Sugar – The Original Crack

When I was in my 20’s, and I heard my sister-in-law mention that she was going off sugar, and it was the hardest thing she had ever done. She talked about the withdrawal, and physical symptoms like it was a drug withdrawal. I thought this was a little dramatic because in my 20’s I knew everything. Now I’m 50, and I realize how right she was and how dumb I am, to be honest. However, being a dumbass makes me more willing to understand what I don’t know.

Sugar and its effects

There are many papers on the role of sugar and its effects on the brain. One of the best articles I found shows that sugar triggers dopamine production in the same area of the brain as drugs do in rats.  Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that is best thought of as “the reward chemical.” Gambling=dopamine.  Sex=dopamine.  Drugs and alcohol=dopamine. Video games=dopamine.

This paper shows that it is common to have a cross addiction to alcohol and amphetamines with sugar sensitization. So, sugar is a drug.

Another question you might have is, “Why are we made this way?” With all the sugar surrounding us, it doesn’t seem fair. Before toaster pastries and wine came along, as early humans, we had to forage and hunt for meals, and when winter was coming, we took calories where we could get them.  If we came across sugar, whether in honey or fruit, we got the signal to eat and eat a lot through the reward of a dopamine hit. The necessary thing for the forager was that sugar also packed on fat to help get through the long hard winter. The signal to eat, and eat a lot, gave us an evolutionary advantage.  

Now, the average American eats 100-150 lbs of sugar a year because it overflows into every part of their diet. We have entered the land of chronic diseases of overconsumption like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Men should eat about 25 lbs of sugar per year based on weight, and women about 16 lbs per year. That means about 35 grams a day for men and 20-25 grams for women. Men, drink one 12oz. soda (38g), and you are done. Women, have one brand name yogurt (26g), and you are done…. and unsatisfied. Our processed foods are sabotaging us, so be very aware of hidden sources driving our addictions.

Now that we can quit thinking of sugar cravings as a moral weakness, we can apply some interventions that give our willpower a much-needed helping hand. It is crucial, especially following the holidays when the sugar gremlin is turned loose to eat all the sugar-laden foods.

Here are two things to focus on:

Improve Dopamine levels

  1. Exercise is not sexy, but 10-15 mins of moderate to intense exercise stoke the dopamine fire.
  2. Sleep– also not sexy. When we don’t get enough sleep, our dopamine requirement goes up because our number of dopamine receptors goes down. Think about the last time you didn’t get enough sleep? You probably couldn’t get enough ice cream. Don’t underestimate the importance of enough sleep in fighting your cravings.
  3. Supplement support– a little sexier. Increasing dopamine is easy with supplements. You can help dopamine stay around longer with things like Rhodiola Rosea (1 twice a day).  You can also increase dopamine production with DopaPlus (1 twice a day between meals). These supplements work and will help you avoid sugar cravings along with the next intervention.

Kill the yeast!

Yeast or Candida Albicans (and others) live in our digestive tract, and a certain amount of them are good, when they overgrow, they become detrimental to our health and lead to fatigue, brain fog, and, most of all, sugar cravings.

  1. Starve them– Start cutting back on sugar as this is yeast’s favorite fuel source, and less yeast equals fewer cravings. There is no research saying, “you have yeast, then you have sugar cravings,” but from what I see in my office, this is 100% true. The only problem is that it is hard to cut back on sugar when you have yeast, so enter something to help.
  2. Candida Balance– This is a supplement that does a phenomenal job of leveling the yeast playing field. This is my go-to when I have been in the cookie cupboard and can’t stop.  1-2 capsules twice a day does an herbal number on the yeast and their protective biofilms. I can feel the cravings dissipate within 24 hours. You need to take at least one bottle if you have been struggling with sugar for some time and keep some handy when you fall off the wagon during holidays or special occasions.

Whitney Houston said, “Crack is whack.” What she should’ve said is, “Sugar is a booger.”

Addiction to sugar and its associated diseases, heart disease, cancer and diabetes, have killed many more people (1.35 million) per year than crack (70K).

