Lying and relaxing outside on the grass under a sunny sky, the sun kissing your skin, walking barefoot along the beach, or a day spent in your garden, can all offer you much needed physical relief as well as that added sense of emotional well being.
I don’t think anyone can deny the instant change in mood and sense of peace experienced when being outdoors and connected to nature. Many of us already know the amazing health benefits of Vitamin D obtained from being in the sun, or the immune promoting benefits of breathing in fresh air when opportunity arises. Nature knows what is best for us, and gladly and freely offers us its gift of “Vitamin N”.
Gillian Mandich, PhD, a health lecturer at Western University in London, Ontario says, “Nature provides enormous possibilities to improve health”. The health perks of nature are so great that she nicknames it ‘Vitamin N.’ “Any time outside is better than no time,” says Mandich. “Even a five-minute break outside can be an energizing boost!”
Just compare running on a treadmill inside a gym, to taking a walk in a forest or on the beach, and see how differently you feel. Some studies have shown that exercising in nature enhances the benefits of exercise in general.
A century ago Naturopathic doctors exploited the benefits of Nature by treating patients with mud packs, cold water, and exposure to direct sunlight and fresh air. These age – old remedies are now being re-discovered with a new understanding of the benefits from aligning our bio rhythms with the earth, and thereby being “grounded” or “earthed “.
You may wonder how this can be done, but it can easily be achieved through walking barefoot, sitting or lying on the ground.
Just remove your shoes for a few moments, plant your feet on the soil or grass, and absorb those healing natural bio-rhythms into your body.
For many, ‘Earthing’ or ‘Grounding’ may sound like a very new concept, but in actual fact Monks have experienced the healing benefits of walking barefoot and sleeping on the ground for centuries.
According to Joshua Duvauchelle, ‘some scientists are starting to link the earth’s energy cycles and rhythms with important roles in our own bodies’ electrical rhythms, such as regulating our hormone production and sleep-wake cycles. The act of physically connecting our bodies to the Earth, allows us to reset body’s natural electric charge. Research is finally beginning to back up the benefits of Earthing on our bodies and emotional well-being.’
Clint Ober, Gaetan Chevalier and Martin Zucker have all researched and written about Earthing. They claim that we are ‘bioelectrical beings living on an electrical planet and how all of our cells transmit multiple frequencies that run our immune system, muscles, and nervous system’. They have found research that supports Grounding benefits, such as relief from inflammation and pain, improved circulation, and reduction of stress and anxiety. Some studies have shown that Earthing also positively affects blood glucose levels and concentrations of magnesium, iron, and other nutrients in our blood.
All living things on our planet are connected to the ground’s electric energy, but as we have become more and more industrialized, we have lost our connection to the Earth and Nature. High-rise buildings, rubber and plastic-soled shoes all act as a barrier to the Earth’s energy, insulating and disconnecting us from electrical contact with the Earth.
SO HOW DO WE DO IT?
Any contact between our bare skin and the planet’s surface is what scientists theorize can help us to channel and plug into the earth’s bio-rhythms and energy. Every day try to sit, stand, or walk on soil, grass or sand for as long as you can, though any little bit of time will make a difference. If you aren’t able to get out into natural space, the second best option is to walk on concrete. These are all conductive surfaces from which your body can draw the Earth’s energy, but wood, asphalt, and vinyl are not conductive.
Damp soil is more conductive and can accelerate the benefits of Earthing. You can understand now why mud play is somuch more beneficial than just allowing your kids to get dirty! Added to this benefit, the immune supporting benefit of soil bacteria may have a positive impact on your general health and immunity.
I have always enjoyed being outside. Now that I have children, I have even more reason to make sure that we get outside as much as possible. Where we live can get quite cold, so on those days, we bundle up warmly, but I still make sure we sit on the grass, breathe the fresh air and if possible – take off our shoes!
Next time you want to yell at your kids to “Go play outside!” do yourself a favour – kick off your shoes and go and join them!
