Hey! Did you hear that it’s Nutrition Month yet? Maybe you have been blasted all over social media with tons of posts so you already know. If you didn’t know….well…March is Nutrition Month! A Dietitian’s goal every day is to teach people about healthy eating, […]
There are two types of Vitamins, Fat Soluble and Water Soluble. Our fat soluble Vitamins include; Vitamins A, D, E and K and our Water soluble vitamins make up all the rest. Fat soluble vitamins can be stored in the body for later use when […]
This morning I prepared a cute little Christmas Tree plate for my son out of kiwi. Banana and strawberry. I absolutely love having fun with my food and shaping it into different things. Its so exciting to create healthy alternatives for the holidays. It’s also fascinating to see your child’s face light up when they see food presented this way. Fast forward to this afternoon when I saw a picture of a veggie “gingerbread house” and it completely blew me away. NOT in a good way (I mean it’s really cute and probably something I would do BUT it has a meaning that I’m not overly fond of at the moment).
Last year I was interviewed by a local radio station on Halloween night. I was asked to share some healthy tips for candy consumption when it came to the kiddies. I suggested various ideas like:
- Getting the kiddies to make 2 piles, one with their favorite treats and the other pile would be treats they didn’t particularly care for. This second pile would be donated to the ‘treat fairy’ so parents could eat these or throw them out. This teaches children to appreciate the treats they like and not just eat everything because they can. Mindlessly eating things isn’t a good habit to cultivate.
- Allowing children to choose 1 or 2 treats every night to have after they have eaten their supper. This teaches the children about moderation and responsibility. They can have a little treat every day which is much better than restricting and than binge eating a ton of treats one day during the week.
- Talking to the kids about healthy food and treat food. I don’t like the phrase junk food or bad food because it implies that some food is better than others. I think that all food has a place and a time. Treats are delicious and should be enjoyed, just not every day. Teaching your children that treats are for special occasions makes them ‘special’. Children will savor them more and learn to appreciate them rather than fostering an unhealthy relationship with“junk food” that leads them to try to eat as much as they can when they’re out of the house or when they get their own bit of money.
Not once in this conversation or within any of my suggestions did I say that parents shouldn’t let their children trick or treat or have any treats at all. Its better to teach them about how to make healthy choices, how to eat different foods in moderation and how to appreciate and savor different foods at different times.
Now I am here thinking of healthy alternatives for Christmas treats but last week I made my nan’s famous Cherry Cake (I made them into bit size squares) and after I took just one bite, my mouth exploded with the flavor and my brain became warm and fuzzy with the thoughts of my childhood and my heart felt the Christmas Spirit. Do you really want your kids to miss out on this experience??? Tastes and smells create the most beautiful and long lasting memories!
Every week I have clients in my chairs and they share their weekly eating habits with me. These clients will look away as they share with me that they ate a chocolate bar that day or look at me in misery as they share with me how much they miss Doritos. As we make our weekly plan I always get looks of shock when I say…ok…on Friday or Saturday you are going to sit down and pick your favorite treat and….EAT it! Dietitians will never put you on a diet or restrict any type of food, unless of course they are advising you to do so because of a medical condition. Do you want to know a secret??? Your health and weight are affected by the things you do EVERY day…NOT by the things you do just once per week and DEFINITIELY not by the things you do once per year.
There…I eventually made my way to the very topic I wanted to discuss…VILIFYING the holidays (you’re a mean one Mr. Grinch). I absolutely cannot believe how many people are taking the joy out of creating magical memories like decorating Gingerbread houses together or going Trick or Treating. These are things that children should experience! Your children will not develop diabetes, heart disease, obesity or any of those chronic diseases because they had treats at Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s or Halloween. I promise you. They MAY develop unhealthy eating habits however if you talk about GOOD and BAD foods, if you won’t let them have a cookie at a birthday party or you don’t let them go trick or treating. All during the week you can ensure your children are eating their fruits and veggies, drinking their milk, getting the appropriate amount of exercise but once per week they should be able to enjoy a treat and definitely once per year. This year I had 6 Trick or Treaters. SIX. I mean I feel like while the kids are walking around they are getting their exercise. And those little treats are so small it’s not a big deal at all. The same with Christmas. I think if I went to my Grandmas house and told her I wouldn’t eat one of her famous Christmas cookies she would actually smack my hand with a wooden spoon and tell me I’m too small, I need the sugar or something to that effect AND she’s right.
Recently I heard that our generation is the first NOT to outlive their parents. Our parents and grandparents ate their Christmas cookies. We have to look at our every day practices. If you are choosing healthy options and creating healthy habits all week long and mostly on the weekend, there is nothing wrong with eating some Christmas chocolates or cookies. When you feel excessively guilty or like you have to hide in a closet while you eat a bag of Skittles then that IS a problem.
So at the end of the day, what am I trying to say (or rant about)? Treats are OK, they should be savored and appreciated. Talk with your children about them the same way you would about healthy food. It shouldn’t be held for ransom, your child shouldn’t feel like they need to secretly buy candy and eat it in their room alone. This opens a whole other can of worms and creates unhealthy eating patterns. Take them to the store and celebrate getting to pick a treat on occasion. Bring back Halloween!!! Bring back Christmas!!!
