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23 Healthy And Easy Recipes For Your Toddlers

23 Healthy And Easy Recipes For Your Toddlers

There is nothing more important to us than being able to provide only the best for our children. When they’re young this can be as simple as providing them with healthy food options with the right nutrients and vitamins to facilitate growth and well being. Of course giving your baby a homemade meal is the best thing you can do for them, however many parents tend to hide from the task. It’s hard enough trying to figure out what to feed ourselves let alone what to feed our little ones and it can be so tempting to just grab something that is already prepared from the store.

Be rest assured that making your own baby food is much more easy than you think and requires little skills in the kitchen. Once you start you’ll be so happy as mealtimes will be much more well balanced, convenient and fulfilling for both you and your kids.

Ages 6 Months – 12 Months (Purée Galore)

1. Apple – Banana Puree

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    All you need is something to steam the apples in and a blender for this no-brainer recipe. Babies love the sweet combination of apples and bananas. An easy go to recipe for one of baby’s first foods.

    2. Roasted Yams, Apples and Corn

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      Finding different combos of ingredients is probably one of the trickiest parts of making your own baby food. This is another great recipe including apples along with yams and corn. Babies love yams!

      3. Chicken with Carrots & Apple Puree

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        Chicken is a great first meat to introduce to your baby. Puréed chicken is not a very appetizing site (can you say gray anyone?), but by combining it with other colorful ingredients, chicken can become a quick favorite for your little one. This recipe combines chicken with apples and carrots to give the recipe a sweet flavour with lots of texture.

        4. Oats, Avocado & Spinach

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          The reason why it’s so important to start our babies on solid foods by 6 months is because their iron stores begin to deplete. This recipe is a great source of iron as well as fibre, vitamins and protein. A green combination that Popeye himself would approve.

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          5. Vegetable Lasagna

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            Now that you’ve introduced simple combinations to your baby it’s time to start adding more complex flavors. Vegetable lasagna is an easy way to implement a variety of vegetables while giving a great flavor and texture punch. This recipe is guaranteed not to bore your baby.

            6. Cantaloupe Cream

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              This delicious puree will be a great treat for you little one, especially in the summer time when cantaloupe is at its seasonal best.

              Ages 9 Months and Up (Independent Eaters)

              7. Homemade Teething Biscuits

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                Teething can be a wonderful time (note of sarcasm). At this time your baby will be putting anything and everything into their little mouths in search of some type of relief. Teething biscuits are a great way to not only introduce finger foods but to also help alleviate the pain of emerging teeth. Why not try to make your own at home with this easy baking recipe that uses instant rice cereal along with healthy ingredients such as whole wheat flour and coconut oil.

                8. Cauliflower Nuggets

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                  You’ve heard of chicken nuggets, another favorite of toddlers, but how about cauliflower nuggets? Same idea, different values. This is a great way to make vegetables more appealing to your little ones.

                  9. Strawberry Yogurt Bites

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                    This recipe consists of a grand total of two ingredients! Also this healthy yummy treat can be enjoyed by not only your baby but you too.

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                    10. Mini Meatballs

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                      Meatballs are great because they are fun to eat and easy to hold for little fingers. As an added bonus kids don’t care what’s in them so its a perfect way to give them their much needed vegetables.

                      11. Pasta with Soft Cheese and Basil

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                        Pasta is a great way to transition your baby from purees towards textured foods. This recipe keeps it simple by combining pasta with just cheese and basil.

                        12. Banana Oatmeal Fingers

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                          These banana and oatmeal fingers make for a great snack or breakfast food for your little one that’s just figuring out how to eat on their own.

                          Ages 12 Months and Up (Almost There Meals)

                          13. Baked Sweet Potato Fries

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                            Yes this is not a toddler only recipe, but one that adults can enjoy as well. Sweet potatoes are one of the best first solid foods to introduce as puree first. Once your baby has some teeth, this recipe is a great next step to continue the love of sweet potatoes.

                            14. Apple and Cheese Quinoa Balls

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                              Quinoa is so hot right now. It’s such a complex grain and incredibly easy to eat not too mention very light compared to its counterpart, rice. This recipe provides a great finger food for your toddler as well as a nice little snack for the adults.

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                              15. Avocado and Blueberry Muffins

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                                Here’s an organic recipe that uses avocados and blueberries along with full fat yogurt (or Greek yogurt). This is a great snack or breakfast option for your toddler.