NOTE: Having enough Vitamin D is vital for our overall health including the maintenance of healthy bones and teeth, support the health of the immune system, brain, and nervous system, regulating insulin levels and enhances the absorption of calcium. To optimize Vitamin D absorption, its best to go without sunblock and expose as much skin as possible, so aim for the morning sun to be safe from getting burnt.
A great opportunity for your child to have time outside is to let him/her participate in an outdoor adventure day. Visit https://redkingadventures.com/ for more information.
(This article has been read and approved by Dr N.S Wilson,Ireland)
Before I even fell pregnant with my first child, I knew that I wanted to be able to give her best and healthiest start to life I possibly could.
I have always considered myself healthy, but when my husband and I had been battling to conceive, we began doing everything we could to get ourselves in even better health condition. A few years previously, we had already made a joint decision to stop buying bread/bread products and to cut down on our sugar intake, simply because we knew it made us feel better. It was around this time that through a friend, I was made aware of the “Real Meal Revolution: Raising Superheroes” Recipe Book. I bought it right away and everything I read in the first few pages confirmed what I’d been feeling was best in terms of a lifestyle for the whole family.
My husband and I have pretty much grown up addicted to sugar, simply because of the era we were raised. Not much was known about the dangers of sugar, fizzy drinks and processed food when we were young. As a result, my husband finds it difficult to cut out refined carbs completely and I often find myself drawn to sweet things. However, we know all too well the benefits and overall sense of wellbeing we receive when we do manage to resist, and cut those foods out. We are both able to identify that “ugh” feeling when we have over indulged in sugar, refined carbohydrates or heavily processed food. Over the years, I have changed my thinking about sugar and no longer regard it as a necessity to my eating or cooking. My goal is to be able to live as sugar free as possible!
My choice to raise my children as sugar and processed-free as possible was based largely on the fact that I did not want them to battle with a sugar addiction in the same way that my husband and I have had to and secondly, to limit as much as possible, the negative effects of sugar and additives on their developing brains and bodies. According to the “Raising Superheroes”, sugar is as bad as cocaine for your child’s brain and most of us know by now too that so many health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, strokes, even cancers and more, are linked to our sugar intake and poor gut health. (Poor gut health is the cause of so many illnesses and diseases and I will write more on it in the future).
Sally-Ann Creed agrees by stating that, “Sugar has been linked to the suppression of the immune system, contributes to mood swings in children, hypoglycaemia, kidney problems, increases the risk of coronary heart disease, mineral deficiency, tooth decay, obesity, diabetes and hypertension”! Why on earth would any of us want to encourage the possibility of our children having to deal with any of these issues!?
Initially my goal was just to get through my child’s first year without any exposure to sugar or refined carbohydrates, but in the end, I was able to avoid it a lot longer than I expected! Although now at almost 4 years old, she is exposed to sugar and processed foods, it is on a very limited basis.
I began the process by weaning her on to REAL foods (no baby cereal), starting with pure vegetables. I introduced as many vegetables as I could before introducing fruit, starting with the tarter fruits first.
Although it took a little more effort and planning it was possible. Wherever we went, I made sure that she had her own meal or snack packed so that it was easy to say no to any offers of rusks, biscuits or sweets for her.
I have received a LOT of negative reactions because of my choices! Folk jokingly called me “a mean mom” for “depriving” my child (and some weren’t always joking!) My response was that because it (sweets, biscuits or cake) was something she had not had yet, she had no frame of reference as to what she was supposedly missing out on! As far as she was concerned, the snack in her bowl was just as delicious as what everyone else was eating. Another common accusation I heard was that when they went to a party, my kids would go crazy and gorge themselves on the junk food there because they had been so “deprived” –I imagine that the reasoning was that exposing your child to sugar more regularly would prevent binge episodes later? Considering the addictive nature of sugar, I find this reasoning somewhat strange. I have no problem with my child now enjoying a good party and eating her fill, but already she understands that it’s not the norm and not part of our lifestyle.
