Food

Navigating Picky Eaters and Food Sensitivities

Whether you have a picky eater or a child with food sensitivities, sometimes as a parent you may find yourself having to get creative with snacks and meal planning!

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It can be so easy to fall into the trap of feeding your child a separate meal from everyone else most days; or relying on a not-so-healthy option just to get some food in your child's belly.

One of the reasons that I teach about food introduction is to help avoid pickiness and also to try and alleviate food sensitivities. The most common food sensitivities are nuts, gluten and dairy. If you feel that your child has behavioral difficulties, doesn't sleep well, gets skin rashes or has dark circles under their eyes, I encourage you to get them tested for food sensitivities. Seeing a Naturopath is the way to go as the tests they use is far more extensive.

If you have found yourself in this boat here are some things you can do to get on a different path with your little one.

Start with simple and mild foods and then graduate up to more adventurous options. Choose one veggie at a time and have your child try it every day for a week; even if it is just a bite. If by the end of the week then it is safe to say that one may be a no-go! 

Sweet potatoes and carrots are a nice beginner. My favorite way to serve these is cutting them up into sticks (like fries), coat in olive oil, sprinkle with salt and roast them in the oven until they are soft and a little crispy on the outside. They can be dipped in anything! You could even try a little raw honey. There are so many ways to sneak veggies into meals. A great cook book for this is Deceptively Delicious. You will find ways to hide vegetables in just about anything! There are wonderful dinner options. Plan your meals out. If you can, make it visible for everyone to see so they can know what to expect each evening. One night a week try and make something new with diverse flavors such as a curry dish. The other nights of the week can be easy and basic, a protein, a veggie and a grain. Some ideas are tacos, pasta, grill packets, omelets. 

There is always the tried and true smoothie idea. Bananas cover up just about anything! Stuff your blender with fruits and spinach; for a dairy free option use coconut or almond milk as your liquid. For good fats, I just found a wonderful coconut milk yogurt called CoYo. It is amazing how many great products are out there to help with food sensitivities. Here are my favorite go-to snacks:

Larabars: While these do have nuts, they are a great snack to keep in your bag with you. There are so many flavors! My favorite is Cinnamon Roll!

Bitsy's: These tasty snacks are organic, allergen friendly and they sneak in veggies! They have crackers and cookies available.

Seaweed Snacks: This may not be for everyone but you would be surprised how many kids love them! They come in their own little package and are very healthy! I have found that Trader Joe's sells them for only $.99 a package!

Popcorn: There good brands out there but this is an easy snack to make at home. I suggest cooking your own on the stove; it is easy and takes about 5 minutes. Sprinkle some salt and a little butter. To make it sweet add some maple syrup.

Natural Fruit Strips: Target's Simply Balanced brand is organic and cost effective. If you like to cook, here is a fun recipe to try!

Fruit & Veggie Pouches: You can't go wrong with these! They are full of fruits and vegetables. They are quick and easy. Again, if you want to make your own, you can buy reusable squeeze pouches!

Remember, you are doing a great job! Feeding little ones can be tricky and sometimes us moms put so much pressure on ourselves. Many of these options are easy and quick.

 

 

 

Big River Farms CSA at Health Foundations!

Written by Lebo Moore

Written by Lebo Moore

Have you ever seen First Taste, the video of babies tasting different foods for the first time? It’s precious. The babies try everything from yogurt to anchovies and their reactions, displaying the vast emotional range of food, reflect an honest beauty.

I stumbled upon that video at the Terra Madre conference, where I learned the importance of introducing food and eating at an early age. Not only does this establish a diverse palette which is  linked to healthy eating behavior as an adult, but the acculturation of welcoming a child at a dinner table, even if they are still in infancy, teaches children how to eat and care about food. It places food at the center of human development.

I care a lot about food. I work with farmers so I’m a little biased, but also, I love to eat. After years of working on farms, I’ve witnessed how farming shapes our environment. Irrigation is the biggest use of water on the planet. The way we farm, and use that water, really matters. I am not a farmer, its way too much work, but I do know that as a lover of food there are many ways I can support the kind of farming that builds resilient and healthy communities. One way is by becoming a member of Big River Farms Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA.

Big River Farms is a program of The MN Food Association, and is located in Marine on St. Croix. We run a training program for beginning farmers providing education in production, post-harvest handling, business planning and marketing. Our mission is to build a sustainable food system based on social, economic and environmental justice through education, training and partnership. Farmers enrolled in the program represent over ten cultures around the world, most have immigrated to this country in the last thirty years and they all take pride in working the land to provide food for their families. We focus on providing resources for immigrants and farmers of color as they face significant barriers in land access and starting a farm business.

