Posts Tagged ‘nutrition’
When my first-born started eating solids three years, I threw up my arms and sent this message out into the universe… “I apologize to every parent to whom I have uttered these words ‘Just keep introducing those veggies to your baby [or toddler or preschooler, etc.]. It sometimes take up to 17 tries for children to like new foods’ or ‘You can always find time to exercise’.” Boy, did the universe have some parenting nutrition lessons in store for me.
Thing I Didn’t Know #1
Serving my child a plate of healthy colorful food does not necessarily mean my child will eat a plate of healthy colorful food.
Nearly 3½ years and more than 100 attempts later, my son still will not touch most vegetables and is simply not that interested in food (unless it’s fruit, yogurt or sweets). And, my 1-year-old daughter—who is very interested in food—will not touch most fruits or vegetables. Clearly, my training as a registered dietitian and my desire to fill their bellies with a well-rounded, mostly whole foods diet was lost on them. I thought serving them a variety of fresh and delicious healthy food meant they would eat a variety of fresh and delicious healthy food. It doesn’t. My son handles vegetables as if they are kryptonite and my daughter reaches past the veggies and fruit for protein, cheese and anything starch.
Thing I Didn’t Know #2
Throwing my young children in the stroller to go for a walk is not always as easy as throwing my children in a stroller.
I remember clients telling me that they just did not have time to exercise or that exercising meant sacrificing time with their children. My first response was… “Put them in the stroller and go for a family evening walk. It’s good for everyone.” Yes, it is. But as I have learned, putting my young children in a stroller to go for a walk is sometimes an exercise in patience—a last-minute diaper change, a last-minute potty run, a cup of water for each kiddo, a toy to play with, yadda-yadda—and 15 minutes later means we now have half the time left for our “we-have-30-minutes-before-bedtime!” walk.
Thing I Didn’t Know #3
Waking up earlier than my kids to sneak in an exercise session is just not always (or really ever) possible.
Waking up early is easy for me, and I have always been one of those annoying morning people. One friend used to joke that I got more done on a Saturday morning before 9 AM than most people get done all weekend. But, when your child wakes up at 2 AM and then 4 AM and then 5 AM… well, let’s just say that it’s not so easy to sneak in a 5 AM run or yoga video, mostly because 5 hours of interrupted sleep does not bode well for peeling yourself out of bed early.
Thing I Didn’t Know #4
Making food more playful or shaping it into funny faces or using colorful plates definitely makes food more fun, but it doesn’t mean my child will eat it.
We have tried elephant-shaped grilled cheese sandwiches and butterfly-shaped French toast. We have created “pancake people” with coconut hair and chocolate chip eyes. We have tried Pac-Man waffles eating blueberries. We have tried dried fruit and cereal in colorful muffin cups. The kids love them. They play with their food (which I’m okay with) and laugh about it. And, sometimes they even try a bite. Or two. And, that’s if we’re lucky.
That’s not to say I’m not going to keep doing these things. Because I will. And, I do believe that one day they will eat a vegetable, a fruit, a protein and a whole grain at one meal. And, I will find that balance so that I am getting more physical activity, when they sleep more and are not so reliant on me. And, you know what? I’m okay with that.
TELL US: What are “real life, real food” topics you’d like to see covered here? How do you get a healthy meal on the table or find time to exercise? I’d love to hear from you.
Edited: May 3rd, 2013
Last week, I attended a sodium summit (“Getting to 2,300″) in Washington, DC. A follow-up to the initial summit five years ago, this year’s summit was hosted by Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), Grocery Manufacturer’s Association (GMA) and National Restaurant Association (NRA). The goal of the day-long meeting was to continue the honest discussion on sodium—why we eat so much of it, why there’s so much of it in our foods and how we can reduce the amount we eat, particularly in processed and restaurant foods.
As you can imagine, there were some big players in the room. And, most everyone was focused on how to reduce sodium consumption in this country. Nothing I heard was earth-shattering, but it was a good reminder that sodium–in a world that so often focuses on calories, fat and carbs–sometimes sneaks under the “trying to eat healthfully” radar.
The biggest sodium culprits
As Ursula Bauer, PhD, MPH, Director of the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (NCCDPHP) (the arm of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that focuses on preventing chronic disease, like heart disease) discussed at the summit, the average sodium intake for Americans 2 years of age and older is >3,400 mg/day. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2010 DGA) recommends to keep sodium intake below 2,300 mg/day for most adults and closer to 1,500 mg/day for the specific populations at greatest risk for hypertension, or high blood pressure. About 1 in 3 adults has hypertension and only about half of these adults have blood pressure under control. And, the science is solid… the relationship between sodium intake and blood pressure is direct and clear.