The Long Hard Ride

I was cleaning out my house for the last time (it took me three trips from Ohio to Colorado to get completely moved) when I found a gift from my wife from years ago. It was a wedding gift: a leather-covered flask and on the front was the quote “For the long hard ride.” When she gave me this, we were riding horses in Kentucky every weekend, sometimes 25 miles a day. And when in Kentucky, do as the Kentuckians do and drink your Vitamin B (Bourbon). Life took us away from riding, 4 kids tend to do that, but this memento from my wife reminds me of some lessons from those days of horseback riding.


Lesson 1: No fear. 

The worst thing you could be on a horse is fearful. Because they know it, as they are very intuitive animals, and take their cues from the rider. This is counterproductive, as you lose control, and then bad things happen. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy. The same goes for now. When we are full of fear, we do not see the opportunities available to us, and we miss that which can improve our lives. Living in fear creates the sense of “not enough,” and there goes happiness. Meditation, yoga, and prayer are wonderful ways to center ourselves and live in abundance, where we are right now, at this moment. Give it up, let it go, and let in all the amazing great things that want to come into your life. The ride will go much smoother.


Lesson 2: A little goes a long way. 

I had occasionally overindulged with the aforementioned Vitamin “B” while riding. I went from enjoying myself to a miserable time, pretty damn quick. As we are at home the question “why not?” is often asked when it comes to things that are mood-altering. Harmless enough, right? Well, here and there, sure, it can be enjoyable and relaxing in small doses. The problem is large doses disrupt your sleep, you may become depressed, and you create a cycle involving said substances. To get out of the weirdness we are living in, the cycle may leave you constantly trying to crawl out of your self-induced mood changes. I encourage you to enjoy the long ride by not overdoing it early on, as it can make a long trip much longer.


Lesson 3: Be prepared. 

Early on, I bought saddlebags for all the things that can go wrong on the trail. I packed them with about everything I might need when I was going to be 10-15 miles from camp. Well, folks, we are a long way from camp right now. We need to be prepared. Whether it’s getting enough sleep, supplements to support immune responses, or eating right, these things will get us through like nothing else in our “saddlebags.” You can see my blog here on these things, but it’s important to realize that this has to be a lifestyle choice for the long term.    


Lesson 4: Get in a rhythm. 

This will be a long hard ride indeed if you don’t get into a rhythm. We rode gaited horses, if we were not in sync with the gait, man, it hurt the next day. Well, daily life is the same way. I decided after 2 weeks of flopping around like a fish and seeing how long it took till my body funk drove me to the shower, that I had to create normalcy in my life again. Now, it’s get up, meditate, drink my coffee, get a shower, answer emails, do things like writing my e-book that is halfway finished, or other projects I never got around to, like straightening the garage, go for a walk help make supper and have a family dinner. This has done wonders for my mood and outlook. A schedule helps. Going to sleep at night is much easier when you feel like you didn’t Netflix your way through the day.


Lesson 5: Maintenance for your horse. 

A lame horse is not good for a long ride, of course. They require maintenance. If you just thought you could pull it out of the stall and go, it’s probably not going to go well. When we get hit with this virus, we need to be prepared and all the things mentioned in Lesson 3 apply here. We can’t take Zinc and Vitamin D for a month or two and expect it to do the trick. The same goes for diet, sleep, and stress reduction. It is a long-term commitment, just like I made to my animal so that he could do what I asked of him. Your body is the same way.


I wish it wasn’t going to be a long hard ride, but until we get enough testing and tracking of people who are infected, this virus may be around longer than we like. This is not to discourage you, but to encourage you to not be a sprinter in this race, but to create abundance so that you find joy and contentment, no matter the circumstances. It helps on the “long hard ride.”

Eating the Fear Away

Fear, unfounded or not, is debilitating. I am gaining a new appreciation for fear with my recent reading of an article in Nature magazine. In this article, I found that my previous thinking of this as a purely psychological problem is probably not 100% accurate. As I will explore, our fear and the neural connections that say “when this happens, this is going to happen” is more associated with our bacteria living in our gut, than some faulty processing of this emotion. Truly a groundbreaking insight, at least in rats, but I think we can say it should apply to humans as well.


