anxiety, blood pressure, Children, Health and Wellbeing, nutritional therapy

Parenting, Building Confidence in Children, and Future Health

Build up self-esteem in your child through positive body language and kind words.

I’ve just read a blog post by Brene Brown about an Oprah interview with author Toni Morrison which really made me think about my behaviour as a parent.

In the interview with Oprah, Toni speaks about how we can influence a child’s confidence and their self-image in ways that we don’t even realise. Here’s the link to the original post by Brene.

According to Toni, children gather information about their parents’ feeling towards them based on their initial reactions (whether they be positive or negative) on each meeting.

For instance, as a parent, do you immediately pick up on your child’s uncombed hair, food stained clothes, muddy shoes etc?

Or do you smile, happy to see them, first?

When I read this, I thought to my own behaviour, and recognised that I can be quick to criticise, without even intending to.

The problem isn’t with the criticism itself – as parents, we need to be able to tell our children not to get mud on the carpet etc – but what’s important is that the criticism isn’t the first thing they always hear.

What is that criticism (if it’s the first thing out of your mouth) telling them about themselves and what you think about them? Does your body language, or do your words, demonstrate your love, or does it tell them there is something wrong with their appearance, behaviour or choices?

If you don’t think well of them, how can they think well of themselves? And how will these micro-criticisms impact their self-esteem in the long term?

This interests me, not only as a parent, but as a nutritional therapist. A person’s health and wellbeing is all tied up in self-esteem and stress.

If we don’t think well of ourselves we send ourselves negative messages:

You’re such a mess.

Why can’t you do a simple thing like that?

What an idiot!

These self-criticisms – where we can’t be kind to ourselves – become a form of stress.

As I’ve mentioned previously, stress affects cortisol levels which, if not managed, can negatively impacts health – both mental and physical.

So how can we help our kids to develop better attitudes towards themselves and as a result, become healthier adults?

Well, I suppose initially, that lies with us and our behaviour towards them. The way we react to our kids can either enhance of undermine self-image and resilience. If we manage our reactions positively, this ultimately has a beneficial impact on their future health.

As Brene says in her blog post, don’t let the first comment to your child each time you see them be a negative one. By being kind to them, we teach them to be kind to themselves.

Say something nice, or “flash a smile” before you ask them to move their belongings (that have taken up residence on the living room floor for the last three days!)

Even if they don’t show it, your smile or kind words will mean so much, and it’s another way of telling them you love them.

Plus, it also takes the sting out of the fact they’ve got to clear up after themselves!

I’m going to try it.

What about you?

anxiety, blood pressure, Health and Wellbeing, insomnia, meditation, memory and concentration, mindfulness, nutritional therapy, pain management, pain perception, sleep, stress, teenagers, Wellness

Have Yourself a Little Meditation

Linking on from my stress post yesterday.


I love this…


My younger daughter, who sometimes suffers with anxieties (as do we all from time-to-time) has discovered mindfulness as a way to calm her mind. It’s not the first time lately I’ve caught her lying on the rug in front of the fire, listening to a guided meditation on her laptop. She also has a favourite CD – ‘Rays of Calm’ by Christiane Kerr – that she listens to every night. It’s a series of visualisations that gently guide you into sleep.

A series of 10 visualisations for teenagers to calm the mind and help you drift into sleep.


The benefits of meditation are multiple:


– reduction of stress/anxiety, and even possibly depression.


– helps to improve self-image and promotes positivity.


– aids in developing a stronger understanding of yourself.


– helps improve memory and concentration, and may reduce age-related memory loss.


– aids with pain management by diminishing the perception of pain in the brain.


– may decrease blood pressure in older participants.


– increases speed of going to sleep and staying asleep.

Making meditation part of your day has so many benefits, we should all give it a go. It only takes a few minutes, and anyway, who says you don’t deserve some time to yourself, just to sit and be?


As for my daughter, judging by her very heavy breathing, it seems that meditation for the purpose of sleep improvement is definitely working, not just at night but at ANY time of the day!!

Health and Wellbeing, Nutrition, nutritional therapy, stress, Wellness

Stress and Negative Health Effects


I’m currently reading ‘When the Body Says No’ by Gabor Mate. It’s an interesting and readable book about the effects of stress on our health outcomes. It describes not just the stresses we feel on a day-to-day basis, but also how our responses to stress might become hyper-reactive due to certain childhood experiences. Many people don’t even recognise their stress because it becomes part of who they are. This doesn’t mean it’s any less damaging however. He connects chronic stress (and our responses to it) as an underlying factor in every disease, including Alzheimer’s, Multiple Sclerosis, Motor Neurone Disease, Heart Disease, Cancer, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Diabetes and Arthritis.

Gabor Mate's book "When the Body Says No" describes the detrimental effects stress has on our health outcomes - from heart disease to Motor Neurone Disease - stress is at the foundations of every health issue.

The problem with chronic stress is that over time it starts to negatively affect the body. Constant cortisol release puts the body in ‘fight or flight’ mode. This means the body is in a state where it is ready to escape, so the focus is taken away from important systems such as:

– the immune system
– the digestive system
– the reproductive system

As a result, our body is:

– unable to digest food and absorb nutrients as efficiently as it should; 

You might begin to suffer from more

– colds, allergies, food intolerances and other immune-related issues; 

Or you might experience symptoms connected with hormone imbalances.

In high levels, cortisol becomes inflammatory, and chronic inflammation is linked with poor health outcomes. 

Cortisol is also linked with energy and the sleep cycle. When it becomes dysregulated through stress you may start to experience symptoms such as insomnia and fatigue.

Taking more time to relax, meditate, and sleep well all have a beneficial effect on your stress levels, and ultimately your health. Put away your gadgets 90 minutes before bedtime too. You may use them as a way to relax, but they have proven detrimental effect on our stress levels.

There are also dietary factors that impact cortisol release, so remember, reducing stress is not only about what you do, and how you perceive and respond to stressors, but also include the quality of the foods (and drinks) you put into your mouth.