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Beating the Winter Blues: How to Get out and Stay out of a Winter Funk
Jenn Pike

The lack of natural light is triggering our circadian rhythms (our biological ‘body clock’) to... more

Beating the Winter Blues: How to Get out and Stay out of a Winter Funk
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The lack of natural light is triggering our circadian rhythms (our biological ‘body clock’) to enter a state of semi-hibernation, and we tend to feel a little scrambled and off our normal routine. It’s important to note that the ‘winter blues’ can affect both young and old.

Here are my top 5 tips for happy, nourished winter bodies.

Proper Nutrition
One of the best ways to set yourself up for success this winter season is to ensure you are filling your plate with an abundance of colourful plant-based foods. Look for a balance of complex carbs, lean protein and healthy fats. Ancient whole grains, naturally gluten-free grains, organic fruits and vegetables, lentils and legumes, lean poultry, grass-fed beef, wild fish, organic eggs, raw nuts, seeds, avocados, coconut oil and nut butters.

Get Outside

Remember when you were a child and your parents would literally have to drag you in the house when the sun went down? Your hands would be freezing, your snow pants and boots soaked from playing in the snow and your cheeks red as a tomato? That was being a kid! Nowadays children are watching way too much tv or glued to their tech. gadgets. Every ones body thrives on activity and fresh air but their young bodies even more so. Create time for them to play outside or make a family event out of it!

Get Some Supplement Support
Not everyone wants to take supplements (or needs to for that matter) but in our cold dark Canadian winters there are just certain things our bodies need more of and really can’t get naturally (no matter how much of a certain food you eat!). Here are the top four supplements that my family takes through the winter months:

  • Vitamin D. Probably the most underrated superstar of our daily health routine. Supporting many functions and synergistic actions in our body, I recommend a liquid form versus a tablet to ensure high absorption (and kids find it easier to take). 
  • Probiotic. More than two-thirds of your immune system lives in your gut and more than half of the neurotransmitter hormones (your free anti-anxiety hormones) are produced in your gut too. Taking a daily supplement of probiotics is my FIRST foundational piece of support to offer anybody at any age (yes. Kids too). 
  • Fish Oil. Omega 3 fatty acids are also critical for proper brain development and mood support. I find a liquid is best for children as you can sneak it into a smoothie. 
  • Mood Balancers. In the darker months even the best of us can get a little down and sometimes experience fatigue and irritability. My secret to keeping a balanced mood throughout the long winter season is a herbal remedy called Neurapas Balance. It’s a unique combination of St. John’s Wort, Passionflower and Valerian from Pascoe that I recommend to almost all my clients who are feeling blue in the winter months.

Sleep
I cannot stress enough how important sleep is to building and maintaining a strong immune system. For school-aged children they should be getting at least 10-12 hours of sleep, and for Mom and Dad we should be getting at least 7-9 hours each night.

Stress
My final and most important tip yet is also the one that usually feels the most challenging: decrease your level of stress. We overschedule our kids with events, ourselves with too many commitments, working late, staying up to search Facebook or watch the latest Netflix program…it’s a big problem and must stop. Take a breath, slow your pace, find your chill zone and visit it often! Perhaps it’s a walk with the family or a friend, maybe it’s game night or date night, maybe yoga, meditating, journaling, colouring or a cup of herbal tea.

Jenn Pike is a mom of two, nutritionist, master personal trainer and author. For more quick and healthy tips and to learn more about Jenn, her best-selling book The Simplicity Project and more, visit 'The Simplicity Project' and follow her on Instagram @jennpike and Facebook under The Simplicity Project.
Comments | Tagged under health, winter, wellness
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Getting Back to the True Meaning of Family Day
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Other than my husband`s birthday and Valentine’s Day, when I think of special days during the month of February, I think of Family Day. This year it falls on February 15th. I think of this day as a reminder of how important spending time together as a family. Of course, as with Valentine’s Day, if it’s the only day that you show love and togetherness, your actions may appear somewhat disingenuous. However, if you see this as an opportunity to put in extra effort to show how much you care, then your actions will appear more sincere.

The face of family has changed dramatically over the years. No longer is family conventionally defined by a mother, father and kids. Now, family takes on many shapes.

Not everyone is fortunate to be part of a family in which he or she feels secure, loved and supported. For some, family has been a huge disappointment. While some believe that family members should be revered and respected no matter how they act towards one another, others feel that blood is not always thicker than water and that the friends they have chosen to be part of their inner circle have become symbolic of the family they created themselves.

No matter who you choose to hang out with on Family Day, consider this an opportunity to focus on and show appreciation for one another.

Here are some ideas for getting back to the true meaning of Family Day:

Bring out old photo albums and video tapes or DVDs of years gone by. After going through my father’s belongings after he passed away a few months ago, and coming across old report cards he had kept of my mothers, my plan is to show my kids some of my report cards and school projects from when I was a student. I’m doing this especially because I wish I would have seen my mom’s school records before she passed so that I could have discussed them with her and asked her questions.

Enjoy a nice home-cooked meal together. While eating together, take the opportunity to voice out loud the top three things that you appreciate about one another. Too often we think good thoughts about one another but don’t always express them out loud.

Put extra effort into turning off cell phones, computers and other forms of technology so that you can focus on one another. Play a board game, play charades, or pull out the kids’ markers and create a family masterpiece on a large piece of paper. Maybe trace around each of your hands on a piece of paper as a keepsake.
Whatever you decide to do together, I wish you a fabulous Family Day!

Sara Dimerman is a psychologist and provides counselling to individuals, couples and families. She is one of North America's most trusted parenting and relationship experts and the author of four books: Am I a Normal Parent?; How to Influence Your Kids for Good; How Can I Be Your Lover When I'm Too Busy Being Your Mother?: The Answer to Becoming Partners Again; and Why Married Couples Don't Have Sex...at Least Not with Each Other. Learn more or listen to advice from Sara and her colleagues by searching for 'helpmesara' podcasts on iTunes or visiting helpmesara.com. Follow Sara on Twitter @helpmesara.
Comments | Tagged under family, family day
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