Let’s talk about my fear. It is heights. I hate them and I even freak out 5 feet from ledges. To take up indoor rock climbing was my attempt to overcome my fear, and I did that for over 12 months with the thought that if exposed enough, my fear would dissipate. Well, after 12 months, despite all the logical self-talk, “You are tied to a rope with a knot that will not come loose, and there is no way to fall,” I still hung to the wall like a cat being forced into the water. I did not enjoy it. 

Fast forward 3 years: I’m climbing again and I am in love with the sport and have no fear of the same heights that had crippled my brain. Have I become so psychologically sound that this was no longer an issue? No, my wife can attest to this. So, what was it? Well, in this article I am going to discuss what gave me some insight into the shift.

The experiment was genius, except for the part about shocking rats. They took 2 groups of rats, one of which had been treated with antibiotics which impaired the bacteria in their gut, and the other group had normal gut flora. They then rang a bell and shocked them until they got both groups accustomed to hearing a bell and becoming fearful of a shock. Then, in the next phase of the experiment, they rang a bell and there was no shock delivered. The scientists monitored their vitals to see how long it would take their fear response to become “extinct” or when the rats heard a bell, they didn’t poop their cage worrying about getting the bejesus shocked out of them. 

The rats that had received antibiotics never got over the bell triggering a fear response. The rats with normal gut flora/bacteria were able to get over the fear of being shocked and didn’t live in fear of the sound of the bell. This is fascinating if the study just stopped there, but it went further to explain the reason.  

The study showed that the right bacteria in the gut releases metabolites/chemicals that instruct the brain that it is ok to “prune” these brain connections that are causing the fear response. If you have the right bacteria releasing the right chemicals, then you can remove the brain connections of cause and effect, i.e. hearing a bell and thinking you are going to get the hell shocked out of you. This is huge! Our bacteria, when our gut is healthy, helps us get over our fears. Amazing insights. The phrase, “You are what you eat” takes on a whole new meaning and it definitely did for me.  

My research over the last 2 years has shown that fiber is much better for your gut flora than taking selected probiotics (probiotics are helpful, but are limited depending on what each specific bacteria you are taking in the probiotic does–they have very specific functions). I like the fiber approach because it helps all of your bacteria.  

Back to my fear of heights. I have been eating much more salad and fibrous foods over the last 3 years and I think that is why I no longer have the fear of heights I did before. Eating right to help your brain heal is the key lesson here and eating right is lots of fiber in the form of vegetables and fruits. If you need some support with your bacteria besides just diet, try Poly-Prebiotic powder to increase your fiber. Your brain and your bacteria will thank you for it.

Zip It and Sleep Better

Or I should say, tape it and sleep better. I am about to tell you about one of the most amazing sleep secrets that costs pennies a day (Infomercial sounding? Yep, but not selling anything but good ole tape) and may save your adrenal glands. The secret is lip taping at bedtime.  

The science here is amazing and is based on the work of Dr. Butekyo. He was a doctor working in the ICU who noted that patients that slept with their mouths closed, lived much longer than those who slept with their mouth open. 

There is some complex physiologic process going on here that justify this increased longevity, but suffice it to say, breathing through your nose, creates more nitric oxide, which improves lung and heart function. It also prevents a tremendous amount of sleep apnea and oxygen deprivation. I have been utilizing this technique since the conference I attended by the guru of Butekyo Breathing, and my sleep has never been better. I actually proved this when I monitored my sleep with my Oura ring with and without tape and my sleep scores without tape were much worse. Especially my NREM and REM sleep scores, so I did not get as much restorative, deep sleep as I need.

What is involved with taping?  Well, you can go the cheapest route and use 3M Transpore tape and tape the lips shut which may involve trial periods while awake. This is an issue if you’ve been a long-term mouth breather. Once you’re used to wearing it (most people tolerate it without having to do the longer and longer trial periods) you then wear this before you fall asleep and take it off when you awake. Too good to be true? I thought so too, but let me tell you, this is a life changer for improved sleep. If you like your tape fancy, and I do (I am so Zsa Zsa), you can also use to order amazing tape in the shape of lips that I reuse 2-3 times before throwing away.  

