made up of fat, therefore limiting a child’s healthy fat intake could deprive them of essential nutrients that they need to develop important cognitive skills. For example, many low fat diets are deficient in zinc, which is essential for proper functioning of the immune system, and vitamin E, an important antioxidant to fight against disease.
It is important to understand the differences between the different types of fat.
  1. Unsaturated fats (good fats) are often marketed as found in fish, but they are also prevalent in many Okang based foods. They include monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and omega-3 fatty acids.
  2. Saturated fats are found in larger amounts in many meat and animal products, including butter, shortening, lard, cheese and milk. Saturated fats co hands in high amounts can lead to high cholesterol and risk for heart disease.
  3. Tran saturated fats, found in snack foods, baked goods and other foods with artificial ingredients, are created hydrogen atoms are added to the fat molecule in a vegetable oil so they remain solid at room temperature. These types of fats not only also increase risk for heart disease and high blood pressure, they aren’t even natural!
Not all fats are created equal. Healthy fats serve a variety of purposes, from absorbing vitamins A. D, E & K, to insulating nervous system tissues to supplying the building blocks of hormones and aiding in satiation, which makes one less likely to overeat.
Healthy fats can be used not only to supply energy and promote the absorption and metabolism of some nutrients, but they are also useful for building membranes around every cell in the body and assist in the formation of hormones.
Just as important as it is for children to consume a diet rich in healthy fats is that they abstain from the wrong types of fats which have the ability to predispose them to inflammatory conditions, infections and learning disorders.
The good fats can be summed up as Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s) and are essential to a normal immune system and nervous system function. The reason EFA’s are essential is that we need them but our bodies do not produce them naturally. The risks associated with an EFA deficiency include asthma, eczema, hair loss, kidney or liver degeneration, susceptibility to infections, growth retardation and vision problems.
There are a variety of oils, avocados, nuts and seeds which provide the healthy fats that assist in a child’s growth and development.
Common sources of healthy fats come from seeds, nuts, healthy fruits and legumes.
Here are 20 healthy fat sources that are kid friendly and very versatile!:
  1. Avocado/ 234 calories per cup
  2. Chia seeds / 138 calories per oz
  3. Coconut oil / 117 calories per Tbsp
  4. Tofu / 76 calories per 100 grams
  5. Walnuts / 523 calories per cup
  6. Sunflower seeds / 24 grams per cup
  7. Soybeans / 440 calories per 100 g
  8. Pecans / 20 g per 196 calories
  9. Almonds / 45 g per cup
  10. Olive oil / 14 g per tpsp
  11. Flaxseed / 3 g per tbsp
  12. Edamame / 8 g per cup
  13. Peanut butter / 9 g per cup
  14. Cashews / 12 g per oz

The topic of whether video gaming has positive or negative effects on childrens’ brains has long been debated, and with evidence supporting both sides, it has become a complex issue. I argue, however, that the harm in exposing your children to video games indeed outweighs the benefits. This is one more reason why I am raising my children to be 100% free of technology as a source of entertainment.

Alongside Selfitis, which is the addiction to taking selfies and posting them, Video Gaming Addiction debuted in this year’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as a legitimate and diagnosable mental disease.

The results of various studies indicate that video gaming changes the function and structure of the neural reward system. This is a system of neural structures which are responsible for what is called “incentive salience,” otherwise explained as a motivation or craving for a reward. It is often affiliated with various forms of dependency and addiction.

In a study conducted by the Université de Montréal, researchers had 100 people play popular games such as Call of Duty, Killzone, Borderlands 2 and 3D Super Mario for 90 hours straight. They discovered a trend in the brain’s caudete nucleus, which is an area that drives the brain’s reward system and habit formation, wherein exposure to the video games was associated with a decrease in grey matter in the hippocampus region, an area associated with spatial and episodic memories. Reduced grey matter has been associated with increased risk for brain illnesses such as depression, schizophrenia, PTSD and Alzheimer’s disease.

To put it very plainly, the studies around video gaming and it’s affects on children’s’ brains yield that gaming leads to an increased dependency on simple rewards rather than on more meaningful rewards such as positive memories that can be drawn from the grey matter in the brain’s hippocampus.

