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Dana Kay: “Take it slow”

Take it slow. Once I learned how much gluten, dairy, and soy could affect behavior, I completely overhauled my family’s diet on Day 1. Unfortunately, making all of those changes so quickly not only created a lot of resistance from my family, but also caused me A TON of stress.Now, I tell all of the […]

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Take it slow. Once I learned how much gluten, dairy, and soy could affect behavior, I completely overhauled my family’s diet on Day 1. Unfortunately, making all of those changes so quickly not only created a lot of resistance from my family, but also caused me A TON of stress.
Now, I tell all of the families I work with that Rome wasn’t built in a day. And just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, these changes that we are making don’t all need to be made at once either. In order to make these changes do-able, we have to go slow.


As a part of my series about “Big Ideas That Might Change The World In The Next Few Years” I had the pleasure of interviewing Dana Kay.

Dana Kay is a Board-Certified Holistic Health Practitioner. She is the founder of Our Road to Thrive and the creator of the ADHD Thrive Method 4 Kids program. She is also the mother of a son with ADHD and has walked in the same shoes as the families that she helps. By the time her son’s doctor was suggesting the 4th medication (basically to treat the symptoms of the other 3 medications) she was done. She knew she could not continue on the same path and that there had to be a better way. So she embarked on a journey to find other more natural alternatives to help reduce her son’s ADHD symptoms. Today her son is thriving and completely off his medications. Through her long hard journey and years of education, Dana has developed a passion to help other families struggling with the same issues that she went through. In her own words, “I do what I do because it was so extremely difficult for me. It just doesn’t need to be that hard for other people.”


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you please tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I never actually planned on working in the health and nutrition field. My background is in business and accounting, and that’s what I did for years. It wasn’t until my concerns over my son’s health grew that my career (and to be honest, entire life) changed completely.

When my son was about 18 months old, my gut told me there was something different about him. He seemed to have more energy than every other child his age, and his meltdowns were much more dramatic than any other child I’d been around. Anytime I brought up my concerns, though, people dismissed them by telling me his behavior was normal. “He’s just a typical boy,” they promised.

As the years passed, though, my gut continued to tell me we were missing something. His tantrums grew more and more severe, and his teachers began to notice more difficulty in the classroom. We met with a developmental pediatrician when he was four years old. That’s when he was diagnosed with ADHD and prescribed his first medication.

I remember feeling relieved when I filled that first prescription, thinking finally there was going to be peace in our home. Unfortunately, my feelings of relief were short-lived. As his dosage increased, so did his side-effects. He wasn’t sleeping well, he was losing weight, and he was anxious. The doctor, though, didn’t seem too concerned about these issues and insisted that adding more medications would be the answer.

Four medications in, I knew something had to change. My gut told me there had to be another way. I’m not against medication, but this was just too much for my son’s tiny body.

That’s when I began learning about how our diets affect so much more than a number on a bathroom scale.

Can you please share with us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

The transformations I have seen in other families inside my ADHD Thrive Method 4 Kids program have been nothing short of inspiring. One of my clients told me about how her son had 36 school suspensions in the year before she began working with me. Now, after completely overhauling her son’s diet, he hasn’t had any suspensions. From 36–0!

Another client inside the ADHD Thrive Method 4 Kids showed me pictures of her son’s handwriting before dietary changes and again after. The difference in handwriting is astounding.

Before beginning this journey and starting Our Road To Thrive and creating the ADHD Thrive Method 4 Kids, I never realized how many different aspects of our lives are affected by what we eat. It’s our handwriting, our behavior, our focus, our neurotransmitter levels, our overall feelings of happiness and well-being, our sleep, and so much more.

When I started learning about health and nutrition, I wanted to help my own family. I never imagined back then that I would get the opportunity to help so many other families in the process.

Which principles or philosophies have guided your life? Your career?

One of the primary principles I learned early on was that diet is the foundation of literally everything we do. Food used to be just food to me. Now, it’s so much more than that. A lot of people don’t realize there is a huge connection between our gut health and our brain health. 95 percent of our serotonin and 50 percent of our dopamine is made in our guts. These neurotransmitters are our feel-good hormones that help us both manage emotions and maintain mood balance. So if we are not feeding and looking after our guts, then our bodies won’t be able to make enough of these vital neurotransmitters.

I often think of it like this: when you are building a house, a solid foundation isn’t optional. It’s a necessity. If you don’t have a solid foundation, that house isn’t going to be very strong. It’s the same way with us. Diet is our foundation. If our diet is poor, we can never function at our best. That’s true for us adults, but it’s also true for our children.

