My most frequently asked question… and a new look at health

“So, what is happening to our Kids? Are there more kids around with difficulties or are we just noticing it more?”

This question (okay, two questions) is something I hear almost every time I talk about OT for Kids NT and the awesome families we get to spend our day with. And I have to wonder, what IS happening to our kids? But not only our kids – our fellow mankind?! With rates of cancer, heart disease, developmental disabilities and ill health continuing to skyrocket, I wonder what it is that we are missing? Are we killing ourselves, our very own species?
 
There are many, many theories about what is happening, and usually these illness are considered ‘Lifestyle Diseases’, so where do Autism and other developmental challenges come into this?
 
Lets take a step back, close your eyes and breathe. Breathe in beautiful fresh, sweet air that was once inhaled deep into the lungs of our ancestors, the pollutant free, clean, fresh pure air. Imagine looking over the forrest, or the pristine lake, or the native bush land where children are digging in the soil, and your family are gathering vegetables, fruits and seeds from the trees and earth. Watch the children climbing in the trees and swimming in the lake, digging, jumping, running, building forts and obstacle courses.
And now open your eyes. Really, open your eyes. And take a look around. 
 
Not only is our air filled with toxins, we have stripped our earth bare of all its goodness. through hundreds of years of intensive agriculture, we have taken life from the earth, used it to nourish our bodies and minds, and then replaced this goodness with fertilizers and weedkillers. We have stripped the earth of its minerals to build amazing lifestyles and technologies, and then replaced these minerals with the chemicals used to refine it, and the smog it has created. We have even burnt a hole in our protective ozone layer through years and years of disrespect.  We have taken all the amazing technology we have created, and used it to create sedentary bodies, far from our instinctive urges to run, jump, climb and be outdoors. 
 
Now, I certainly do enjoy the luxuries that all this development has brought, and I am mindful that whilst we are not the creators of this situation, it is affecting everyone around us. Autism rates are now reported to be 1 in 50. SERIOUSLY?! . Cancer directly affects half of all Australian men and a third of Australian women by the age of 85! This is NOT GOOD! And when we think about cancer, we can see the cause. Cells mutate. DNA is damaged. Bodies begin to rot.  We are forever altering our DNA. Our genes are not what they used to be, that’s for sure. 
 
Even the most health conscious person can not escape the toxins which are all around us. I eat more than my share of fresh fruits and vegetables, but our soils are stripped bare, filled with chemicals! Would you spray Raid on your apple, wash it off quickly and then eat it? Absolutely NOT! well guess what…. you already do
 
And that is just fruits and vegetables. Perhaps you may like to take a look at the ingredients list on your family’s favorite snacks? How many ingredients do you recognise? and how many chemicals (ie: NUMBERS!) are you willing to put into your body? or that of your children. And a personal favourite of mine… Long shelf life… Food is meant to ROT! PS: if it doesn’t rot on the shelf, how will it be broken down in your body? 
 

“The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.” (Ann Wigmore).

 

So how do we begin to tackle this nutrition situation? There are many, many places to start. and I believe that small changes can make a profound difference. Start with what is within reach – literally. 
 
Many additives are linked with ADD – Food Colour E102, E104 E110, E122, E124, E129, Sodium benzoate (211), metabisulfite (223),  Calcium propionate (282) and the infamous MSG (621 /635)… They’re food additives, used to make foods last longer, look great, and taste even better. And we are eating them today more than ever.  In fact, there are hundreds of different additives that can be found in almost every tinned or packaged food on the shelf.
 
Food additives are most commonly found in processed food products such as kids’ cereals, lollies, soft drinks & cordials, and sweet biscuits. How many foods in your home are riddled with food additives?
 
Our good friends at Darwin Dietitians can take the stress and fuss out of de-coding the puzzling ingredients lists, and show you which foods and brands are the best choice for your kids, and yourself. 
 
Over the next few months, we will continue to explore our basic needs, and how we can begin to strengthen our kids from the inside out. 
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Shannon Hallatt

Senior Occupational Therapist, Founder & Practice Manager at OT for Kids NT
Shannon is passionate about delivering high quality OT services for children and families, and bringing joy to their lives. Shannon believes that every child is unique and has unlimited potential and it is this belief that continues to drive her everyday.

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