So, what does 2,300 mg/day look like? About one teaspoon of salt. That’s our goal for the entire day. That’s not a lot. Especially when you consider most of the sodium in the American diet comes from processed and restaurant foods. And, surely we don’t eat that much processed food, right?
Think again. According to American Public Media’s Marketplace, processed foods make up 70% of the American diet. Yup, 70%. And, the CDC reported that about 11% of the American diet comes from fast food. No matter how you shake it, that’s a lot of sodium without even adding salt at the table.
I hesitate to list the biggest culprits, because I don’t believe any foods are off-limits in a healthy, well-rounded diet. But, some of the biggest culprits repeatedly surprise my clients. And, it’s difficult to make informed food choices if you’re not informed. So, here are the biggest sodium culprits…
- Bread, rolls
- Cold cuts, cured meats
- Pasta dishes
- Meat dishes
Again, it’s not about eliminating these foods completely. Eating healthfully means choosing low-sodium foods MOST of the time and indulging in other foods some of the time.
Why food products need sodium
Unfortunately, lowering the sodium content of food products is just not as easy as removing sodium.
Sodium serves many purposes in food products. There are the obvious reasons why sodium is added to foods. It helps foods taste good and even helps bring out the natural flavor of foods. Sodium helps food products, like breads and cheeses, maintain a uniform texture and consistency. And, perhaps even more importantly, sodium helps prevent food spoilage and inhibits the growth of bacteria and molds that could cause serious food-borne illnesses. Understandably, food companies are not willing to sacrifice food safety. One speaker summed it up this way: “We will not compromise on food safety and our consumers will not compromise on taste.”
Fitting in favorite foods
As I mentioned above, I don’t believe there are “good foods” and “bad foods.” Eating–for most people–is just not that simplistic. We are surrounded by processed foods. We are crammed for time. The best way for us to make peace with these high-sodium convenience foods and attempt to prevent heart disease is to make wise food choices most of the time.
1) Eat mostly whole, unprocessed foods, like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean proteins (without sauces or breading), nuts/seeds and nut/olive oils. Foods that are as close to their natural state as possible will naturally contain less sodium.
2) Add a salad, vegetables or fruit to your restaurant or convenience meal. Not only are most fruits and vegetables naturally low in sodium, they are rich in potassium, which helps to counter the sodium in that convenience or restaurant meal. By simply adding a veggie- or fruit-rich salad or side, you’re automatically lowering the sodium content of that restaurant or packaged meal.Pretty cool how that works, huh?
3) Vote with your dollar by buying the low-sodium or no-sodium-added products or meals. Many food companies and restaurants now offer lower sodium products and dishes. Show these companies–who are trying to offer a healthier solution–that you want these low-sodium offerings. The bottom line is… food companies and restaurants will NOT continue to offer low sodium options if no one buys them.
TELL US: Do you try to eat a low-sodium diet? If so, please share your tips and favorite low-sodium products and dishes. We’d love to hear from you.
Edited: April 12th, 2013
As posted at BlogAboutSeafood.com on January 17, 2013
This is my favorite salad. It is, in my opinion, salad perfected.
My husband is not a “salad person.” He likes veggies, but his initial reaction to my “Salad for dinner tonight?” question is “No.” However, he loves this salad. He even requests it sometimes.
We went to Paris a few years ago. We’d been traveling all day and there was futbol (the sport we Americans call “soccer”) to be watched. We hunkered down in what appeared to be a hidden Parisian pub and, after days of ingesting heavy British food, were delighted to spot salads on the menu. But, these were no ordinary sports-pub-iceberg-lettuce salads. These were large, beautiful
bowls brimming with fresh butter lettuce, juicy tomatoes, avocado, green beans, roasted potato slices, cubes of cheese, hard-boiled eggs and grilled fish. And, that salad was delicious.
So delicious, in fact, that we craved those salads when we returned home.
Make Your Own
While our version always contains a green-leaf lettuce (like butter or romaine), cherry tomatoes, shaved carrots and cucumber, I always add in other veggies and proteins that I have on hand. In this particular salad, I threw in hard-boiled egg whites, diced avocado and yellow bell pepper, grilled asparagus
spears, capers, white Cannellini beans and grilled salmon. I tossed the salad with a quick homemade dressing of olive oil and balsamic vinegar mixed with a little honey, lemon juice and Dijon mustard.