I must say that given the latest global “health craze” I have been really surprised, by just how much negative attention this choice of mine made. It’s like people want to be or appear healthy, but have yet to really change their mindsets about food and how we eat. I once had someone shocked that I was giving my baby cheese to eat, while her child was enjoying mouthfuls of icing sugar!
Family are often the hardest to get on board, but I am so grateful that in spite of some teasing, for the most part, our families have honoured our requests to limit the junk invasion. I give credit to my sister, who loves to spoil the kids with gifts, but is always creative with her choices – and instead of sending sweets, finds things like Trail mix packs, mini Nut butter tubs, Dried fruit sticks etc to include in her parcel. They are always received with much delight!
With so many recipes easily available for healthy party treats or sugar free alternatives, I am surprised at the predictability of party menus- especially for toddlers. I would be pleasantly surprised to find myself at a kiddie’s party where for a change, store-filled party packs are replaced instead by homemade treats! For my daughter’s second birthday party, everything on the table was made by hand, suitable for both adults and kids and sugar free (one or two snacks had honey). I did it mainly for her sake, but also to show that it can be done. It DOES take more time, but can also be a lot of fun and where one can rope in the help of family; it can make for a fun afternoon!
These are by no means the best ideas or the only way to do things, simply hacks that I used to make the real food challenge slightly easier!
1. Pack you own snack of Real Food WHEREVER you go
For her first year, I would even pack my child’s own snack to a party! Sometimes I would give her something from the adults’ table like a meatball or quiche as there were often better choices for her there. While she was still so little; it was easy to keep her away from the party table. She still had a fun time, interacting with everybody and didn’t know she was missing out on anything.
Some ideas for snacks (from as young as 7 months) that I used were things like: Boiled/scrambled eggs, different kinds of cheese, rice cakes or any other gluten-free crackers, raw veggies, meat or cooked bacon cut into small pieces and fresh fruit, especially berries (generally no dried fruit until after a year because of the sulphur and sugar, though I did eventually introduce raisins and prunes – always looking for sulphur-free if I could). I also made a lot of my own food like courgette fritters, gluten free flapjacks or different flavoured muffins.
In other words, I tried to use real food as much as possible – even for “snack time”- and although I am more relaxed with certain ingredients now that she’s older, where I am able, I will always try giving her a real food item over a processed item. When travelling or eating out, I may still pack some food from home for her, to avoid having to resort to junk food.
(Note: At times it is inevitable that you will need to buy kids’ snacks, but be mindful of ingredients – many “healthy” kids’ foods are filled with sugar and presevatives)
2. Be creative when eating out
When eating out, if by some chance I didn’t have food with me, I would either order a breakfast (scrambled eggs and bacon) and share it with my daughter, or I would look at the “Side Orders” and order one or two things from there, instead of looking at the “Kiddies section” on a menu (which are often very limited in what they offer).
For example, one can order a sausage and cut it up, and in some restaurants, I’ve even been able to order, pineapple slices and fried banana! Or I’d order a fruit smoothie and ask them to leave out the honey and then share it with her. Obviously, this worked best while she did not need a lot to eat, but as she has grown, I have had to be more creative and admittedly there are those times, now where a toasted sandwich is the easiest choice available! Generally though, I will first look at the adult menu for her before resorting to the kiddies’ option.
Recently, while on holiday in Jeffrey’s Bay, I was happily surprised by one restaurant’s Kid’s Menu – with any of their “Main” options for children, instead of just chips, one could choose a side order of apple slices, carrot sticks, or yogurt. I praised them for their creativity and I am sure we are going to see more eating venues making the same changes. Another tip is to always have an extra empty Tupperware or Sippy cup/bottle in your bag for takeaways or to decant larger portions into for them to eat later. I have found this to be very useful.
3. Be careful how you label/talk about food
My husband and I have never intimated that sweets were “better” or “nicer” than the food on her plate. This is a tip I got from the “Raising Superheroes” book – to not “reward” with sweets or to refer to them as “treats” in any way. When I started weaning on to solids, I would place the juicy sweet strawberry on the same plate as her meat and vegetables, and if she chose to eat the fruit first, that was her choice. I never tried to bribe her by saying, “IF you eat the veg you can have the strawberry”. All food had the same value.
