Building Resilience & Reducing Stress in Kids: Interview with Jess Sherman (HPC: E11)

Jess Sherman, high school teacher turned Certified Holistic Nutritional Consultant™ and resilience expert joins us. 

Depression and anxiety are plaguing our children, and stress is often a root cause…what can we do about it?

Whether we actually live stressful lives or simply stress ourselves out (or social media plays a role in over-stimulating our amygdala and fight or flight response), there’s no doubt in my mind that Americans are experiencing stress, and not all that great at dealing with it.

And it’s showing in our children!

Last week’s guest, Dr. Kelly Brogan, said, “Children are our sentinels,” when something is wrong. With 1/3 of teens reporting anxiety and 9-13% clinically depressed, it’s time to listen up. But what can we do to help our kids be more resistant to depression and anxiety?

This week’s guest, nutritionist Jess Sherman, has a great answer, and it’s all about increasing their RESILIENCY.

In this interview, we’ll talk about:

  • Why even great schools aren’t able to fully tap into kids’ brilliance and potential
  • Removing roadblocks to resilience (including food!)
  • Why self-regulation is critical to resilience, and some factors that interfere with kids being able to self-regulate
  • Foods that parents need to be aware of for best school performance
  • How to get kids on board with healthy food

No time to watch the whole video? Here are the notes!

Building Resilience & Reducing Stress Video Time Stamps

  • 0:11: Jess Sherman is the author of Raising Resilience, an expert on resilience and reducing stress. She started her career as a high school teacher, and left teaching to study nutrition and holistic health and really focused on the impact of nutrition and stress on child development. She’s now a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, but it’s her experience as a mom of 3 boys that really drives her passion to help frenzied parents find the calm in their home and give their kids the greatest health they can. She combines resilience strategies with food and nutrition to make a powerful 1-2 punch against many of the things that ail our young generation.

FREE DOWNLOAD: 3 Ways to Build Brain Resilience

  • 1:17: We start by defining “resilience.” Resilience is our ability to cope with stress. It allows us to adapt to change, bear adversity and learn from failure.
  • 2:04: Symptoms such as anxiety, depression, aggression, hyperactivity and withdrawal can all be linked to high stress and an inability to deal with it.

They’re struggling to bring themselves back to balance in the face of an accumulation of stress. -Jess Sherman

  • 3:39: Kids are really good at pushing our buttons and stressing us out as parents or teachers. In order to effectively help them we need to step back and see them with compassion. Kids are very reactive. If we stop and ask the right questions, we can figure out what they are reacting too and then work to build their resilience back up and reduce those stressors.
  • 5:06: Jess talks about her journey from high school teacher to nutritionist and resilience expert. It began with an interest in why people behave the way they do and how we can improve ourselves. She studied experiential education and ended up in a high school that had a strong focus on resilience (although she didn’t realize it at the time!). Although they did some amazing things at that school, she felt like something was  being missed. She found that missing piece through her nutrition studies.
  • 7:49: As she studied food and nutrition, Jess focused on the link between food and behavior.

[Food] is such a valuable tool to actually change the chemistry of the body. -Jess Sherman

  • 10:58: Jess provides a framework for parents to use to analyze their child’s stressors. She starts with three categories: social, environmental and biological. When a child is having a tantrum or an anxious moment, you can scan through these areas and see what might be driving the behavior.

Behavior is driven by something, always. -Jess Sherman

  • 12:00: We talk through some concrete examples of stressors in each of these three areas. Jess refers to biological stressors as the elephant in the room. These are the ones that might be harder to see.
  • 13:39: Biological stressors can be short term (not enough sleep last night, lack of food, too much sugar) or long term (chronic nutrient deficiency, chronic constipation, inflammation).

Quote about the connection between your brain and body

  • 15:04: Just because you can’t see a clear stressor doesn’t mean there isn’t one, you may have to dig deeper for a chronic stressor like a deficiency. Try tracking their tantrums or other symptoms and if you begin to see a pattern you can take that to a functional or integrative health practitioner and see if they can help figure it out. The answer is never that nothing and wrong and children are just prone to being unhinged.

Quote about kid's behavior

  • 17:28: We focus specifically on how food affects kids at school. It’s different for every kid so you need to work with your child to determine what best fuels them and what is their kryptonite.
  • 19:13: Jess boils down what she teaches parents about nutrition into four pillars: food irritation, nutrients, blood sugar support and digestive support. You’re not going to be on top of all of them at once, but keep these four areas in mind as you evaluate your child’s diet.

Get Your Kids in the Kitchen with a Free Lesson

  • 19:41: Foods that interfere with one of those four pillars are ones to avoid. For example, food additives can cause irritation, block nutrient absorption and mess with the gut balance.
  • 20:19: There is research that shows that “foods” like food additives and sugar cause inflammation and affect behavior. These recommendations are  based in science.
  • 20:42: Most kids eat some of these triggering foods like dyes, sugar, dairy and gluten daily so it become very difficult to see any pattern and you need to just pull them out of their diet and experiment.
  • 21:29: You can choose the focus when you’re eliminating foods. If you focus on food restriction and what you can’t have that will drive complaining and frustration. If you focus on nourishment and how you are feeding your body well, it can be a bonding experience.
  • 22:17: We discuss the importance of teaching your kids about healthy eating, letting them know that you’re on their team and doing this for them.

Teaching our kids about healthy food and how that affects their body is gonna take an investment of time, energy and money. -Jess Sherman

Quote about health and potential

  • 24:50: In Jess’s experience around age 8-9 the kids need to be brought into the conversation. They need to take ownership over what they’re eating and have an understanding of how food affects their bodies. Jess talks about foods as “brain foods,” “energy foods” and “growing foods” to help kids understand how different foods support the body.
  • 26:48: Hear how Jess addresses candy with her kids and clients.
  • 27:50: Some children are better able to handle a “treat food” like an occasional bowl of ice cream if they are consistently eating well and have built up a high level of resilience. Other’s have less wiggle room because they are more sensitive. (We are talking about sensitivities, not food allergies.)
You can find more from Jess Sherman, Certified Holistic Nutritional Consultant™, on her website. Her book, Raising Resilience, is spectacular! You can also check our her courses here.

How to Build Resilience and Reduce Stress in our Kids

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