Yes, this salad is great during the summer, especially with a glass of white wine. But, it was warm enough to grill outside in the mid-Atlantic last week. (This week is a different story… a snow storm is about to blow through as I write this.) Served alongside a crusty loaf of whole wheat bread, it was a perfect dinner.
TELL US: Do you have a favorite restaurant- or region-inspired salad? What nutrition superstars are in your favorite salads? We’d love to hear from you.
Edited: January 29th, 2013
Wine gets all the love in conversations about the nutritional benefits of adult beverages. And make no mistake, I enjoy a juicy glass of cab. But sometimes a cold brew better suits my mood—a preference I apparently share with Hermosa Beach, CA registered dietitian, Andrea Giancoli, MPH, RD.
A spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association (ADA), Andrea wrote a fun piece for ADA Times about the nutritional benefits of beer (“A Toast to Good Health”, Winter 2011). The article caught my eye and inspired me to call Andrea for more scoop on suds.
My notes from the conversation below, and just in time for St. Patty’s Day!
RK: Since beer has more ingredients than wine, I’m wondering to what extent do these ingredients contribute to the health benefits of beer.
AG: Beer confers many nutritional benefits, such as B vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. The basic ingredients of beer are water, yeast, barley and hops. These ingredients provide the nutrients. The more hops in a beer, the greater the phytochemicals. The more malt—or germinated barley—the more B vitamins.
Some craft brewers throw in additional ingredients to impart unique flavors, which may or may not lend to a greater nutrient profile. And, some lager breweries add adjuncts to their beer. Adjuncts, which are unmalted grains like rice or oats, are another source of fermentable sugars, and typically result in lighter-colored and lighter-tasting beers.
RK: Does the color or ABV (alcohol by volume) impact the health benefits of beer?
AG: Before researching beer for the [ADA Times] article, I originally assumed that darker beers had higher alcohol content. But, that’s not the case at all. Look at Guinness, a really dark beer with a pretty average alcohol content.
The first couple of steps in the brewing process involve steeping the barley and then heat-drying (or roasting) in an oven. This is called “making the malt.” For how long and at what temperature the grain, or malt, is roasted dictates whether the beer is light or dark colored. There may be some benefits of color. According to researchers in Spain, dark beers contained more fiber than lighter beers, but more research is needed to confirm their findings.
The higher ABV the more grams of alcohol in the beer, and thus calories—alcohol has 7 calories per gram. Alcohol content is actually determined by the fermentable sugars in the malt. The higher the fermentable sugar content, the greater the alcohol content.
RK: We know that most people don’t compensate for calories consumed in sodas, coffee drinks or energy drinks. Do you find that most people also ignore the calorie-factor of beer?
AG: Anecdotally, I find people do tend to overlook how many calories they consume when imbibing. However, one benefit I find about darker beers is that people feel fuller sooner, as compared to other beverages. And because beer contains more water than other alcoholic drinks, say wine or mixed drinks, people report becoming water-logged sooner and tend to stop drinking when they’ve had enough beer. Still, there are a lot of calories in beer, as there are in any alcoholic beverage, and the calories add up quickly. If you drink three 150-calorie beers in one sitting, you’ve just consumed 450 calories, the number of calories needed in a meal for some people.
RK: What’s your favorite food and beer pairing?
AG: Lager and lentil soup. At this one Italian restaurant I frequent, I love to pair their lentil soup with a cold lager. Makes a great meal!
RK: So, you think beer can enhance the taste of a meal? Do you think a beer can ever enhance the nutritional profile of a meal?
AG: Beer is more complex than wine and those complexities can greatly enhance the flavor of a meal. So, there is more potential for a greater tasting meal when eaten alongside a beer.
As for the nutrition benefits… Yes, enjoying a beer or two with dinner may offer some health benefits—beer can help improve lipid profile by increasing HDL and lowering LDL cholesterol and can improve blood flow. But, five beers at dinner negates those health benefits. So while we do gain nutritional benefits (like vitamin B12) from beer, we derive those benefits only when beer is consumed in moderation, which means that ladies stick with one 12-ounce beer and men with two 12-ounce beers a day. That being said, enjoying a beer with a meal can potentially improve our health and our meal.
Of course, no dietitian’s blog on alcohol would be complete without mentioning that beer, like all alcoholic beverages, is higher in calories than other carbohydrates, and health benefits can be negated if consumed in excess. To reap health benefits and maintain your weight, stick to one drink max per day for the ladies and 2 drinks or less per day for men.
What satisfies your beer craving? We’d love to hear from you!
Edited: March 17th, 2011