While I have been plugging away these past few years writing blogs about food I always wanted to delve into writing a lifestyle blog. It appears I didn’t feel like I had a lot to say until I had my own little guy! Having a […]
Its almost Christmas! The holiday season can be full of stress for some people. You worry about eating too many treats, drinking too much alcohol and perhaps an ever expanding waistline…fear not for I have some tips to sneak extra nutrients into your diet that […]
Nutrition Month is here and I love, love, love this year’s theme: Unlock The Potential Of Food. Food has limitless potential and carries so many different meanings to each and every person! This particular blog is all about the Potential of food to fuel our bodies…specifically in breastfeeding Mommas like myself!
Breastfeeding is becoming much less taboo these days. You wouldn’t think that something as natural as breastfeeding would ever have gone out of fashion (the milk does come in naturally of course in most women!) but it has for so many different reasons. Luckily breastfeeding initiatives and rates are on the rise. Now, most of us know why breastfeeding is so great for our babies…improved immune function, decreased rates of obesity, asthma and some chronic diseases…but that is another article for another day…this blog is all about YOU Mommas! Why is breastfeeding beneficial to us?! I say US because I am a new Momma myself and choosing breastfeeding was an easy choice…initially! I knew the spiel about why breastfeeding was so good for baby and as a Dietitian I felt it was even more important to practice what I preached. Breastfeeding is also beneficial for you! Exclusive breastfeeding can decrease blood pressure, protect against certain cancers later in life and also aide in weight loss post baby…but let me stop right there, I am an advocate for breastfeeding but I do know that there are so many reasons why breastfeeding might not be a good choice for all women and we need to remember this and respect those decisions. Starting your baby off with a healthy relationship with food is the most important thing and that includes a stress free environment. Feeding your baby and watching him or her grow into a healthy person of their own is supposed to be an enjoyable experience. So do what’s best for you both!
Did you notice that I said breastfeeding was the easy choice INITIALLY? Breastfeeding is totally the natural choice, when it comes to your milk coming in! But for a lot of women that is where the natural part stops. Breastfeeding takes work. It is a new skill for you and baby. Throw in exhaustion, pain, and stress and it becomes a little bit more complicated. Breastfeeding is also about a relationship. For me, I was positive but breastfeeding was painful initially. My baby had a shallow latch and day two saw me with a tear in my nipple that lasted 4 weeks and required a much stronger cream than the usual one they prescribe. Picture feeding a baby 8 times a day with a huge tear. Once the tear had healed I developed Mastitis! I think the only thing that saved me was that I was stubborn as all hell and I was breastfeeding no matter what. Now here I am with a healthy 3 and a half month old and we both enjoy the experience so much….with the exception of this one other thing. I have developed the ability to eat my husband under the table!!! Do you know what it’s like to go from eating 2 spoonfuls at 9 months pregnant and wanting to throw up from fullness to being able to eat an entire chicken yourself?! I heard so many people say, 3 months into breastfeeding they weigh more than they did at 9 months pregnant! So why is that?
I always assumed that if you breastfed, the weight fell right off you. Well that is not the case in all women. There are so many factors this seems to depend on including pre pregnancy weight, weight gain during pregnancy, exclusive breastfeeding/duration of breastfeeding, how active you are and caloric intake. So taking all of this in to consideration, what can we do to get back on track post baby? Especially with healing time, exhaustion, new baby crying and enormous appetites? Healthy food choices is always the answer!
Here are my FIVE favorite snacks. What do they have in common? They’re easy to make and high in protein and fibre which can keep you full longer so you’re not so hungry you actually consider drinking your own breast milk during a feeding…just kidding! When you crave carbs you eat simple carbs but these are digested very quickly leaving you even hungrier than when you started. Eating foods high in protein and fibre with some carbs will give you that fix you’re craving but also leave you more satisfied…it will also help with weight loss! Most importantly it will keep you energized…because if you’re anything like me…sleep time is non existent and spare time is a close second!
ONE ½ cup 2% Greek yogurt with 2 Tbsp of chia seeds, throw in some frozen or fresh berries for a sweet fix plus fruit has more fibre and tons of vitamins and minerals. A tantalizing snack that will satisfy your taste buds and your hungry stomach!
TWO ¼ cup of almonds or pumpkin seeds plus a serving of fruit…could be an apple, banana, orange, you name it! I choose almonds because they have more calcium than other nuts and I choose pumpkin seeds because they’re the highest in iron. Both are nutrients in high demand pre and post pregnancy. Iron might not be a high priority, especially if you’re not having a period but it depends on loss during delivery and most women have habitually low iron!
THREE 1 cup of carrots with ¼ cup of hummus. Carrots are super refreshing and high in Vitamin A and fibre. Hummus is filling and contains protein and fibre as well. Get baby carrots to make the whole process even quicker! Any vegetable will suffice here…I just personally love carrots because they’re easy and tasty!
