Sunday, May 25, 2014

Picky Eaters

What parent doesn’t have a picky eater?  At least at times.  Recently, Jennifer Motl, a registered dietitian shared her own experience with a picky eater and gave parents some advice on what the latest research shows  (Bright Eating).  Her tips modified for this blog are:
 Model Good Eating habits – your children are always observing what you do and what you say.  So eat healthy foods in front of your child and say how much you like it.  Motl shared how her son started eating radishes because his grandfather liked them on his salad.
Make up Creative names for foods – Cornell researchers found school age kids ate 99% more broccoli when it was called “Tiny Tasty Treetops”.   They also ate more green beans when they were labeled, “Silly Dilly Green Beans”.
Slice some foods – perhaps because they are easier to pick up and eat but researchers at Cornell found children ate more apple slices than a whole apple. I’ve seen so many children take the tiniest bite out of a whole apple and then throw the rest away.  Apple slices are just easier to eat for children.  Similarly, children ate more kernel corn than corn on the cob and more cut up chicken than a chicken drumstick.  So think of how you are serving the food and maybe slicing some of it would make it more appealing to your child.   Motl noted she was going to try more fruit salads, chopped salads and carrot sticks with a dip.
Read books about food and then serve a food from the book – Choose a book with plenty of pictures of foods.  Some books Motl suggested are:
  • Lois Ehlert, Eating the Alphabet
  • Lisa Moser, Perfect Soup
  • Jim Helmore,  Oh No, Monster Tomato!
Take children to a farmer’s market and have them choose a vegetable to try.  At the grocery store, point out different fruits and vegetables.  Plant a garden and grow some fresh vegetables.  Have your child help cut some chives or parsley from your garden.
Don’t Force a Child to Eat – this just usually ends up being a power struggle.  Offer the food, but let the child decide how much they will eat.  Many child care centers have the “one bite” rule.  They encourage the child to at least take one bite of a new food.  Many children then decide they like it and eat it, but if now, at least they tried it.  Motl noted experts say have a child try one bite of everything on the table.  Also, serving the child’s favorite food when trying a new food may also get the child to eat more of the new food or at least they will have something to eat if they don’t like the new food.

Read more about healthier and happier meal times at:

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Are there plastic water bottles to avoid?

As summer approaches, we will be reaching for water bottles to quench our thirst.  Are there water bottles to avoid?  Yes, as some contain BPA which we really don’t need. 
Most of us have heard some manufacturers put a chemical in plastic bottles that we should avoid.  What is the chemical and why should we avoid it?  The chemical is bisphenol A or BPA for short.  Manufacturers use BPA to hard plastics, and they put  this chemical in:
  •  Baby bottles, sippy cups – most US manufacturers no longer put BPA in baby bottles an sippy cups
  • Plastic bottles like water bottles
  • Cans – lining of cans 
Why isn't BPA banned?  The Food and Drug Administration was asked to ban BPA but they cited insufficient evidence.  One has to wonder was it insufficient evidence or a strong food lobby that prevented the ban.  But our friends to the North, Canada has banned BPA use in baby bottles so they have recognized the “insufficient evidence” as being sufficient.  BPA came under fire in 2008 when a number of health risks were reported. 
Problems with BPA –
  • Cancer – BPA may be a risk factor for some cancers
  • Hormone levels - the chemical seems to disrupt hormone levels and development in young children.  
  • Brain and behavior – some studies found BPA affected the brain and behavior of infants and young children.
  • Heart problems – the more BPA the more risk of heart problems. 

So how many of us are affected?  Virtually everyone has studies have found 93% of Americans have some BPA in our bodies.
AVOID 3 or 7 Recylce code - to avoid BPA, avoid any plastics with a  3 or 7 recycling code, that simple.  Avoid the 3 and  7 to avoid BPA.
BPA Free – look for bottles, sippy cups advertised as BPA free.
Things to DO:
  • Use glass – glass, porcelain, stainless steel don’t have BPA
  • Fresh food – less canned food which still may have BPA in lining and more fresh fruits and vegetables

Sources:  The Facts About Bisphenol A, Duke Medicine Health News, Vol. 13G-R2
Image Source:

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Can coffee be good for your eyes?

