End the overwhelm.

Get a head start with my researched and field tested tool kit so that your child can thrive too.

End the overwhelm.

Get a head start with my researched and field tested tool kit so that your child can thrive too.


Toolkit Tuesday: Digestion Cheat Sheet

Digestion Cheat Sheet

Today’s Toolkit Tuesday episode is an important one because we’ll be talking about one of my favourite tools as a nutritionist, the Digestion Cheat Sheet. We all know how important digestion is in our children’s overall health and the topic is near and dear to my heart because as a nutritionist, I know we may go to great lengths to find the perfect combination of foods and nutrients for our children, but if they aren't digesting them properly, then we’re not going to see any benefits of that great diet that we’ve worked so hard to achieve for them.

We also know without optimal digestive function, it can and most likely will impact our gut microbiome which impacts so many parts of our overall health and wellbeing. For so many of our children, their gut microbiome is not functioning properly which leads to why I created the Digestion Cheat Sheet and how it can be a helpful tool for you and your practitioners. 

Also, if you’re interested in learning more about the My Child Will Thrive Toolkit and how to access these free tools, here’s some more information.

The Toolkit includes:

  • Researched and field tested guides, tracking tools, checklists and cheat sheets allow you to get to the root of what is causing your child's challenges. so that you don't waste time creating them yourself.
  • Videos to walk you through some of the more challenging topics you will need to learn to help identify what your child needs.
  • Using The My Child Will Thrive Tool Kit gives you a head start so you can focus on what is most important – your child!

I recommend watching the video on YouTube (see below on this page) to see the Digestion Cheat Sheet as I walk you through it. I hope you enjoy this episode!

Things You Will Learn
  • Why I created the Digestion Cheat Sheet
  • How to use the toolkit and the implications on digestive function at each stage
  • Triggers for gut dysfunction
  • Using the top down, or north to south approach
  • And much more…

Show Notes for this Podcast 

  • The reasons why the Digestion Cheat Sheet is helpful to use. (2:05)
  • Walking you through the Digestion Cheat Sheet. (5:05)
  • What is triggering gut dysfunction? (6:42)
  • Why the north to south approach is helpful. (9:50)

Resources and Links

Sign up for the free My Child Will Thrive Toolkit


Articles Related to Toolkit Tuesday: Digestion Cheat Sheet

Sabotage of Poor Digestion and How to Fix It

Bottom Line: Good Digestion is Fundamental to Help Your Child


0:00 Tara Hunkin:
This is My Child Will Thrive and I'm your host, Tara Hunkin, nutritional therapy practitioner, certified gaps practitioner, restorative wellness practitioner. And mother. I'm thrilled to share with you the latest information, tips, resources, and tools to help you on the path to recovery for your child with ADHD, autism, sensory processing disorder, or learning disabilities. My own experiences with my daughter combined with as much training as I can get my hands on,

research I can dig into, and conferences I can attend, have helped me to develop systems and tools for parents like you who feel overwhelmed trying to help their children. So sit back as I share another great topic to help you on your journey. A Quick disclaimer before we get started. My Child Will Thrive is not a substitute for working with a qualified healthcare practitioner.

The information provided on this podcast is not intended to diagnose or treat your child. Please consult your healthcare practitioner before implementing any information or treatments that you have learned about on this podcast. There are many gifted, passionate, and knowledgeable practitioners with hundreds, if not thousands of hours of study and clinical experience available to help guide you. Part of our goal is to give you the knowledge and tools you'll need to effectively advocate for your child so that you don't blindly implement each new treatment that comes along. No one knows your child better than you. No one knows your child's history like you do or can better judge what is normal or abnormal for your child. The greatest success in recovery comes from the parent being informed and asking the right questions in making the best decisions for their child in coordination with a team of qualified practitioners in different areas of specialty.

Today's podcast is sponsored by the Autism, ADHD, and Sensory Processing Disorder Summit. In order to learn more about the summit and to sign up for free, please go to mychildwillthrive.com/summit.

