What your doctor DOESN’T tell you about eczema

Eczema is one of the body’s last cries for help.  It is desperately trying to expel toxins from the body, that it has not been able to do so through other means.  It is related to chronic inflammation of the gut and liver and has much less to do with dry weather and ‘thin skin’ than most fact sheets let on.

So what could be causing it?  A food that the body does not digest well will certainly have the body in turmoil.  A food sensitivity will tend to produce inflammation inside the body and may present as either an allergic reaction or simply nothing external, at first glance. The body may try to cope with this inflammation via eczema, particularly if the liver is functioning poorly.

Chemicals are another cause of eczema.  This may be from external contact such as soaps, chlorine and detergents and also sunscreen.  It may also be from chemicals that the digestive system is exposed to, such as non-organic foods, food additives and even overuse of medications such as steroid creams and antibiotics.  Yes, the very products doctors are prescribing to ‘bandaid’ the effects of eczema!

Besides food and chemicals, stress can be another cause.  Elevated cortisol in the body can literally produce holes in the intestinal lining, allowing undigested food, yeast and other toxins through, again producing inflammation in the body.

What can I do about eczema?  If you aim to get to the root of the problem, try not to turn immediately to steroid creams and ‘dry skin’ products like QV bath oil or Alpha Keri Wash.  These ‘dry skin’ products are still made by pharmaceutical companies, with less-than-natural ingredients such as paraffin, petroleum jelly and parabens (known carcinogens), sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS – a dangerous chemical), triclosan (a pesticide) and a host of other chemicals.

The more detoxifying your child’s body has to do, the more their liver is overloaded and the more likely their body will be forced to excrete these wastes through the skin, as eczema.

To be proactive, you will need to consider either first removing potential culprit foods, at least for an elimination test or turning to natural products, to reduce the body’s toxic load from chemicals.  In the meantime, consuming Omega 3 and 6 oils, in the form of say fish/krill oil, flaxseed/linseed oil, avocado, cold-pressed olive oil and organic nuts such as walnuts are extremely important for those suffering from eczema.  Probiotics, to support gut health, have also shown great improvement.

What are the best natural skin products?  Coconut oil is the best product you can use!  It can be used as a soap, a moisturiser, an antifungal/viral/microbial first aid cream and a bath oil.  It is even an ideal toothpaste (Natural toothpaste recipe) as it kills off the germs and remineralises teeth at the same time.

image : coconutoilbenefits.com.au

image : coconutoilbenefits.com.au

Natural sunscreens do exist.  You just need to visit your local health food store to find them.  Interestingly, studies have shown how sunlight can improve eczema.

How do I determine the culprit food?  This is a tricky one as eczema may not show up immediately after consuming an inflaming food.  Go with your gut.  What foods do you think are the worst offenders for your child?  Start by doing a 3 week elimination test of this food group and then watching closely as you introduce it back in.  Once the body has had a break from this irritating food, it will gain strength and give a much clearer signal of distress when you add it back in.

For those wanting less guesswork, you can seek out an IgG blood test to determine foods your child may be intolerant to, an IgE skin prick test to look at allergies, or using kinesiology to test how the body copes with the main allergens, with simple, pain-free muscle testing.

Is it easier to just ‘bandaid’ the cause?  Initially, it definitely seems easier to ignore eczema by using creams and dry skin products.  It is easy to blame the weather or put it down to ‘no known cause’.  However, eczema visible to our eyes means chronic inflammation on the inside of the body.  Research is showing chronic inflammation is the start of all diseases and even cancer, later in life.  It is linked to auto-immune disorders such as asthma, ADHD, autism, Alzheimer’s, neurological diseases, arthritis and also linked to obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

Eczema will come back to bite harder later in life.  A few simple steps such as adding in Omega 3 oils, probiotics and replacing coconut oil with many chemicals, will significantly reduce your child’s chances of living with eczema.  Looking into removing culprit foods will improve their chances even more.  And chances are, you’ll improve your whole family’s health at the same time.

🙂 Heidi

Fish nuggets, avo and sneaky coleslaw

An easy gluten-, dairy-, soy-, corn-, yeast-, grain-, additive-free, ‘Paleo’ dinner that ANYONE would love!  And introducing Master2 to coleslaw…. This is how it went.

FISH NUGGETS
Toss cut up, fresh fish pieces in egg then coat in:
– coconut flour
– turmeric
– salt/pepper

Adults can join in too!

Adults can join in too!


(Turmeric has so many superpowers including reducing inflammation, not to mention it gives the nuggets a great golden colour).

