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5 Healthy Summer Habits for Your Family

Summer is a perfect time to focus on getting healthy, especially for kids. Read this list for healthy ideas for your family that take little effort and can make a big difference.

5 Tips for a Healthy Family This Summer:

  1. Buy healthy food that’s in season. During the summer, there are plenty of healthy foods available in the store and at the farmer’s markets. Take advantage of this abundance of produce and give your kids fruit at meals and for snacks instead of packaged foods. Make salads a staple for lunch or dinner. Use fresh, cool vegetables that taste great on hot days such as cucumbers, celery, bell peppers, and spinach leaves. Mix it up and make summery green salads with fruit accents, such as spinach tossed with strawberries, blueberries, or grapes. Read more

Healthy Barbecue for Parents and Kids

Grilling season is going to be wrapping up in the next few months, but not before one of the biggest grill-out holidays of the season:  Labor Day! Summer barbecues are a time to celebrate with good food. You can still have good food and be healthy at your barbecue.

Parents with both of their children sharing food at the Barbecue

Here are some healthy barbecue pointers that I follow for myself and my family:

Choose organic meats. My picks:

  • Organic chicken breast or drumsticks (the drumsticks are only $3.00-$4.00 for 5 large pieces at Trader Joe’s)
  • Organic, local, grass fed ground beef from Fruitful Yield (at about $5.00 per pound, it doesn’t cost much more than non-organic)
  • Trader Joe’s 100% beef, nitrate- & nitrite-free hot dogs
  • Applegate brand organic hot dogs, which can be found in many grocery stores

Choose whole grain or 100% whole wheat hot dog and hamburger buns

You can find these at any grocery store, and really, they don’t taste different. Especially with all the yummy grill flavor coming through, and of course condiments.

Choose produce from the farmers market

Add some veggies to your grilling repertoire. Right now in season there is plentiful corn on the cob, eggplant, yellow and green zucchini, onions, potatoes, fennel, all colored peppers, mushrooms, and more. If your kids are old enough, ask them to help wash and even chop some of the veggies for you into large pieces. Toss the veggies in olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill them, turning them once. After removing from the grill, drizzle a little balsamic vinegar over them and sprinkle with chopped parsley. Serve in a large dish- beautiful with all the colors!

Make fruit skewers with yogurt dip

Again, get your kids involved by having them help wash, portion, and skewer a variety of fruits. Be creative and make a rainbow of colors with different fruits. You can make a simple fruit dip with vanilla yogurt (or any fruit flavored yogurt really).

Try pasta salad instead of traditional potato salad

You can make a delicious, healthier version of pasta salad by using whole wheat pasta or quinoa, an olive oil and vinegar dressing, and plenty of veggies, olives, fresh herbs and spices to flavor it.

Manage portions

Of course, there will likely be a variety of not-so-healthy food choices at any barbecue. Make just one plate of food, and make it reflect the Healthy Plate Model:  half of the plate filled with fruit and veggies, the other half split between whole grains and protein. Have a small dessert and drink water instead of soda.

Very important

Avoid over-cooking or charring foods on the grill, as this results in formation of cancer-causing compounds called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). You can avoid these by cooking on lower flame for longer, pre-cook the meat a bit to decrease time needed on the grill, and trim off any charred pieces you do get.

Happy grilling!

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Preemies: Special Little Ones with Special Nutrition Needs

When going through pregnancy, most mothers expect to have nine months to prepare for a newborn. Caring for a preemie, however, is not something that pregnancy books and newborn care classes cover.

In terms of preemie nutrition and feeding, the following information can help prepare you or provide insight into what you may be experiencing:

Mother eating with infant

1. Nutrition support

This refers to an alternate route of nutrition for your baby. Babies may require nutrition support if they have low birth weight or other medical complications. If born before 34 weeks, he or she may not be able to coordinate sucking, swallowing, and breathing during oral feeding. Your baby may receive breastmilk or formula through a tiny tube that goes into the nostril or mouth and down to the gut (enteral nutrition). In cases of very early preemies, many have to receive parenteral nutrition, or nutrition through an IV (intravenous). This is because their digestive system is not yet developed enough to handle the full volume of breastmilk or formula that is required to sustain growth. There can be a number of factors that limit an infant’s ability to tolerate enteral nutrition, and parenteral nutrition becomes necessary.

