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NBSV 140


Transcript of the No-Bullsh!t Vegan podcast, episode 140

Ernalee Shannon on why it’s crucial for folks with ADHD to eat vegan, & her work with kids

Karina Inkster: You're listening to the No-Bullsh!t Vegan podcast, episode 140. Bio-kinesiologist Ernalee Shannon joins me to discuss why eating vegan is important for those with ADHD, her own vegan story, and more.

Hey, welcome to the show. I'm Karina, your go-to no BS vegan fitness and nutrition coach. If you're looking to level up your fitness and plant-based nutrition in 2023, my coaching team and I are currently accepting applications for new clients. Head to to check out our programs.

I'm excited to introduce today's guest, Ernalee Shannon. Ernalee is a bio-kinesiologist, holistic health practitioner, ADHD sanity saver coach, author, speaker, and creator of the ADHD Sanity Saver Reset.

As a child, Ernalee says she was as ADHD as they come. After healing her own health crisis and brain, she has spent the last 36 years helping people achieve the health and well-being that eludes them. It's her superpower. Her passion is working with children who are just like she used to be. Ernalee chose vegan crazy chocolate cake as her favourite vegan food.

Full disclosure, I had to Google crazy cake because this was a totally new concept for me. And it turns out crazy cakes, which are also known as depression cakes or wacky cakes, were created during the Great Depression when eggs, milk, and butter were hard to come by. So, most of them are actually vegan by default. And also these cakes are usually mixed in the pan that they're going to be baked in rather than using three separate bowls or pans for dry ingredients, wet ingredients, and the batter. So, that is your random tidbit for the day on vegan food items and something I just learned.

Let's get to the interview. Hi, Ernalee, welcome to the show. Thanks for speaking with me today.

Ernalee Shannon: Yeah, hi, Karina! I'm so happy to be here and talking with you.

Karina Inkster: I'm very excited to learn more about what you do. But as per usual, with folks who are coming to the show as vegans, I would love to hear your backstory, your origin story of veganism. Was there a catalyst? How did it happen?

Ernalee Shannon: Yeah, for sure there was a catalyst. I mean, I'd like to say that I did it for the animals and I did it for the planet. And in the long run, that was the end result. But my husband and I both became vegan in 2011. And he had been told by that point that for the third time that he was terminal.

Karina Inkster: Oh, wow.

Ernalee Shannon: And he didn't have long to live. And by then his prostate cancer had metastasized to his lymph nodes, and from there to his bone and his spine. And it was looking pretty grim. And so now, the good news is now after 17 years after that diagnosis, his scores are perfect. In fact, in some areas, his scores are better than mine. I'm going, "Hey buddy, how is that possible?"

Karina Inkster: Yeah really.

Ernalee Shannon: It's so not fair, but I'm glad. But anyway, my husband certainly credits the fact that we changed to a vegan lifestyle for the fact that his body is so healthy. I mean, he did other things as well, but that was a major shift that we made with our diet. And we've never looked back and we're committed now to this for life for sure.

Karina Inkster: Oh, that's amazing. Wow. So, as with many folks who go vegan, there's kind of a main reasoning for it, and then it expands to other reasons down the road. And that seems to have happened.

Ernalee Shannon: It has. And I didn't expect that. I thought we were just doing it for health reasons. And then I realized it was about way more than that, and it was really what was my heart was yearning for, for a very long time. So, now I can eat and I don't feel guilty. Because I used to.

Karina Inkster: Right.

Ernalee Shannon: It's like, oh no, what am I eating? Is this good for the planet? All those things. And I don't feel any of that food guilt anymore. And I feel like we're eating in a way that's going to carry us into our later years very well and very healthy.

Karina Inkster: That's amazing. Well, good for you. That's a pretty powerful starting point. And having Ken here still and doing super well, I mean, that's pretty amazing.

Ernalee Shannon: And having him doing well. I mean, he just keeps looking younger and younger. I'm like, how is that happening to you? It's wonderful it's happening to you, but can you just rub shoulders with me a little bit here, honey?

Karina Inkster: Hilarious.