Fry in coconut oil at medium heat – to avoid processed vegetable oils or using olive oil which goes rancid at high heat (& not good for our health).  Keep your olive oil for when you’re not heating it, such as the mayo…

Our Thermomix is a saving grace at making homemade mayonnaise and coleslaw.  This way we avoid additives, sugar, gluten and other not-so-desirable ingredients in store-bought mayonnaise.  Of course, if you don’t have a Thermomix and can’t fathom making mayonnaise, compare ingredient labels to find one with few ingredients.

As you can see, I’ve provided plenty of fish, some avocado for good fats that will also fill Master2 up and THE SAMPLER of coleslaw.
As he’s never seen it before (that he can remember), I reduced expectations to even eat ANY and put out enough just for experimentation.
He wasn’t keen when it stuck to his avocado, although that was my plan.  However, we distracted him to focus on his fish.  By the time he was stabbing his avocado (with help from Dad), he unwittingly ate some.  No chance of a full scoop, but I’ll take some in the mouth a win!!!

We had ours with a pile of cherry tomatoes too.  That’s a challenge for both boys on another night!

I’m sure others are up for some yummy, easy toddler meals.  Go ahead and share your go-to one

🙂 Heidi

How can our family’s health story help your family?

A little update on the ‘saving my family’s health’ tale with some ways to spot whether you or your children are also as sensitive. The end is getting happier for us 😀

Today I am thankful to have my son’s brain working so much better than it ever has.  Many of you have seen how I have been on a journey with Master4, initially to eradicate his ECZEMA without the nasty creams, then to reduce his ‘brain inflammation’ (aka ADHD), then to improve his nutritional health and get rid of the DARK CIRCLES under his eyes and consequently, we got rid of his SLEEP APNOEA, improved his SLEEP out of sight, stopped the BEDWETTING and improved his IMMUNITY.  It sounds quite extreme but we have had to remove gluten, dairy, soy, yeast, corn, sugar, some grains (such as white and brown rice), some fruits/veges (such as kiwi fruit and capsicum) and of course all food additives.  We have also removed chemicals by way of many non-organic foods, soaps, sunscreen and regular toothpaste.

Yes Master4 is very sensitive!  Master2 and I are also as sensitive.  But instead this has made our family take on more of a NUTRITARIAN diet.  Making everything we put in our mouths be filled with nutrients instead of foods that do nothing for our health (many of those above) and it is still very much a work in progress!  And through thinking outside the box, I do manage to fill their lunchboxes each day 🙂 although I have spilt tears at making lunches some days!

After studying him closely, I’ve realised just one mouthful of gluten will inflame Master4’s brain for four weeks.  Four weeks of STRESS for the whole family.

Master4 flies off the handle at what feels like every minute of his day.  His brain can’t process language as well so you can’t talk him through his experiences.  He has little empathy for others which makes interactions with his brother harder.  He has no ability to direct himself to play nor much motivation.  He is more aggressive and shows less eye contact. He has about a 2second window to give an instruction or explain something.  I am forever saying ‘look at me, look at me, listen, LISTEN!’ His world is one big ‘gluten hangover’ (and what appears as Asperger’s Syndrome) and so we hold our breath and wait it out….

Last week, Master4 came out of yet another gluten hangover (from sampling a child’s Tiny Teddy at kindy). Can you hear our HALLELUJAH’s??!  He is now much more easy going, is smiling, plays imaginatively for hours, shares and thinks (a little bit!) about his brother, comes up with brilliant ideas, draws amazingly and can actually listen and be reasoned with.

This is the reason I have realised my life’s goal is to ‘save’ more families from scenarios like this and to improve children’s potential through health and well being.  All with diet and environment, not medications or putting up with it.  Right now, spare minutes are filled with me studying and organizing business logistics.

I hope everyone will benefit from some of the information I will soon have to share, after all who doesn’t count their family’s health as their #1 priority?  It is not easy but once you have seen the difference, you will never go back.

I am looking to start my health coaching business next year, but in the meantime, if you’d like any advice, please let me know.  Or if you know anyone that may need some direction, point them in my direction 🙂 Heidi

Coconut yoghurt

Who could say no to some coconut yoghurt?

