How To Make “Back to School” Stress Free: Tips for Parents and Kids

Guest Blog Written By: Dr. Jen Cisternino Naturopathic Doctor


School is just around the corner. This may make you feel anxious, excited, afraid, happy or sad. How do you feel? This time of year can make many people feel stressed and anxious as they prepare themselves and their children for school. The transition from summer to school does not have to be stressful. Here are some tips to help you and your child ease your way back into school.

Tips to help ease stress for PARENTS:

  1. Get ORGANIZED at least one week before school. This includes cleaning the kids rooms, tidying up their play area and also creating a “HOMEWORK” Zone that is fun and appealing for the kids. If possible, organize the kids closets and drawers so that they can easily dress themselves in the morning- with a quick look over by a parent ofcourse.
  2. Shop ONLINE for back to school clothes and supplies. Do this sooner than later. This can alleviate stress and save time for end of summer fun.
  3. If you tend to WORRY about your children in school and this time of year brings you stress and anxiety, focus on the time YOU may have as a parent to NOURISH yourself. Whether that is starting a yoga class, new eating plan, acupuncture or having more time for socializing. Remember, children feed off your energy and vitality. If you are stressed out, they will feel that. Aim to stay cool, calm and collected. Reach out for help.
  4. Try COLOURING Books for adults. Although this activity can help your child with focus, concentration and anxiousness, it is great for adults as well. Great activity to do with your children. You can all benefit!

Tips to help ease stress for KIDS:

  1. Get your kids on a routine at least one week before school starts. Set times for bathing and bedtime. Getting sound sleep is important for your child’s energy, mood and focus. Reading bedtime stories or playing calming music may help some children who are anxious. A hug and a kiss goodnight accompanied by “I LOVE YOU” soothes any child’s soul.
  2. Talk to your children about how they feel about starting school. If you notice that your child is anxious (stomach aches can be a sign) try to ascertain why. Try to help them focus on the positives of going to school. ie. meeting new friends, gym class, seeing your favorite teacher or anything that may have been memorable for them. This is important as children don’t always know how to express themselves. Taking the time to speak calmly and openly with them is important.
  3. Get your kids involved in picking their favorite knapsack and lunch bag. Picking their favorite superhero may give them more confidence and excitement about going to school.
  4. Take your kids grocery shopping with you. Make them a part of their lunch and snack picking. No parent wants their children coming home with a full lunchbox and you know how important fueling the mind and body is. One good treat, one not-so-good treat. Everything in moderation.
  5. Aim to start weaning kids off summer treats which may include a lot of sugar, fats, additives and preservatives. This can help ease anxiousness and hyperactivity in children.
  6. Leave your child a note each day in their lunchbox. It could be a funny picture or sweet message. “Have a nice day :)”. “Mommy and Daddy love you”. “Can’t wait to hear about your day”. “Keep smiling”. Little messages from a parent can make a child feel connected and calm.

If you find these tips helpful please share! Another parent or child may benefit and start school with more ease and happiness because of you.

Wishing you a healthy and happy school start. Here for all your health needs.

For more from Dr. Jen Cisternino Naturopathic Doctor
and to book a free 15 min consult be sure to check her out online,
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Tasty Tuesdays ~ Muffuletta: Quite a Mouthful

Guest Blog Written By: Jenny Arena from Fables and Focaccia


Muffuletta: Quite a Mouthful

Summer may be winding down but there are still a few weeks left to enjoy seasonal activities like splashing around at the beach; seeking theme park thrills; foraging through woodlands; hiking or biking through beautiful trails; and grabbing a blanket and packing a picnic to enjoy at the park.

Quintessential in my wicker basket is what I consider to be the perfect picnic food, a scrumptious Sicilian sandwich known as the Muffuletta. A mile high loaf (ok, actually only 2 inches high) piled with layers of Italian deli meats and its distinctive characterizing feature, olive salad. Anyone who’s been to New Orleans will recognize this sandwich as a staple garnering signature status right alongside the Po’ Boy.

download-2The original Muffuletta or Muff (as it is affectionately known), is said to have been the original creation of Salvatore Lupo, owner of the famed Central Grocery (an Italian Market) in New Orleans, in 1906. Central Grocery was located near the Farmer’s Market and quite often many of the farmers, most of which were Sicilian immigrants, would find themselves there for lunch, ordering bread, salami, cheese and a little olive salad. Signor Lupo would watch them while they sat on crates and barrels performing a balancing act with their meal on their laps.