                                16. Easy Mac and Cheese Bites

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                                  This is a recipe for mac and cheese that starts from scratch, no box of KD required. You can go ahead and freeze any bites as well if they’re not devoured by your little ones first.

                                  17. Chicken Tenders with Greek Yogurt Ranch

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                                    When we think of kids’ meals the first thing that probably comes to mind are chicken fingers. Although they might not seem like the healthiest option this recipe may get you re thinking that. An easy, no fuss recipe for a healthy method of making chicken fingers that your children are sure to love just as much as the processed ones.

                                    18. Chickpea Patties

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                                      These chickpea patties can be made large or small for either your toddler to grab and munch on or for your to eat in a pita. Packed full of protein, these are also great for freezing.

                                      Ages 18 Months and Up (Big Kid Meals)

                                      19. Carrot, Mango, Raspberry Popsicles

                                      Carrot, Mango, and Raspberry Popsicles 4

                                        What kid doesn’t like popsicles? Here’s a recipe for homemade popsicles as a healthy alternative to the sugary store bought ones.

                                        20. Fiesta Bowl

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                                          This is a meal that everyone in the family can enjoy. Just lay out the ingredients and everybody chooses what they want in their own bowls. It’s that simple.

                                          21. Power Packed Fruit and Veggie Muffins

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                                            These mini muffins are super fun to eat. You would never guess these little morsels are packed full of so many different fruits and veggies such as broccoli, zucchini, carrots, apples and bananas.

                                            22. Toddler Smoothie

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                                              This recipe is for a starter smoothie for your toddler. It contains the goodness of oats, strawberries, bananas and spinach. The color and texture may be off putting but the taste is definitely yummy.

                                              23. Broccoli Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

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                                                A staple on all kids’ menus is grilled cheese. This recipe offers a more wholesome alternative to the usual greasy far by using extra virgin olive oil and whole wheat bread topped with broccoli and cheese.

                                                This collection of healthy and easy recipes for your toddlers should help you in the journey of raising your little ones and providing them with the best opportunities for growth and well-being. By all means, every child is different and you may find the recipes will be more appropriate for your child at different ages than stated. They are simply there as a guideline and are not the concrete framework.

                                                Featured photo credit: Rainbow/Frederique Voisin-Demery via flickr.com

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                                                Last Updated on March 30, 2020

                                                Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (And What to Do About It)

                                                Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (And What to Do About It)

                                                Feeling tired all the time?

                                                Have you ever caught yourself nodding off when you’re watching TV, listening to someone drone on during a meeting or even driving a car?

                                                I know I have, especially when I worked 70 hours per week as a High-Tech Executive.

                                                Feeling tired all the time may be more widespread than you think. In fact, two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week.[1]

                                                If you’re tired of feeling tired, then I’ve got some great news for you. New research is helping us gain critical insights into the underlying causes of feeling tired all the time.

                                                In this article, we’ll discuss the latest reasons why you’re feeling tired all the time and practical steps you can take to finally get to the bottom of your fatigue and feel rested.

                                                What Happens When You’re Too Tired

                                                If you sleep just two hours less than the normal eight hours, you could be as impaired as someone who has consumed up to three beers.[2] And you’ve probably experienced the impact yourself.

                                                Here are some common examples of what happens when you’re feeling tired:[3]

                                                • You may have trouble focusing because memory and learning functions may be impaired within your brain.
                                                • You may experience mood swings and an inability to differentiate between what’s important and what’s not because your brain’s neurotransmitters are misfiring.
                                                • You may get dark circles under your eyes and/or your skin make look dull and lackluster in the short term and over time your skin may get wrinkles and show signs of aging because your body didn’t have time to remove toxins during sleep.
                                                • You may find it more difficult to exercise or to perform any type of athletic activity.
                                                • Your immune system may weaken causing you to pick up infections more easily.
                                                • You may overeat because not getting enough sleep activates the body’s endocannabinoids even when you’re not hungry.
                                                • Your metabolism slows down so what you eat is more likely to be stored as belly fat.

                                                Are you saying that feeling tired can make me overweight?

                                                Unfortunately, yes!

                                                Feeling tired all the time can cause you to put on the pounds especially around your waist. But it is a classic chicken and egg situation, too.

                                                Heavier people are more likely to feel fatigued during the day than lighter ones. And that’s even true for overweight people who don’t have sleep apnea (source: National Institutes of Health).

                                                Speaking of sleep apnea, you may be wondering if that or something else is causing you to feel tired all the time.

                                                Why Are you Feeling Tired All the Time?