Here are some benefits:

  • Coconut milk is a healthy and filling ‘good fat’.  Good fats are so important for brains, particularly children’s developing ones.
  • Probiotics in a food that you have fermented (unlike store bought products), are likely to have far more live cultures and are more likely to actually colonise your gut, instead of doing their job and then passing through.  My post Why your children’s gut health will determine their health both now and in the future will give you more information on why you should be looking at your family’s gut health.
  • A dairy-free option avoids the issues of dairy milk – inflammation, mucous-forming, unwanted hormones and antibiotics and not to mention the many dairy and lactose-intolerances that children are suffering from these days (many who don’t know it).  Eczema, erratic behaviour, ear infections and issues with tonsils/adenoids/sleep apnoea are just some of the signs that going dairy-free for a little bit might be a good test.
  • The price!  Make it for a fraction of the price of store-bought coconut yoghurt.

There are many, many recipes around for coconut yoghurt.  I have fine tuned this one to make it very simple.  If you have the time and resources, go for your life and make the coconut milk from scratch.  Otherwise, be sure to look for coconut cream (coconut milk or reduced fat coconut milk just has more water added) and one that has few extra ingredients.  Remember, there are so many varying factors; the quality and number of probiotics,  the source of the probiotics, the amount of coconut cream in the can and the weather.

If you treat this as a fun, tasty, cheap and healthy science experiment, you will have no worries!

tangy coconut yoghurt

Let’s get to it.

Your ingredients & equipment

  • 2 cans coconut cream.
  • 3 teaspoons dairy-free probiotic powder (we use Kids Inner Health Plus).  Make sure you get one that has at least 25 billion live cultures.  Another option might be to buy coconut yoghurt and use two ‘small’ tablespoons as your starter.
  • A clean glass jar big enough to hold the coconut cream.
  • Oven with a working light (check yours can be flicked on without the heat).  Another option might be to warm tea towels, wrap them around your glass jar and ferment in an esky.
perfect with passionfruit

perfect with passionfruit

Steps to heaven in a mouthful!

  1. Put both cans of coconut cream in your fridge (or freezer if you’re in a hurry) for an hour or so.  In winter, you may not need to do this.
  2. Scoop out the solid coconut cream into a large glass jar.  Add enough of the remaining coconut water to it to achieve your desired consistency of yoghurt, remembering it will become a bit more solid once refrigerated.  Keep the coconut water to drink, use or thin out yoghurt that might end up too thick later on.
  3. Think about whether your oven will be free for 24 hours.  If not, put your coconut cream aside until it will be.
  4. Add 3 tsp dairy-free probiotic powder or 2 tbs store-purchased coconut yoghurt.  Mix well through the coconut cream.
  5. Place the lid on the jar and put it into your oven with the door closed and with the light on and NO heat.  Trust your oven will keep your yoghurt-to-be at the right temperature even on a really cold night!
  6. Let your yoghurt develop for 24 hours.
  7. Take it out and taste.  Yum!?
  8. Refrigerate.
  9. Go out and buy more coconut milk so you are ready to make more when the first jar is polished off very quickly!
24 hours in the oven

24 hours in the oven

For your next batch…

1. Save 2 tbs yoghurt (you will need to experiment here, depending how many probiotics are in the first batch and how tangy you want the next one) and place into a clean jar.

2. Repeat above process of scooping out coconut cream and adding the coconut water you want for the correct consistency.  This time you will have a better idea of how thick or runny to make it.

3.  Stir and put back in the oven!

Troubleshooting…

  • If you find that your coconut yoghurt doesn’t taste tangy enough, don’t discount the process.  It probably did work, you may just need more probiotics added next time.  Enjoy your coconut ‘yoghurt’ anyway!
  • If your coconut yoghurt is too tangy, open a new can of coconut cream, mix the coconut cream and water together and pour some coconut milk into the yoghurt to reduce the flavour.  But don’t say no to all the wonderful probiotics in your yoghurt!
  • If your coconut yoghurt, once refrigerated, is very hard, add some coconut water to it or open another can and use.
  • Remember, refrigerating your coconut yoghurt stops the fermenting process, leaving it out will allow the fermenting to continue.
  • If you are doing the warm tea towels/esky option, you might need to check it throughout the 24 hours to be sure it isn’t fermenting too quickly and thus ending up too tangy.

I’d love to hear how you go!  Did this inspire you to make your own, delicious coconut yoghurt?  Did it turn out well?

Have you thought about a dairy-free trial to help your children’s health and wellbeing?  Just as important as calcium are magnesium and zinc levels, which all parents should keep a track of for their children, not just on a dairy-free diet.  We use a kinesiologist to monitor all three levels.  The best way we achieve these minerals are through a varied, wholefood diet.

🙂 Heidi

Baking and learning

We love this banana bread!  In fact, we bake it twice a week and use it for any meal (except for dinner..).  It is gluten, dairy, sugar and nut free and even better, it has no preservatives and uses healthy coconut flour and tahini.  The best thing that I would pick about this recipe, is that it is perfect for little ones to help in the preparation.