Ernalee Shannon: So, we tease each other a lot. And we're happy being vegan. It's not an issue. I can't even imagine going back to eating any other way.

Karina Inkster: Well, the way you described it sounds almost like it's liberating, like you don't have guilt around food anymore. I mean, that's pretty powerful.

Ernalee Shannon: Exactly. And I think it just makes so much sense, not just for us, but for animals, for the planet in so many ways. It just makes total sense. So, anybody who's on the fence and thinking, "Hey, I should do this." I just want to say, "Hey, go for it."

Karina Inkster: Go for it. There's your official kick in the butt from Ernalee.

Ernalee Shannon: A gentle kick in the butt.

Karina Inkster: Of course. A supportive kick in the butt.

Ernalee Shannon: Yes.

Karina Inkster: It's what we do around here. Very cool. So, can you tell me and our listeners a little bit more about what you do in your work? So, we've had kind of an overview of what you do, but not a lot of details. So, what happens in your coaching practice?

Ernalee Shannon: So, basically, I help - it's mostly parents I have worked with - their ADHD children starting back in the day before ADHD was even a name. It hadn't even had a diagnosis yet, it hadn't had a name. And I of course was as ADHD as they come, and I'll get into that in a little bit later. But these parents are often when they have come to me, they're absolutely desperate to find a way to not only help their child, but help themselves.

Because it's so hard raising an ADHD child. And nowadays, I mean, what we're seeing is we're seeing a lot of ADHD parents that they're ADHD themselves, raising an ADHD child. Which makes it super, super much more difficult than just raising a child with ADHD. So, they really have my compassion and my full support on that because that has to be truly hard.

So, what I do is I help these parents deal with their child's ADHD symptomology in a way that is natural and a way that doesn't include medication. I'm not saying I'm against medication in certain instances. I just truly wish that other people would give this a go before they decide to go down that track of medication. And I know that decision for parents is very, very difficult.

Because there's a lot of side effects to some of those medications, so I'm compassionate with that as well. But I've had very good results with this in my own life and with the children that I've worked with. And if I can just share a little bit about my story, that might make a little bit more sense here. As a child, I was, back before it was called ADHD, I was as ADHD as they come. I was compulsive, I was disruptive. I couldn't sit still long enough to learn. I was always fidgeting. I was always doodling on my paper. I was always doodling on my desk. I just couldn't sit still. It was like I had ants in my pants and I was impulsive.

And that's one thing these parents say is that the impulsivity of their children is so very difficult. Because they just do things that not only sometimes are dangerous for themselves, but also dangerous for other people or other children. And I'll give you an example of this and maybe it will give your listeners some hope. I was seven years old and I decided that I could fly.

I mean, I had watched birds, I had watched bees, I had watched butterflies. I mean, they all did it. And I figured if a bumblebee could do it, I could do it. And so I crawled up in the biggest tree on our property, which was our absolutely gigantic cherry tree. Found the perfect branch and got all set, stood there and took a deep breath, started to get my wings going, my arms going, my hands going and I jumped.

Karina Inkster: Oh my goodness.

Ernalee Shannon: And I was up fairly high. And for an instant, I was flying and then I wasn't. Down I went. And gravity, of course, had other plans for me. And it was a rude awakening when I hit at the bottom. Finally, when I got my breath back and I was bleeding and I was covered in debris, and leaves, and grass, and dirt. And so I sort of stagger into the house. My mother takes one look at me and she says, "Oh my gosh, what have you done this time?" And that was the thing I heard over and over again, what have you done this time? And I think that's something that parents with ADHD children can really relate to. And so I thought, okay, so obviously I don't have wings. This plan was flawed.

So, I can't fly, but maybe I can parachute. When my mom wasn't looking, I grabbed the top sheet off my bed and I go back out and climbed up in that cherry tree. Got on the same branch, held two corners in each hand of this sheet. And actually I had actually gone up a little higher because I figured I'd need some lift to get some work. And so I went up a little bit higher and I got all ready. And I knew this was going to work. And if I couldn't actually parachute down, I would kind of float down, had it all planted in my mind. And I leaped. Well, for second or two, I was parachuting. And then down I went. Of course, I wasn't parachuting at all. Gravity had other plans.

