Posts Tagged ‘nutrition’

Starting baby on solid food: An unofficial guide

Monday, January 26, 2015
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Disclaimer: I feel like I must prequel this post by saying…This is NOT meant to be a real guide to starting your baby on solids! Consult your pediatrician for advice and instructions on solid foods.

Step 1: When baby is a few months old, read about when to start solid foods. Tell yourself you will stick strictly to the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation of exclusively breast-feeding for the first six months of life.

Avocado baby food...basically just boring guacamole.

Avocado baby food…basically just boring guacamole.

Step 2: Go to your baby’s four-month check up. Your pediatrician asks if you have started baby on solid foods (No, you have not told me to!). Listen to your pediatrician confirm the AAP’s recommendations – six months. Shake your head in agreement. Listen to recommendations on first foods and think to yourself, “I will definitely listen to my pediatrician.”

Step 3: After many a sleepless night, wonder if the rumors about babies sleeping once they start solids are true.

Step 4: Realize that your baby will be 24 weeks before the six-month anniversary of her birth. Decide that 24 weeks is close enough to start her on solids.

Step 5: Google the following: “Starting baby on solid foods,” and learn that everything you’ve heard is wrong! Become thoroughly confused.

Step 6: Notice baby is more hungry than usual. Decide that 22 weeks is close enough to 24 weeks. Try to convince husband that baby is ready to eat, and he gives in because he knows he is fighting a losing battle.

Step 7: Decide what food to give baby first. What a life-changing decision! Debate benefits of various “first foods.” Call friends for advice. Call mom for advice. Google for advice. Finally settle on oat cereal.

Step 8: Take your baby food blender out of the box to get a head start on making foods and find a recipe book and food guide. Realize you could have saved a lot of time if you had discovered this earlier.

Step 9: Wash baby spoons, baby bowls, baby-food-making accessories. Set baby in high chair; make sure she has on a large bib. Get out the camera. Make oat cereal exactly how the box instructs. Brace yourself for the big moment. Your child’s entire future depends on this first bite. If you mess it up, she will either never eat anything again or only like chicken nuggets for the rest of her life. You are sweating in anticipation.

Step 10: Give baby her first bite of solid food. None of it makes it in her mouth. Continue to “feed” her. The whole ordeal lasts about two minutes before she gets bored.

Step 11: Realize you may have thought about this too much.

Get Your Plate in Shape

Saturday, March 3, 2012
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I'm Blogging National Nutrition Month

March is National Nutrition Month. This is a great chance to reflect on how you eat and determine if your diet needs a few changes. Take some
time this month to get your plate in shape.

Eating a healthy diet doesn’t have to be difficult. Start with these easy steps offered by nutrition experts at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:

  • Make halfof your plate fruits and vegetables: Eat a variety of vegetables, especially dark-green, red and orange varieties. Add fresh, dried, frozen or canned fruits to meals and snacks.
  • Make atleast half your grains whole: Choose 100 percent whole-grain breads, cereals, crackers, pasta and brown rice. Check the ingredients list on food packages to find whole-grain foods.
  • Switch to fat-free or low-fat milk: Fat-free and low-fat milk have the same amount of calcium and other essential nutrients as whole milk, but less fat and calories. For those who are lactose intolerant, try lactose-free milk or a calcium-fortified soy beverage.
  • Vary your protein choices: Eat a variety of foods from the protein food group each week, such as seafood, nuts and beans, as well as lean meat, poultry and eggs. Keep meat and poultry portions small and lean. And be sure to choose seafood as the protein at least twice a week.
  • Cut back on sodium and empty calories from solid fats and added sugars: Compare sodium in foods and choose those with lower numbers, and season your foods with herbs and spices instead of salt. Switch from solid fats to healthy oils like olive and canola oil. Replace sugary drinks with water and choose fruit for dessert.
  • Enjoy your foods but eat less: Avoid oversized portions. Use a smaller plate, bowl and glass. Cook more often at home where you are in control ofwhat’s in your food. When eating out, choose lower calorie menu options.
  • Be physically active your way: Adults need at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of physical activity every week. Choose activities that you enjoy, and start bydoing as much as you can.

In addition, try a new recipe or two this week. Let your kids in on the action.  Allowing a child to help with simple kitchen tasks is a great way to get them interested in trying new foods. I love the recipes provided by Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the National Dairy Council. Both have tons of kid-friendly foods and healthy recipes.

What are you doing to get your plate in shape?








Websites guide families to healthy eating

Wednesday, February 22, 2012
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As mothers (and fathers, grandparents, and any other caregiver that reads The Mommyhood) we are busy, but we want the best for our babies. Even when our babies aren’t really babies anymore. I know I want my child to eat good, whole, nutritional foods. However, I don’t always have the time to make it happen. I know there are days when it’s 5:30, there’s no food in the fridge and I remember we have to eat dinner.