85% of the gamers in the Montreal study were found to be relying more heavily on the reward system created by the caudete nucleus than on those created by the grey matter in the hippocampus. Another term for these types of the participants is “response learners.”

This increased reliance on response learning systems and its correlation with decreased reliance on grey matter – an area involved in muscle control and sensory perception, such as seeing and hearing, memory, emotions, speech, decision-making and self control – is something that we should observe as parents.

If we keep our children contented with simple rewards via response learning activities like gaming, how is that setting them up to be motivated to dig deeper in order to find more meaningful rewards that come from being in touch with their sensory perceptions? It doesn’t.

I want my children to grow up knowing how to draw true joy from their memories and relationships, rather than to rely on artificial forms of happiness associated with response learning activities such as playing video games.

I want Adoniah and Kosta to be grounded in the story that they tell themselves about themselves and their lives. Those skill sets are developed in the grey matter regions of the brain that seem to get muted during activities such as playing video games.

There’s a saying about a frog being in hot water – if you put a frog in boiling water it will immediately jump out, but if you put a frog in lukewarm water and slowly turn the temperature up, you can cook it alive.

You may not see the harms of exposing your children to video games right away, but if the activity persists, you can be sure that harm is being done over time.

These popular algae that are found in fresh water have become the most researched and most talked about super foods on the planet. I am referring to Spirulina and Chlorella who are by the way cousins with the same grandparents.  These super foods contain all the vital nutrients that are essential to maintain good health and to fight and eliminate deadly diseases as well.

Most of their dietary components are, carbohydrates, omega-3 fatty acids, the best source of protein in the universe, antioxidants, minerals and vitamins, just to mention as few. Here are the nutritional benefits of Spirulina and Chlorella:

They Help to Treat Diabetes

Consuming lots of chlorella and spirulina in our diet helps to reduce the level of blood sugars in the body. This is a feature contained in these super foods that provides a means of treating diabetes, through the nutrients provided.  In a 2009 study carried out by the Nutrition Research and Practice, a group of rats which had the sickness called diabetes were given chlorella to eat. After that, it was observed that there was a significant reduction in the level of blood sugar in the blood.

This showed that Chlorella when taken can directly reduce the blood sugar level of the body. For Spirulina the case was different, when ingested, there was a significant reduction in the level of lipids in the body. It also significantly lowered the level of oxidative stress experienced by the body. Spirulina was also seen to strengthen the immune system of the body.

All the features of the benefits of this green algae goes to show that like chlorella is it very important also in the treatment of diabetes. This is because all the conditions handled has significant effect to the eradication of diabetes from the body.

They Help to Treat Hypertension

Those that already have the already have the disease condition of hypertension, do not need an increase in their cholesterol level as that will make the condition worsen. A state like this can lead to more dangerous conditions like heart attack and other dangerous ills. So, the cholesterol level of the patient suffering from hypertension has a lot to do with the severity or reduction of the ailment.

The use of Spirulina as treatment for hypertensive patients shows a drastic reduction in the level of the unhealthy cholesterol in the body. It is also effective in the lowering of the blood pressure of all patients with this disease condition. Therefore, spirulina is very useful in the treatment of hypertension and it also lowers the unhealthy cholesterol in the body.

Helps in the Treatment of Cancer

Cancer can be otherwise known as the inequality in the activities that manages the process of the growth of tumor and sudden death to cells. The process that prevents sudden death to cells called apoptosis is a good process of protection that the immune system offers to stop the destructive effects of cells like cancer cells whose mission is to destroy the good cells in the body.

So, when the process of apoptosis is increased in the body, then more cancer cells are inhibited in their destructive activities and the good cells within that region are keep alive. And all of this can be achieved by strengthening the immune system as well as instigate the actions of apoptosis healthily within the body system. When those with cancer ingest chlorella, it is has a positive impact of causing apoptosis to begin in the body.

That means there will be an instant inhibition to the destructive of cancer cells activities within the cancer infected organ. This process will stop the sudden death of healthy cells within that organ. The observed effect is prevalent in its use for liver cancer conditions. It can also prove to be effective in other cancer related ailments.