So, I hit the ground, put my teeth through my lip, and was all banged up, all bleeding. And crawled back, pretty much limped back into the house again. And my mother took one look at me again. She said, "Oh my gosh, Ernalee, what have you done this time?" And that was kind of my life.

And that's the kind of how it is for sometimes with these kids who are so impulsive and that part of their brain that goes, if I do this, that could happen. And I don't like the thought of that. That part isn't working. It's like, that's offline. So, sometimes these kids think that they can just do everything. And in cases like mine, it doesn't always work out.

So, as it turned out, along with the ADHD symptoms that I had, I was also very sick. And I don't know how much you know about that story. But I was in and out of a Vancouver hospital, that's a larger hospital from where you and I live. And now I spent seven years in this hospital, back and forth, back and forth. I was on antibiotics for seven straight years.

Karina Inkster: Oh, wow.

Ernalee Shannon: Only on different antibiotics as new ones came out. And of course, nowadays we know that that isn't a good plan. But they were doing the best they could to save my life at the time. I was also on other harsh experimental drugs. Some of them had horrific side effects and would be immediately pulled from the market when it was found what the side effects were.

We were kind of, back in those days, a little bit of guinea pigs, I think. They hadn't developed the safeguards that they have now for different drugs. And so when they finally said, "Hey, Ernalee, you're doing really well now. You can actually go home. You're all better." And I remember saying to them, because I had been there in and out for seven years, and I said, "Then why do I feel so awful? I feel so sick. I can barely get up in the morning. I'm in pain all the time.”

They had no answers for me. But of course, we know with seven years of antibiotic use and other drugs, that doesn't leave a whole lot for your immune system to work with. So, I was sent home and I kind of stumbled my way through high school kind of in a fog. And then I ended up getting married right out of high school. And my symptoms just got worse and worse and worse. So, I ended up with asthma, poor memory, brain fog, seasonal allergies that knew no season. They were like 12 months of the year and major suffering. Hypoglycemia, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome. And my life was an absolute misery, an absolute misery.

And I can remember waking up and thinking like, oh my God, how am I going to do this? How am I going to live my entire life feeling like this? And I decided I didn't want to. I decided that probably the only way out for me was to commit suicide.

Karina Inkster: Wow.

Ernalee Shannon: I made all these plans, these great plans for ending my life. And then one day I woke up and I thought, I don't want to die. I just don't want to live like this. I want something better than this. And the doctors hadn't been doing it for me at that point. And I decided, well, I guess it's up to me. If I'm going to get well, I'm going to have to do it.

So, I learned everything I could about nutrition. I studied everything I could find. That was back before the internet, so we're talking major going through books and finding what I could in my own hometown here. And I eventually found a bio-kinesiologist who helped me determine what it was that my body needed. Not just what everybody else said worked for them, but what I actually needed.

And that was kind of the turning point. And I had such good results. I eventually decided that that's what I was going to do with my life and I was going to do that as well. Not to have clients mind you. I wasn't into that. I just wanted to get more well than I was. So, as I got well, something happened that I never expected; those brain symptoms that I had lived with for all my life, they disappeared. They disappeared. I just thought it was who I was, but suddenly they were gone. And that's when I realized that this high nutrition program that I had put myself on, that all my life, I had probably been running at a nutrient deficit. I'd been starving for nutrients all my life between all the drugs that I had been given as a child and different things.

And the other interesting thing that happened was even though I had said I wasn't going to be a practitioner, I wasn't going to work with other people, suddenly people started showing up on my doorstep. Knocking on my door and saying, "Hey, you're that lady that does this stuff with nutrition and food and stuff, and you muscle test and all that stuff."

And I went, "How did you find me? I leave out in the boonies. How did you get here?" "Oh, well, a sister of a friend who has an uncle who has a son." That's how the story went. And I went, "Well, I guess maybe I'm meant to do this." And so I started working with people who were having a hard time getting well, who had gone through the whole medical system and still felt that they needed something else. So, they would come to see me.