Are there other applications for nose breathing even when not asleep? Yes, and I would highly recommend learning more about nasal breathing for asthma, stress, anxiety, and much improved athletic performance. is a great place to start if you want to dig further. If you want more information and techniques for lip taping for sleep, here is a good article I found. Also, check out this YouTube video called “Mindfulness Buteyko” which helps calm the mind and teaches soft breathing techniques. 


To your much-improved sleep,

Nathan Morris MD

Shout Out to the Castaways!

Shout Out to the Castaways!

What keeps me going? Why have I not finished the “Longmire” series on Netflix? Well, it’s because of the “castaway” patients. Those patients who have not conformed to what we expect to find using “standard” medicine.

It’s for those patients that defy traditional diagnosis, and typical response to treatment, and are ultimately marked as mentally ill and given anti-depressants. You know who you are. You are talked down too or being patronized because there is no way standard medicine doesn’t have it all figured out.

It’s for the patients that have seen more specialists than they have fingers and toes. I just talked to another patient that I had referred to a specialist for an issue that was definitely outside my wheelhouse, and I wanted an answer to an abnormal lab. The patient never got the question answered and were referred in the process to 4 other specialists who have ordered over 10 additional procedures ordered (most of which had been done in the recent past). They actually became angry with her when she refused! I guess that they didn’t know the adage she did, “to keep repeating the same tests and expecting different results is the definition of insanity.”  I am so sorry that the experience is not unique, but is the norm anymore.

It’s for the patient who thinks that there will never be a solution to their problem despite knowing there is a bigger picture that is just not being seen by all the specialists who have compartmentalized every problem and cannot see the forest for the trees. The bigger picture, that is quite discernible with just listening, escapes the medical profession which is rewarded for volume and testing.

It’s for the patients who have stuck with me for years in hopes that I gain enough new knowledge to address their unique issues. Those who wait on me to connect the dots. I truly thank you, the patients who have believed in me and our therapeutic relationship when I felt like a failure. Your tenacity was infectious and often that patience has paid off with me having that “ah hah” moment. Your faith in me and my burning desire to heal and not lose to ignorance is a huge motivator to become more than I am as a healer.

Thank you to all of you for making me a better doctor. It’s not our successes as a doctor that defines us, but our “failures,” how we respond, and what we do to overcome our limitations in understanding. I am batting better than ever because of you. I will never bat a thousand which is unrealistic I realize, but I am batting a hell of a lot better than average because of each of my patient’s uniqueness and trust that I give a damn and I am always going to be working to understand you as an individual with your own story. “Longmire” can wait. I am learning too much with the “castaways”!

Dr. Nathan Morris, MD

How Did We Forget our ABC’s?

How Did We Forget our ABC’s?

There are few things worse than seeing your baby struggle with bright red cheeks, oozing wounds, and scratching themself bloody. Watching their skin flake off and leave piles where they sat is horrible. The sleepless nights and tortured cries are gut-wrenching. 

As a parent and a clinician that sees this on a weekly basis, my heart goes out to the parents who are watching their little ones suffer. I’ve been there myself having had eczema and with little ones that had it too, so I can relate to the experience of the parents and the kiddos suffering through it. 

Thankfully, you can solve the eczema puzzle with the right steps. The key is identifying the underlying root causes and treating them appropriately. 

In adults, the underlying causes are many ranging from genetic predispositions, stress/trauma, and toxicity, to dietary factors, hormone and nutrient imbalances, and a disrupted microbiome- especially in the gut. Inflammatory conditions like eczema arise when the environmental factors mentioned collide with genetics (dig deeper into this subject in another article I wrote).   

The GREAT news is that eczema in little ones is much easier to resolve since they don’t have decades of stress, trauma, and environmental exposures that make it trickier in adults! Plus, their little bodies have an incredible capacity to heal.  