Well, over the past several months I’ve been made aware of a couple websites with local ties that teach and support healthy eating, from birth on. They’re great resources for everyone that has a child in their care. In fact, they’re just plain ol’ good resources for everyone.

The first is Healthy Kids, Inc. Operated by locals Kirk and Mandy Curry — Mandy was recently named one of the State Journal’s 40 under 40 — the site offers a plethora of healthy eating tips. The Currys have two young sons, the inspiration for HKI.

I found out about HKI when I wrote this story for the Gazette-Mail Outlook edition. What I personally like about HKI is the guidance from menu planning, to the store, to food prep, to actual cooking. Mandy, with the help of dietician Sarah Sturgill and chef Joe Crockett (one of Jamie Oliver’s helper chefs in Huntington), do everything but actually cook for you.

There are step-by-step videos and great photos to use as visual guides, as well as provided nutritional content. I picked up a few tips from Mandy during my interview.

  • First, do all your prep on one day. After your menu has been planned and the food has been bought, take a chunk of time and get everything ready to cook. Mince all that garlic at once, get those peppers chopped, peel those carrots, etc.
  • Second, organize your meals in containers. Mandy puts everything for a meal in a container (which the site will have for sale, soon) and puts the recipe on top of the container. When it comes dinner time, Mandy pulls out the container, cooks up the meal and has dinner on the table in around 30 minutes. Isn’t that brilliant?
  • Third, buy fresh foods. Mandy told me she took a friend to the store one day. The friend didn’t believe you could eat fresh, healthy foods for less than you could buy frozen foods. Mandy guided her through the produce section and the friend ended up spending about half of what she normally spent, for a week’s worth of meals.

HKI is a membership-based site, but offers some free recipes if you want to try out the meals before committing your money. However, it’s less than $100 for a year’s membership. If you’re struggling with menus and need help creating kid-friendly foods, they’ve got you covered. Worth the money.

The second site is Eating for Breastfeeding. The site was started by Marshall grads Elizabeth Green and Stacy VanBibber. Elizabeth (aka Marybeth, for you St. Albans folks) is a broadcast journalist and WAHM and Stacy is a registered and licensed dietician. Together, they provide a series of videos on tips for breastfeeding and provide support to moms that might be struggling as they nurse their child.

Along with the videos, Elizabeth and Stacy also offer downloadable PDFs and a Q&A, as well as teach the basics, update you on the latest breastfeeding recommendations, and provide meal plans (the tropical salmon looks amazing), shopping lists and tips on how to save time in the kitchen. One of my favorite resources on their site is the Freezer and Refrigerator guidelines. I am always asking if our food is still good and may be throwing away food that is perfectly fine.

Here is one of the videos on Eating for Breastfeeding.

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I hope you take the time to check out these sites. I love that Mandy, Elizabeth and Stacy are taking the time to show other women what to eat. It’s a simple part of our life that we get so, so wrong on a daily basis. Enjoy!

Check out the archive of our chat about eating right in the new year

Monday, January 2, 2012
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Dietitian Amy Gannon and Steven Keith, The Daily Mail Food Guy got together online Monday, Jan. 2, for a chat about eating right in the coming year.

The discussion was general and was aimed at people who have made new vows to try to eat better this year.

Click here to check out the chat archives.

Join us here at 3 p.m. Monday for a live chat about healthy eating in 2012

Friday, December 30, 2011
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Join dietitian Amy Gannon and Steven Keith, The Daily Mail Food Guy, at 3 p.m. Monday for a chat about eating right in the coming year.

The discussion will be general and is aimed at people who have made new vows to try to eat better this year.


Amy is a registered dietitian who lives and practices in Charleston. She has a master’s degree in dietetics and specializes in healthy eating for kids and childhood weight management.

She’s also the mother of a two-year-old boy and the wife of a known bacon lover. She tries to get them to eat right. Sometimes it’s hard. She hopes to bring you some practical advice on feeding your family through humor and honesty.


The Food Guy is a Charleston resident, Charleston Daily Mail columnist and all-around food enthusiast who also tries to eat right. He has three little boys. He might have some stories about trying — or failing — to sneak nutritious food into their meals.

Bring some questions to ask them. They’ll have general tips, advice and anecdotes but should warn in advance that this is a chat and is not meant to help readers diagnose or treat any particular eating disorder or condition.

See you then!

Click image to enter the chat. It starts at 3 p.m. Monday. Reader questions are encouraged.