Even when I started allowing her to have biscuits or other refined food, I tried not to make a big deal out of it, so that she wouldn’t learn that that food was more “special” than other food. Now that she’s a bit older, she has learnt that some foods just do taste nicer than others, (it is totally natural for anyone to be drawn to sweetness), but overall I have not had to battle with her eating much in any way.
4. Don’t withhold sweetness completely
Just because I wasn’t giving sweets and chocolate, didn’t mean that I completely withheld everything that was sweet. I just didn’t want those things to be the first sweet things she tasted and so I tried to introduce her to naturally sweet flavours first. However, I did delay the introduction of sweetness as long as I could.
After she turned one, I made sweet home snacks for her like ‘Icies‘ (Plain yogurt and fresh fruit moulds), delicious Date Balls and my own ‘Chocolate’ (Nut butter, Coconut Oil and Organic Cacao, with optional Honey)
5. Set an example
This is not always easy, but it is worth it. As my daughter has got older and more aware of what we were eating, my husband and I would sometimes have to make the choice to forgo a dessert we might have ordered or say no to a biscuit we were offered at teatime. (Of course this was beneficial for us too!) As I’ve said, it’s not always easy, but I have found that the more we make and stick to our changes, the easier they become.
6. Lastly, Persevere!
Don’t give up and resort to junk when you child is not showing interest in the food in front of him/her. For two years, my child would not touch Avocado or Pawpaw (Papaya), but one day out of the blue, ate both! Persevere!
I have no guarantee as to what benefit these choices will have on my two daughters in the future. What I do know so far is that my first born has hardly been sick. In spite of only being breast fed until 5 months old, she has not been on any antibiotic or other ‘serious’ medication. Is this linked to her diet? I have a feeling , but I cannot be sure. She appears to be happy, healthy and developing perfectly on track. She enjoys a wide range of food and flavours, and yes, still has moments of fussiness like any kid, but will always try something before choosing not to eat it.
I am raising my second daughter in the same way and my hope and prayer is that both my girls will grow up with a healthy relationship to food and find it easier to make healthy choices for their bodies in the future. .
( I will write a follow- on article to this one in a year or two about any new tips, effects on my kids,how my second one has fared etc.)
One night I had a very clear dream. In it my husband and I were about to go for a walk on our farm and I wanted to put on my pair of gumboots. As I was about to put one on, I clearly heard Holy Spirit caution me to knock the boot over and see if there was anything in it before I put my foot inside it. I knocked the first boot over and there was nothing inside, but when I knocked the second boot over, a large, orange snake slithered out and away. In my dream, I was not startled by the snake, (though I was very relieved that I had not stood on it!) but was more impressed that I had listened to the Spirit’s prompting and in turn, averted a potential disaster! Still dreaming, the Lord began to speak to me and remind me that if I stayed attentive to His ‘still, small voice’, and obeyed its promptings, I would be protected from all dangers and hazards no matter how big or small.
‘ A few nights later, He spoke to me again in another dream. This time I was in a house with a group of people when suddenly a gust of wind blew through the house. It began to swirl around and someone shouted, ‘Look- it’s a whirly’ (what folk in our area call a mini-tornado-like swirl of wind and dust). In my spirit, I knew that it was much more threatening than that and as I was about to say, ‘No, it’s a real tornado’, the wind accelerated with such velocity that the whole house started shaking. Everyone was screaming and panicking when again I heard Holy Spirit speak to me. ‘Go upstairs’, he said. At first, I wanted to question the instruction – it did not make sense to me to even stay in the house, let alone ‘go upstairs’ while a tornado was hitting! I was ready to high-tail it out of the door! However, in spite of my misgivings, he reassured me, ‘Trust me and you will be safe’. I tried to get as many people to ‘safety’, by yelling at them to ‘get upstairs’. To my amazement the storm blew through the house and those who had followed me upstairs, were completely unharmed.
