Archive for the 'Nutrition' Category

Finding Energy During Pregnancy

The dangers of caffeine for pregnant women has been all over the news lately. The latest study was released shortly before I found out I was pregnant—because the Universe loves a good joke!

The latest study, published in The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, claims that even 10 ounces of coffee a day might double the risk of miscarriage in the first four months of pregnancy. I’m typically skeptical of new studies—particularly when they contradict multiple studies done in the past—but I also find myself being more cautious with a growing baby inside me.

It’s all a moot point for me, anyway, as the taste of coffee makes me nauseated. So does chocolate, tea, green tea or anything with even small amounts of caffeine. So what can a former coffee junkie do to keep her energy levels up during pregnancy?

- Go to bed earlier.
There’s no way around it—pregnancy makes you tired, especially in the first trimester. You may have to shift your sleeping schedule to go to bed earlier or wake up a bit later (if possible) to accommodate your need for extra sleep.

- Create a new morning ritual.
I have always been slow to wake up, and my morning coffee was a physiological and psychological signal that my day was beginning. I’ve replaced that ritual with a small breakfast and some VitaminWater, savored while I read my morning e-mails. After a few weeks, my body became accustomed to this new signal, and now, after breakfast, I’m ready to face the day.

- Exercise!
Regular exercise keeps your energy levels up, but there’s nothing like a walk or a workout session in the middle of the day to rejuvenate you immediately!

- Take a nap.
When all else fails, 20 minutes of shut-eye can work wonders.

- Eat a balanced diet and take your prenatal vitamins.
This is more of a long-term affect, but I do feel more alert when I eat healthy foods and remember to take my pre-natals.

There is no safe, “magic energy solution in a can? for pregnant women, unfortunately. But these coping techniques have helped me stay awake in a world without coffee.

Posted in Uncategorized, Pregnancy, Nutrition | 2 Comments »

Healthy Diet Changes

Are you trying to lose weight after the holidays? I know I am. I thought it was going to be a lot easier than it has been. Then I realized, it took more than just a few days to put it on, why do I expect it to only take a short time to come off? Silly me. It is going to dedication and some serious resolution to stick with this one.

A few changes to the diet here have been:

More vegetables.
We have always been vegetable fans, but we have really tried to up our intake with different types. An interesting way to add more and different types of vegetables into your diet is to work your way through the produce section in your grocery store each time you visit. Buy one or two new items, then find a recipe on the internet or in your cookbooks to try. You could also choose a country to try out recipes and vegetables from, find the recipes, then shop around that list. You will find many interesting ways to prepare a rainbow of vegetables.

Less soda, more natural beverages.
Carbonated, syrupy beverages are not only bad for your teeth, they can actually contribute to dehydration, albeit a small amount. High sugar and sodium content, plus chemicals most of us cannot pronounce. Substitute your normal soda, even diet soda, with green tea, black tea, or pure water. You can purchase green tea in powder form, much like the flavored ‘shots’ available from Crystal Light and other companies. Powdered green tea is very beneficial, as you are ingesting the whole leaf and gaining all of the nutritional value of the plant.

If you do not like the taste of wine, you can gain many of the same health benefits from drinking dark colored grape juice. Wine and dark colored grape juice has health benefits, mainly for the heart. As a woman, my heart health is very important and it should be to other women. Heart disease is a killer, a silent killer of women all over the world. Taking steps to ensure your heart health can increase your enjoyment of life, if only by allowing you to live longer!

What changes have you made? What changes do you plan to make?

Posted in Uncategorized, Nutrition | 5 Comments »

Sneak Some Vitamins Into Your Kids (and you!)

A Vitamin Packed Smoothie.

A well balanced diet is the best way to get kids full of the proper vitamins for their growth. Fish, fresh fruit and veggies, plus whole grains will help your children stay healthy. All of those foods have the right balance of nutrition when combined with other healthy choices.

But what if your child, or you, hate some or most of those foods? In that case, it is very easy to become deficient in nutrients the body needs to stay strong enough to prevent sickness and even bone breakage. Luckily there are many foods you and your kids can eat that will sneak in the vitamins and nutrients the body needs. Foods that are stuffed with the ever important calcium, vitamin A, and essential omega fatty acids.

Many people love to snack on salty or sweet crunchy foods. Pumpkin seeds can help fulfill this desire and be flavored so many different ways. With a toss of olive oil and seasoned to taste, it’s so easy to make a crunchy snack! The combinations are infinite. I use a full pumpkin’s worth of seeds that have been picked clean from the gourd, washed, then laid flat to dry. You can speed this process by using a paper towel. Then toss the seeds on a large bowl with about a tablespoon of olive oil if you have it, vegetable oil if you don’t. Once covered well with the oil, sprinkle in some good sea salt, then choose your seasoning. My kids like them sweet so I try to add a little sugar for a ‘kettle cooked’ taste. Some adults love the Cajun flavors, so just sprinkle on about a teaspoon of Cajun seasoning to start.

