Acupuncturist Incorporates Nature as Part of Treatment for Patients

Overall health and wellbeing encompass much more than just physical health. Licensed Acupuncturist and Healthy Lombard Board Member, Jenn McGrath, thoroughly understands how physical, mental and emotional wellbeing are all connected and practices a holistic approach when treating her patients at the Points to Wellness in Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois.

To describe how emotional and physical health are connected, Jenn gives the example of grief. Grief is known to negatively affect many areas of the body. Grief can cause digestive disturbances such as constipation, diarrhea, flare-ups of colitis and nausea. Grief can also cause immune stress, anxiety, insomnia, weight gain/loss or even impaired driving ability due to lack of focus.

When taking a patient’s health history, Jenn engages with the patient to better understand their emotional and mental state in addition to physical conditions. This includes discovering what brings them joy and makes them happy. Based on her patient’s interests, Jenn encourages spending time with loved ones, singing/playing an instrument, outdoor activities such as taking time to build a snowman with their child or taking a 30 minutes walk with a friend.

Jenn often incorporates time in nature into her treatment plans as promoted by the Conservation Foundation in Naperville, IL whose mission includes improving the health of our communities by preserving and restoring natural areas and open space. Studies show spending 30 minutes in nature lowers the stress hormone cortisol. Read more


Daniel S. Lewin, Ph.D., DABSM a pediatric psychologist, sleep specialist, and licensed clinical psychologist shared in the Rise and Shine newsletter that the transition to sleep is a very delicate time, particularly for young children. It involves separation from parents, so it is normal for worries to arise. Having a brief period of activation and vigilance (“the burst zone”) just before bedtime is also normal, and it tends to be worse for children who are anxious, worry a lot or have problems separating from their parents. It’s important to observe when your child has their burst zone because it indicates that they are about 15-20 minutes away from their optimal falling asleep time.

The bedtime routine

For some children, anxiety, and fear at bedtime bring them a lot of attention, and while it might not be positive attention, it can be reinforcing to them. Special calm, loving and close solo time for children prior to bedtime is an important part of a bedtime routine. This routine should be regular and brief (15-30 minutes) and should occur just before and after the burst zone. The predictably of a bedtime routine helps calm fears and prepares kids for sleep.

If parents fall asleep with their children at the beginning of the night, in most cases the child (particularly younger children) will need to have the parent present in the middle of the night if they wake up (it’s normal to awaken multiple times during the night for brief periods). The general rule is that any cues present during the transition to sleep at the beginning of the night will need to present in the middle of the night. After establishing a routine, parents can then gradually “fade their presence” with the goal of having the child fall asleep independently at the beginning of the night. Read more


Jessica McGee, MS, RD, CSP, LD, CNSC, the Food and Nutrition Services Clinical Nutrition Manager at Children’s National wrote for the Rise and Shine Newsletter that as alternative meat products continue to generate buzz, it is important to understand the ingredients before swapping out meat for meatless. We asked our expert nutritionist Jessica McGee to weigh in on whether fake meat is good or bad for children.

Plant-based products are emerging as the newly popular food choice for meat-eaters and non-meat-eaters alike, but they may not be the smarter choice for your kid. There are pros and cons to eating meat alternatives so it’s important to be informed when deciding what to feed your child.

Comparing Meat vs. Meatless

One of the challenges we face when selecting meat substitutes is that they are often highly processed, resulting in greater amounts of saturated fat and sodium than the whole plant and even sometimes higher than meats High sodium and saturated fat intake in children is associated with high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, respectively, which can raise the risk for heart disease or stroke later in life. Read more

Don’t wait until you’re pregnant to get your folic acid

Edward-Elmhurst health shared in their Healthy Driven Blog that you may have heard that folic acid is important during pregnancy. You may have also heard that you need it when trying to conceive. But did you know that you should take this B-vitamin even if you’re not planning to become pregnant?

Since the 1950s, we have known that low levels of folic acid during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects of a baby’s brain and spine, called neural tube defects (NTDs). The most common types of NTDs are spina bifida and anencephaly. Spina bifida may cause minor physical problems to lifelong disabilities, including severe paralysis and mental retardation, while the latter may cause stillbirth.