2. Fortified breast milk or special formulas

Being outside the womb early presents challenges and demands on the infant’s body that can increase nutrition needs. Preemies with low birth weight need more calories, protein, vitamins and minerals than infants born at full term, to promote “catch up growth”. Human breastmilk has been analyzed from mothers of preemies and mothers of term infants, and preemie breastmilk actually contains more calories, protein, vitamins and minerals than term breastmilk. Often times, preemie breastmilk needs to be fortified further to meet the infant’s needs. There are also formulas designed for premature infants in the event that breastmilk is not available. Proper nutrition is critical for the development of vital organs like the lungs, heart, brain, and gut. Neonatologists and registered dietitians assess each baby in the NICU for nutrition needs, and create individualized recipes and feeding regimens. Sometimes these special recipes and feeding regimens need to be continued once the baby goes home from the NICU, and parents get educated by the medical team on how to do this.

3. Swallowing or oral feeding issues

Babies develop the ability to coordinate sucking, swallowing, and breathing around 33 or 34 weeks. There are a number of circumstances that may impact this developmental stage for preemies born prior to that. The baby may require a ventilator for oxygen, which would not allow oral feeding to occur. Or, the baby may require nutrition support during this time for a variety of reasons, and oral feeding attempts may not be possible. These scenarios can have lingering effects on how the baby feeds and swallows in the future. Babies may require special feeding techniques or “thickened” liquids if they have swallowing difficulties. Sometimes babies develop oral sensory issues and aversion to oral feeds, in which case tube feedings may continue until this is overcome.

An article published in Neonatology in 2008 titled “Strategies for feeding the preterm infant”, by Dr. William Hay, provides a review of preemie nutrition (for free full text, click here). As your infant gets older, his or her nutrition needs will change. Growth should be monitored closely by your child’s doctor.  Nutrition is critical, and expert care should be provided to ensure maximum development. If you or your doctor has concerns about growth, nutrition, or feeding, schedule an appointment with a dietitian at North Shore Pediatric Therapy.

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Why Meet with a Registered Dietitian?

At North Shore Pediatric Therapy, our registered dietitian, Stephanie Wells, MS RD LD, specializes in pediatric nutrition, and works with kids of all ages- preemies through adolescents. She is passionate about kids’ nutrition, and aims to alleviate parents’ concerns for their child’s nutrition status. Her background includes working in the pediatric ICU as well as a pediatric outpatient gastrointestinal clinic. Stephanie’s areas of expertise include food allergies, underweight or difficulty gaining weight, feeding difficulties, picky eating issues, specialized diets, constipation and diarrhea, gastroesophageal reflux disease, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, Celiac disease, overweight or obesity, nutrition for children with special healthcare needs, and managing gastrostomy tube feedings.Registered dietitian

Nutrition Facts:

As stated on the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ website (www.eatright.org), “Registered dietitians are food and nutrition experts, translating the science of nutrition into practical solutions for healthy living. The expertise, training and credentials that back a registered dietitian are vital for promoting positive lifestyle choices. Registered dietitians draw on their experience to develop a personalized nutrition plan for individuals of all ages.”

Stephanie will spend quality time listening to what your family’s unique needs are, and then together, will create a nutrition plan that works for you. She can provide meal ideas, handouts, special diet materials, samples, and any tools or resources you need for you and your child to be successful in moving toward health.

Nutrition is a hot topic these days, especially childhood obesity. In an article published by USA Today on May 7, 2012, researchers report the country’s obesity rate will reach 42% by the year 2030 if current trends continue. Even more compelling- “ ‘If the obesity rate stays at 2010 levels instead of rising to 42% as predicted, then the country could save more than $549.5 billion in weight-related medical expenditures from now till 2030,’ says study co-author Trogdon.”* Of course, the monetary costs are not the only costs at stake with children dealing with obesity. There are also serious health consequences that can arise such as diabetes and high blood pressure, as well as the emotional effects.
Nutrition-related health issues such as obesity are often a result of daily habits over time. You may think, “My family’s diet isn’t perfect. But we are just too busy right now. Maybe next week we will make a change.” Make this week the week you meet with a registered dietitian to help make a change in your family’s diet.
*To read the full article on obesity in USA Today, go to http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/story/2012-05-07/obesity-projections-adults/54791430/1


schedule-a-nutrition-assessment



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