It used to be said coffee was bad for us.  Many still drank coffee for the taste and a  pick me up. Now they keep finding health benefits for coffee drinkers.  The latest comes from Cornell University, a study that finds coffee is good for our eyes.
Study:  Cornell University’s study found that coffee has a strong antioxidant in it that prevented mice retinal degeneration.  Our retinas need lots of oxygen and antioxidants help because they help prevent tissue damage.  According to the study’s senior author, Chang Y. Lee, The study “is important in understanding functional foods, that is natural foods that provide beneficial health effects.”  (Coffee is good for your eyes) . 
Coffee and Your Health:  Coffee has been found to have many health benefits including:
Type 2 diabetes – coffee has been found to lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.  People who drink more than  one cup of coffee a day over four years were found to have less chance of getting type 2 diabetes than  those who drank less coffee.  In fact, those who drank 3-5 cups a day had a significant reduction in risk of type 2 diabetes (Coffee and diabetes).
Cognitive decline – coffee helps cut the risk of Alzheimer’s and other age-related declines in cognitive ability.
Parkinson’s Disease – coffee drinkers reduced their risk of developing Parkinson’s disease by 80%
Gallstones – yes, drinking coffee cuts your risk of developing gallstones, by half.
Athletic performance – athletes have found  that 2 cups of coffee can improve their athletic performance.  Probably because caffeine stimulates our nerves and brain and helps ward off fatigue. 

So is drinking coffee good or bad?  If you drink black coffee, it can have health benefits.  Add a lot of sugar and cream, and you add a lot of calories.  If you prefer milk or cream in your coffee, switch to low fat milk.  Then you can get the calcium and other nutrients from milk as well as the benefits of coffee.  Or drink it black, a healthy choice.
Image source:

Sunday, May 4, 2014

What’s all the buzz about bananas?

Wow!  Who is responsible for the latest rumor that bananas are toxic?  A relative was at work eating a banana and her boss told her “bananas are toxic, why are you eating it?”  Then  a co-worker came in and said the same thing, and he had stopped eating bananas.  A woman was in a health food store and overheard a customer saying they had stopped eating bananas because they have toxins in them. 
Yes, the banana peel may have some pesticide residue, but since you peel bananas they are noted as a very low pesticide food.  A group called the Environmental Working Group lists the foods most likely to be covered with pesticides (EWG's 2014 Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce).   Bananas aren’t on the list because when you peel a banana you peel away the pesticides. 
The World Health Organization (WHO) calls bananas one of “the world’s healthiest foods”.  (The World's Healthiest Foods).   Why?  

  • Potassium – bananas are full of potassium.  Many of us have diets low in potassium, a nutrient that helps lower our blood pressure (counteracting the effects of our high sodium diets).  Potassium also helps our heart function.
  • Vitamin B-6 – one banana supplies 25% of our daily needs
  • Manganese – an important mineral, a banana supplies 16% of our daily needs.  This mineral helps metabolize the foods we eat and helps our bones.
  • Copper – a mineral that helps our bodies fight free radicals which can damage our cells, helps us make hemoglobin, important in energy metabolism and helps us make collagen so important for our skin.   One banana gives us 10% of our daily copper needs.
  • Fiber – One banana gives us 12% of our daily fiber.
The World Health Organization notes that since bananas are such a good source of potassium, just one banana a day can help prevent high blood pressure and ward off cardiovascular disease.  The fiber in bananas also helps prevent heart disease.  The potassium in bananas may also help promote healthy bones. 
Other health benefits of bananas according to WHO:
  • Protects against ulcers and ulcer damage as bananas act as an antacid.
  • Bones – not only the potassium but also a prebiotic called, fructooligosaccharide.  These help our bodies absorb calcium which in turn helps our bones.
So the relative who was eating the banana?  She kept eating it, knowing how healthy bananas are.  I eat a banana every day as I enjoy them and they are a super healthy food.  I won’t be scared off from eating bananas because of some unfounded rumors spread over the internet. 
Image Source:  Banana