Helps to Treat Fibromyalgia

This disease condition called Fibromyalgia is accompanied by an all-round body pains that affects about 11 different soft spots of the body out of the 18 that exists. It has an undisclosed source that has never been found. The symptoms that go with the health problems are constant headaches, tiredness, severe muscle pain, and sleeplessness. When chlorella was administered to patients suffering from fibromyalgia there was a significant change. Sun chlorella and wakasa chlorella produced an impactful treatment to the ailment when ingested.

It Promotes Weight Loss

For all those desiring to lose weight, Chlorella is very effective for that purpose. When ingested, it will significantly reduce the fat levels of your body thereby promoting weight loss. Apart from reduction in the level of body fat, this green algae can effectively reduce the levels of cholesterol and blood sugar levels in the body as well. So, when you use it as a weight loss therapy, it will provide other great benefits to your total body health as well.

The toxins that are freed into the body during the process of weight loss will be combated by the detoxifying activities of chlorella in the body also. This is because; chlorella is a good detoxifying agent when ingested into the body. This is does by tightly surrounding the toxins in the body suffocating them and inhibiting its absorption into the body.

When to enroll your children in Music and Dance Lessons?
This year I started my little one, Kosta, in piano lessons with his sister, Adoniah. Adoniah, at age 4, is also taking classical ballet lessons.
With dance, some days Adoniah has more fun than others, but she always feels so good afterwards and has a great day, and when she has a good day at dance, it is a really good day!
With piano lessons, both of my kids enjoy it and like to practice what they learn on our piano at home!
As parents we find ourselves asking, when is the best age for my kids to start recreational activities such as dance, music lessons or sports?
We want them to participate in activities that interest them, yet we don’t want to push it onto them, because we want them to truly enjoy the activity and not just do it to please us. Then again, sometimes you have to take that first step and get them started to give them the chance to develop an interest in the activity.
Some kids know what they like right away and their interest is obvious in the choices they make during playtime. Other kids develop an interest in a discipline over time with dedicated practice.
Some kids bear natural talent for a discipline yet they do not have a desire to practice it, while others have an interest in something that they aren’t naturally talented in and have to work to attain it over time.
When to enroll your children in music lessons?
When it comes to music, there are programs you can enroll your children in to see if they’re interested in music, such as Simply Music, Suzuki, Kodály or Hoffman Academy. If you are thinking of starting your children in piano lessons, there are a few things to consider that can help you decide if they are ready:
  1. Hand size – once their hand grows to a size where they can set them on four to five adjacent keys, they should be able to play most of the notes. However, even if you get them started, just the experience of them seeing a piano being played, up close and paying attention to the sounds that are coming out, this lays a good foundation for them and gets them started with understanding music concepts such as rhythm and pitch.
  1. Finger Independence – As your child is developing their sensory motor skills, a good thing to practice with them us moving one finger at a time. You can hold up a hand and have them copy you. Show them how to wiggle one finger without moving the others. This game can end up being a lot of fun! Once they learn how to move one finger without moving the others, they can apply that motor skill to playing the piano.
  1. Desire and interest – the last thing you want is to sign your child up for a program only to reach the point of a power struggle due to them finding themselves disinterested in it part of the way through. It is important to gauge their level of interest early on, that way you can find out if they truly want to, say, learn the piano, or maybe they’re more interested in a different instrument? With Adoniah and Kosta, we have a piano in the living room that they love to play on. I can tell that they’re excited when we wake up in the morning and they know we have piano class that day. Adoniah loves to talk about her dance class, as well as dress up in tutus and play “dance class” when we’re at home. The outfits are prone to becoming some of your daughter’s favorite things when you enroll her in dance, and it’s adorable to watch!