Taking a Thorough History to learn more about your baby’s eczema

The first step in this process is taking a thorough history to uncover predisposing factors. Some of the issues we commonly see in little ones with eczema are:

  •  C-section birth or birth complications/ interventions 
  •  Mom had Group B Strep, UTI, or yeast infection during pregnancy 
  •  Stress for Mom during pregnancy
  •  Mom having known GI issues that were not resolved prior to pregnancy.
  •  Family history of the allergic triad (allergies, asthma, and eczema), 
  •  Nursing or feeding troubles, colic, or early food allergies (rejection of solids or food   avoidance can be a sign something is off with the gut)
  •  Seasonal skin flares indicating an allergic component
  •  History of mother or baby living in a moldy environment or near high chemical or pollutant concentrations such as farms, golf courses, airports, highways, industry, etc.
  •  Baby or child having constipation, diarrhea or loose stools, gas, burping or bloating

Having a thorough history allows us to see the big picture of what the likely causes are and what tests we need to order. I always order a comprehensive stool analysis so gut imbalances like dysbiosis can be identified, as well as the bacteria, fungi, and parasites that may be causing it. GI health markers are also helpful in determining inflammation, immune activation, and digestive function. 

Additional Testing for an accurate diagnosis and treatment

Additional testing is sometimes necessary and could involve: 

  • serum labs to assess the immune system or allergens 
  • organic acids to assess fungi/mold and harmful bacteria
  • food allergy or sensitivity testing or other specialized testing 
  • we can also do genetic analysis if the child or parent has completed a 23andMe.  

Regarding testing, it’s important to note that you should wait until you see a qualified provider to decide which tests are needed. If you order them on your own, you may order the wrong ones and end up having to spend extra money unnecessarily on the right ones. In my practice, the only tests we order are ones that directly inform the course of treatment. 

Once the test results are received and reviewed, a treatment plan specific to the needs of the patient is made. The bulk of treatment in little ones is generally focused on balancing the immune system, replacing nutrients, and supporting proper gut and digestive function. 

Skin healing typically begins during the first 1-2 months and is often almost resolved by 3-4 months. Total treatment time for babies is generally around 4-6 months total and sometimes a little longer in older children. 

Our goal is not only for your child to find relief and have soft, smooth skin, but also to give parents the tools to support their kiddos if skin issues crop up again. 

Dr. Stephanie Davis

The Problem with Genomics

Interesting title from the man who co-created a clinical genetic interpretation web-app, PureGenomics, but there is a problem. It’s the same problem that our world suffers from in so many ways. Things are viewed as all good or all bad and no middle ground is being found. Whether this is politics, religion, science or the science that is medicine, everyone is trying to discredit everyone else. Where does the truth lie?

Somewhere in between.

So what is this middle ground when it comes to genetics and MTHFR? I think it comes down to viewing genetics as a tool that helps the clinician apply leverage. This leverage is understanding how these polymorphisms, (genetic variations which change the protein structure of enzymes, hormones, and their receptors) affect function, and how this possible change in function may affect clinical outcomes. It’s understanding that this change in function is hundreds of years in the making and is not a mutation, but a change, that in some cases, is beneficial, depending on the environment the organism finds itself in. Let’s use an illustration of the most famous reindeer of all, I mean the most famous genetic polymorphism of all, MTHFR, (got to love that name).

MTHFR is the most misunderstood SNP (Single Nucleotide Polymorphism), just like Rudolf. This is an enzyme, like a lot of other enzymes, that has more than one function. It has many changes in its code, and I think there are around 25 of these polymorphisms (one base pair is exchanged with another), and like so many other genes with mutations, most of these do not affect the function of said enzyme. Two polymorphisms do affect function, but in the literature, there is lots of confusion as many researchers do not seem to understand that enzymes have more than one function, and one SNP may affect an enzyme in one function it carries out but not in another function. For example, C677T seems to affect MTHFR as it goes about creating SAMe for methylation donation for neurotransmitter generation, DNA methylation, and detox.