But what really opened up for me was when I started working with kids. And I can remember this one mom, when she brought me the first child who I looked at and thought, "Oh my gosh, he acts like me. He acts like me the way I did when I was a child."And she said, "He's always in trouble.” He's in fights on the playground like I was as a kid. And she says, "He's not learning. He can't sit still. He doesn't listen in class. I've heard that you can help kids like him. Can you do something?" And at that point, I didn't know. I'd never worked with anybody that had been like I was as a kid. But I knew I really wanted to give it my best shot. Because I remember how that felt being a child like that in a world that doesn't understand you. And I really wanted to help if I could. So, I decided to give him my best.

And so when his mom left, he had a lot of things that I thought were contributing to his responses in school and at home, behaviour-wise. And so I gave her a whole list of things for him not to do, a whole list for things for him to do, and sent them home. And before she went, I said to her, "I want you to call me in a week. I want to know how he's doing."

And so off she went, and she called me in five days. And as a practitioner, that's either really good news, but most often it's really bad news. So, I kind of braced myself when I got this call. And when I answered and I could hear her voice on the phone, I could tell that she had been crying. And she said, "I got a call from my son's teacher today." And I went kind of inwardly held my breath and kind of braced myself a little bit. “And you need to understand how much I have dreaded these calls. I would get them two, three times, sometimes four times a week."

And it just was heartbreaking for me, but she said, "This call, this call was different." And I said, "Really? What happened?" And she said, "Well, the teacher asked me what medication I'd put my son on."

Karina Inkster: Oh, wow.

Ernalee Shannon: And I told her, "I hadn't put him on any medication." And the teacher said, "Then what are you doing? Because he's a whole different kid. He's sitting still. He listens to me. He wants to learn how to read, and he's good with other children. This is pretty much a miracle. What have you done?"

So, that story right there just made almost my entire childhood life worthwhile. I was like, oh, just to save one child from the level of suffering that I had. Because I was always in fights on the playground ground, so I didn't have many friends. I wasn't invited to birthday parties or over for play dates. And I was very lonely and I was angry. So, to save one child from that and help their self-confidence really meant a lot to me.

Karina Inkster: Wow. That's powerful.

Ernalee Shannon: So, that's kind of why I do what I do. And what I'm doing now is I want to take this to the world in a bigger way, so I'm making an online program with this. So, I can reach more people, not just in my own hometown, but anywhere kind of around the world with what it is we're doing with technology. And I've created this program. So, I'm working with people and want to work with making a difference. Because I think if we can change this when their kids - not only will their whole life be different, but their family's life will be different - the parent's life will be different, the school life will be different. The community will be different for having them show up in a way that is greater, bigger, more wonderful than they would be otherwise.

Karina Inkster: Wow. Well, thanks for sharing, Ernalee. That's very powerful.

Ernalee Shannon: You're welcome.

Karina Inkster: Your own story and that of this parent and her and son at school. Pretty powerful stuff. Now, I know that part of what you do with folks who have kids with ADHD is the nutrition piece. It's probably a big piece of what you do. So, let's talk about that. What kind of things do you work on? I know that plant-based eating/veganism is a huge part of this. How does that look?

Ernalee Shannon: Well, I believe that the brain and the body of anybody with ADHD or any sort of behavioral issues - but truly, if it works with ADHD it's going to work with anything - these people, with these type of brains of what's going on in their brain, that they're really, really starving and hungry for nutrients. So, what I have put together is a really high-nutrient program.

And of course, vegan and plant-based is a huge part of what I do. Because years ago before I ever became vegan, I used to wonder why my clients, especially the adults, and it seemed to be especially the men who were the biggest meat eaters or dairy eaters, why they actually showed with the lowest protein levels. And I couldn't kind of really figure it out until I got to thinking about it. And I thought, you know what? All these people also have digestive issues, which most ADHD children do. And they don't have sort of the enzymes and the wherewithal to break down animal proteins. So, a vegan plant-based protein is a huge asset to a child with these kinds of digestive disturbances. Easier to digest, it works on bringing down inflammation. It nourishes the body really fast.

