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Helping your child pack a lunch for school is no easy feat. Schools in the Ottawa area have a plethora of school, board and ministry level policies that dictate what foods can and cannot be in your child’s lunch box.lunchbox-ideas-kids

In an effort to improve the total nutrition of our children, the Ministry of Education has endeavoured to create a School Food and Beverage policy which dictates what foods acan be sold in schools. They have divided foods into 3 categories;

Sell Most – greater than 80%

Sell Less – less than 20%

Not Permitted for Sale

Check out the ‘quick’ 35 page reference guide to the Ministry of Education’s School Food and Nutrition policy.

Then there are the guidelines applied to what kids bring into schools for their own consumption. Special considerations for childrens’ allergies, nutritional needs and the environment have significant impact on food choices. Gone are the days of peanut butter and jam on white bread in the handy clear plastic baggie. Making lunches and choosing snacks for picky little eaters, when prep time is a factor, well, it becomes a bit of a daily nightmare.

For ‘lunches from home’ most schools have the following guidelines:

  • No nuts at all
  • No “junk” – ie chocolate, gummy candies, hard candies, lollipops etc
  • Litterless – ie no plastic baggies (even if you reuse them)

Each kid is different and has an ever changing palate. That said, as a health care provider, I cannot emphasize enough the need for us responsible adults to keep offering vegetables (not just fruits) to our kids. Too many studies show that kids who don’t eat veggie grow up to be adults who don’t’ eat veggies, which will (and does) have undeniable negative health outcomes. Taste buds are changing, so try a new veggie every week. One that may have been discarded last month, may now be a smash success!

What goes into the lunchbox? Here are some kid tested and approved suggestions from many parents.


  • Squeeze fruit
  • Fruit – add goat cheese
  • Apple slices with sunbutter or soft goat cheese
  • Crackers – whole grain, gluten-free such as Mary’s crackers
  • Hummus with veggies or crackers
  • Veggie sticks – carrot, pepper, radish, celery, raw zucchini, raw asparagus, snap peas, cherry tomatoes etc.
  • Goat yoghurt with added berries and chia seeds
  • Chia seed pudding – made with nut free milk, such as coconut milk
  • Chia seed pudding ideas from the Huffington Post (some contain nuts) –
  • Avocadoe – squeeze with lemon to keep it green
  • Dry cereal – ‘Power O’s’ (Love Grown brand)

Left-overs from last night’s dinner

  • Rice pasta
  • Chili or stew
  • Curries or dahl
  • Porridge left-over from the morning – can add apples, cinnamon, chia seeds, maple syrup, vanilla
  • Hard boiled egg
  • Sandwich options
  • Whole grain bread, deli meats, condiments, cheese, lettuce
  • Ezekiel bread sandwich with Sunbutter

Water with berries or cucumber or mint leaves for flavour


Great ideas from blogs


Although traditionally we think of women when we talk about cosmetics and bathroom products, but men use a handful as well. Shaving cream, aftershave, moisturizer, deodorant, shampoo can usually be found in any man’s bathroom. But what’s actually in those products? Are you lathering your face in toxins every morning? The average Canadian uses 15 personal products with 100 different toxins in the morning. So for the majority of men out there, the answer is yes, you are covering your face and body in harmful creams that have been linked to cancer, fertility issues, hormonal problems and allergies. Fortunately, the Environmental Defense and the Environmental Working Group have done their research to help navigate this world of men’s ‘cosmetics’.

Let’s focus on 2 toxins in particular; triclosan and phthalates.



Found in deodorants, antiperspirants, cleansers, and hand sanitizers. Also found around the house lining garbage bags, kitchen utensils, laundry detergents, facial tissues and most products labelled ‘anti-bacterial’.

The health effects of triclosan are considered to be endocrine disruption, having a direct effect on your hormones, specifically on your thyroid. Where a small exposure to triclosan may not be harmful, we exposure ourselves to hundreds of triclosan containing products each day!

First manufactured in the 1960’s, triclosan was used then used in surgical scrub kits in the 70’s due to its antimicrobial properties. From there, industry started to add it to all sorts of products before much thought was given to potential health effects.

