In Canada, 6.1% of school age children have ADHD. 11.6% are diagnosed with mood and/or anxiety disorders. 31.5% are overweight with 11.7% classified as obese and these percentages are increasing. Parents, teachers and medical professionals are equally concerned about these alarming statistics. So it was to a packed room of Early Childhood Educators, that I found myself attending a lecture given by Michelle Riddle, Occupational Therapist and Holistic Nutrition Consultant. In two hours she offered tantalizing solutions to many symptoms including anxiety, attention deficit, brain fog and lack of co-ordination.


Riddle’s answer was based in the study of epigenetics – the biological mechanisms that will switch genes on or off. She drew on the example of Type 2 Diabetes – a disease more likely to manifest symptoms when a person is overweight, eating a high sugar diet and/or living under a lot of stress.


We all know our bodies suffer under strain. Who hasn’t noticed a dramatic drop in patience levels just before you get sick? So children demonstrate mood changes when their bodies have to fight against tiredness, inflammatory reactions to allergens and/or excessive stress levels. There is only so much wear and tear a body can cope with. This will vary between individuals but overloading the body can lead to poor digestion, excessive release of cortisol and the acceleration of any disease lurking in the body – think “fight or flight” all the time.


The solution, according to Riddle, is to choose activities that support healthy functions within the body. By giving the body a “S. E. N. S. E. of Regulation” Riddle believes you can build resilience against chronic conditions like obesity, diabetes, ADHD, mood disorders, learning disabilities, and more. S. E. N. S. E. being an anachronism for:


Sleep: The symptoms of sleep deprivation – inattention, hyperactivity, impulsivity, disorganization, forgetfulness, difficulty following social rules and easily distracted – look suspiciously similar to the symptoms of ADHD.

Build opportunities for solid, age appropriate sleep.

Exercise: Move your body for at least one hour everyday. Get outside. Interact with nature. Strengthen the immune system by getting dirty.


Nourishment – To access the nutrients that manage the functions of our brains and bodies choose a variety of chemical free, whole foods. Avoid processed food. Remove reactants and identify digestive imbalances.


Stress – Learn relaxation techniques and build social/spiritual wellness to help balance the stressors in life. Practice gratitude, listen, master the art of conflict resolution and treat others with care.


Environment – In 2013, Environment Defense Canada discovered up to 121 active toxins in the cord blood of newborns. To minimize personal exposures and build resilience use natural cleaners, such as vinegar and baking soda, reduce the use of plastics, stop any pest and herbicide use and reduce electromagnetic frequency exposure.



Would you like to learn more?

Contact Michelle Riddle: [email protected]