These are only my ratios. You can use as much or as little as you’d like to satisfy your own taste. Experiment with other spices and herbs to make your own unique pumpkin seeds recipe.

I have been known to hide veggies into dishes you wouldn’t normally find them. A few days ago I made a stir fry with very thinly sliced steak, a whole head of cabbage, a bag of spinach, onions, carrots, and a huge sweet red pepper. Oh, and mushrooms. I used an electric wok and cooked the very thinly cut steak first. After that, I just dumped in the other ingredients, turned the wok to low and let it go until everything was soft. A small dash of sugar and a few shots of soy sauce made this dish taste slightly Asian, but not too strongly. Because of the way the veggies were sliced the kids assumed they were noodles. Go figure!

If you have a juicer, you’re ahead of the game. You can add a little vegetable juice into fruit juice, or to put into a soup stock instead of chicken broth. Try it in breads instead of water for a vitamin boost to your grains. Simmer rice in a water and veggie juice mix to help replace the vitamins that were lost when white rice was milled.

If you’re creative, you can find so many ways to sneak healthy foods into your children or yourself. Maybe even into a reluctant spouse. For more ideas and information on healthy eating, check out this article Healthy Eating: Best Sources Of Fiber.

Posted in Health, Nutrition, Cooking, Healthy Eating | 1 Comment »

Lunches Kids Will Love

Big Burger

I’ve decided to pack lunches for my daughter this year. I know tons of parents have made their child’s lunch for years upon end and I figure it’s my turn to join the ranks. School lunches, while supposedly balanced and nutritious, look about as appetizing to me as those cellophane wrapped sandwiches sitting on the counter at the local gas station.

Yeah. Mm, mm good.

My husband and I are pretty health conscious and luckily, our children love their veggies. If you’re wondering how we got so lucky, it’s a matter of introducing the kids to vegetables as if they were treats when they’re still very small. Black olives are great fun to pop on the end of tiny fingers and nearly every child loves to pop sticks of carrots or celery into any type of dip. It’s like a requirement of being a kid to dip everything that’s remotely dippable.

So, in search of the perfect lunch, I married some ideas. Kids like to have something they can just pick up easily. Wraps are a great way to go if your child is like that. But, you can run out of tortillas at the wrong time. Then you’re stuck with a soggy old sandwich. Or are you? Nope! Just trim the crust off of a piece of bread and roll flat. Voila! Instant wrap. You may have to use a toothpick to hold it shut, but this does work really well. For smaller kids, don’t worry about the toothpick, just add smaller amounts of filling.

Sometimes it seems like a nice idea to make a hot sandwich or wrap, but don’t fall to that temptation. By the time lunch rolls around, the melted cheese on a hot sandwich or wrap will be gummy, the bread soggy, and the mayo…I don’t even want to go there. Try cold versions of hot foods. Chop chicken, season with taco seasoning, mix with a bit of sour cream and salsa, spread on top of a lettuce leaf that lines a tortilla, sprinkle with cheese, then roll tightly. A cold chicken fajita!

You don’t have to stick to normal sandwich fillings or breads. You can also use bagels, pita bread, crackers or rolls. Ever try strawberry preserves with cream cheese? Uh huh, kids love that, too. Leftover stew? Wrap it! Just drain the excess liquid, squish the vegetables and meat together a bit, then wrap. Let your imagination run wild.

Next time, we’ll talk about easy desserts for packed lunches!

Posted in Parenting, Nutrition, Cooking, Daily Living, Healthy Eating | 1 Comment »

Something In the Way She Poos

I am knee deep in other people’s poopy.  Yesterday I wiped a total of three other being’s bottoms - both kids and the dog.  Am I being too sharing???  Tough.

The most alarming of all three was my daughter, if you can believe it.  My cute, sweet, cherubic little baby girl had the most horrendous diapers these last few days.  I know what it is, I just can’t get her to change the bad habit that is producing these frightful diapers.  My daughter’s a juice junkie - and it’s creating quite a funk in her huggies. 

I am having to hide the apple juice and orange juice from her. The diapers weren’t the only indicator that we have a problem - at mealtimes (and even snack times) all she wants to do is drink her juice.  I am having to buckle down and only give her one juice drink a day now - it has caused a stir in our household. She goes to the refrigerator and screams “szhoooze,szhooze, szhooze!!!!” and when I refuse, further hell breaks loose.  Water won’t do.  Milk occassionally makes her happy, but I don’t want her to start replacing meals with milk either.  She certainly doesn’t look to be malnourished, by any means, and maybe I should just write it off as a phase in her eating style.  Whatever the case may be, it is something I never had to deal with with my firstborn.  He has always been a big eater.  I guess, like anything else, we’ll just ride this wave and work our way out of it.  In the meantime, I’ll just let my husband deal with the juice junk in her diaper… I am officially on diaper changing hiatus.