In August 2009, the Canadian Medical Association asked the Canadian government to ban triclosan use in household products in fear of its potential role in increasing the number of ‘super bugs’ or antibiotic resistant bacteria. In June of 2014, Minnesota officially banned the use of triclosan in antibacterial soaps. Since then, Proctor & Gamble and Johnson & Johnson have publicly announced that they will stop using triclosan.

Although these actions are steps in the right direction, the problem is also that triclosan easily bio-accumulates – builds up in the environment – since it does not readily breakdown or decompose.

How do you avoid such a ubiquitous compound? Read your labels, be informed, shop wisely. For an anti-bacterial effect, use soap and water – studies says it’s just as good at killing bugs.



Phthalates – pronounced ‘f-thay-lates’

Smell pretty? It could be the phthalates. These man-made chemicals are endocrine disruptors found primarily in scented products and are linked to asthma, and reproductive system problems. In 2008 the Journal of Andrology released a study that found that the average American male had sufficient levels of phthalates in his bloodstream to lower his testosterone levels. Low testosterone is linked with poor muscle tone and low sperm quality. Sounds good, eh? If your shaving cream or body wash smells good and ‘perfum’ or ‘fragrance’ is listed as an ingredient than beware.

Gradually phthalates are being phased out of use in Canada however always read labels carefully since dibutyl phthalate, DEHP and DEP and also phthalates. In doubt? Call the manufacturer.

In addition, this group of chemicals is widely used as a plasticizer to soften plastics such as in your fun plastic shower curtain. Persistent in the environment, phthalates are found in household dust particles, drinking water and fatty tissues (both in the meat you eat and in your body).

Curious about where else to find phthalates and their health effects, Wikipedia has some good info to get you rolling.



The bottom line, you can’t avoid phthalates or triclosans since they are now contaminating our environment. But you can make smart choices in the pharmacy, grocery store and each morning when you walk into the bathroom.


For a more complete list of toxins in your personal care products and a great pocket guide to download, check out the Personal Care Products Pocket Shopping Guide



For more info check these link out:

How to Get A Green Shave:

Skin Deep Cosmetics Database


Top 3 Nutrients Every Man Needs

Short version?

Tomatoes from the garden
+  Oysters for Happy Hour
+  Salmon grilled on the bbq
= One happy (healthy) man.tomato, fish oil, pumpkin seed


Maximize health and minimize the work? Sounds like a plan! While tips and tricks for exercise, nutrition and stress reduction are all over the web, let’s boil it down something you (or your male friend) can easily grab onto.


An anti-oxidant that gives fruits and vegetables a red colouring. Tomatoes are one great source that most of us Canadians have in our gardens.  Anti-oxidants reduce oxidative damage that naturally occurs in all our cells as we age.  To super charge your overall diet, men and women should increase the colour and brightness of their foods – choose fresh local fruits and veggies of all colours.

Although research on the positive effects of lycopene and prostate cancer are mixed, most studies agree that for men with a family history of prostate cancer, having lycopene in foods regularly will reduce the risk of developing this men’s cancer.


Practically a wonder drug, zinc does it alloyster-on-ice – supports hair growth, improves testosterone levels, boosts immune system health, supercharges sperm and refines taste buds.  An essential element at the cellular level, zinc-based receptors allow your cells to grab testosterone and transmit the hormone message, including producing more testosterone. This ‘manly’ hormone allows both men and women to more readily build and maintain muscle mass. Looking for easy to eat zinc sources? Raw pumpkin seeds, oysters, lean beef – enjoy!

Often used in fertility treatment, zinc is required for sperm production and semen formation.  You can easily have your functional zinc levels tested with your naturopathic doctor with a simple in-office test.


Omega-3 essential fatty acids… (aka fish oils)
The Standard North American Diet, firmly rooted in animal meats, processed foods and few fresh vegetables  (this is not a good thing), leads to a low omega-3 fatty acid level and a high omega-6 level.  Corn is the primary source of omega-6 fats and most of our animals that we eat for dinner have themselves been fed of corn products. Remember the adage ‘You are what you eat’, well that includes what your dinner ate.  Indeed over the last 40 years, omega-6 consumption has sky-rocketed 250% while omega-3 levels have fallen 40%. This imbalance is problematic to good cardiovascular health, cholesterol levels and blood pressure.