Folic acid is essential for many functions in the body — especially during the first few weeks of life when important growth and development happens for babies. Usually, a baby’s brain and spine are already formed before a woman even knows she’s pregnant.

This is why it’s important to have enough folic acid in your body before you become pregnant. The National Council on Folic Acid reports that taking folic acid before pregnancy reduces the risk of NTDs by up to 70 percent. Considering also that half of all U.S. pregnancies are unplanned, if you’re capable of getting pregnant, you should be taking this essential vitamin each day.

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How We Can Improve Child Nutrition When Healthy Eating Isn’t Accessible

Robert Murray, MD (Action for Healthy Kids (AFHK) Board Member) and Grace Perry, RD, LD (AFHK Program Manager) recently shared that children are the products of their environment and experiences; like sponges, they absorb all that’s around them. They’re constantly picking up language, mannerisms, ideas, and habits. The people in a child’s life — especially during their formative years — will have a lasting influence on them for years to come.

That’s why it’s critical for everyone from family members to teachers to coaches to faith leaders to understand the impact they have on a child’s diet and nutrition and the resources they have available to support children’s healthy eating habits from the start. Diet quality can affect a child’s growth. Not only can it change their physical development, but it impacts cognition, behavior, well-being, and ability to deal with life’s challenges as kids grow older.

Despite the fact that there is an abundance of publicly and privately funded programs and resources with the goal of improving children’s healthy eating opportunities, experts agree that these resources don’t always stretch far enough or get to those who need them the most. Furthermore, an urgent need for these programs is often unforeseen for parents who may have sudden financial obstacles to overcome. Read more

Children in Rural Areas Have Better Motor Skill

Tim Sandle wrote in the Digital Journal that A study reveals that children living in rural areas outperform those living in metropolitan areas when it comes to motor skills and other elements of physical fitness. The differences in relation to the living environment were found to be significant.

Overall the researchers from the University of Jyväskylä found that residential density correlates with the motor skills of children plus their willingness to engage in outdoor play and to take part in organized sports. The results related to children living in Finland. The study was a comparison of children of equivalent ages living in the countryside and in towns.

With the focus on motor skills, these related to the function, which involves the precise movement of muscles with the intent to perform a specific act. These are learned abilities to cause a predetermined movement outcome with maximum certainty. The researchers looked specifically at locomotor, object control, and balance skills. To achieve optimal motor skills, practice is required.

The opportunity for practice as influenced by the environment was a key part of the research. Hence, the findings indicate that the amount of time spent outdoors together with participation in organized sports supports motor development.

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The Rise and Shine Newsletter shared that parents of children with celiac disease may be able to rest easier thanks to a preliminary study of cooking habits by experts at Children’s National Hospital.

Using the same toaster, knives or pots and pans for gluten-free and gluten-containing foods may not pose a high risk of gluten exposure for people with celiac disease. What’s more, routine washing of utensils and equipment with soap and water and handwashing can further reduce or eliminate gluten transfer. So, cutting cupcakes with different knives at the next birthday party your child attends may not be necessary.

The study was conceived and led by Vanessa Weisbrod, executive director of the Celiac Disease Program at Children’s National Hospital and a board-certified nutritionist. She also has celiac disease, as does her son.

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Children’s National psychologist Eleanor Mackey, Ph.D., explains in this post, originally written for Rise and Shine, about gift jealousy and offers tips for parents on preventing and managing gift jealousy among siblings.  She shared that leading up to the holiday season, many parents search far and wide for the items on their child’s wish list. Despite the thought and love that parents put into gift choices for their family, children may still express jealousy over their brother or sister’s gift. Children’s National psychologist Eleanor Mackey, Ph.D., explains gift jealousy and offers tips for parents on preventing and managing gift jealousy among siblings.

Is gift jealousy normal for children?

While some parents may worry whether gift jealousy among their children is normal, Mackey reassures parents it’s perfectly natural. “It’s a normal part of development. Parents shouldn’t worry about it,” Mackey said.