Being a Speech Pathologist, I will always take an opportunity to throw some language out there.  Here are some of the language-learning opportunities:

  • counting out 8 dates (and the other child can count them as they place them in the bowl)
  • talking about cup or spoon measures – ‘one over two means half a cup’ or ‘see TBL means tablespoon
  • elicit the cooking actions by asking ‘what do we do with this one?’.  You might expect terms such as scoop, measure, peel, grind, pour.
  • and the fun one… make sure you put the bicarb soda in first, then put the lemon juice (or we substitute a good dash of Apple Cider Vinegar when organic lemons aren’t in season) in – ‘FIZZ, BUBBLE….It’s a science experiment!!!’

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And here is the link to the recipe Wholefood Simply Banana Bread.  We substitute cinnamon for carob, for a change and also use Apple Cider Vinegar (with ‘mother’ – healthier) instead of lemon juice when organic lemons are out of season.

And then!!!  We add a banana and some almond milk to the leftover batter in our Thermomix and blend for a banana bread shake!

 

Let me know what you think!  ps – we use the 5 egg recipe (one of the reasons we have now got chooks!).

🙂 Heidi

Cooking with love – pizza

Did you know.. using ‘good intentions’ when cooking, can literally pass ‘love’ (well that energy) onto your food?  I won’t go into quantum science here but even if unsure, everyone loves a meal cooked by someone else!

Hence I encourage the boys to help me prepare some of our meals, with love!  The perfect tool to do this is with a Kiddies Food Kutter safety knife (thanks to Feeding Two Growing Boys blog for spreading the word and yes, go and check out these safety knives to get your little ones helping out too!).  This is a brilliant little knife that is completely blunt to the touch but with a sawing action, will cut through foods such as mushrooms, zucchini and watermelon.  Great for working little hands, Master 3.5 manages to cut the mushrooms into pieces and Master 22 months has fun stabbing his knife through them!  And of course I don’t miss a language-learning opportunity providing words such as ‘back and forward’ and ‘teeth down’ (the knife’s cutting edge).  Oh and not to forget our classical music while we work 🙂

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The boys love to help me cut the mushrooms for our dinner and take their work very seriously, giving me time to prepare the rest of the dinner while I’m waiting!

Due to the boys’ intolerances, we have not had pizza in over a year.  Master nearly 2 didn’t really know what one was!  This is what we put on our gluten-free, dairy-free, preservative-free base (we will make them one day…!).

IMG_8096[1]

  • tomato paste + pesto (lots)
  • chicken
  • cherry tomatoes
  • avocado
  • sweet potato
  • fried mushrooms
  • basil
  • toasted pine nuts, pepitas and sunflower seeds
  • and yes no cheese…!

It was delicious and the boys were happy to eat some pizza, made with love 🙂 Heidi

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Mixing it up at the table

[12 mths+] If you don’t want your child getting ‘stuck’ on the thought of having a particular food every day, the best way to prevent the obsession is to only offer it every second day (or so).

I purposefully only offered this heaven in a mouthful every second night to my two boys or the night I stopped giving it, they would’ve been beside themselves! (if only everyone was happy to ditch dairy yoghurt for this, it might be a tad cheaper…!)

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Daycare friendly pesto

Whether your children are allergic or intolerant to nuts and dairy or your daycare doesn’t allow nuts, it doesn’t mean they can’t have pesto!  AND who wouldn’t want to get their children into eating nutritious basil and pumpkin seeds?

I’m not one to follow a recipe, so when I saw the idea to make pesto on pumpkin seeds (pepitas), I decided to throw my own ingredients into our Thermomix and see what we got 🙂  You can’t go too wrong – I added a bit ‘too much’ lemon juice once but it was nice and tangy and the boys still loved it!  We grow our own basil, so the quantity of the remaining ingredients basically depends on how much basil we pick.  So here is a rough recipe.   

Daycare friendly pesto

  • Bunch of basil (about 2 cups of leaves)
  • About 1/2 cup pepitas (ideally soaked in water overnight to ‘activate’ them which makes their nutrients more available to your body and softer so they are a better texture for the pesto).  You can always add more pepitas at the end if you feel you want the pesto ‘crunchier’.
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • About 1/2 cup olive oil (ideally cold pressed, not processed olive oil) – but you may like to add more or a bit less depending how oily you want it.  The pesto will go firmer in the fridge.
  • Himalayan rock salt and pepper to taste
  • Parmesan is optional

Blend all ingredients together and it’s ready for a healthy ‘green’ sandwich filling by itself or with avocado.  Or a topping on roast sweet potato or of course pasta.  Or even add to some mayonnaise as a salad dressing or in a vege soup for flavour and texture… Or a topping on any meat?  As you can see, it doesn’t last long in our house 🙂  It should keep in your fridge for a good week.

tasty pesto!

tasty pesto!