2:05 Tara Hunkin:
Welcome back to the My Child Will Thrive podcast. I'm Tara Hunkin and I am looking forward to talking to you today more about digestion in the context of the Digestion Cheat Sheet, which is one of the tools that is in the My Child Will Thrive Toolkit, which is why this is another episode of Toolkit Tuesday. If you aren't familiar with the My Child Will Thrive Toolkit, it is a free digital resource for you that has a number of tools that we discuss here on My Child Will Thrive, and you can find it at mychildwillthrive.com/toolkit, and you can sign up and get your account and you can download all these digital tools and walk through videos for free.

So the one we're gonna talk about today just to familiarize yourself with some of the things that are in the toolkit is the Digestion Cheat Sheet, as I said. And digestion is a topic that is near and dear to my heart because as a nutritionist, I know and I'm sure you as parents also know, and the practitioners that are listening, we may go to great lengths to find the perfect combination of foods for our children and nutrients for our children, but if they aren't digesting them properly, then they're not gonna get that benefit of that great diet that you have worked so hard to attain for them.

In addition to that, if we don't have optimal digestion, that means that the microbiome is going to be impacted. And with all we know now in the continued research on the gut microbiome and its impact, pervasive impact on health, both with the gut brain access and immune function, et cetera, et cetera, we know that we need to have optimal digestion.

Unfortunately, for so many of our children, they do not and for many good reasons. So this is what the digestion, why, what and why the Digestion Cheat Sheet was created. I wanted to summarize all the different types of digestive dysfunction that could be possibly happening in the north to south process of digestion starting in the brain and ending down further down in the colon and in the gut.

So we walk through all the different types of triggers for dysfunction, possible root causes for those triggers, and we're gonna discuss what that looks like in terms of what type of dysfunction that looks like, and also interventions that you can consider in consultation with your practitioners. Some parents take these things into their own hands, but most of us work with a team of practitioners.

So this gives you a good understanding as a parent, this is a tool practitioners can use with their parents they're working with too. It helps you make great decisions for your children moving forward. So let's get to it. For those of you that are listening, I'm gonna describe what the cheat sheet looks like as best I can. If you wanna take a look at this, you can also see this video on our website for the episode of this podcast. It also is on our YouTube channel.

So for example, this is a two page cheat sheet. It goes through a total of seven different types of triggers for dysfunction, as I said before, starting from the north, so being the brain, the top of the body down to the south. So we talk about different types of triggers in the brain that can cause digestive dysfunction. The biggest one for our kids and for most people in general, is chronic stress. This can be physical or emotional stress, which takes us out of the parasympathetic state, which is the rest and digest state.

So unfortunately for most of our kids this is the top level root cause for their digestive dysfunction. And when we aren't in that state, the digestive cascade can't begin, which means that one step triggers the next step, triggers the next step, triggers the next step. And when the top level step in particular is out of alignment, you can work on all the other steps below, but without that particular top step in terms of the brain signaling the body to go through that digestive cascade, you will never be able to take away all the different supports associated with optimizing digestion. Let the body do the work on its own.

So this is the primary one that we wanna be looking at. And then we can support the other things while we work on this one, but always understanding that if we don't get into a parasympathetic state to digest that we're going to need to do some supportive treatments and therapies in order to support digestion downstream.

6:42 Tara Hunkin:
So in the cheat sheet it gives you, as I said, the trigger for digestive dysfunction. The one I just mentioned just now is the brain. They're not in a relaxed or in a parasympathetic state.

The next column talks about possible causes for that trigger. So it could be chronic stress, physical or emotional stress, as I mentioned before. It could be that we're just rushed at meal times. It could be that simple. It may not be ongoing chronic stress with the person, but we rush through our meal times and don't sit down and really have a proper meal, which many of us don't, for lots of great reasons. It won't trigger us to be in a parasympathetic state, which won't trigger the digestive cascade. The first step in that cascade is the release of salivary amylase, which is an enzyme to start breaking down carbohydrates.