The other mutation, MTHFR A1289C, does not affect homocysteine but appears to be affect the enzyme more in the pathway of dopamine and serotonin generation. It seems to escape so many peoples grasp that an enzyme is like a Swiss knife, and just because the corkscrew is broken, doesn’t mean the knife cannot open a box. As an example, we cannot say the A1298C mutation is not important because it does not affect homocysteine and the diseases that arises from poor methylation, because it affects another function of MTHFR enzyme.

This is where clinicians and researchers run into problems. We fail to comprehend the context of the polymorphism. This creates frustration when we are using the wrong tool for the job, and making claims that addressing a particular mutation does something, when in actuality it does not. This creates loss of validity in a field that is highly valid and transformational to a clinical practice.

Another problem with SNP’s, and if you ever had teenagers you will understand this, their impact/behavior often is dependent on the crowd they hang out with. Not understanding this complexity, and seeing nutrigenomics as a linear equation, takes away the validity of the field and the clinicians’ claims of what intervention of a mutation will accomplish.

One case is the MTHFR gene which in the presence of adequate riboflavin has almost completely normal function even with the polymorphism at the 677 location.  Often, polymorphisms/SNP’s have fail safe(s), if you will, or supporting genes, and vitamins, that help correct the decreased function of said gene, so that the organism can live, not thrive necessarily, but ultimately reproduce, which per Brian Hawkins brilliant book, “The Selfish Gene,” is what genetics is all about. If we just talk about the MTHFR gene as being the only instrument that matters, and do not see it as one instrument in an orchestra, then we are giving it too much credit. Likewise, if I were to be the violinist in said orchestra, one would also understand that an “aberration” can definitely have an effect on the overall sound, yikes! Now if said orchestra was playing for the hearing impaired, I’d be awesome! In some ways, that is what a gene like MTHFR does when looked at from a historical context.

MTHFR C677T polymorphism was a genetic advantage. That’s right, or it would not be so prevalent (At least 60-70% of us have at least one copy, of the two copies, for this mutation). Why would evolution allow such a thing? Advantage, and a big one if you live in an endemic malaria region. It helped our ancestors survive malaria. Where was this gene most common?  In the Mediterranean region. What is the local diet there composed of? Lots of folate rich foods, which compensated for this less effective methylating enzyme of folate. Sweet huh? The standard American diet does not have a lot of natural folate (lots of synthetic folic acid–another paper for a later date.). This is an issue that leads to problems with a genetic advantage being turned into a disadvantage as an organism’s environment changes from its original environment to the adaption. So, what does this mean for us as we navigate this gene which has generated so much controversy?

We have to understand that we do not have it all figured out. We do know that the data is conflicting in some cases because nuances are not understood by even the researchers doing the research. A lot of researchers believe folic acid is equivalent to methyl-tetrahydrofolate which is in a paper like this,, one has to question the validity of the findings. The actual polymorphism which led to the homocysteine is not directly addressed, but rather the biomarker, homocysteine. It also looked at this polymorphism in relation to people already with cardiovascular disease and did not look at outcomes if we address this gene in prevention (when MTHFR C677T is addressed in blood pressure we see very positive outcomes and decreased risk of stroke). Then we find studies like this,, which seem to support the conclusion addressing methylation is quite beneficial.

What is there to make of this confusion? Should we just throw up our hands and say let’s not look at it or try to make decisions because it’s not clear? I don’t think so. Let’s agree that literature is not completely clear on the benefit of using 5-MTHF in all diseases, but it’s clearly helpful in many diseases. We also know it is much more effective in cellular uptake and this fact is very beneficial in many preventative strategies compared to its synthetic precursor, folic acid. Is it going to be the panacea that so many people have made it out to be? No, because we are giving it to much credit, and when it is not the magic hammer people claim it to be, it allows the faulty logic by the uninitiated, that since it cannot do all things, then all the polymorphisms that can be used in clinical practice are ineffective as well. This could not be further from the truth.