Because of this, when I work with families at Our Road To Thrive, the first issue I address is diet. I encourage families to remove some of the most common inflammatory foods from their diets and replace these foods with healthier alternatives and more whole foods.

For about 50% of the families I work with, changing the diet alone is enough to reduce the child’s symptoms and get them to a place where they want to be. For the other 50%, we dig a little deeper through functional lab testing. Functional lab testing allows us to look deeper into the gut and the body to identify hidden stressors contributing to symptoms. When you know what is underlying, it then allows you to work at healing these issues.

Ok thank you for that. Let’s now move to the main focus of our interview. Can you tell us about your “Big Idea That Might Change The World”?

When my son was first diagnosed with ADHD, we were given one plan of attack: medication. No one ever mentioned to me that there were other things I could do that might help reduce his symptoms. Even when he began experiencing side effects from the various medications he was on, I still wasn’t told about any other options.

I want parents to know that though medicine certainly has its place, it is not the only way to help your child. There are other options out there.

Over the years, I have been able to heal my son’s body and gut and in the process his brain so completely that he is no longer on any medications and is thriving. He’s happy, calm, and succeeding in school. Our family is the peaceful place I always longed for, and we did it all naturally.

I want parents who are struggling to know there is hope. It is possible to have a peaceful home even when your child has unique struggles.

How do you think this will change the world?

Even if we only help one family, we change the world.

I have talked to so many parents who feel so defeated. They have tried medicine after medicine and can’t find the right fit. They have tried a variety of parenting strategies, and nothing seems to work. They have tried supplements that promise to heal, only to be disappointed yet again.

It’s a really tough place to be in when you feel like no matter what you do, nothing is going to help. But when parents finally find a program that helps them reduce their child’s symptoms naturally, they feel hope again.

Families that are happy give back to their communities. Families that are spreading peace wherever they go. Helping one family isn’t just helping that family; it’s helping everyone that family comes in contact with too.

Keeping “Black Mirror” and the “Law of Unintended Consequences” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about this idea that people should think more deeply about?

Reducing ADHD symptoms naturally is somewhat of an unconventional idea. Many times, when a diagnosis of ADHD is given to a child, dietary changes are not even mentioned to parents as a possible treatment method. Medication is mentioned; therapy might also be suggested. But diet is often completely left out of the picture. I believe that part of this is because in traditional medical school, diet is not taught about in relation to its ability to affect behavior.

If people realized that dietary changes alone could reduce their child’s symptoms, sometimes even more effectively than medication, I believe there would be a lot more people giving it a try. The problem, then, isn’t that parents or doctors don’t want to try a more natural approach; sometimes, it’s that they don’t even know it exists. Educating people is the first hurdle this particular approach needs to cross.

Another hurdle is that our society views food as something different than fuel for our bodies. When we pick up a menu at a restaurant, we aren’t often thinking about what nutrients our bodies actually need. We are thinking about what is going to taste the best. We don’t view food as a tool that helps us feel and be our best. We view it as something to enjoy.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Food is meant to be enjoyed! But it also serves a much greater purpose! Part of my passion is helping families learn to eat good food through the ADHD Thrive Method 4 Kids program — not only because it tastes good, but also because it’s what their bodies need to be at their best.

Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this idea? Can you tell us that story?

When my young son was put on his fourth medication to counteract the side effects from the other three, I knew something had to change. At that time, I didn’t know what that “something” was, but I knew I had to figure it out.

If you’ve ever seen a mama on a mission, then you know exactly how I felt. I educated myself thoroughly. I obtained my holistic health degree and several specific certifications along the way. Now, my goal isn’t just to keep my own family healthy and thriving. It’s also to help others do the same with Our Road To Thrive and inside the ADHD Thrive Method 4 Kids program.

What do you need to lead this idea to widespread adoption?

I wish there was some way I could shout my story from the rooftops of every city in this country! People need to know that medication is NOT the only option. It is very effective for many people, but there are also others (like my son) who have too many side effects and end up taking way too many pills. These people need to know they have options. They need to know they aren’t trapped in a hopeless situation.

Education really is key, because when people learn what a pivotal role diet can play in behavior, they begin to dream again.