The next column says, resulting in digestive dysfunction, which is just what I mentioned, that enzymes aren't released and carbohydrates are not properly digested. We know that downstream carbohydrates, not properly digested, can ferment in the gut and help support, so not commensal bacteria, but bad bacteria in the gut. So signs of symptoms of this type of dysfunction can be in this column of the cheat sheet. This is not an exhaustive list because it's just sort of narrowing in on that particular dysfunction, but there could be a lot of other symptoms.

But one is starchy carb cravings because that's what starts happening is the bad bacteria in our gut start to crave those undigested carbohydrates to feed them, and it sort of drives the brain to want that food to feed them. We'll see a lot of food intolerances because of course we'll ultimately develop a leaky gut if we're not digesting properly.

Gas is another one. So constipation or diarrhea. The next column of the cheat sheet says interventions to consider in consultation with your practitioners. So these are types of things, it's just suggestions. Again, we always advise that you consult with a practitioner. This is all for information purposes and is not considered medical advice, but we look at using supportive things like digestive enzymes, essential oils to switch on the rest and digest state like one of my personal favorites is Vibrant Blue Oils Parasympathetic Blend. We used to have that sitting in our kitchen at all times. And then we want to identify those causes of chronic stress, list the sources that can be a really long list when it comes to our kids.

It can be everything from infections, including gut infections. They could have a high viral load, a chronic inflammatory state. They could have HPT access dysregulation or anxiety or emotional distress that they're dealing with. The reality is most kids that have some kind of neurodevelopmental challenge have trouble switching in and out of the parasympathetic and the sympathetic state. They're often in a chronic stress situation for many different reasons. So it's always great to start here.

9:50 Tara Hunkin:
So that's the layout of the cheat sheet. And then we go through six other stages. So the mouth and what that is in terms of improper chewing and what that can do. The stomach having low stomach acid in particular, which is something that happens quite frequently with our children because of not being in a parasympathetic state in most cases.

And then what happens in the pancreas in terms of digestive enzymes and what may happen in the next trigger in that digestive cascade. Then we go on to discuss the gallbladder, the small intestine, and the large intestine. So this cheat sheet is, as I said, is sort of my summary of when I was going through to become a nutritionist and then when working with clients, it is just a great tool to get a big picture look at the digestive process, which is so critically important to all of us, but in particular in this case, our children. Why it might be happening, what we can do about it, and how do we look at this.

And again, I always recommend a top down approach. So a north to south, starting at the brain and then looking at how that impacts each of those things I mentioned. So the one through seven list, each of those stages, what's the next impact if they aren't functioning properly or some of them aren't functioning properly? So this cheat sheet is available, as I mentioned before, for free in the www.mychildwilthrive.com/toolkit.

If you go to that link, you can set up your own account or just sign up and we'll set one up for you. And you can get access to this cheat sheet and many other cheat sheets along with the number of the tools that we talk about here on Toolkit Tuesday. I hope this has been helpful, and I hope that you get access to the toolkit and let us know what you like, what you don't like, what we still could add in there that could help you further on your journey with your child. And make sure you pass that information along to anybody else that it may help as well. Thanks for joining me again, once again here on the My Child Will Thrive podcast.

If you've enjoyed this, I would really appreciate it if you would share it with others and of course, subscribe and give us a review on your platform of choice, podcast platform of choice. Thanks very much for joining us again today. Bye for now.

So that's a wrap. Thanks for joining me this week on My Child Will Thrive. I'm so passionate about giving you the tools and information you need to help your child recover, and as they say, it takes a village. So join us in the My Child Will Thrive Village Facebook group where you can meet like-minded parents and stay up to date on everything we have going on at My Child Will Thrive. This is Tara Hunkin, and I'll catch you on the next podcast or over at mychildwillthrive.com.


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