Where enjoying fish at least once per week in your diet along with nuts, seeds and avocados is a great basis for increasing omega-3s, most adult men need to look into a quality omega-3 supplement.  Supplementation with these healthful fats has been shown to reduce triglycerides and increase HDL-cholesterol (the good kind) therefore improving your cholesterol profile leading to a reduction in risk of cardiovascular incidents.

The frustrating thing is that not all supplements are made the same and this is especially true of fish oils. As a general rule consult with your naturopathic doctor to get the right dose for you and shop where professional brands are sold such as your NDs office or health food store. In Ottawa?  Ask your ND or visit reputable places such as NutriChem Pharmacy, Watson’s Pharmacy, Mother Hubbards or the Natural Food Pantry.
Want to really get more out of your body? Visit your naturopathic doctor to maximize your health, energy and stamina. Life is short, so take advantage now – and tomorrow!

Breast Self-Exam


Nearly 80% of most breast problems are found through self-examination – so don’t delay, learn this skill!   Breasts are pretty amazing – they changes throughout the menstrual cycle and our lives. Breast self-exams should be practiced at the same time each month. If you menstruate, do it two or three days after the end of your period, when your breasts are least likely to be tender or swollen. If you are not menstruating then pick a date on the calendar and stick to it each month.

If you find anything unusual or suspicious, or have any questions, report it to your naturopathic doctor of family immediately.


The How-To:

Breast self massage - standing

Stand before a mirror. Inspect both breasts for anything unusual, such as discharge from the nipples, rash or puckering, dimpling, or scaling of the skin.

The next two steps are designed to emphasize any changes in the shape or contour of your breasts.

Watching closely in the mirror, clasp your hands behind your head and press hands forward.

Next, press hands firmly on hips and bow slightly toward the mirror as you pull your shoulders and elbows forward.


Raise your left arm. Use three or four fingers of your right hand to explore your left breast firmly, carefully, and thoroughly feeling for any unusual lump or mass under the skin. Beginning at the outer edge, press the flat part of your fingers in small circles, moving the circles slowly around the breast. Pay special attention to the tail of the breast – the area between the breast and armpit. Repeat this for the right breast using your left hand. Hint: Some women like to do this part of the exam in the shower. Fingers glide over soapy skin, making it easier to feel textures.

Gently squeeze each nipple and look for a discharge. If you have any unexplained discharge, inform your practitioner.

breast_self_exam supineRepeat previous steps lying flat on your back with your arm over your head and a pillow or folded towel under your shoulder.





Images courtesy of


The change of season from winter to spring is the ideal time to detoxify.  During the winter months your body has accumulated toxins due to immune challenges, poor diet choices and the mental/emotional as well as physical stresses of the long cold season.

Following this daily nutrition regime for 14 days will result in the safe and gentle assistance of  your liver to process the toxins as well support your urinary tract, lymphatic system and gastrointestinal tract in the elimination of the toxins.

1)  Start your morning with a nutrient dense smoothie that includes: 15 grams of a high quality rice, hemp or pea protein powder, 1/2 cup almond or rice milk, 1 banana, 1/2 cup blueberries and a large handful of spinach or kale.  For added support include 1 tbsp of coconut oil and 1 tbsp of ground flax seeds.

2) Mid morning choose a piece of organic fruit and 10 almonds or 1 tbsp of almond butter.

3) Lunch includes a protein like beans and lentils, organic chicken or turkey  or wild game like bison or elk served with brown rice, quinoa or sweet potatoes and an abundance of vegetables.  This can be served in a variety of ways for example cold as a salad with an oil based salad dressing or warm as a stir fry seasoned with garlic and ginger.

4) Mid afternoon choose raw vegetables like carrots, peppers or celery and 3 tbsp of hummus.

5) Dinner is similar to lunch.  To keep things interesting make soups or stews that follow the same guidelines of a protein, gluten free grain and lots of veggies.  Also ensure that you add healthy fats to each meal like avocado, roasted nuts and seeds, goat cheese and/or different salad dressings and sauces.

6) If you are hungry at night choose a brown rice cake with almond or cashew butter and honey.

7) Finally drink at least 2 liters of water and replace coffee with green tea.

For an advanced detoxification program please contact one of the Naturopathic doctors at Naturally well who will be able to assess your level of toxicity and provide a specific and individualized protocol.