We have a saying where I come from, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water” and this is really saying, don’t get rid of the good waiting on the perfect. We as clinicians, who so desperately want to heal, get in trouble when we create the magic hammer where everything becomes a nail. We lose credibility because we a looking for something that works on everything.

Nutrigenetics is a tool. It is incredibly effective as such, and the research supports this. Clinically, ask any psychiatrist if dosing with higher doses of Methyl-folate has not turned around a large number of refractory depressed patients. You would be hard pressed to find one not using this as a clinical tool. Is it where they start? No, nor should it be. The same goes with the functional medicine practitioner. We need to focus on what we know to be the foundations of functional medicine first. Heal the gut, address sleep, decrease stress and eliminate toxins. Then, and only then, should we be then looking at nutrigenetics to help us apply leverage in assisting the above-mentioned areas of focus. It works brilliantly when we understand its benefits, but also embrace its limitations.

Dr. Nathan Morris, MD

Surviving or Thriving the Holidays?

“Surviving Holidays and Social Outings” is always a large concern for patients working to place symptoms of Autism and chronic conditions into remission. But is that all we want to do? Merely survive? With a little planning and some modified expectations, the holidays, and social outings can be enjoyable for every member of the family, including those with the diagnosis.

It’s important to discuss what is important to each family member, and make a plan. A plan will help replace traditional ingredients that later will cause symptoms to flare. A plan will help extended family members understand how much this mean to you, which will reduce their feelings of being hurt or offended.

The internet is flooded with recipes that provide satisfying substitutions for most traditional foods. Google Search words such as: Paleo Auto Immune Thanksgiving, Paleo Thanksgiving, SCD Thanksgiving, provide ample ideas. Starting the planning process now will not only provide food you can eat, but also reduce “holiday stress.”

Here are some suggestions to have the best Holiday Season yet:

Prepare in advance.
Talk with your extended family or friends and identify what is being served for the holiday. Feel confident to ask permission to bring your own version or something different to share with family and friends. When you are kind and Matter of Fact about living this lifestyle, more people will be intrigued than insulted. Chances are they or someone they know are struggling with digestion issues and poor health.

Sugar is a large villain, which compromises your efforts. Bring some dark chocolate to satiate your sweet tooth and help you feel satisfied in order to by-pass the dessert table. Another great way to reduce the carbohydrates is with crust-less pies or with pumpkin mouse. There are many dairy free versions of mousse, which use ingredients such as: avocado, cacao powder, maple syrup or honey, and coconut milk.

Helpful Supplements
In the event you do eat food which creates a flare, talk with Dr. Morris ahead of time about which supplements are best for you to help break down and digest the high allergen proteins more quickly such as Gluten/Dairy Digest Enzyme, L-Glutamine, or Inositol powder.

Talk with Dr. Morris about taking extra magnesium to make up for any that alcohol indulgence will deplete further from your body.

Abundance vs. Scarcity
A large piece to healing is to train the mind to look for abundance rather than scarcity. To look at what we can do rather than staring all the seemingly insurmountable obstacles. To look at what our condition is teaching us rather than what it is taking away. To look at all the foods we can eat rather than perseverating on the foods which will cause us to react/regress. Read more about Mindful Eating, and our Mind Concept Piece to include in your Care Plan.

Cook ahead of time
Try the recipes, found on the internet or in a cookbook, ahead of time. Print out the recipes and take notes. Make your own binder of recipes to use for future holidays. A little bit of planning goes a long way to feeling pleased with your food options. has a fantastic library of recipes.

Flour Alternatives
With so many patients becoming sensitive to Coconut and Almond there is the option of Cassava Flour. Cassava is gluten, grain and nut-free, as well as vegan, vegetarian and Paleo. Since cassava is a high in starch it could mean an insulin spike for you! This means use in moderation particularly if you’re following a low carbohydrate, low-sugar or Paleo-based diet. To reduce the amount of grains, a perfect place to skip the carbohydrates is the stuffing. Try a ground pork, mushrooms, green peppers, apples or pears or another version that does not require GF bread.

Translation: don’t eat cassava flour recipes at every meal! As always, moderation is key.