                                                Leading experts are starting to recognize that there are three primary reasons people feel tired on a regular basis: sleep deprivation, fatigue and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

                                                Here’s a quick overview of each root cause of feeling tired all of the time:

                                                1. Tiredness occurs from sleep deprivation when you don’t get high-quality sleep consistently. It typically can be solved by changing your routine and getting enough deep restorative sleep.
                                                2. Fatigue occurs from prolonged sleeplessness which could be triggered by numerous issues such as mental health issues, long-term illness, fibromyalgia, obesity, sleep apnea or stress. It typically can be improved by changing your lifestyle and using sleep aids or treatments, if recommended by your physician.
                                                3. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a medical condition also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis that occurs from persistent exhaustion that doesn’t go away with sleep.

                                                The exact cause of CFS is not known, but it may be due to problems with the immune system, a bacterial infection, a hormone imbalance or emotional trauma.

                                                It typically involves working with a doctor to rule out other illnesses before diagnosing and treating CFS.[4]

                                                Always consult a physician to get a personal diagnosis about why you are feeling tired, especially if it is a severe condition.

                                                Feeling Tired vs Being Fatigued

                                                If lack of quality sleep doesn’t seem to be the root cause for you, then it’s time to explore fatigue as the reason you are frequently feeling tired.

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                                                Until recently, tiredness and fatigue were thought to be interchangeable. Leading experts now realize that tiredness and fatigue are different.

                                                Tiredness is primarily about lack of sleep.

                                                But fatigue is a perceived feeling of being tired that is much more likely to occur in people who have depression, anxiety or emotional stress and/or are overweight and physically inactive (source: Science Direct).

                                                Symptoms of fatigue include:

                                                • Difficulty concentrating
                                                • Low stamina
                                                • Difficulty sleeping
                                                • Anxiety
                                                • Low motivation

                                                These symptoms may sound similar to those of tiredness but they usually last longer and are more intense.

                                                Unfortunately, there is no definitive reason why fatigue occurs because it can be a symptom of an emotional or physical illness. But there are still a number of steps you can take to reduce difficult symptoms by making a few simple lifestyle changes.

                                                How Much Sleep Is Enough?

                                                The number one reason you may feel tired is because of sleep deprivation which means you are not getting enough high-quality sleep.

                                                Most adults need 7 to 9 hours of high-quality, uninterrupted sleep per night. If you’re sleep deprived, the amount of sleep you need increases.

                                                So, quantity and quality do matter when it comes to sleep.

                                                The key to quality sleep is being able to get long, uninterrupted sleep cycles throughout the night. It typically takes 90 minutes for you to reach a state of deep REM sleep where your body’s healing crew goes to work.

                                                Ideally, you want to get at least 3 to 4 deep REM sleep cycles in per night. That’s why it’s so important to stay asleep for 7 or more hours.

                                                Research also shows that people who think they can get by on less sleep don’t perform as well as people who get at least seven hours of sleep a night[5] So, you should definitely plan on getting seven hours of deep restorative sleep every night.

                                                If you are not getting 7 hours of high-quality sleep regularly, then sleep deprivation is most likely reason you feel tired all the time.

                                                And that is good news because sleep deprivation is much simpler and easier to address than the other root causes.

                                                It’s also a good idea to rule out sleep deprivation as the reason why you are tired before moving on to the other possibilities such as fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which may require a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

                                                4 Simple Changes to Reduce Fatigue

                                                Personally, I’m a big believer in upgrading your lifestyle to uplift your life. I overcame chronic stress and exhaustion by making these four changes to my lifestyle:

                                                1. Eating healthy, home-cooked meals versus microwaving processed foods or eating out
                                                2. Exercising regularly
                                                3. Using stressbusters
                                                4. Creating a bedtime routine to sleep better

                                                So, I know it is possible to change your lifestyle even when you’re working crazy hours and have lots of family responsibilities.

                                                After I made the 4 simple changes in my lifestyle, I no longer felt exhausted all of the time.

                                                In addition, I lost two inches off my waist and looked and felt better than ever.

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                                                I was so excited that I wanted to help others replace stress and exhaustion with rest and well-being, too. That’s why I became a Certified Holistic Wellness Coach through the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute.

                                                Interestingly enough, I discovered that Dr. Sears recommends a somewhat similar L.E.A.N. lifestyle:

                                                • L is for Lifestyle and means living healthy including getting enough sleep.
                                                • E is for Exercise and means getting at least 20 minutes of exercise a day ideally for six days a week.
                                                • A is for Attitude and means thinking positive and reducing stress whenever possible.
                                                • N is for Nutrition and means emphasizing a right-fat diet, not a low-fat diet.