 

When to enroll your children in dance?
When it comes to dance class, the best age to get your kids started is three, according to Debbie Morris, dancer, mother and kindergarten teacher, in an interview with Dance Academy USA.
Morris, a professional dancer until age 25, when she became a mother, touts the benefits of starting your kids in dance as including improved literacy, memory and patience. She said three is the perfect age because by then, children are typically fully potty trained and experienced in group situations where they are used to taking direction from someone else.
My kids have experience with Sabbath School and do well in those group settings, so I wasn’t worried about starting Adoniah in dance last year, and since then, she’s really blossomed in confidence and expressing herself with dance.
I can see the benefits dance brings to Adoniah. In dance class, kids learn to concentrate on an instruction, which causes them to think about what to do and where to go. These same skills are useful for promoting literacy and problem solving skills. I can see dance aiding in Adoniah’s already above average maturity level in a way that is so rewarding for me as a mother to witness!
Lastly and most importantly is that dance helps instill patience in kids. As they are learning new skills, they may not get it on their first attempt, and they have to learn to develop patience to persevere and practice until they get it right. Adoniah is naturally pretty competitive with herself. She tends to be a perfectionist and always sees room for growth and improvement, whether it’s planning a tea party or selecting an outfit for her Barbies! Dance is no exception, so it’s been a great discipline for her to practice patience with herself as she learns new skills that may or may not come easy at first.

A child imagines everything whether it is a unicorn, a spaceship or a dinosaur. Children have vivid imagination full of creativity and curiosity and our job is to nurture and foster their imagination rather than discouraging it. Studies have shown us that there is a strong connection between a child’s imagination and his cognitive abilities. Strong imagination helps in developing a child’s social skills, decision making skills, confidence and independence. A child with good imagination is more likely to be happier and alert, cope with different situations and grow to be a secure and independent adult. But, sometimes, we as parents do not find time from our busy schedule to nurture and appreciate our children’s imagination. Our schools also don’t focus much on this specific need of children. So how can we foster our children’s imagination? In this blog, I’ll share some methods to engage and have fun with our children, fostering their wildest imaginations along the way.

  1. Build an imagination tub

We can encourage our children and foster their imagination using a number of methods. We can allocate a tub for the children and fill it up with things like pencils, colors, books, glue, buttons, paint and anything which we can spare in the house. This will be their “go to” box whenever they feel like having fun in the imagination tub. This will encourage them to imagine, draw and build whatever they can think of. We can also put toys and other stuff in the tub which children like to play with.

  1. Wacky photos

Another way to foster kid’s imagination is to create wacky photos with them. We can pull photos which are resting in drawers and albums and let your kids cut them how they want. Let them cut the hair, face and clothes out of these photos and then put them together how they like. We should provide them with cardboards, color charts, paints, pencils and glues etc. and let them create new fantasy pictures and new people using these cuts.

  1. Turn off television and video games

We make the mistake of giving our children computers and x-box as gifts to play and have fun with. We do not know these games limit their imaginations and immerse them in a new world. Children have their own natural way of imagining different things and when they spend all of their time in front of TV or computer, their creativity is taken over by some game which limits their imaginations.

  1. Spend time playing outside

Children are very energetic and love to have fun while doing physical activities. While they are playing outside, their imagination is at the highest levels. While playing with sticks, leaves, plants and pebbles, they create a world of their own and also be physically active. We should definitely make some time to take kids outside for playing and having fun. I try to get my kids outside for at least 2 hours a day.

  1. Art tales

Another way to foster our kid’s imagination is to visit a museum. While visiting the museum, we should encourage our kids to look at different pictures and tell stories about his favorite picture or art. We should be supporting and open-minded which will immensely improve their imaginations.

  1. Let your kids be bored

Bombarding your kids all the time with stuff is also not healthy for them. Instead, we should take some time to let them rest and be bored. When the kids are bored, their imagination kicks in and there is no better way to nurture while they are calm and have nothing to do expect imagine. This is the best time for us to help them imagine and foster their imaginations.

  1. Build up some drama

We don’t have to be amazing actors or directors in order to have a little fun and build up some drama. We should take some time to dress up the kids or give them a cupboard of old clothes and different accessories and dress them up as different characters. After that, give them a name or a scene from a story and let them be in the scene. We could have conversations with them and asks questions while they are in character. I also have ballet performances with my daughter Adoniah. We turn on classical ballet music and we dance until we fall over.