And the thing is, these kids or adults often have blood sugar levels that really rollercoaster. So, they come up, they've eaten some sugar or something sweet or a carb or whatever they come up and they peak and then they crash and burn on the other side. And it's during that peak point in the crash-and-burn cycle that you get the crazy sort of behaviour that you see with ADHD. And the way to stabilize blood sugar levels is to have adequate usable protein in the body just to keep everything at an even keel. And even to eat smaller meals if you need to, maybe three main meals, but have three smaller protein-rich snacks as well. So, the vegan protein is perfect for that because it doesn't require a whole lot to digest. And it goes in and it gives nourishment right away and helps stabilize those blood sugar levels.

Karina Inkster: Right.

Ernalee Shannon: And that's usually a big part of what is being missed. I think with a lot of people who are adults dealing with ADHD or their children are dealing with ADHD. And if we look at our world, I mean, we are immersed in foods that we are addicted to, especially in this country. Now, in other countries in what would be considered countries that aren't as abundant maybe as we are, you don't see these kinds of symptomologies as much. Because they don't have the things that spike the blood sugar levels, that create that instant hit of dopamine or other brain chemicals, that create the addiction, not just to the food, but to the brain chemical. And that's really what you have to work with. So, lots of people would say, yeah, but ADHD, it's a hereditary thing. It's inherited. And what I want to say to that is that may be so, there may be a genetic inherited component to this.

But there always is a trigger, whether it's for cancer or anything else that is a major illness for the body. There's always a trigger and there's always a fuel that feeds the situation. And if you can't remove those things, then you can look at what you're left with in your own life or with your child and then decide how you need to proceed from there.

So, the other thing that I think is really inherited and more so even than the genetics, is how people eat. Children eat how their parents feed them. Their parents feed them often how they've been fed. And I've watched food patterns and addictions to sugar or different things go through families. And I will often wonder, okay, so how much is it genetic and how much is it genetic and how much is it this is how they learn to eat?

This is what they've associated with love, with what their parents have fed them, with celebrations, whatever. And it's crazy how much sugar kids eat, adults too. But I mean, especially for kids, because they got a smaller body. And often they'll eat the same amount of sweets as an adult would. Well, that's a devastating effect in a small body.

It's devastating enough for an adult, but for a child it's horrific. So, I have a couple of stats here that, it's interesting. I've found these stats with the I could not find one for Canada. I could not find one for the US. I have searched and searched. So, it suggested a four- to six-year-old should have no more than say 19 grams of sugar, or that would be five teaspoons daily of sugar.

Seven- to 10-year-old would be 24 grams of sugar or six teaspoons. And 11 years old and up, and that includes adults, which is crazy to me, is 30 grams of sugar or seven teaspoons daily. But when you think about it, one cup of whole cow's milk gives you 12.83 grams of sugar. Now granted, that's milk sugar, but you know what? The human body does not know the difference. It reacts in exactly the same way. So, if kids are drinking all the things of milk that they've been taught, that their parents have been taught to give them, their well over that allowable rate between everything else that they have and what they eat, including fruit sugar. I mean, boy, so many kids are just hooked on fruit.

And the body can't determine that this is from fruit or this is from milk, or this is from just cane sugar. It all reacts the same way. It all spikes the blood sugar levels. It all hooks up to the places in the brain that give you this major hit of brain chemicals. And yeah, it's really sad. And I have watched for years, parents give their children a lot of sugar at a meal.

And I can time when this kid is going to start to roll with a rollercoaster of emotion. Start to get fidgety first and then start to get ‘don't want to sit there, don't want to be there.’ If you're in a restaurant, this can be a big deal. Everybody's looking at you. And it's really sad for the kid because they can't help it. What's happened is they have been given something that has spiked their blood sugar and has started to do things in their body and their brain that they can't handle. So, fruit juice is a huge one. I mean, everybody thinks fruit's good for you. Well, fruit juice is not, and fruit in moderation.

Karina Inkster: Well, there's a lot of interesting points here. So, I like that you brought up the potential genetic aspect too. I mean, I have adult long-term vegan friends with ADHD. One of my best friends actually, who has a teenager who grew up whole foods, plant-based, never had animal products, has ADHD. So, clearly, there's other things at play here. But I like what you said about it, it's almost like leaving no stone unturned. Let's make sure you have the basics down, that would be your nutrition. And then you basically said, well, then you see what you're left with.