Again the Lord spoke to me and told me that when the “storms” of life, which lie ahead, come, if I stay in intimacy with him, attentive to His instructions and trust him – even when those instructions don’t make sense to me, I will be kept safe. Through these two dreams, He was also reminding me to consider Him in ALL things I do, both in big decisions that needed to be made, and in my routine daily activities. It was also a valuable reminder at the beauty of staying in intimacy with Holy Spirit and allowing Him to have place in our days.
Prayer: Holy Spirit, thank you so much that you desire DAILY intimacy with me. Thank you that through your still, small voice, you instruct, convict, guide and protect me. You desire good things for me and my family. Please forgive me for times where I have been rebellious to your promptings, choosing instead to go my own way.
Please help me to obey your voice and to consider you in every area of my life – big and small. I pray for my spiritual ears and heart to be opened and attentive to you, always. Amen
In 2011, while on honeymoon in Zanzibar, my husband and I had the amazing opportunity to go swimming with wild dolphins. It is a dream I have had for years and couldn’t believe that it would be actualised.
We were taken out on little fishing boats to a spot in the ocean quite far from the shore where the dolphins were known to “hang out”. We were each given a snorkel and a pair of goggles. Once the dolphins arrived alongside the boats, our Guide began to yell, “Jump in, jump in!” We donned our goggles and snorkels as fast as we could and jumped into the water.
To my disappointment however, I realised that by paddling along the surface of the water, it was difficult to get a clear view of the dolphins below me, to which I so longed to be near. The swells kept obscuring my view not to mention the churning water from my husband’s kicking legs in front of me! I realised that in order to get a really good view of the creatures, I would have to take a deep breath and dive deeper below – away from the surface where I felt safe.
I took a deep breath and swam below the chaos above. It was like a whole new world opened up to me. Suddenly, all the noise of the boats, shouting guides and splashing was muted. The water was undisturbed and my vision cleared. I saw so many dolphins ducking and diving around us – one coming so close to my husband, he could almost touch it! I saw a mother with a baby beside her – a sight I won’t forget in a hurry. It was a surreal experience.
Later, God spoke to me about this experience. He showed me how so often we long to experience Him and get close to Him, but we do it in a very ‘safe’ and ‘controlled’ way. We ‘stay on the surface’ and are reluctant to let go of our “snorkels and goggles” in order to experience more of Him.
What are our “snorkels and goggles”? These could represent anything that keeps us from drawing nearer to Him or allowing us to be vulnerable in His presence – our status, job, religion, friendships, wealth, pride, fear, false beliefs, ignorance, apathy and more! Sometimes, we don’t want to step away from ‘what everyone else is doing’ and take a risk of being different. Most often, it is just that we are content to be “on the surface” experiencing God in a limited, safe way, but in doing so, we are missing out on a whole world of experiences with Him.
God told me that in order to experience Him in an even deeper and more intimate way, I would have to “get in over my head”. I would have to let go, dive deep and let Holy Spirit completely saturate me. Only then, would I truly be able to see Him clearer. Only then, would the “noise” of the world be silenced so that I could perfectly hear His voice. Only then, would I discover more secrets and treasures He has hidden away just for me.
I will admit that I have yet to perfect the art of continuously ‘getting in over my head’, but the times that I have, have been incredible and precious. I have not been disappointed in the promise of being met there.
In the Word He says, “Call out to me, and I will answer you — I will tell you great things, hidden things of which you are unaware.” Jeremiah 33:3 “I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.” Isaiah 45:3
Today He is calling you to “jump in” and “get in over your head”.
Let go of all that is holding you back from experiencing Him in a deeper, more meaningful way. Let Holy Spirit saturate you with His presence and love. Discover more of the secrets of His heart that He so longs to share with you.
Prayer: Dear Lord, today I am making the choice to go even deeper in my relationship with you. Show me the areas of my life where I need to surrender or ‘let go’ in order to experience more of your presence. I invite Holy Spirit to saturate me so that I may experience you in a completely new and divine way. Amen