Mackey said that children are learning to protect their territory, whether it’s over their room, toys or even gifts. She explained that kids can get territorial with their belongings because they don’t have a lot and as they begin to look at their sibling’s possessions they may feel jealous of their belongings. In fact, Mackey said it’s important for children to feel jealous and learn how to appropriately deal with their feelings because it teaches them healthy strategies as they grow up.

“It’s all healthy as long as they can cope with it appropriately and it doesn’t get in their way,” Mackey said.

Signs of gift jealousy

The signs of gift jealousy can range and are dependent on the age of the children, Mackey explained. More specifically, Mackey noted that little children, who do not fully comprehend the situation or their feelings, may just grab a gift out of their sibling’s hands, which could lead to a tug-of-war. With slightly older children, Mackey said signs of gift jealousy could include crankiness, moodiness or whining.  Read more

Gluten Free Dining Options

Nicole Palmieri, Senior at Glenbard South High School, shared with Healthy Lombard that In the past 20 years, our world has seen more awareness for “gluten-free,” “gluten allergy,” “gluten sensitivity” options at restaurants and fast-food chains. It can get all too confusing, so here is a comprehensive list of fast-food places and restaurants in Lombard, or near the area, that have gluten-free options, menus, and which ones to steer clear of. Also in this article, you will learn about the difference between celiac disease and gluten intolerance.

Fast-Food that Offer Gluten-Free Options:
• Many fast-food chains offer gluten-free french fries upon request. This includes Chick-Fil-A, Five Guys, Sonic and Arby’s.

• Chains that have the worst opportunities for gluten-free options (according to include Burger King, McDonald’s, Taco Bell and KFC “as they have extremely limited options and the risks for gluten crossing-contamination are high.”

  • Those with severe celiac disease should be cautious when ordering food that has any possibility of cross-contamination. In this case, the more questions the better!
  • Cross-contamination appears often in fried foods, so ask if your food will be cooked in oil that is specifically meant for gluten-free items. Also, ask if equipment like toasters, pizza ovens, panini presses, different spatulas, etc. are used for the purpose of keeping conscious of those with a severe gluten allergy.
  • Again, the more questions the better! If you have celiac disease and are asking your waiter or cashier, try to gauge how secure they are in their answers. If they do not seem to know, ask to see a manager! Better to double-check then risk it.
  • Arby’s has a separate gluten-free menu, but most foods that are not potato-based or eaten without bread are gluten-free there. Chipotle is almost unanimously gluten-free, except for its soft flour tortillas. (

Another tip is to ask the fast-food place, or any restaurant for that matter, if the food is prepared specifically on a separate surface from gluten-containing items. Read more

“Influence Of Sleep Deprivation On Obesity In Children”

Chris Nguyen, is the Founder & Chief Editor at Sleep Standards, a health blog that provides research-based sleep health advice, actionable sleep tips, and unbiased sleep product reviews that aims to inspire better sleep and make the world of sleep easy to understand for everyday people, shared with Healthy Lombard that Obesity has become a global concern. In modern times, medical experts consider obesity a disease, causing millions of people to lose the battle against serious chronic diseases and die at an age considered too early.

Several factors have been found to play a role in the risk of developing obesity. Among children, one of the latest advancements in scientific research suggests that sleep deprivation might be an overlooked risk factor. We take a look at the impact of obesity on a childs life, the risks that excess weight can cause the child to suffer from later in their lives, and how sleep deprivation may be making this problem worse.

The Impact Of Obesity Among Children

Obesity is a serious health condition that refers to excess weight in the human body. While it is relatively easy to diagnose obesity in adults, as this condition is classified as having a BMI that is over 30, it is not as simple to determine if a child is obese.

Still, it is important for parents to learn about the impact that obesity can have on their child, know when obesity is becoming a problem, and understand the potential solutions that they can use to improve their childs quality of life.

Childhood obesity refers to excess weight found in children between the ages of two and 19. Thus, the term collectively describes obesity among young ones ranging from infants up to adolescents. Read more