FOUR Homemade granola bars here. They are super high in fibre and protein and lower in sugar than most store bought options. Bonus, they take minutes to throw together and involve no baking what so ever. This is my own recipes and from time to time I’ll have a contest to see how quickly I can throw them together. I’ve had it down to 6 minutes!
FIVE Peanut butter (or any nut or seed butter) toast + banana. Choose a high fibre bread that has at least 3 g of fibre per slice and says on the label that it’s made from whole grain flour rather than just whole wheat. It can say both whole grain AND whole wheat but it needs to say at least whole grain. Choose a natural peanut butter which is lower in fat, sugar and salt. It might be less sweet but that what the banana is for!
Like I said, these are my personal faves and for good reason. Protein and fibre are slower to digest and therefore keep you full longer. This means you feel more satisfied and eat less often. Keep in mind that you require more calories while breastfeeding but try to make these calories nutritious ones more often. Empty calories add up and you might not be burning as much as you think! This doesn’t mean that you can’t have the weekly chocolate bar…remember, it’s the things you do MOST often that effect your health!
The term Baby Led Weaning (BLW) is popping up all over the place these days. It is met with skepticism by some health professionals to total cult movements in some parenting groups. BLW is essentially a way of feeding your baby that completely by-passes the […]
Dairy consumption seems to have decreased in the last little while. I find that in my private practice I always have clients who are avoiding it for one reason or another. Incidence of lactose intolerance seems to have increased and then there are those few people who have a true cow’s milk protein allergy so they need to avoid all forms of dairy. Add to this the amount of people who are choosing a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle and we have a huge population now that is avoiding dairy. While there are many new dairy free products on the shelves; almond milk, soy milk, rice milk, coconut milk, and yogurts and ice creams made out of the same products, there seems to be few people who avail of them. Enter the problem. People are removing a whole food group from their diet without replacing it with something and this particular food contains most of the calcium in our diets.
Now, I’m not saying that people need to consume dairy to be healthy or get the amount of calcium they need but I want to talk about why calcium is so important and the other ways we can get it into our diet.
Calcium is the most abundant nutrient in our bodies and has many important roles including:
- Maintaining bone mass
- Vascular contraction
- Muscle functions
- Nerve transmission
- Intracellular signaling
- Hormonal secretion
So all in all, calcium is a super important nutrient. It becomes much more important when we realize that about ninety-eight percent of calcium is found in our bones while the rest is found in our blood. The calcium found in our blood, or serum, needs to be maintained with utmost precision because of the many roles above…so, when serum calcium is low…where does the extra calcium come from? Our bones! Calcium is sucked out of our bones so our serum calcium stays constant. So, you can see, if calcium intake is chronically low, our bones pay the price. This is why low calcium intake over time can lead to osteoporosis, progressive loss of bone mineral density, compromised bone strength and increased risk of fractures (for more information read these studies here or here).
Lactose is the natural sugar found in milk. When people have lactose intolerance, they are lacking enough of the enzyme lactase in their bodies to help them break down lactose. When lactose intolerance is present it comes along with its own horrible and uncomfortable set of symptoms when lactose is ingested.
Fortunately, for people who have lactose intolerance, there are a few over-the-counter enzymes they can take to help them digest lactose if taken before a meal. They can also find many lactose free products on the shelves including milk, yogurt, ice cream, cheese and butter. So their situation has become much easier to manage.
At risk populations
There are a few populations who are at risk for low intake of calcium and who will be impacted most by insufficient intake. Women, female adolescents and post-menopausal women are the most at risk. Due to hormone changes in women during menopause, extra calcium can get withdrawn from the bones. Adolescent girls are still growing and going through hormones changes themselves, so sufficient calcium intake in this population is extremely important, especially considering adolescence is when your bone structure is being formed for the future. Individuals with lactose intolerance or a cow’s milk protein allergy are the second at risk population. We have discussed lactose intolerance above, as long as this population is consuming the same amount of lactose free products they will receive their calcium intake. Lactose free products have the same amount of calcium present, they just have the lactose broken down in them already. Adolescents and elderly are also at risk because lactose tolerance decreases with age and adolescents are still forming their bone structure. Lastly, vegan and vegetarian individuals are at risk because these diets are associated with several factors that do not support bone health including, low body mass index (BMI), low intake of Calcium, Vitamin D, Vitamin B12 and protein.
So how can we get the amount of calcium we need and what are some non-dairy examples of calcium???
Check out how much calcium you need for your age and then food sources of calcium. If you don’t think you can get enough in your diet naturally through food, talk to your Doctor or Pharmacist about the best supplement for your needs.
Hope this blog was an eye-opener. Calcium is super important…it’s literally the framework that keeps your body strong throughout your life. Take care of it!
Adrianna Smallwood, RD
When your job is giving people nutrition advice for a living, you always think that when it comes to yourself, you will obviously be the PERFECT candidate. Usually…this assumption is correct…but when it came to my own pregnancy, it was much harder to follow my […]