Ernalee Shannon: And certainly the ADHD brain, it needs support. And usually, you can't get all that in food, in my opinion. So, from what I've seen with working with people or even working with myself, so supplementation is a huge part of that. And often even people that are eating a vegan diet or eating a whole foods plant-based, they might be having a fair bit of fruit sugar that they consider to be good.

Mistakenly think that it's good, maybe dates. And the amount of sugar that's in a date is mind-boggling. So, sometimes they're doing everything else, but they haven't actually looked at that sugar component in a way that really, really takes it down to almost very much nothing compared to what people are eating today and allows either their own body and brain or their child's body and brain to have a breather. And have a breather from that rollercoaster of emotions and rollercoaster blood sugar levels and brain chemicals.

Karina Inkster: Right, yeah. Well, before our conversation, I did a little search on Google Scholar just to see what was out there. And there's not a ton. I mean, I realize there's probably a lot more research on plant-based diets, in general, that's required, especially related to ADHD. But there's some interesting stuff out there. There's a meta-analysis that came out just two months ago, super recent, that took a whole bunch of studies into account that found huge symptomology differences between groups based on what diets they were eating. And guess which diet had the lowest levels of ADHD symptoms?

Ernalee Shannon: Well, I hope it's veganism.

Karina Inkster: It was. And there was another one that had vegetarian diet. So, not vegan, but they were comparing that to eating dairy and meat basically. Although vegetarian technically could have included dairy. But even then, even in the vegetarian diet compared to typical western diet, there was a difference. It's very interesting.

Ernalee Shannon: That's good. And you have to realize that even with vegetarian, you're still consuming a lot of sugar when you're consuming dairy.

Karina Inkster: Absolutely.

Ernalee Shannon: Whether it's something that's got added sugar like ice cream, or it's something like just having a glass of regular cow's milk, moo juice. Or you are having cheese, you're getting that condensed amount of sugar. And you might not be eating white sugar or even brown sugar in your life too much, but you might be really guzzling this other stuff that can just sabotage you in major ways.

Karina Inkster: Right. Interesting.

Ernalee Shannon: Yeah.

Karina Inkster: So, ADHD is technically being neurodivergent as that just a brain that works in a divergent way.

Ernalee Shannon: Yeah.

Karina Inkster: I kind of see some parallels to the fat acceptance movement, and I have a lot of thoughts about this. I mean...

Ernalee Shannon: I bet you do.

Karina Inkster: Bodies at all sizes, fitness doesn't have a look. I mean, I don't need to tell this to our listeners. They know where I'm at with every body is a good body. Fitness doesn't have one distinct look, etc. But there is a health component at a certain point when you think about it. If you look at body size in general actually doesn't have a ton of correlation with health.

Ernalee Shannon: That's right.

Karina Inkster: If you look at other things like activity and diet and all that. But at a certain point, it does.

Ernalee Shannon: Well, I used to be very, very thin, like underweight thin.

Karina Inkster: Me too.

Ernalee Shannon: And I am way more strong. I weigh now much more than I did before, but I'm way stronger.

Karina Inkster: Exactly.

Ernalee Shannon: So, I totally get what you're saying, truly.

Karina Inkster: Yeah, so I kind of see some parallels though, because there's a movement now, which I think is great for accepting how other people's brains work, and kind of being more inclusive with folks who are neurodivergent and not trying to get them to fit into a box like everybody else. So, how do you kind of navigate that with...I mean clearly, especially with these children, this is difficult. These are social situations that are challenging and they're potentially harmful to the child. But also, we want to be accepting that their brains are working in a different way.

Ernalee Shannon: For sure. And I think that's really important. And I think if back in the day when I had been displaying these sort of symptoms, if somebody had understood that I would've had way less detentions. I would've written way less lines. I shall listen to my teacher in class. I will not fight on the playground. I mean, I spent hundreds of hours in detention. So, yes, my heart wants that for these kids. My heart wants understanding for these children and their families. But in the end result, these kids are going to grow up to have to live in a world that has certain rules. And you have to follow them, and you have to learn how to follow them.

