As part of the National Nutrition Month®, March 10th this month was celebrated as the National Registered Dietitian (RD) Day. I have a lot of respect for registered dietitians – many have answered questions from readers in Ask the Expert column on this blog. I think this recognition is well deserved!
It is Friday again, which means it is time for the usual Five for Fridays! This week, I want to highlight 5 informative posts by registered dietitians who contributed to a recent blogfest. RD’s in this blogfest were asked a simple question – If you could give only one message, what would that be? There is a wide range of ideas from RD’s in response to this question! Check them out and leave a comment to share your opinions.
Get your kids interested in cooking
That is the message from Robin Plotkin in her post Give a kid a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a kid to fish, feed him for life! The idea is simple, yet quite powerful; one that has the potential to totally change our relationship with food and eating. Instead of relying on carry-outs, drive-thrus and ready-to-eat meals, you could get your kids involved in the whole process of putting food on the table. Get their input in meal planning, take them out for grocery shopping, and do a cooking project in the kitchen with them.
We have sort of getting started on it with simple projects like making chicken quesadillas! Try it out, it’s a lot of fun, although it takes a little planning.
Don’t label food as good or bad, enjoy it
In her post Enjoy food, Heather reminds us that food should not be labeled as good or bad; rather we should take a look at our behaviors and environment to find solutions to our diet and health related problems. We have become so separated from how our food is grown and where it comes from, that all we can rely upon is the nutrition facts panel on the box. The quality of food is determined by calories, fat, sugar, salt, protein, vitamins and minerals. Not by how it is made, how it is eaten and how it is shared with friends and family. There is a cultural aspect to food and eating which has gone completely missing from modern life.
Heather’s message is a simple reminder to enjoy food without guilt while still being mindful of what your body tells you. Get to know your food and choose natural or minimally processed foods. Her message resonated with me a lot especially after I read Michelle May’s book Eat what you love, love what you eat! The risk here is that if you don’t exercise mindful eating and don’t listen to your body, you can take this guiltless eating along a negative spiral. That works only in food advertising, not in real life!
Eating healthy at home is super easy, give it a shot
You don’t have to be a high-profile chef to prepare simple, wholesome, nutritious meal! Or go out of your way to find ways to include fruits and veggies in your daily diet. Simple, but creative, changes can help you eat healthy everyday according to these eat well tips from Janel. I like her simple approach and ideas for getting fruits and veggies at every meal. She also points out that just by keeping a small inventory of whole grains and proteins in your pantry, lean meats and frozen vegetables in your refrigerator, you can make a variety of combo meals simply by boiling water, heating an oven or opening a can of beans!
Once you get in the habit of preparing your meals at home from simple recipes, it becomes a part of daily routine and doesn’t seem like a big task. Getting your kids involved, as suggested by other bloggers, is also a good idea!
Formula for a healthy diet – 90% plants, 10% animal foods
You don’t need one diet for cancer prevention, one diet for diabetes and one diet for heart disease, says Diane Perves on her blog as she makes a case for a mainly vegetarian diet in her article Only one message. Simply increase the amount of plant based foods such as vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds and reduce the amount of animal based foods like meats and dairy. That is the core of dietary guidelines and a variety of diets. The sad fact of the Standard American Diet (SAD) is that the food triangle has been flipped on its head with vegetables at the bottom and animal products providing 70% of the daily calories.
Of course this does not mean that you need to go cold turkey on meat and dairy completely. What it means is that you can start out by making small changes as you work toward getting your food triangle sitting on its broad base rather than its pointy head!
To D or not to D, is no longer the question
Dietitian Debra is clear and emphatic in her recommendation that you take vitamin D supplements during pregnancy and also give it to your children. Food sources of vitamin D are rare and hours of sunshine limited during the winter. Recent data suggests a broad deficiency of vitamin D and recommendations are pouring in from experts about using a supplement and even taking more than the current daily recommendation of400 IU.
I do agree that vitamin D is very important for growing children. However, I am not convinced that there is widespread vitamin D deficiency and that it is very hard to get enough vitamin D in kids via food. All milk is fortified with vitamin D. So is several brands of orange juice. Kids cereals typically have vitamin D fortification. Eating fish even once a week can provide a lot of vitamin D. There is considerable disagreement about what can be considered as deficiency, especially in kids. And there is no real evidence to suggest that the daily dose should be increased beyond the current recommendation.
Having said that, there is no harm in using a supplement within the suggested dose if that offers you a peace of mind. There are always special situations where your child may definitely benefit. Here is how you can tell if your child may have a vitamin D problem. If you suspect that your child may be in this situation, consult with your doctor first.
Enjoy and let me know what is on your mind.