Sunday, October 16, 2011
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A poem by children’s author and poet, Shel Silverstein:
I was settin’ at the restaurant
When the waiter came up and asked, “What do you want?”
I looked at the menu…it looked so nice
Till he said, “Let me give you a little advice.”
He said, “Spaghetti and potatoes got too much starch,
Pork chops and sausage are bad for your heart.
There’s hormones in chicken and beef and veal,
Bowl of ravioli is a dead man’s meal.
Bread’s got preservatives, there’s nitrates in ham,
Artificial coloring in jellies and jam.
Stay away from doughnuts, run away from pie,
Pepperoni pizza is a sure way to die.
Sugar’s gonna rot your teeth and make you put on weight,
Artificial sweetener’s got cyclamates.
Eggs are high cholesterol, too much fat in cheese,
Coffee ruins your kidneys and so do teas.
Fish got too much mercury, red meat is poison,
Salt’s gonna send your blood pressure risin’.
Hot dogs and bologna got deadly red dyes,
Vegetables and fruits are sprayed with pesticides.”
So I said, “What can I eat that’s gonna make me last?”
He said, “A small drink of water in a sterilized glass.”
And then he stopped and he thought for a minute,
And said, “Never mind the water — there’s a carcinogen in it.”
So I got up from the table and walked out in the street,
Realizin’ there was absolutely NOTHING I coud eat.
So I haven’t eaten for a month and I don’t feel too fine,
But I know that I’ll be healthy for a long, long time.

More about marketing food & drinks to kids

Tuesday, October 11, 2011
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There have been several articles published this week that relate to the issue raised in my Saturday blog Too Juicy for Memarketing foods and beverages to children.

This is a hot topic right now and is fiercly debated among everyone from federal regulators (such as the Federal Trade Commission) to food and beverage manufactures and groups trying to make a dent in childhood obesity rates (such as the Center for Disease Control and the Prevention Institute)

As you browse this information, keep in mind that young children, especially those under age 7, do not understand persuasion and the theory of advertisements.

They take most things at face value and believe that if SpongeBob SquarePants or the Trix Rabbit suggests a food, it must really be good for them

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In fact, this issue is so widely debated now that it’s even hitting close to home and has been debated by the WV Department of Education as reported in the Charleston Daily Mail.

Have you noticed your kids reacting to advertising for food that isn’t good for them?

Too Juicy for Me

Saturday, October 8, 2011
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Hi! I’m the new mom here at the Mommyhood Blog. In addition to being a Mom, I am a registered dietitian and a breast cancer survivor. I have recently gone back to work after a year off for cancer treatment. It is a good feeling to be back in the office and using my brain again, but it certainly has drawbacks (like writing a blog at 10 p.m.)!! I am really a technology novice, so this kind of super high tech electronic correspondence is pushing the envelope for me!

My clinical practice is focused on childhood weight management. I enjoy working with children because of their fun and endearing qualities – getting hacked and coughed on, and the many, many “I’m bored, are we done yet?” phrases. (Just kidding). I love working with these kids in particular because it breaks my heart to see a child who is taunted, picked on and brought to tears because of too many pounds. I really hate watching a kid go through life with poor health conditions brought on by carrying around too much weight. This is especially hard for me now that I’m a mom. I get upset when my son has a cold. I can only imagine the fear of having a disease brought on by being overweight.

One of the most widely debated topics among my industry peers is the idea of marketing foods to kids – or more correctly, regulating the marketing of foods to kids (for more, click here and here). Kids are a major target audience for the sale of foods and beverages, which (SHOCK) are mostly unhealthy! I have been studying and teaching about this topic for half of a decade now, but I never thought it would impact my family. My son is only 2. What does he know about advertisements?

Obviously, more than I thought.  Recently I was confronted with what I’m now referring to as the “Juicy Juice Incident of 2011”. We were eating dinner and when I asked what he wanted to drink, my son responded (out of the blue), “Juicy Juice.” What? He repeated, “Juicy Juice.”  “How do you know what juicy juice is?” I asked.

I did not see this coming. I thought I was pretty media savvy when it comes to marketing foods to children. I just didn’t think that juice would be something that would be advertised to him, or me, for that matter. Hey, it’s not like I’m the juice police. But in our house, it’s a special treat. The guidelines are clear. Kids don’t need it and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends restricting juice intake. We usually stick to water or milk when we’re thirsty.  So, how did my son come up with this request? Did he see an ad onTV? Did he drink this particular brand of juice at day care?

Juicy Juice is a catchy name. I’m sure to him it tastes great. But, I’m still surprised that he was able to come up with a specific brand name, especially one that he doesn’t hear every day. I guess the food marketers really do have their job down to a science. In this case, it clearly worked.

What do you think? Should foods be marketed to kids? Is this a problem in your house?

Party Hearty

Monday, August 29, 2011
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Spit that out, young lady.

I received a flyer from my daughters’ school outlining the nutritional guidelines for students.  In short, the cookies-cupcakes-popsicle-corn chip-jug o’ juice-gummy snack celebration days are over.  Wipe that smudge of chocolate off your face, moms and dads.  You’re out of compliance.