Because if you don't, if you go get mad at somebody and take a baseball bat to their car, you're going to end up in jail. Something's going to happen that you're not going to like. So, I have great compassion for the suffering of these kids because I've been there. I know what it's like. But I also have great compassion for who they need to become because they have so much to give. ADHD children are often brilliant, they've had to be. Their brain has had to wire itself in a way to allow themselves to move and work in a world that doesn't understand them or accept them.

And often, I mean, some of the greatest minds on the planet, some of the billionaires on the planet have ADHD, and it's what made them great. So, yes, you have to deal with the challenges, but you want to take those gifts. So, what it means to be neurodivergent, or look at life in a different way, or jump into something with both feet and just into the deep end of the pool and tread water till you know how to swim. That sort of analogy. You want to keep the good part.

What you want to do is you want to find a way for these kids and these families to find peace, peace inside their own body. I know what that felt like to just be so antsy I couldn't even stand my own skin. It was just too much to be living inside my own body. So, what I want to say is I am all for that movement of understanding, and acceptance, and compassion. But I'm also for the movement of let's hopefully get your kid to a place where they're not suffering. Where they can listen, where they can learn, where they can sit still. Where they're not going to be launching your dash hound with a homemade thing with a garbage bag, a parachute off their top level of the bedroom window or something. We’ve got to find a way to help these kids. And I don't want that part to be lost within the whole neurodivergent movement because these kids are really hurting.

Karina Inkster: Well, I think that's a really important point. I mean, it's not black or white. It's kind of like in fitness. You can be perfectly happy with where you're at now, but also have goals for change. I mean, it's not mutually exclusive. So, I think that's a really important point. It's kind of like this friend again that I'm thinking of on the autism spectrum. And it's all about acceptance. That's how his brain works. That's cool. But he also has an education assistant at school. He does sessions specifically for folks on the spectrum. And so it's kind of both. It's kind of like, well, this is who I am as a person and people understand me. I'm neurodivergent. There's that acceptance. But there's also the piece of working on it, working with it.

Ernalee Shannon: For sure. And truly, I think if you asked any adult who has ADHD or any child who's maybe 10 years or up, 12 years, if they would like their life to be better, they will probably say yes. I mean, I haven't seen anyone who has said, no, I'm really happy being the way I am. I just want to stuff candy and pop in my face all day and continue to suffer.

I mean, nobody says that. Nobody's there. But sometimes, children especially, they don't know what the possibility is. And for the parent who has struggled so hard and fought for their child so much, sometimes even they forget that maybe, just maybe something greater is possible. And it's not about accepting your child in their totality of who they are. It's about embracing the possibility of what their potential can be and supporting them in finding what that is.

Karina Inkster: Oh, I like that.

Ernalee Shannon: And I agree that these wondrous gifts that these kids bring, the world needs it. And I also have this theory, well, I call it the ADHD warning bell theory, actually. It's kind of a funny name. Because I think people who are ADHD or neurodivergent in any way, they're kind of the canaries in the coal mine. And I realize that isn't a vague and friendly term.

But it is how we had done things in the past with coal mines and things years and years ago. But they're showing us what we're all headed for. We are all headed for a cliff as humanity. If we don't get this nutrition and the proper way of feeding ourselves and our children, if we don't get it, it's not just going to be just ADHD kids who are struggling, it's going to be all of us. Because they're showing us what is not working with our food and we as a society are not listening. And I have had parents say to me, even people I know well say to me, "Well, I don't want to limit my child's food. I want them to grow up with a healthy idea of food. A healthy relationship with food, perhaps.”

And I just want to call that one. Because truly eating sugar and eating foods that put yourself into emotional, mental stupor and creating all these spikes in blood sugar levels and all these meltdowns and mayhem that goes with it, that's not a healthy relationship with food. That is something people just don't want to deal with. And they understand they don't want to deal with it because a kid's not going to be happy.