  1. Build tiny worlds

Building a small world is fun and the fun is doubled when doing it with kids. We can encourage our kids to build small worlds using their imagination. In this way, they will think freely and create small worlds while having fun. This will greatly foster our kid’s imagination while we are with them having fun.

 

Fostering our kid’s imagination is extremely important if we want them to be independent and perform creative activities. The technological gadgets are snatching our children’s imagination. Instead of giving the video games to play, we should do creative and fun stuff with them to ensure they have a strong imagination and decision making skills. This will help them perform better in every step of the life.

Cow’s milk has long been the go-to source for calcium in our society, to the detriment of our health. This shows up in a variety of ways such as broken bones or bone loss, higher susceptibility to prostate or ovarian cancer, lactose intolerance, acne, milk allergies, saturated fat and weight gain, according to the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
Luckily, there is a large variety of alternatives to cow’s milk on the market today, which is not only beneficial for maintaining a vegan diet, but also for those who experience any of the negative symptoms associated with milk consumption. They are all symptoms of the root problem, which is that cow’s milk was not intended for us as humans to consume.
Human beings are the only species on earth that drink the milk of another animal besides itself. Cow’s milk contains ingredients suitable to the needs of a baby calf who has four stomachs and gains hundreds of pounds in a matter of months. The milk is intended to help them reach a weight goal of more than 1,000 pounds before they are two years old.
Not only are we ingesting milk that is not intended for humans when we consume dairy milk, but to make matters worse, cow’s milk is injected with hormones that are marketed to farmers who want to grow them faster and increase their profits at the expense of the very consumers who keep them in business.
It is truly corrupt how much the food industry is driven by motives that do not serve the best interests of the end user in any way whatsoever. Far from the altruism that is rooted in the objectives driving the vegan health movement, the mainstream food industry is sadly built solely upon the values of profit and productivity.
One of the growth hormones that is marketed to dairy farmers is called the Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone, otherwise known as rBGH. Though it was permitted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1993, it remains illegal in the European Union, Canada and several other countries. The natural version of this growth hormone is made by the pituitary gland and is useful for promoting growth and cell replication. The health concerns associated with this growth hormone revolve around questions regarding the chain effects which could lead to cancer and the potential implications of excess creation of antibiotic-registrant bacteria, among others.
It’s is painfully clear that the dairy industry is not a benevolent one, and we should all make the decision to swap dairy milk for one of the wide variety of healthy vegan alternatives. Here are a few of the more popular types you’ll find at your local grocery store, as well as one that I personally vouch for.
Soy milk, created by processing soy beans with water, varies greatly in density and creaminess, and comes in different flavors, such as light, vanilla and chocolate.
Oat milk is high in nutritional value and is created by pre-soaking the grains in water and straining the concoction carefully. It generally has a sweet taste and a thick consistency.
Rice milk is prepared using brown rice grains and comes out thin and light. It is also made available in a vanilla flavor at most major grocery stores.
Almond milk is also light but it has the signature nutty flavor of almonds and contains a high nutritional value, which makes it a popular milk substitute even outside of the vegan community. It is made by pulverizing soaked almonds, thoroughly. In my upcoming cookbook, I feature a homemade almond milk that is delicious!
Coconut milk is another popular and highly nutritious milk substitute that is prepared by grating the meaty flesh of ripe coconuts and then extracting the concoction. The consistency varies in thickness depending on how it is prepared, but it always has that signature coconut flavor which makes it great for using as a cooking ingredient.
Cashew milk is a very tasty and highly satisfying blend of water and cashew nuts that comes out as smooth and rich, with a natural hint of vanilla flavor.
Hazelnut milk has a tasty nutty flavor derived from savory hazelnut that makes it a great one to add to this list.
**Banana milk is a great stand in for those who either have a nut allergy or want to avoid soy in the more common versions of non-dairy milk that you’ll find on the market, as well as for those who want to make something easy and inexpensive. To boot, it’s highly nutritious as well as delicious! I recently made it for my kids and they agreed. Adoniah liked it and Kosta LOVED it. It is made by blending water and bananas, and it tastes like blended bananas. I think that if someone was potassium deficient, this would be a great way to get extra bananas. I think next time I try it I’ll use almond milk instead of water. It would make it more creamy.