While typical Sicilian fashion was for each food to be eaten separately, Salvatore suggested that it might be easier if he halved a loaf of bread and made a sandwich with the ingredients. After experimenting with different types of bread he found that the soft, round, sesame topped, Sicilian Muffuletta loaf was ideal, and began producing the sandwich. In no time, the farmers began asking for it as the Muffuletta and a taste phenomenon was born. The Central Grocery now has two locations in New Orleans, each proudly bearing a sign reading “Home of the original Muffuletta”, and each drawing a crowd for the famous Sicilian sub. The Italian Market has since become a tourist attraction and the sandwich it made famous can be found all over the Mardi gras city.

downloadThe Muff consists of a round loaf of bread (about 10 inches across) filled with Italian salami, olive salad, provolone cheese and mortadella. The key ingredient is the olive salad which gives the sandwich its special flavor and makes it appealing to the eye. A true Muffuletta must always be served at room temperature, never toasted; it is considered blasphemy to heat the sandwich.

You don’t have to stamp your passport and take a trip to New Orleans however to enjoy this delectable sandwich, you can easily prepare the Muff at home and pack it up just like I do for a picnic. Buon Appetito!

Muffuletta Sandwich Recipe


Olive Salad:

2/3 cup pitted and chopped green manzanillo olives
2/3 cup pitted and chopped black Kalamata olives
1/2 chopped roasted red pepper
2 garlic cloves minced
1 anchovy fillet mashed
1 tbls capers, drained, rinsed and chopped
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 tsp chopped fresh oregano (dried works well if you don’t have fresh)
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup olive oil

Combine all the salad ingredients together and allow the flavors to marry for 1 hour. Store covered in the refrigerator until ready to use.

For the sandwich:

  • 1 round crusty Italian bread such as Calabrese, sourdough, or if available actual Sicilian Muffuletta bread
  • Sliced provolone cheese
  • I have taken a few liberties with the deli meats and filled the sandwich with some of my favorites versus the traditional mortadella and salami
  • Sliced spicy capicollo
  • Sliced porchetta
  • Sliced prosciutto cotto
  • Sliced bresaola
  • Sliced roast chicken

To make the Muffuletta cut the bread in half lengthwise and hollow out the bottom half. Layer the bottom with some of the olive salad and its juices (this is also where I stray from the original recipe where olive oil is brushed on the bottom and the salad is reserved merely for the top of the sandwich). Fill with layers of the deli meats and cheese (I actually tried to alternate the lighter and darker meats with the cheese for visual appeal). Once you have filled the bread top with the olive salad and cover with the other half of the loaf and press down slightly. If possible allow the Muffuletta to sit for at least half an hour once again for all the flavors and layers to mingle. Slice into wedges and serve at room temperature, and, if possible enjoy with a nice glass of wine.

Buon Appetito!

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No dress rehearsal, this is our life!

post-stamps-tragically-hipIt doesn’t really matter how old you are, what kind of music you like or where in Canada you live because chances are, is that you know the music of The Tragically Hip and are familiar with the poetic lyrics of frontman Gord Downie. The Hip is as Canadian as hockey and maple syrup and so when we learned about Gord Downie’s glioblastoma diagnoses…a incurable form of brain cancer we all couldn’t help but feel some sort of emotion.

Gord, 52, started treatment back in December and has undergone surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Even with all that going on the band decided that it was important to say farewell to their fans and announced a final tour…The Man Machine Poem Tour.

TheTragicallyHip-ManMachinePoemSummer2016They kicked things off on July 22nd in Victoria, BC and hit up cities across our great country for a 15 show tour. Tickets went on sale and everyone went nuts trying to score a seat to see one of their most beloved bands play for the last time. It was pure mayhem and disappointment to many when they turned up empty handed. At that point, the band decided to team up with the CBC to broadcast their FINAL show in Kingston, Ontario to make sure everyone could take part…leave no one behind! The CBC broadcasted and streamed the concert commercial free on CBC Television, CBC Radio One, CBC Radio 2, CBC’s YouTube channels, and

This past Saturday we came together as a nation to celebrate something that unites us all as Canadians…the music of iconic Canadian rock band The Tragically Hip and of course Gord Downie. Kingston’s Rogers K-Rock Centre was rammed with a sold out show while others gathered with friends to watch from their homes, bars, town squares, and cottages. 11.7 million people watched the show…that’s 1/3 of the country and more than 900,000 people streamed it from around the world…insanely amazing!