Posted in Nutrition, Child Development, Daily Living | No Comments »

World Travelin’ Snacks

I have always loved that my kids are fairly experimental with their eating habits. My 19-month-old loves Indian food (her favorite is Sag or Vegetable Korma) and my six year old is a glutton for any kind of sushi or asian food.

This has lead me to wonder what else they may try and like. I discovered a great little gem of a website that tallies up snack ideas from children all over the world. Of course, the largest amount of entries are from the U.S. but there are plenty of interesting small recipes from all over. My personal favorite, and one we are sure to try, is from a teacher in France:

A favorite of all my students on food days is the chocolate sandwich. Take two pieces of bread (French, bien sur!) and put a plain chocolate bar in between. Voila! A typical French child’s favorite afterschool snack.

Now that, ladies and gentlemen, is living!

Posted in Nutrition, Parent Education, Cooking | No Comments »

Raising a Sharp Toothed Carnivore

When my son turned three and after a year of studying anything dinosaur related, he very exuberantly said to me that since he did indeed have sharp teeth that he wasn’t meant to be a vegetarian. The conversation actually went something like this:

Joseph: “Mommy, see my two sharp pointy teeth?”

Me: “Yes, honey, I do”

Joseph: “We can tell carnivore dinosaurs apart from vegetarian ones because they have sharp teeth, right?”

Me: “Yup”

Joseph: “Well, see, if you don’t let me eat meat I will go extinct”

I have been a vegetarian for fourteen years. At first it was adamantly for ethical reasons, now it is a combination of health and the former. I always had this daydream that I would have a lovely vegetarian kitchen with a husband and children who loved my cooking and felt like they were better off for it. Not so. Joseph comes up with repeated scientific facts as to why it is not only lame, but utterly detrimental to his existence for him to not have a slab of meat on a daily basis. My husband — well, he is polite and tolerant and respects my choice in our home. Occasionally, though, he and Joseph will go for a “walk” and come home looking as if they have just been to their first nudie show together, smelling of cheeseburgers. It should be said, at this point, that I have always (when out of the house) let him decide whether or not he wants meat for a meal. I stand my ground when it comes to fast food (thanks to my mom he has developed a penchant for McDonald’s — it is something he knows, by now, that I will not partake in). However, when we go out to the occasional restaurant, despite my alluring descriptions of the mac n’ cheese and steamed broccoli, he always winds up with the grilled chicken or hot dog.

My thwarted attempts aside, I wanted to mention some positive resources for vegetarian mothers. There are some really important books you should read if you are a vegetarian with kids (whether or not they subscribe to your eating philosophy). Vegetarian Baby by Sharon Yntema was my food bible with both of my children. And Super Baby Foods by Ruth Yaron is another with very pro-vegetarian tips and cooking methods. It is important to educate yourself about how to keep a nutritional balance in their diet, vegetarian or not, just as you would for yourself. For me, it was also important to realize that I can live by example but I cannot impose my ideals too too much or else it will be all for naught. Despite his resistance, I feel confidant that one day, even if he isn’t a pacifist animal loving vegetarian like me, that he will at least have the reverence and respect for those that are.

Posted in Nutrition, Parent Education, Healthy Living | 1 Comment »

Obesity Before Pregnancy Linked To Childhood Weight Problems - Pregnancy And Baby

Results of the study, which included more than 3,000 children, suggest that a child is far more likely to be overweight at a very young age — at 2 or 3 years old — if his mother was overweight or obese before she became pregnant. A child is also at greater risk of becoming overweight if he is born to a black or Hispanic mother, or to a mother who smoked during her pregnancy.

And there’s a good chance that an overweight child will stay overweight for the rest of his or her life.

(Full Story - Via Google Search: pregnancy.)

Posted in Pregnancy, Concerns and Expectations, Nutrition, Weight Management | No Comments »

Use Of Folic Acid Increases Birth Rate

As reported in the British Journal of Nutrition, the research team discovered a strong link between low levels of folic acid in the women’s blood and a correspondingly low birth weight in their newborn. It was noted that for each increasing unit of folic acid accounted for in the blood samples, the child’s birth weight also increased by 14%.

Smoking has been known to inhibit the developing fetus for some time now. The Newcastle study has shown a strong link between women smokers and low folate levels. Researchers presume smoking inhibits the body’s ability to metabolize the vitamin completely, thus leading to a potentially underweight baby.

Full Story

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Caloric Needs During Pregnancy Higher Than Thought

Reuters reports:

Pregnancy is associated with a rise in energy needs to support adequate weight gain and increases in metabolism. This increased need is not completely offset by reductions in physical activity, so women need to compensate by increasing the amount of calories in their diet, new research confirms.

Full Story

Posted in Pregnancy, Nutrition | No Comments »