            Energy drinks have gained a lot of popularity since they were first introduced in the market. I’m sure everyone has consumed at least one energy drink including myself. In fact, I have known people to consume a lot of them on a daily basis but when they heard about the dangerous side effect they have on our health, they stopped drinking them altogether. At first, energy drinks were not known to have to many side effects and it was everyone’s perception that they give us energy to do anything and everything. This was due to the fact that there was not much data was available to understand the bad effects they have on our health.

Why are they bad for us?

            Energy drinks work just like an addictive drug and their continuous use can have adverse effects on our health. It is advised by some experts and doctors to not use them at all. Here, I am going to tell you why energy drinks are so bad for our health.

  • Too much caffeine – Energy drinks contain too much caffeine in them which is bad for human health and their regular use can destroy our health. I have experienced it as the boost we get after consuming these drinks, comes mainly from high doses of caffeine. Some people who are sensitive to caffeine, can put themselves at risk even after consuming some amount of these energy drinks.
  • Headaches and migraines – Energy drinks can give us severe headaches and migraines when the withdrawal of high doses of caffeine start from our body.
  • Insomnia – Energy drinks perform a good job of keeping us awake but if we continuously abuse them, they can cause some of us to miss sleep altogether. We all know the importance of sleep to perform our daily functions which is why these drinks should be eliminated from our lifestyles.
  • Drug Interactions – Some of the ingredients present in energy drinks can interact with prescribed medication and cause severe damage to anyone who is taking medication.
  • Addiction – When we start drinking energy drinks, little do we know that they can cause addiction. This can result in stress and lack of performance when we are not drinking them.
  • Risky behavior – Studies have shown that teens are more likely to take dangerous risks while they are high on caffeine. This can lead to some serious injuries which is why we should not encourage teens to consume these drinks.
  • Allergic reactions – As there are a number of ingredients in these drinks, we never know if any of them could cause allergic reaction in any one of us.
  • Niacin overdose – All of the energy drinks contain Niacin (Vitamin B3) in them at levels which is not harmful for us. But, if anyone is taking Niacin supplements or Niacin rich foods already, consuming energy drinks could cause an overdose of Niacin which could lead to serious damage to the body.
  • High blood pressure – Energy drinks increase our blood pressure due to the high caffeine present in them. It is not a serious issue for someone whose blood pressure is normal but if someone among us is suffering from high blood pressure already, consuming energy drinks could place them at the risk of stroke. Not to mention other health related issues such as hypertension.
  • High Sugar intake – One energy drink could be hiding more than TWO DAYS worth of sugar in one 500ml can. Some 78 per cent of energy drinks still exceed the maximum daily recommendation of sugar for children, despite calls for sugar levels to be reduced. This is so dangerous no matter what age you are!

What do they do to your body short term and long term?

            Energy drinks can have short term as well as long term effects on our bodies which we do not realize. In fact in USA and Australia, where the consumption of energy drinks is much more than other countries, the increasing number of emergency visits is linked to consumption of energy drinks. The short term effects which they have on our bodies are insomnia, increased heart rate, palpitations, headaches, and seizures. Whereas, the long term problems to our bodies caused by over-consumption of energy drinks include diabetes, tooth decay and obesity.

Suggestions to give up energy drinks

            As we have discussed energy drinks and potential damages which are caused to our bodies by these drinks. I am going to give some tips and suggestions on how we can eradicate the habit of consuming these drinks totally.

  • Getting mentally ready – If we want to quit energy drinks, the first step is to get mentally ready for it. If we have a strong mindset and determination, we will be able to fight the craving for caffeine.
  • Replacement drink – Another tip which can work for us is to have a replacement drink for energy drink. In fact, replacing energy drinks with water will immensely help us to get off of these drinks.
  • Get some support – If we decide to quit these drinks all by ourselves, it can be a little hard for some people. Instead, we should have someone to talk to, and support us during the process of caffeine withdrawal.

You can always reach out to me in the comment section of this blog for support! I’m here for you and I totally support your decision of giving up energy drinks!