Screen Shot 2016-08-21 at 6.11.32 PMThe concert was set to kick off at 8:30pm EST and I was ready or as ready as can be for what I knew was going to be an emotional next few hours. I had front row seats on my sofa as I flipped the channel over to the CBC. I along with many was greeted by the great Ron MacLean who was broadcasting live from the Olympics in Rio along side of Team Canada. Ron said a few words and then threw it to the Hip in Kingston. The first thing we saw was the band getting ready to hit the stage and Gord giving a kiss to each and every one of his bandmates. My heart sunk knowing that this was it! I’m not a huge Hip fan, I never was but I do respect the band a great deal and enjoy their music. Hell, this is a band who taught us a crap load about the history of the great country we live in through their songs. According to a @stats_canada tweet they said that “46% of Canadians have learned more Canadian history from Tragically Hip songs than from school”. Bottom line is that we are Canadian and the Hip is a part of who we are…some would even say that they are a part of our DNA.

It was time! The guys took to the stage, the crowd went nuts and they kicked off the set with “50 Mission Cap”. As they played, so many thoughts ran through my head. Thinking about what the band was feeling, thinking about those watching live at the K-Rock Centre, the fans who wanted so badly to be there but couldn’t, Gord’s friends and his family (his wife Laura and their 4 children) and most of all Gord himself. It made me emotional and I felt for all of them.

As the show went on they played all our favourites and the songs that put the Hip on the map and made them who they are today. We heard “Courage”, “My Music At Work”, “Twist My Arm”, “Bobcaygeon”, “New Orleans Is Sinking”, “Grace, Too” (which brought us all to tears when we saw Gord wipe away his tears) and they closed it off with “Ahead By A Century” which they truly are!

It was a show that we will never forget, one that will go down in history and not only will it have people talking about it for years to come but also got the attention of many already including the guys from Pearl Jam who played Wrigley Stadium that same night. Lead singer Eddie Vedder took a moment during their show to acknowledge Gord and the Hip, send some love their way and dedicated a song to them. When you see stuff like this happening you realize just how much love and respect people have for The Tragically Hip.

Another person who took part in Saturday night’s farewell was our very own Prime Minster Justin Trudeau. It was great seeing our leader there amongst the many supporting Gord and the guys. Gord took a moment to acknowledge Trudeau and say “Thank you to the Prime Minister for coming to our show, it really means a lot to all of us,”. The two met prior to show and snapped a few very touching photos together. Trudeau also later tweeted “On behalf of Canadians, I thank Gord Downie and the Hip for their decades of service to Canadian music. Forever in our hearts and playlists.”.


They rocked it! Plain and simple! They came out, gave it their all and celebrated 30 years of The Tragically Hip. 30 years of great music! 30 years of amazing Canadian rock! It was amazing to see the crowd dance, smile, shed some tears and of course singing along with Gord.

I don’t think I will ever forget this concert for as long as I live and Gord’s words last night will stay with me forever, especially when he said “Thanks for listening in the back. Thanks for listening, period. Have a nice life.”.


A big THANK YOU to The Tragically Hip and an even bigger THANK YOU to Gord! It takes a lot of courage and strength to do what you did and it means a lot to all of us xoxo


Breakfast Cookies? Yes PLEASE!

I’m not sure what your facebook newsfeed looks like but mine is full of those cooking and baking videos…food seems to be a hot topic with my friends haha. Every once in a while I come across something that I watch and think…hey that seems pretty easy, I’ll give a shot!

My most recent recipe attempt was one for 3 Ingredient Breakfast Cookies. It looked pretty simple and something I could try to do with my two older ones fighting and trying to kill each other and my little guy screaming for boob. So this morning I gave it a go and guess what, it was easy and better yet they didn’t taste like crap haha. I posted a pic on instagram and thought I’d share the video here for those of you who want to give it a shot.

