The Gut-Brain Connection (Nutrition in Early Childhood)  |  Hadley Fierlinger

The Gut-Brain Connection (Nutrition in Early Childhood) | Hadley Fierlinger


Nutrition is really important for health,
especially for developing children today we’re delving into that topic I’m Hilary, welcome to Mat Time today I’m sitting here with Hadley who is
a nutritional health coach welcome Hadley, would you like some tea? Would you like to start by telling us a bit
about your background and how you got to be where you are today? Yeah, well I’m a nutritional health coach and I just went through my studies with the Institute
for Integrative Nutrition in New York I think the whole journey started about eight
years ago when my son was quite unwell and we were looking for answers
he had some of the chronic diseases a lot of children have today
he had asthma and allergies, he had xema, he had chronic constipation, he was missing
weeks of school because of these illnesses and every time he was sick we’d go to the
GP and the only thing we were receiving was medication
to suppress the symptoms and I’m sort of one of those like science-nerd-type
people and I just wanted to know what could be causing the symptoms
and I was so surprised that the doctors didn’t really know what was causing the symptoms
we found this really wonderful naturopath and she introduced me to the concept of the
gut and brain connection and that just switched on so many lightbulbs
for me, you know all the science and all the research was behind it
it wasn’t such an alternative treatment but it was really grounded in science
and I wondered why the mainstream doctors we were seeing didn’t know about it
and then when I realised that most doctors don’t receive any training in nutrition I
realised that it’s just not part of their world
so I went to see a specialist pediatrician for my son who was able to really bring the
allopathic medicine, combined with the biomedical medicine together, we did discover that he
was really a very unwell little boy and that through diet and nutrition and nutrients
we were able to return him to health and that sort of launched my whole family
into a really… we thought we were healthy people and ate a healthy diet
and then through this process we realised that we all had these health niggles
I had some pretty serious digestive issues that I thought were just who I was and part
of my life, I’d had them for so long so when I started to think about my family
history, my family had these digestive issues that I had, and the pieces all started to
come together my passion for nutrition had always sort of
been there but I just didn’t really know how I could turn it into work that I loved to
do and training to be a health coach was really
this amazing experience, I’m now able to help people one-on-one find the root cause of their
illness and steer them towards practitioners who are
able to do the testing yeah it’s very rewarding
There’s a lot of books and information online, what are some of the resources you’d point
people to if they were wondering about this? This book, Nourishing Traditions, is really
an international sensation, this is a woman called Sally Fallon who has
just compiled this massive book that challenges everything that is a common nutritional bit
of information that we would know and sort of… she works with the Western
A. Price Foundation which is another thing that people can Google to find out information
on a healthy diet it’s taking you back to the kind of diet that
our grandparents had, which was really free from any additives or chemicals
no, you know, everything is just farm, what we call farm-to-table now, which our grandparents
just called food You know, so it’s really just whole foods,
and then one person’s food is another person’s poison and children especially
you might see behavioural issues in your child and they might be age and stage appropriate
but there might be a little niggle you have about… I’m not quite sure… that does seem like
Terrible Twos behaviour but it’s pretty extreme and those issues are very difficult to trouble-shoot,
but one thing you can do is have a look at their diet
and a lot of parents see a real connection between behavioural issues and colours and
additives that are in foods and those ingredients are so hidden in our
food supply that you would, even healthy eaters and parents that really feel like their diet
is sorted really would be surprised to find that these chemicals are lurking in so many
things so peeling back the family diet to be one
of really just whole foods is one of the best things a family can do
What are tips for teachers around nutrition? There’s a lot of things we could go into but
kind of the core nutritional principles? Yeah, I mean, creating an environment in a
setting in school that really celebrates real food is a great place to start
so that can often come from the teachers talking a lot, reading a lot of books about farms
and growing food and where does our food come from? You’d be surprised that, you know, we all
assume children know all these things about our food and if you ask a child where food
comes from, even that can be a fun thing to do in a classroom,
because you’ll get so many different answers find out where your children are coming from
in your classroom so, you know, a lot of children think that
food comes from the supermarket and somehow it magically just gets there