For a long time when my son was really struggling, I stopped dreaming about anything other than making it through the day. That all changed when I found a natural way to help my son. Our entire family was transformed, and that’s what I want for every single family I work with at Our Road To Thrive.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Medication is not the only answer. When my son was first diagnosed with ADHD, no one told me about any treatment method other than medication. So when the medication wasn’t working for him and he began experiencing multiple side effects, I felt completely stuck.
    I thought medication was going to be our answer. When it wasn’t, I was devastated. I wish someone had told me back then that there are other effective alternatives.
  2. Take it slow. Once I learned how much gluten, dairy, and soy could affect behavior, I completely overhauled my family’s diet on Day 1. Unfortunately, making all of those changes so quickly not only created a lot of resistance from my family, but also caused me A TON of stress.
    Now, I tell all of the families I work with that Rome wasn’t built in a day. And just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, these changes that we are making don’t all need to be made at once either. In order to make these changes do-able, we have to go slow.
  3. No one thing is going to cure your child’s symptoms. If I could add up all of the money I spent on supplements that promised to be the be-all and end-all for my son’s ADHD symptoms, I probably could have put him through college twice! I wish someone had told me then that there is not a one-size-fits-all cure.
    Every child is different. About half of the families I work with inside the ADHD Method 4 Kids program are able to reduce their child’s symptoms through diet alone. They do this by removing some of the most common inflammatory foods and replacing them with healthier alternatives and whole foods.
    For the other half of the families I work with at Our Road To Thrive, we have to dig a little bit deeper through functional lab testing. These lab tests look for the hidden stressors contributing to the behavior and symptoms. They look at the gut and body to see if there are parasites, heavy metals, broken down detoxification pathways, an overgrowth of bacteria, and a variety of other issues. Once we run these tests, we are then able to determine what specific issue needs to be targeted.
  4. Support and community aren’t optional; they’re essential to success. I walked our journey alone, and it was a huge mistake. I remember one specific moment when I was literally curled up in a ball on the floor of my bedroom, crying because I felt like what I was doing was too much.
    I was creating new recipes, learning all I could about what foods my son needed, trying to find alternatives to foods my children used to love (that I wouldn’t buy anymore), and dealing with pushback from my family. It all felt like too much.
    Looking back now, it WAS too much! It was too much because I didn’t have anyone there helping me along the way, offering me encouragement and accountability, and reminding me I wasn’t alone.
    I wish someone had told me back then that community isn’t a commodity; it’s essential to success. That’s why I built in community to the ADHD Thrive Method 4 Kids. When families join the program, they not only get access to me, but also get access to a group of like-minded people who will help them through the process.
  5. Diet is the foundation of any plan (but don’t neglect the other important aspects of health). There are 5 aspects of health that I tell all of my families to focus on: diet, rest, exercise, stress management, and supplementation. Most families will not see the results they want to see if they neglect any of these 5 areas of their health. It’s kind of like a table. If one of the legs falls off the table, it won’t stand. Our health is the same way. We need all 5 aspects of our health to be at our best. Diet is the foundation, but these other areas are vital as well.

Can you share with our readers what you think are the most important “success habits” or “success mindsets”?

There are two mindsets that I believe are vital to success. First of all, you have to be willing to put in the hard work. Change doesn’t just happen. It only happens when you work for it.

Secondly, you have to pay attention to how far you’ve come. Too often, we fail to see how far we have come because we are too busy focusing on where we still need to go. I have found for both myself and for the families I work with that it’s important to look back to keep moving forward. One way I encourage families inside the ADHD Thrive Method 4 Kids to do this is by keeping a journal and tracking the changes as they see them. That way, they will realize just how far they have come.

Some very well known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

We help families realise there are alternative natural methods to reduce ADHD symptoms through diet and functional lab testing to find the true hidden stressor contributing to symptoms. Over 16 million families in the USA are affected by ADHD and or other similar disorders. Incredibly the only option many of these families are presented with is medication. A lot of these parents, though, don’t want to give their kids strong medication or haven’t had very much success in their initial attempts. They are desperate for other options as they often find the “cure” is worse than the disease. If we can free just 1% of those 16 million families from the vicious cycle. That is over 160,000 families we would be helping to regain that peace and happiness they so desperately want. Our road to Thrive wants to break the cycle and help parents realise there are alternatives. The ADHD Thrive Method for Kids Program has already helped almost 1000 families and we have only just touched the surface.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Website — https://www.ourroadtothrive.com/

Facebook Group / Community — https://www.facebook.com/groups/AdhdAnxietyParentSupport/

Instagram — https://www.instagram.com/ourroadtothrive/

Facebook Page — https://www.facebook.com/ourroadtothrive/

Free ADHD Webinar — https://adhdthrivemethod.com/webinar-registration-1

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

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