Try it out and see what you think, the best part is that it’s super fast, simple, not horrible for you and taste pretty good.


Tasty Tuesdays ~ The Fab Fava

Guest Blog Written By: Jenny Arena from Fables and Focaccia


The Fab Fava

The fava bean, a legume that here in North America, is often overlooked and underestimated. While Hannibal Lector gave the broad bean 15 minutes of fame when he uttered those now infamous words in Silence of the Lambs, fava beans should be regarded as much more than a side dish to a cannibal’s meal.

Fava beans, are members of the pea family, and are one of the oldest plants in cultivation. Also known as pigeon beans, horse beans and Windsor beans, they were a staple in ancient Mediterranean civilization. Not only did they form part of the diet of the ancient Greeks and Romans but they were also used in voting. White and black fava beans were used to cast yes and no votes.

download-3Fava beans have a distinct earthy flavor and creamy texture. They can be found in many popular summer dishes in Mediterranean cuisine. The seasonal bean is often celebrated and enjoyed in soups, pastas, risottos and salads. They can be grilled; ground into purees; fried to produce a crunchy snack; steamed and served with olive oil, salt and lemon; or merely eaten straight out of their soft green pods alongside Percorino or other local cheeses, salami and olives. When harvested young, even their leaves can be enjoyed either raw, or cooked in the same manner as spinach.

The little green gems are deliciously versatile and believed to bring good fortune. In some parts of Italy, people carry a broad bean for good luck, believing that if one carries a fava bean, they will never be without the essentials in life. It is the fava bean crop in fact that is said to have saved the Sicilian population from starvation during a terrible drought. Because of this the beans are traditional on many St. Joseph’s Day altars as an offering of thanks to patron saint of Sicily.

As they are a spring and summer crop they are typically celebrated alongside other spring greens such as peas and artichokes. The beans are typically sown on All Souls Day, November 2nd and are known as fave dei morti and cakes made in the shape of them (but not from them) are commonly eaten.

download-4Growing up, fresh fava beans were a clear sign and taste of summer in my household. My father would make a trip to the local farm and bring home abundant baskets of broad beans which we would then pluck from the cotton interior of their pods and savor immediately. The bitter crunch of the raw beans made a wonderful lunch alongside salty Parmigiano or ricotta affumicata from Calabria, briny green olives, homemade soppressata, crusty Italian bread and a glass of vino.

After our peasant feast we would then proceed to shell the remaining beans along with fresh peas and combine them together to create a sensational summer stew, to be spooned over conchiglietti for an earthy and hearty pasta dinner.   

Conchiglietti con Fave e Piselli



500 grams of fresh fava beans
500 grams of fresh peas
660 ml jar passata di pomodoro
1 large onion chopped
1 cup of water
3-4 potatoes peeled and cubed
Salt and pepper to taste
Cubed pancetta or capicollo for flavor (optional)


Remove the fresh fava beans and peas from their pods and rinse thoroughly. Place the beans along with the remaining ingredients in a large sauce pot and simmer over medium heat for 1-1 ½ hours until you get a rich bean stew. Cook the pasta according to directions then enjoy topped with a generous portion of the fava bean and pea stew. This bean stew can also be enjoyed on its own with some crusty bread or a side dish.

Buon Appetito!

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7 Habits of Highly Successful “Weight Losers”

Guest Blog Written By: Dr. Jen Cisternino Naturopathic Doctor


Are you struggling to lose weight? Do you often wonder why some people stay thin and want to know their secret? Here are 7 habits that are consistent with people who lose weight and keep it off.

  1. They do some form of exercise most days of the week.
  2. They eat breakfast.
  3. They have portion control
  4. They stick with basic, whole foods.
  5. They have a method to keep track of calories/nutrients.
  6. They deal with emotional eating issues.
  7. They have a support system in place.

How many habits are true for you?

If you are struggling with some of these habits and have picked up poor habits that are contributing to your weight gain, maybe it is time to face each bad habit and work to change them, ONE at a time.

For example: if skipping breakfast is a bad habit you have, then each day when you wake up, try to have something small to eat, such as a hard boiled egg, fruit, yogurt or oatmeal. You must do this for 21 days to break a bad habit and create a new one.