                                                The L.E.A.N. lifestyle is a scientifically-proven way to reduce fatigue, get to the optimal weight and to achieve overall wellness.[6]

                                                And yes, there does seem to be an important correlation between being lean and feeling rested.

                                                But overall based on my personal experience and Dr. Sear’s scientific proof, the key to not feeling tired all of the time does seem to be 4 simple changes to your lifestyle.

                                                L — Living Healthy

                                                Getting enough high-quality sleep every day is the surefire way to help you feel less fatigued, more rested and better overall.

                                                So, whether you’re sleep deprived or potentially suffering from fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, you probably want to find a way to sleep better.

                                                In fact, if you aren’t getting enough sleep, your body isn’t getting the time it needs to repair itself; meaning that if you are suffering from an illness, it’s far more likely to linger.

                                                As unlikely as it sounds, though, fatigue can sometimes make it difficult to sleep. That’s why I’d recommend taking a look at your bedtime routine before you go to bed and optimize it based on sleep best practices.

                                                Here are 3 quick and easy tips for creating a pro-sleep bedtime routine:

                                                1. Unplug

                                                Many of us try to unwind by watching TV or doing something on an iPhone or tablet. But tech can affect your melatonin production due to the blue light that they emit, fooling your body into thinking it’s still daytime.

                                                So turn off all tech one hour before bed and create a tech-free zone in your bedroom.

                                                2. Unwind

                                                Do something to relax.

                                                Use the time before bed to do something you find relaxing such as reading a book, listening to soothing music, meditating or taking an Epsom salt bath.

                                                3. Get Comfortable

                                                Ensure your bed is comfortable and your room is set up for sleep.

                                                Make sure you room is cool. 60-68 degrees is the ideal temperature for most people to sleep.

                                                Also, it’s ideal if your bedroom is dark and there is no noise.

                                                Finally, make sure everything is handled (e.g., laying out tomorrow’s clothes) before you get into your nice, comfy bed.

                                                If your mind is still active, write a to-do list to help you fall asleep faster.[7]

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                                                Above all, be gentle with yourself and count your blessings, some sheep or whatever helps.

                                                This article also offers practical tips to build a bedtime routine: How to Build a Good Bedtime Routine That Makes Your Morning Easier

                                                E — Exercise

                                                Many people know that exercise is good for them, but just can’t figure out how to fit it into their busy schedules.

                                                That’s what happened in my case.

                                                But when my chronic stress and exhaustion turned into systemic inflammation (which can lead to major diseases like Alzheimer’s), I realized it was time to change my lifestyle.

                                                As part of my lifestyle upgrade, I knew I needed to move more.

                                                My friends who exercise all gave me the same advice: find an exercise you like to do and find a specific time in your schedule when you can consistently do it.

                                                That made sense to me.

                                                So, I decided to swim.

                                                I used to love to swim when I was young, but I hadn’t done it for years. The best time for me to do it was immediately after work, since I could easily get an open swim lane at my local fitness club then.

                                                Also, swimming became a nice reason for me to leave work on time. And I got to enjoy a nice workout before eating dinner.

                                                Swimming is a good way to get your cardio or endurance training. But, walking, running and dancing are nice alternatives.

                                                So find an exercise you love and stick to it. Ideally, get a combination of endurance training, strength training and flexibility training in during your daily 20-minute workout.

                                                If you haven’t exercised in a while and have a lot of stress in your life, you may want to give yoga a try because you will increase your flexibility and lower your stress.

                                                A — Attitude

                                                Stress may be a major reason why you aren’t feeling well all of the time. At least that was the case with me.

                                                When I worked 70 hours per week as a High-Tech Executive, I felt chronically stressed and exhausted. But there was one thing that always worked to help me feel calmer and less fatigued.

                                                Do you want to know what that master stress-busting technique was?

                                                Breathing.

                                                But not just any old breathing. It was a special form of deep Yogic breathing called the “Long-Exhale Breathing” or “4-7-8 breathing” or “Pranayama” in Sanskrit).