I wish I had read these rules before I agreed to be the kindergarten homeroom chairperson in charge of — yep…you guessed it — classroom parties.

Homemade Rice Krispie treats? Blondies and brownies made from scratch? Little cups of vanilla ice cream served with a wooden tongue depressor-type of spoon? Ahhhhh-bsolutely not! A pizza party for the class that sold the most cookie dough in this fall’s fundraiser?  Fuggedaboutit! A mini-pack of M&Ms pulled out of the good behavior treasure box? That’s a no-no. Grandma Brown’s famous peanut butter fudge? Grandpa Brown’s banana nut bread?  Are you crazy? You could kill a child!

From what I understand, the nutritional guidelines have been in effect for years, but parents still aren’t paying attention: Nothing, absolutely nothing, can be delivered to a classroom that hasn’t been produced, packaged and labeled from a grocery store. Ingredient and caloric breakdown labels must be on the product to protect children with food allergies and other digestive sensitivities (such as whatever was smeared on your kitchen counter when you cut up that raw, whole chicken for dinner last night).

As an over-protective mother of two, I appreciate that someone is watching over my kids.  As a parent-volunteer, I’m perplexed.   Now what are we supposed to do?

Get creative.

The West Virginia Department of Education’s Standards For School Nutrition (Policy 4321.1) specifies key features of the plan, which dedicates an entire section to snacks served outside of the program:

The plan strongly reccomends that only water, 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice and non-fat or low-fat milk be offered during the school day in all grades.  Juices should not contain added sugar and are required to be age and portion appropriate.  No coffee products, caffeinated beverages or foods containing artificial sweetners are allowed during the school day.

Snacks and drinks must be limited to:

– 200 calories each;

– no more than 35 percent calories from fat;

– less than 10 percent total calories from saturated fat;

– less than .5 grams of trans fat;

– no more than 35 percent of calories from sugar;

– no more than 200 milligrams of sodium.

And my personal favorite:

“Foods and beverages should not be offered as a reward or used as a means of punishment.”

However, if you want to send your child to school with a Mountain Dew and a Three Musketeers for lunch, you can do that.

Section 5.2: Due to special dietary needs and food safety concerns, food and beverages brought or delivered from outside sources may be consumed only by individual students for which they were brought or delivered, and not by the general student population.

So as I make plans for the upcoming Halloween party, I have to take into consideration that Big Brother is watching.  “Organized food events and celebrations held during the school day shall be regulated and monitored by school personnel to meet the requirements of this policy.”

This means no one is going to show us the love on Valentine’s Day, either.  In our home, I’ve been teaching my daughters that less is usually more.  Everything in moderation.  But apparently celebrating two times a year — October 31st and February 14th — is too much of a good thing.

Being the bad guy

Tuesday, May 24, 2011
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A couple years ago I posted something on Facebook about how I spent the evening fighting with my toddler over vegetables. I expected sympathy from my mom friends. Instead I got a smackdown. “You need to learn to pick your battles,” one said. “Let it go,” another said. “You’re in for a fun life if you make a big deal out of that.”

Wow. I mean, Supernanny makes kids stay at the table until they’ve eaten their green beans. And she knows everything.

I would lie awake all night worrying my daughter wasn’t going to grow or thrive because she ate nothing with nutritional value. (Read: I was ticked off that I had made her her own special meal because I knew for sure she wouldn’t eat what we were having and thought, dang it, I stood in the kitchen and made this, you’re gonna eat it.)

But the comments got me thinking. Maybe I was being too hard on Julia. She was otherwise a really good kid. Why create drama over dinner? If she doesn’t want to eat, she doesn’t have to eat, I decided.

My newfound attitude carried over to other things. Screaming and hysteria when I tried to get her to drink out of a regular cup? Fine. Sippy it is. Surely, she’ll figure it out one day. She won’t drink beer out of one when she gets to college, right? I let it go.

Who needs tears over trying new foods? It’s just food. There are so many more important things to cry about.

This was fun. This was freeing.

This was stupid.

Because now, I have a 4½-year-old who hasn’t eaten a vegetable other than corn for two years. I have a 4½-year-old who still uses a sippy cup and doesn’t know how to drink out of a straw. I have a 4½-year-old who eats Eggos and yogurt for breakfast, noodles with butter for lunch and chicken for dinner – EVERY SINGLE DAY – for years.

Lesson learned here: Being a mom isn’t easy and sometimes there will be tears. But I have to trust my own judgment and teach the things I think are important. Even if it means being the bad guy. (Note to self: More Supernanny, less Facebook!)

So my goal this summer is to teach an old toddler some new tricks. We’re going to eat new foods and drink out of a cup. Maybe we’ll go crazy and try to master the elusive Capri Sun!

Wish me luck.