Do this until you can check off all 7 habits. This may take you 7 months long, but it is worth it because it is a permanent change.  Most people try to change too many things at once which can be very difficult and leads to failure and giving up.

Small steps and you are on your way to a healthier, fitter, happier YOU!

Reach out for help in creating habits that last.

Your Friendly Naturopath,
Dr. Jen

For more from Dr. Jen Cisternino Naturopathic Doctor
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Time passes but one thing will ALWAYS remain…


It’s a year, a fuckin year already and almost to the exact time that you took your last breath. We sat beside you holding onto you for dear life and feeling so helpless because there was NOTHING we could do to stop the inevitable from happening! It was a year ago today that I lost my Daddy, my Papa, and my Hero. No one told me it was going to be this hard, they sugar coat it and tell you shit like he’s not gone, he’s still with you or just give it some time, it will get better…you know the crap people say to make you feel better…things they think will make you feel better. The truth is that for me it didn’t but instead made things worst, especially when it came from the mouths of people who’s parents are alive and well. Sometimes you just don’t care to hear from people who know nothing about how I feel or what I’m going through. Am I still angry and upset over my father’s passing? Yes, of course…he was a HUGE part of my life and living without him hasn’t been easy.

Over the past year I’ve wanted to write about him more, not so much for those of you who come here to read my blog but for myself. I said I would blog for his birthday (June 10th) and then again on Father’s Day but I just couldn’t bring myself to it. I wanted to cherish those days and spend them reflecting back on my time with him and the memories I’m left with instead of typing away on my computer. I also debated about writing this today but here I am.

It’s been a shitty and hard year, one that I could have NEVER prepared myself for. There were days when I didn’t wanted to wake up and get out of bed, days when I was determined to laugh and smile even though I was dying inside, days when I would say up at night going through old pics balling my eyes out when the rest of the house was sounds asleep and even days when I needed a hug from him so bad that I would go to the cemetery and hug the stupid marble wall where his body lays as my tears streamed down the plaque that has his picture and name on it.

Papa I miss you so much! I wish you were here for our annual CNE visit, for Mamma’s birthday, to bring Samantha to school, to meet Marcus and watch him grown, to spend the holidays together, to share one last plate of pasta and ceci with you for San Giuseppe, to get one last Happy Birthday phone call from you, to come see you for your birthday, for you to be here for the kids birthdays, to be able to spend Father’s Day with you and for all the in betweens! I don’t want to go to mass tonight, I want you to be here so that we don’t have to plan stupid memorial masses for you. I want July 25th to be like any other boring and non eventful day, I don’t want to remember it as the day I lost YOU!

Time passes we all know that but one thing will ALWAYS remain and that is my love for you and yours for me! You are my Papa and always will be, doesn’t matter if you are here beside me holding my hand or up in heaven looking down on me. It’s all these things that will remain no matter how much time passes. Even as I sit here crying and writing I can hear you saying “ah Pina mia don’t cry, c’mon” and so I’m going to wipe these tears away for you Papa and do my best to be strong and smile because I was blessed with the most amazing dad in the world!

I love you sooooooo very much and that will never change!




Tasty Tuesdays ~ Pounding out the Pestobilities

Guest Blog Written By: Jenny Arena from Fables and Focaccia


Tasty Tuesdays ~ Pounding out the Pestobilities

A garden full of glorious greens inspires many delectable thoughts during summer months. Scallions and scapes sautéed as a savory bed for fried eggs; zucchini grated into summer’s favorite bread, spicy green chilies adding heat to a plate of pasta; and fragrant basil leaves pounded into pesto. The recent bounty from our backyard garden prompted thoughts (and recipes) in fifty shades of green.

Glimmering emerald jars (well technically, plastic recycled ricotta containers, but that doesn’t sound nearly as glamorous) are among the most used in my kitchen, in fact pesto is a staple similar to the homemade sugo and seasoned breadcrumbs. Somehow, someway, its aromatic goodness makes its way into a myriad of meals.

download-2The word pesto comes from the Italian pestare meaning to pound or crush, referring to the original method of preparation, with mortar and pestle. While most credit this sauce to the Genovese of the northern Italian region of Liguria, it actually dates back to the ancient Romans. Moretum, a mixture of herbs and cheese (ground with a circular motion of the pestle in the mortar) combined with oil and vinegar, was a common spread that was eaten with bread. It is believed the main ingredient, basil, was introduced in India where the herb was first domesticated. The Ligurians adapted the recipe using a combination of basil, crushed garlic, grated Parmigiano or pecorino, pine nuts and olive oil, turning it into the classic Pesto Genovese.