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                                                Here’s how you do “Long-Exhale Breathing”:

                                                1. Sit in a comfortable position with your spine straight and your hand on your tummy (so you know you are breathing deeply from your diaphragm and not shallowly from your chest)
                                                2. Breathe in deeply and slowly from your diaphragm with your mouth closed while you count to 4 (ideally until your stomach feels full of air)
                                                3. Hold your breath while you count to 7 mentally and enjoy the stillness
                                                4. Breathe out through your mouth with a “ha” sound while you count to 8 (or until your stomach has no more air in it)
                                                5. Pause after you finish your exhale while you notice the sense of wholeness and relaxation from completing one conscious, deep, long exhale breath
                                                6. Repeat 3 times ensuring your exhale is longer than your inhale so you relax your nervous system

                                                This type of “long-exhale breathing” is scientifically proven to reduce stress.

                                                When your exhale is twice as long as your inhale, it soothes your parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates the relaxation response.[8]

                                                Plus, this is a great technique for helping you get to sleep, too.

                                                N — Nutrition

                                                Diet is vital for beating fatigue – after all, food is your main source of energy.

                                                If your diet is poor, then it implies you’re not getting the nutrients you need to sustain healthy energy levels.

                                                Eating a diet for fatigue doesn’t need to be complicated, time-consuming though.

                                                For most people, it’s just a case of swapping a few unhealthy foods for a few healthier ones, like switching from low-fiber, processed foods to whole, high-fiber foods.

                                                Unless your current diet is solely made up of fast food and ready meals, adjusting to a fatigue-fighting diet shouldn’t be too much of a shock to the system.

                                                Here’re 9 simple diet swaps you can make today:

                                                1. Replace your morning coffee with Matcha green tea and drink only herbal tea within six hours of bedtime.
                                                2. Add a healthy fat or protein to your any carb you eat, especially if you eat before bed. Please note that carb-only snacks lead to blood-sugar crashes that can make you eat more and they can keep you from sleeping.
                                                3. Fill up with fiber especially green leafy vegetables. Strive to get at least 25g per day with at least 5 servings (a serving is the size of your fist) of green vegetables.
                                                4. Replace refined, processed, low-fiber pastas and grains with zucchini noodles and whole grains such as buckwheat, quinoa, sorghum, oats, amaranth, millet, teff, brown rice and corn.
                                                5. Swap natural sweeteners for refined sugars and try to ensure you don’t get more than 25g of sugar a day if you are a woman and 30g of sugar a day if you are a man.
                                                6. Replace ice cream with low-sugar alternatives such as So Delicious Dairy-Free Vanilla Bean Coconut Ice Cream.
                                                7. Swap omega-6, partially-hydrogenated oils such as corn, palm, sunflower, safflower, cotton, canola and soybean oil for omega-3 oils such as flax, olive and nut oils.
                                                8. Replace high-sugar yoghurts with low-sugar, dairy-free yoghurts such as Kite Hill Plain Yoghurt with 1g sugar or Lifeway Farmer Cheese with 0g sugar.
                                                9. Swap your sugar-laden soda for sparkling water with a splash of low-sugar juice

                                                Also, ensure your diet is giving you enough of the daily essential vitamins and minerals. Most of us don’t get enough Vitamin D, Vitamin B-12, Calcium, Iron and Magnesium. If you are low on any of the above vitamins and minerals, you may experience fatigue and low energy.

                                                That’s why it’s always worth having your doctor check your levels. If you find any of them are low, then try to eat foods rich in them.

                                                Alternatively, you might consider a high-quality multi-vitamin or specific supplement.

                                                The Bottom Line

                                                If you are tired of feeling tired, then there is tremendous hope.

                                                If you are tired because you are not getting enough high-quality sleep, then the best remedy is a bedtime routine based on sleep best practices.

                                                If you are tired because you have stress and fatigue, then the best remedy are four simple lifestyle changes including:

                                                • Enough High-Quality Sleep with Bedtime Routine
                                                • Regular Exercise You Love
                                                • Stress Reduction with Long-Exhale Breathing
                                                • Fatigue-Reducing Diet

                                                Overall, adopting a healthier lifestyle Is the ideal remedy for feeling more rested and energized.

                                                More Tips to Help You Rest Better

                                                Featured photo credit: Cris Saur via unsplash.com

                                                Reference

                                                [1] YouGov: Two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week
                                                [2] National Safety Council: Is Your Company Confronting Workplace Fatigue?
                                                [3] The New York Times: Why Are We So Freaking Tired?
                                                [4] Mayo Clinic: Chronic fatigue syndrome
                                                [5] Mayo Clinic: Lack of sleep: Can it make you sick?
                                                [6] Ask Dr. Sears: The L.E.A.N. Lifestyle
                                                [7] American Psychological Association: Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
                                                [8] Yoga International: Learning to Exhale: 2-to-1 Breathing

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