 

 

Packing a healthy (I mean really healthy) lunchbox

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Litter-free lunchbox helping the environment and stainless steel bottle, ‘cheetah’ banana (to engage master ‘Africa’ 3) and healthy lunch helping the boys grow and learn.

How many hours do you spend packing lunches?  Yes it takes a lot of time but try to think of it as a worthy exercise in feeding your child wonderful nutrition for their growth and development!  Master 3 and 1 are gluten and dairy free and with no nuts at daycare, we are definitely restricted but this also encourages some healthy eating.  We also avoid all preservatives and are starting to turn to organic everything to avoid more health issues – see below for links to more information.  The more you look into what preservatives, pesticides and chemicals are doing to us, the more you start wondering about what are we really putting into our bodies… 😦

Oh and not to mention avoiding sugar and salt as much as possible!  Yes I spend some time in the kitchen but it feels good to know we are avoiding a lot of health and development issues by avoiding preservatives, sugar, salt and the boys’ allergens.

We use a ‘Nude food’ lunchbox which has enough compartments and containers to avoid any packages/cling wrap.  It also saves money and sugar/salt by not buying any pre-packaged items and buying in bulk (such as sultanas, seeds, yoghurt when we used to buy it).

Here are a few of our ideas.  Please add your own healthy ideas to this post too 🙂

Snacks

  • Plain Sakata rice crackers (no preservatives or MSG) or rice/corn cruskits with dip such as homemade hummous/beetroot hummous or homemade refried beans – fry garlic and then blend with tin of red kidney beans, cumin and oregano.  You can of course use other crackers if not GF.  Just be careful of numbers and ‘flavours’.
  • Rice/corn thins with spread such as avocado or dip.  Master 1 is happy when they go soft but otherwise I break into pieces for Master 3 to dip.
  • Roasted chickpeas – tin of chickpeas (preferably low/no salt), rinsed, put straight onto a baking tray.  Bake 40mins at 200degrees celsius.  Longer if you prefer more crunch.
  • Homemade baked beans – tin of cannelini beans rinsed.  Add to saucepan with 1/3 tin of tomatoes plus some herbs.  Simmer on medium heat until there is just enough sauce and the beans have softened (around 10mins).
  • Raw vege sticks – carrots, cucumber, green beans, capsicum.
  • Roasted vege sticks – we do more sweet potato over potato for better nutrition and low GI.  Also pumpkin roasted with cinnamon.
  • Frozen veges such as corn, peas, broad beans, carrots.
  • Boiled egg.
  • Cut up pear/apple or any other fruit in season.  And a banana.
  • I give the boys sultanas at home where I can brush their teeth a lot sooner.  They are little morsels of sugar (albeit not white sugar) that will sit on their teeth for the whole day at daycare.
  • Pumpkin seeds/pepitas, sunflower seeds.
  • Puffed rice/corn.
  • Yoghurt.  Bornhoffen plain yoghurt is fantastic without the sugar and thickeners that exist in many others, including ‘baby’ yoghurts.  It’s also full fat.  Kids love the taste!!  And don’t forget you can add texture for variety such as dessicated coconut (organic is the only type without preservatives..), frozen blueberries (start looking for organic frozen), crushed biscuit or cinnamon.
  • Cut up cheese.  Cutting your own cubes saves money and is healthier than the kids’ cheese sticks or pre-cut cubes.

Lunch

  • Sandwich with spreads such as avocado, hummous, refried beans, mashed roast pumpkin or cottage cheese if you can do dairy (avoid homebrand with preservatives).
  • We avoid vegemite/mighty mite (GF option) due to ‘yeast extract’ actually being MSG… 😦 And also any ham/deli meats as these also have the nasty preservatives 😦  Oh and butter or coconut oil to avoid the processed margarines and transfats in them (including nuttelex) 😦
  • Leftovers are also another good option.

Pair this with a drink (we use stainless steel bottles as any plastic is proving to be not so good for health) and a ‘cheetah’ banana and done.!

Some suggested facebook pages to follow and learn more about really eating healthily:

https://www.facebook.com/additivefreepantry

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Feeding-two-growing-boys/117488928355515?fref=ts

https://www.facebook.com/REALfarmacy?fref=ts