But the thing is the parent needs to really look at what is best for the child or themselves. And I call it the ADHD Socratic Oath. Because instead of looking for what you want, what your body wants, what your brain wants, what you really need to be looking at is what can I feed myself or feed my child that is going to give either one of us or both of us the best nutrition I can so we can be the best that we can be. And that's what we need to be looking at. And most families aren't. We've bought into this whole insidious sugar and everything line of bs. Back in the day, say 50 years ago, people didn't get that much sugar. They got some, but they didn't have it like they have it now.

And there's a whole bunch of other things that go into what I do with clients as well, with themselves or their children that - please do not ever give your child a tablet or a cell phone to keep them quiet. Because basically what you're doing is you're teaching them that they need something outside themselves to make them feel good. Because that's what that does. That's what that cell phone or that iPad or whatever does. It gives them instant gratification. And trust me, when these kids go into teen years and are exposed to drugs and alcohol, sex, whatever it is, you don't want them programmed for instant gratification because it's not going to be fun. So, we need to really start letting our kids go out and be kids.

Go and explore in the woods. If you have the opportunity, go to a park. And find these other ways to not train our children's brains to be dependent on a device of some sort. And if you're wondering if your kid is dependent on a device, if they have one that they use right now, just try taking it away with them before the show is done and you're going to see.

Karina Inkster: It'll be pretty obvious at that point.

Ernalee Shannon: It's obvious. It's a meltdown time.

Karina Inkster: That's a good point actually. So, you've been doing this for a long time. How have you seen ADHD change? I mean, I presume it hasn't been in the DSM for that long, I assume. I'm no expert, but I don't think it -

Ernalee Shannon: It came out in about 1980. So, I was through school by this point when it came out. How have I seen it change? That's a heartbreaking part. When I was in class in grade school, I was pretty much the only kid who wasn't paying attention to the teacher. Who couldn't sit still, who wasn't learning, who was fighting on the playground, and getting into trouble all the time at home or at school.

Now, it is huge. It's absolutely huge. I talked with a gal I know in Victoria, and she works as a teacher's aide, a teacher's assistant in a very large elementary school there. And she said that she figures it's between anywhere from a quarter to one-third or maybe even more of children in the school system in every class that have these issues, that either are being addressed, they know they're ADHD, or they figure they're ADHD. Or no one has checked them yet to see if they're ADHD, but there's definitely something going on with all the symptomology that's going on in the classroom. So, what has really changed is how we feed our kids. That is totally dramatically changed.

And we have become certainly a society that is addicted to so much. Just look at how the lineup is for coffee, like say at Starbucks or somewhere. I mean, it's huge and it's nonstop. People are racing to get in line for the next flavour of crap, what I call a crappuccino. Because it's really not good for you. You know it's not good for you, but you'll want it anyway. Well, that is not a good place to be. And the stuff that we feed our children is not a good place to be either.

Karina Inkster: That's a good point. Well, Ernalee, any last thoughts? I know that you have a lot of resources for our listeners, so we are going to have show notes where folks can connect with you with your free guide that you have, ADHD Sanity Saver Guide.

Ernalee Shannon: Yeah.

Karina Inkster: Anything else along those lines that you want to highlight?

Ernalee Shannon: Sure. I also have a new to me Facebook page, ADHD Healing Naturally. They can find me there. And somebody who wants to really connect with me can talk to me at if they want to chat or whatever. And what I'd also like to do is I'd like to offer your listeners, if they're interested, and this goes for just adults with these sort of symptoms, but also parents who have children with these symptoms, I’d like to offer a free ADHD Sanity Saver coaching call where we can brainstorm ideas for them and hopefully check out and see if there's anything else in a way that I can support them with what they're going through, which I know is considerable.

Karina Inkster: Awesome. Well, thank you so much for that. That's much appreciated. And I'm sure our listeners will appreciate that as well. Ernalee, it was great to speak with you. Thank you so much for coming on the show.

Ernalee Shannon: Thank you so much for having me. I really, truly appreciate this and I really admire what you're doing. So, keep up the good work.

Karina Inkster: Well, thank you. Thank you again, Ernalee, for speaking with me today. You can connect with Ernalee at our show notes, Thanks for tuning in.

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