While the word pesto conjures up images of the brilliant green and perfumed paste, it is actually more of a generic term for sauce that is made by pounding. Variations, including ones in other shades, and loaded with local flavors, exist across the peninsula. Other adaptations in verde include broccoli, mint, parsley and arugula and swap out the pine nuts with walnuts, almonds and even pistachios; the ingredients can change from region to region. Other popular pestos that hold their own alongside their green counterparts include the red pesto of Cinque Terre with its addition of sundried tomatoes to the classic basil recipe; Pesto Trapanese (also known as Pesto Siciliano) which is made with fresh tomatoes, blanched almonds and mint; and Pesto Calabrese which is made using peppers, chilies, tomato and ricotta. Another southern Italian variation is artichoke pesto made with artichokes and lemons.

The ingredients may be up for discussion, however the method is not. A true pesto purist would never use a chef’s knife to cut the basil or a food processor to blend the raw sauce, rather it must be prepared using the standard marble mortar and a wooden pestle that mashes the plant fibers into a paste, releasing the aroma and essential oils to get the true flavor.

Aside from its obvious use as a pasta sauce its versatility is incredible. It often gets tossed with spaghetti or penne but it makes a lovely layer in lasagne and adds a nice dimension to risotto. Because I make my pesto with basil and parsley it is the perfect flavoring agent for my Sunday sauce (everything that normally goes into a sauce is found in a couple of tablespoons of pesto) and even a minestrone. Adding a spoonful to bruschetta makes the diced tomatoes just sing, and it’s a dynamite dip when combined with cream cheese, Italian seasoning and chopped sundried tomatoes. It completely elevates pizza when used as the base sauce and topped with sundried tomatoes, marinated artichokes, roasted peppers, black olives and Parmigiano.

Forget the mayo (or maybe add it to the mayo) I often add it as a spread when making a sandwich or pressed panino (just fantastic with prosciutto, tomato, fresh mozzarella and spinach); and it makes a sensational stuffing (I have used it with fior di latte for a lovely stuffed chicken, layered it with prosciutto over a butterflied leg of lamb, and spooned into halved peppers). If it’s not filling my protein it’s topping it, such as my salmon before it gets baked or on my steak when it comes off the grill. It can also make sides simply shine, imparting its incredible flavors onto roast potatoes or mixed into a salad dressing. The only course it hasn’t yet found its way into, is dessert (unless of course you count my savory pesto biscotti).



4 cups fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese or Pecorino cheese
1 teaspoon coarse salt


1. Peel and chop the garlic. Pick and roughly tear the basil leaves, discarding the stalks. Finely grate the cheese.

2. Place the garlic, a pinch of salt and the basil leaves in a pestle and mortar (you may need to add the basil leaves in batches depending on the size of your mortar). Using the pestle begin to pound out the mixture. Add in the pine nuts and pound again. Add the grated cheese and slowly stream in the olive oil, stirring in a circular motion with the pestle until the sauce begins to bind. Continue to add oil until you achieve the desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper and enjoy.

3. If you do not have a mortar and pestle place all of the ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the pesto sauce comes together.

As you can see, when it comes to making use of this gloriously scented sauce, the pestobilities are endless. Buon Appetito!

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Why are Infertility rates on the Rise? What you can do.

Guest Blog Written By: Dr. Jen Cisternino Naturopathic Doctor


Infertility is defined as the inability for a couple to conceive after trying naturally for one year. In women older than 35, infertility is diagnosed after 6 months of regular, unprotected intercourse.

What is happening?

If you are a female, there are a number of the risk factors that may affect fertility.

  • Maternal age (after age of 35)
  • Medical conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
  • Endometriosis
  • Blocked fallopian tubes (often due to sexually transmitted diseases)
  • Fibroids or polyps in the uterus

If you are a male, risk factors that may contribute to infertility are:

  • Paternal age (although this does not affect men to the same extent as women, it can decrease sperm quality and levels of testosterone)
  • Medical conditions having to do with the male reproductive system
  • Exposure to sexually transmitted diseases

Risk factors for both include:

  • Being overweight or obese
  • Smoking
  • Drinking too much alcohol or caffeine
  • Cancer treatments (chemotherapy or radiation)

What about my career?