A Well-Stocked Baking Cabinet
Having a well-stocked baking cabinet helps to organize the ingredients, in one cabinet, to minimize the amount of time to bake your deserts/rolls for the holidays.

Use Ghee or Duck Fat or Avocado Oil to rub on the bird rather than butter. Melt Coconut Oil and Ghee together. Place in glass container and use on your GF rolls rather than butter. Use Ghee or Duck Fat for your gravy.

If your kids are the ones recovering from a chronic condition/developmental delay, it’s best if all family members adhere to the nutritional recommendations of his/her care plan. Parents are the role models and lead the family toward healing through their actions more than by their words. If you need to eat high allergen foods, then do so once the kids are in bed and there is no way for them to see you ‘sneaking’.

Eating out this holiday season? Feel confident to phone ahead and review the menu with the staff. Restaurants are becoming more accommodating to whole food nutrition and substituting out high allergen ingredients such as gluten and dairy. Taking a few minutes to explore what you can eat off the menu will eliminate the awkward feeling of asking a million questions at the celebration.

Ultimately, the holidays are for celebrating our relationships with the loved ones in our lives. Being together, communicating and sharing our experiences in life, even the burdens such as having to watch what we eat, allows those people we don’t see often to know us better.

We should never have to be ashamed that we are doing the best we can to take care of ourselves. Being matter of fact and kind enough to offer to bring safe food allows us to partake in the fun without the worries of exposure and subsequent reactions.

Wishing you a Happy Holiday Season from the Staff at Good Medicine!!

Kara Ware is Good Medicine’s Clinical Coordinator and Functional Medicine Health Coach. She also provides online courses and coaching for families living with Autism.

Sleeping on ADD and ADHD

The diagnosis’ of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is skyrocketing among primary care physicians.
Although I am not the first one to get on my soapbox and holler about dietary modifications, supplementing for deficiencies, and lifestyle changes, I have discovered, through more research and even self experimentation, yet another common thread among these wonderful, complex children: Sleep disorders.
According to the data, 25-50% of Attention Deficit Disorder is sleep related. When I ask a parent, “How does he/she sleep?” I will usually get an immediate response because they have been dealing with these issues for years.

  • The child sleeps 12 hours per night, yet they are fatigued all day.
  • The child wakes up constantly.
  • The child has problems falling asleep.
  • The child wets the bed.
  • The child does not dream regularly, and if he does, he has night terrors.

These are the typical things I hear in the office, and as I’ve learned, they are many times a result of sleep and airway problems. These kids cannot get enough oxygen because many of them have mouths/airways that are not allowing them to breathe properly, therefore, both the quantity and the quality of their sleep suffers.
It is easy to see things like dark circles and drowsiness in these kids, but there are multiple things that can produce those symptoms, so I’ve had some training recently from dentists and orthodontists who are concentrating on airway problems and sleep apnea to identify some physical factors that will allow for proper diagnosis.

These physical characteristics include:

  • The child has poor posture with rounded shoulders.
  • When looking at the child in profile, their head will jut forward so that the ears are in front of the shoulder instead of being lined up on top of of the shoulder.
  • The child may have crowded teeth, indicating narrowed facial structure, which does not allow the tongue to fit correctly in the mouth.

Problems with concentration, inability to settle down and relax, feeling the need for stressful physical activities in order to keep a higher heart rate, and snoring are all considered for objective diagnosis.

Sleep studies are helpful and seeing a dental sleep specialist is a good place to start.

I can say that almost all of the kids I see, whether they are on the autistic spectrum, have depression, or diagnoses such as oppositional defiant disorder, have a sleep issue plaguing them as well.

From what I’ve seen in my office, and judging from all of the research I’ve done, ADD and ADHD have never been caused by a Ritalin deficiency. If you are concerned on any level about your child’s sleep and/or sleep patterns, consider having them evaluated properly. You too can rest easier with more knowledge on your side. With that in mind I have included a link to look at another major cause of attention issues. Best 5 minute presentation I have seen on this subject
Another Hidden Cause of Attention issues