With the cold damp February weather upon us, what better way to nourish and warm our body than with a comforting chicken stew.  Not only is it delicious, but chicken broth is loaded with amino acids necessary for collagen production, supporting bone, joint and intestinal membrane health and is rich in potassium and several other important minerals. Grandma was right! Chicken broth is loaded with nutritional benefits!


Leftover bones and skin from a cooked or raw chicken

Celery, Onions, Carrot, Parsley or Bay leaves, Salt, Pepper


1. Put leftover bones and skin from a cooked chicken carcass (or a whole raw chicken) into a large stock pot or crock pot and cover with cold water. Add celery, onion, carrots, parsley or bay leaves, salt and pepper. If broth will be used for chicken stew, then broth can be prepared by simply adding onions, sea salt and bay leaves, then the carrot, celery and other veggies will be added in when cooking the stew.

2. Bring to a boil and immediately reduce heat to bring the stock to barely a simmer. Simmer uncovered at least 4 hours, occasionally skimming off the foam that comes to the surface. If cooking in a crock pot, cook according to crock pot instructions, generally 8-10 hours on low or 4-6 hours on high (ensure that chicken is cooked thoroughly if cooking from raw).

3. Remove the bones and strain the stock. Separate all additional chicken from the bones, and reserve for the stew. If skin from the chicken has been boiled with the bones, putting the stock in the fridge overnight will allow the fat to rise to the surface of the broth and can be skimmed off the following day.

4. To a large stock pot add broth, reserved cooked chicken, 2-3 bay leaves, 2-3 chopped celery stalks, 3-4 chopped carrots, any root vegetables of choice, including potato, turnip, rutabaga or celery root, sea salt and pepper. Bring the broth to a boil, and then adjust to a low boil for 30-45 minutes or until all vegetables are soft. Add garlic for an immune system boost, or dark green leafy greens shortly before serving for added nutritional benefits! Simmering this for additional time just makes it even more delicious!


The holiday season is a time of joy and celebration.  Unfortunately, it can also bring unexpected feelings of stress, anxiety and depression.  At this time of year, our busy schedules become packed with commitments, our bodies are exposed to the cold of winter, and the holiday treats make it more difficult to eat healthy.  Learning how your body copes with this added stress can help ensure a healthy holiday season and can kick start your New Year with optimal energy and peace of mind.  Prolonged exposure to a fast-paced lifestyle decreases your ability to handle the normal ups and downs of everyday life.  Without daily coping mechanisms in place, there is increased risk of developing stress-related illnesses and symptoms like fatigue, insomnia, sugar cravings and low immune function.  There are three main stages that the body experiences in response to stress.

Alarm Stage “Fight or Flight”

This first stage is your body’s immediate reaction to a stressor. The adrenal glands release adrenaline and cortisol, which prepare the body for a short burst of physical activity.

Signs and Symptoms: bursts of energy, increased heart rate, decreased digestive function and lowered immunity.

Resistance Stage “Tired but Wired”

During this stage, higher than normal levels of cortisol are maintained to help convert nutrient stores into energy, and therefore help the body adapt to stress. However, increased cortisol production over long periods of time has a negative impact on health.

Signs and Symptoms: high blood pressure, fatigue, anxiety, insomnia, difficulty loosing weight, acne, infertility, high cholesterol, blood sugar imbalances, chronic pain.

Adrenal Exhaustion “Burn Out”

When you reach this stage, the body’s reserves are depleted and you can no longer effectively respond to stress.  There is decreased output of cortisol and increased susceptibility to infection.

Signs and Symptoms: fatigue (especially in the morning), low blood pressure, frequent colds and flu, depression, low sex drive, allergies, decreased exercise recovery.

Basic healthy lifestyle habits can help manage your body’s response to stress.  Some key lifestyle tips include: keeping regular sleep cycles, participating in restorative exercise (yoga, snowshoeing, skating, and resistance training), eating adequate protein, avoiding refined carbohydrates (white flour, sugar and processed foods), and practicing deep breathing exercises.

A Naturopathic Doctor can recommend further interventions that balance the negative effects of stress.  An individualized treatment plan is created after a comprehensive health assessment that includes an extensive health history, a physical exam and relevant lab tests.  Naturopathic care includes the use of herbal medicines, nutritional supplements, dietary modifications, homeopathy, acupuncture, and lifestyle counseling.

Contact Naturally Well today to learn more about how Naturopathic Medicine can help make this holiday season a balanced and enjoyable one!