More women are entering the work force and delaying childbirth. If this sounds like you, I think it is important to consider your health, the amount of stress you have and how this can potentially affect your fertility. Sometimes we need to be reminded that the human body is not a machine and needs nourishment. Our bodies do not have any “on” or “off” switches. Being pregnant is no simple task and so the right amount of nutrients, balanced hormones, and rest is required. I advise women to think about their wants about having a child, and try to prepare their bodies and mind at least 6 months before they plan on conceiving.

What about stress?

We have all heard the saying “stress kills”, but most people do not believe this to be true or sure don’t act like it’s true. In my clinical practice, I have witnessed the causal link of how stress weakens the physical body as well as the mind and soul. There is an apparent “societal push” to work more, have more and earn more. With this mentality, there leaves little room for relaxation, play and joy in one’s life. Individually, it is wise to manage your stress and learn to trust and listen to your authentic self rather than the ego. Social media has become an open book for the way people live their lives. It is also a place where the ego decides that what you have is not enough in comparison to others and can leave you feeling hopeless, angry and sad. If you have been struggling with fertility issues, I would advise that you take a social media holiday for a few months and see how you feel.

Are you healthy?

If you have a known medical condition that might pose a risk for fertility, and your future offspring, then take some time to nourish yourself to better health and vitality. Naturopathic Doctors do a great job at helping the body heal with nutrition, herbs, supplementation, acupuncture, stress management and lifestyle modifications.

I always suggest that each partner spend time improving their health in mind, body and spirit.

Try these simple lifestyle modifications:

  • Avoid antibiotic/hormone fed animal meats and GMO foods.
  • Exercise 5 days a week.
  • Eat 8 servings of fruits and vegetables.
  • Take a high quality multivitamin.
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol and cigarettes.
  • Find ways to manage stress. ie. yoga, journaling, meditation, acupuncture.
  • Connect and strengthen your love and bond with your partner.

With both partners healthy, not only does this increase your chance of fertility but also makes you a healthier parent for your child. The future generations depend on your health. It starts with you.

 If you are trying to conceive without success, ask yourself these questions:

  1. What do I believe to be true for the reasons I have not yet had a baby?
  2. Have I done everything I can to help my situation? Including the naturopathic options? Acupuncture?
  3. Is there a lesson in this journey I am on?

“Unexplained Infertility”

If you have been given this diagnosis, I am sure it is frustrating. Sometimes the medical community cannot come up with a diagnosis. However, if you see an acupuncturist or naturopath we see the body in a holistic way and through our means of diagnosis we can help you increase energy, balance and relaxation.

Be kind with your words when asking about childbearing to a couple.

Due to the increased number of fertility rates, I advise that people be more considerate when asking a couple about children. Of the patients I have treated, a similar report was that people are so insensitive to the topic and it bothers them tremendously. It can be very emotionally draining going through the process of trying to conceive. If you are someone who has never gone through it, what you can do is be sympathetic and avoid questions such as “when are you going to have a baby?”

Love yourself a little more.

As you know, I am the Naturopath who preaches on having more self love. Self love is the healer for all things. Miracles are created out of love. A lot of women can be hard on themselves, blame themselves and have tremendous guilt if things are not going to plan. This does not help you. Healing on a deeper level through a process of forgiving and loving is necessary. Detoxing the mind from fear can also be helpful. Fear is a negative emotion that inhabits the body and causes destruction. It starts in the mind, and finds its way into the heart and soul. Only love can conquer fear. I urge you to look at the thoughts and beliefs that shape your fears and try to work on changing them to ones that are more positive and loving. This takes time and a lot of effort but it is worth it. Here are some affirmations you can do to be more loving on your journey to motherhood (click here).

I believe that each and every one of us has been called to be more loving towards ourselves and others. Love can create miracles. Try loving yourself a little more.