so to just say, where does it come from before there? And that all of our food basically can be
tracked right back to a farm, and hopefully a local farm
and just to have those conversations, to celebrate the colours of food is another great thing
so talking about eating the rainbow, plant foods are the healthiest thing that we can
put into our bodies and so that’s one of the things that children
often struggle with is getting enough vegetables fruits aren’t such a problem but vegetables
can be creating a culture in your school of celebrating
those amazing colours in food gets kids really excited about
yeah, wow, that pumpkin is really orange, and that grape is purple, and like, isn’t
that amazing? and to really bring food into the conversation
also having a garden at school, growing some vegetables, it doesn’t have to be fancy it
could be even just sprouting some little seedlings that grow in the classroom
it’s a miracle for children to watch a seed transform into a plant that they can eat
and they might not see that at home, they might not see that in their life, it can really
switch something on in them that is incredible to watch
but also, if you’re able to do something with that food that you’ve grown and then participate
as a community and eat that food together that is incredible powerful, even you could
do a day where you bring the families in and you all have a shared lunch with the food
that you grew taking that information of how to grow food
and bringing it to your community of parents What can educators do if they’re particularly
worried about a child’s nutrition? That’s a great question, I feel like it’s
a really good touch point that teachers have this opportunity to have a discussion with
parents and sometimes that can be a hard discussion to have
because you might, as a teacher you might feel a bit preachy or sensitive about talking
I mean, none of us are perfect eaters so, we all feel a little bit like: well who am
I to say you aren’t doing this properly? But I think that teachers have a special role
in, not only the lives of children, but the lives of families
and if they see something that they feel like bringing up, you know just have a gentle conversation,
coming from a place of non-judgement is a really good place to start
maybe saying that, you know, you’ve noticed that the child is having a lot of food in
packets and wondering if… if there’s a reason for that
possibly even hosting an evening with a practitioner, that people like me a health coach would love
to come to a school and give a talk to parents about, you know, healthy lunch-boxes, making
it easy, making it affordable Yeah, educating families, and maybe the teachers
handing that over to a professional for a fundraising evening or something
is a good idea if the teachers don’t feel comfortable doing it themselves
What about, tips for families? Sort of, basic nutritional tips, what would
you talk to parents about if they had come and you were doing a presentation at a kindergarten? Essentially, what I love about it is it really
is quite easy, it’s really just, kind of rethinking where our food comes from and eating seasonally
and eating locally so the more whole your food is the better
it is for you, so the more chopped up or processed or in a box it is the less valuable it is
nutritionally to our bodies and those packeted foods tend to cost more
in the long run especially than whole foods do
at the moment you could buy a whole pumpkin for I think about three dollars, and that
pumpkin could make soup that could last several days for lunches
it’s really just about sort of having access to the idea that food in its natural state
doesn’t need to be complicated or difficult but really just having conversations around
the dinner table about getting excited about, mostly fruits and vegetables
and really, as a family, talking about how good food is for us
I think sometimes we talk about what’s bad for us, and that – oh, yeah, eat your vegetables
cause they’re good for you… but what are they doing for us?
and so, talking about how – can you guess on your plate which vegetable would be good
for your eyes? and especially when children are young, that’s
really, children are so open to learning about what’s good for them
and you know, food that the bunny rabbit eats is good for the bunny rabbit and good for
me surprisingly, going back and thinking – boy
what was it like to be a little child? – and how little they know about food and nutrition
and starting at that really simple place and just having conversations
children, surprisingly they push back at first but after a while they start going around
talking about how healthy they are and how healthy they eat
so it’s really, I just encourage people to just do it, to make the changes and not worry
so much about… disappointing the family by not having chippies
in their lunch and just saying, that’s what we’re doing now! Thank you so much for joining us today Hadley
I feel like there’s so much that all people can learn from your story
and thank you for watching Mat Time, we’ve put together some resources about the things
we talked about today about nutrition so check out the description below for those
Also, my blog The Remedy Project .co.nz I’m going into more depth on our discussion and
there’ll be lots of helpful links and more information

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