For more from Dr. Jen Cisternino Naturopathic Doctor
and to book a free 15 min consult be sure to check her out online,
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Éminence Organics has arrived at Glama Gal Tween Spa


3 kids in under 4 years means doing everything for your little ones and putting yourself on the back burner…we’ll at least that’s what it’s been like for me. I used to love hitting up the mall to shop, go for mani’s and pedi’s and of course spending time at the spa for massages and facials..USED TO! It’s a whole different ball game when you travel with your entourage (the kids) or when you try to find a sitter just so you can get some alone time.

Recently, I decided that this Mamma deserves some time out of the house and so I made an appointment to visit the ladies at Glama Gal Tween Spa. I know what you’re thinking…TWEEN SPA? Yup, tween spa! Glama Gal is no longer just for tweens and now provides services for Mammas like us (as well as teens) with the newest line they carry…Éminence Organics Skin Care. They also have a new private spa wellness and facial room and it’s amazing! I was so excited to hear about this because let’s face it, going for a facial is always awesome but a facial using quality organic products is sweet bonus. I’m sure you’ve heard it all before that our skin in the largest organ in our body and so what we put on it is really important, well at least it is to me. I care more now than ever to be healthy not only for myself but for my kids so making the right choices like choosing an Éminence facial over another that uses non-organic products is something I’m always looking for.

13382282_10154855505949838_545984052_nWhen arriving at Glama Gal (Vaughan location) I was greeted by Vanessa their Head Esthetician and first thing we did was discuss my skin, any issues with it and take a look to determine what the right products for me would be. Éminence carries products for all skin types from hyperpigmented skin, sensitive skin, aging skin, acne prone skin as well as hormonal acne skin. For myself we used a combination of products from a few different lines to come up with something specifically for my skin. I was able to see, touch, feel and smell everything which I loved because you really don’t get the opportunity to do this when you go for a facial. Usually you’re laying down with your eyes closed and have no idea what they are using on you. Being able to take a look at everything before hand really amazed me as I couldn’t believe that I could see the actual organic ingredients in the products like the seeds, pulps and peels. Everything is handmade and created in a way that the vitamins from these natural ingredients are not compromised so you are able to reap the benefits of the fruits and vegetables used to make these products. Oh and let me tell you…the smell, well it made me want to eat some of the products like their Strawberry Rhubarb Masque…which if you wanted to eat you totally could haha. As for the facial, it was fantastic! I was able to kick back, relax and enjoy some alone time while Vanessa did her thing…just what any Mamma needs and WANTS 😉 .

One thing that has really stuck with me from my visit that day was the story behind the Éminence brand. The president for Éminence, Boldijarre Koronczay, is a survivor of a rare form of childhood Leukemia and thanks his mother and grandmother for being here today. When Boldijarre was undergoing treatment he was put on a strict diet that consisted of organic and Biodynamic foods which helped him get better and stronger so that his body was able to fight the illness. Boldijarre strongly believes in nursing the body both inside and out in order to achieve total health and wellness and because of this and what he endured at a young age he created the Éminence Kids Foundation. Through the foundation they donate organic fruits, vegetables and food to sick children around the world. They believe that providing organic, locally-sourced and nutrient-rich foods for seriously ill children to eat is an essential part of their treatment, healing and long-lasting health. Another amazing thing they do is give back to our earth! For every Éminence product sold they plant a tree and just this past year they were able to hit an amazing milestone of 5 million trees…now that’s awesome!

emi-starter-kits-2So next time you’re in need of some MAMMA TIME definitely check this out! And hey if you can’t find that sitter for your little one don’t stress because the amazing team at Glama Gal understand what it’s like to be a Mamma which is why they take pride in being Mamma friendly. Babies are always more than welcome to come and stay with you in the room while you have your facial…pretty awesome right?! Or maybe your little one isn’t so little anymore? Why not book facials side-by-side and enjoy some time together. Don’t take my word for it, give them a call and go see for yourself! Where else can you get an hour long facial with amazing all natural and organic products for only $80 (or the duo for you and your daughter or friend for $145). While you’re there you can also pick up some of their great products to take home and without breaking the bank either…you can get starter kits for as low as $58.

Thanks for offering this great new service for us Mammas Glama Gal..this Mamma had a blast!

For more information or to book a Éminence facial be sure to visit
 Glama Gal Tween Spa online, “LIKE” them on facebook and
“FOLLOW” them on twitterinstagram and pinterest.

Be Confident! Be Positive! Be YOU!

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