Through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) members receive weekly deliveries of Certified Organic produce grown by farmers enrolled in the program in addition to a Fruit Share. This summer we are honored to partner with Health Foundations as a new drop site for our CSA. Each week from June-October, we will deliver produce to Health Foundations Birth Center along with recipes, farm stories, farmer biographies and invitations to on-farm, family friendly events.

We believe that our commitment to farmers and to building small-scale local food systems pairs well with the commitment Health Foundations has in providing wellness and educational services for expectant and new moms. We take great care of our land and farmers to ensure that healthy food is accessible to even the newest of eaters. Everyone at Big River loves to eat and we want to share our food with you so that your family can explore the beauty of eating together. We’d love to welcome you as a member of Big River Farms for the 2017 growing season.

Sign-up for your 2017 CSA: http://www.mnfoodassociation.org/2016-share-information

Use these coupon codes at check-out for a special Health Foundations Discount!

fullhealth to receive $30 off a Full-Acre Share

halfhealth to receive $15 off a Half-Acre Share

Dr. Amy's Guide to Food Introduction

photo credit: Big River Farms CSA

photo credit: Big River Farms CSA

One of Dr. Amy’s passions is food introduction. It is a fundamental building block for a baby’s development, their immune system and has long-term health benefits. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding (no formula or solid foods). Breast milk contains antibodies that support immune function as well as optimal nutrient ratios that change as the child grows. Until approximately 6 months of age, a baby’s digestive tract is not able to adequately digest most foods. Early introduction of foods may result in food allergies or sensitivities. Around six to nine months, breastfed and formula-fed infants will begin to develop their gastrointestinal track in a way that makes them ready to start some solid foods.

Food introduction is one of the most important times in your child’s health; it becomes the building blocks and foundation of health for the rest of your child’s life. The gastrointestinal tract is an extension of the immune system. Introducing foods in a way that will not cause allergic reactions will help build a stronger and more solid foundation than if your child is always fighting off immune reactions. So many early health problems in children are related to food introduction. It is pertinent that you observe your child for signs of a reaction, such as red marks around their mouth, red cheeks, eczema, diaper rash, constipation or diarrhea, etc. (see below more complete list). If these early warning signs are not headed, more serious reactions may result as the immune system becomes more and more compromised.

Signs Baby is Ready for Solid Foods

•      Is at least 6 months old

•      Able to sit unsupported

•      Can push away food

•      Can turn head from side to side

•      Shows interest in what you are eating

Since breast milk is all your baby needs in terms of nutrients, there needn't be any rush to start your baby on solids. Let your baby lead. If she is always grabbing for your food, then allow her to explore it. But if she isn’t interested, don’t force her to try it. Most babies will become interested in food between six to nine months. If your child hasn’t started trying solids by nine months, start offering it to him and see how he responds.

This transition in life can be a source of stress for many parents. Take your time and be patient with your child. Know that she is getting all the nutrients she needs from your breast milk or formula.

Up until the first year, the benefit to babies of trying solids is being exposed to new textures and learning hand mouth coordination; prior to a year most babies gastrointestinal tracts are not mature enough to be absorbing many nutrients from solids, so if your child isn’t eating a lot of solids, it is not compromising his nutrient intake as long as he is still drinking breast milk or formula.

Introducing Foods

New foods should be introduced one at a time. Wait a few days after introducing each new food to see if your baby reacts to the food. If your baby has any of the following symptoms below, remove the food from baby’s diet for 2-3 months, then try again.

If your child has a life- threatening reaction to a food such as difficulty breathing, call 911.

Your baby will show you he has had enough to eat. Stop feeding him when he spits food out, closes his mouth, or turns his head away.  Let him control how much he eats.

Symptoms that may indicate a reaction to a food include:

•      Rash around the mouth or anus

•      Hyperactivity or lethargy

•      “Allergic shiners” (dark circles under eyes)

•      Skin reactions/rashes

•      Infections/cold/flu

•      Diarrhea or mucus in stool

•      Constipation

•      Runny/stuffy nose or sneezing

•      Redness of face/cheeks

•      Ear infection

•      Other unusual symptom for your child

Use the following schedule as a general guide for introducing foods to healthy, full-term babies. You can hang it on the fridge and put a date next to each new food introduction so that it is easier to remember what your child is eating and for reference if your child develops a reaction. If your child has chronic illness, special needs, or has signs of allergies or sensitivities such as asthma, chronic respiratory infections, or chronic ear infections, a modified schedule may be necessary.

Even though it is a common practice in our culture to give babies powered rice cereal, this is not an evidenced based practice and is not recommended by nutritionists. Start with vegetables and fruits. When it is time to introduce grains, use whole grains whenever possible, instead of processed grains.

Finally, enjoy this new time in your baby’s life as he explores new textures and tastes. Be playful with your child and let meal times be a fun game or a time to be social and sing songs about foods. Use it as a time to learn colors or numbers, instead of always focusing on getting your child to eat. If they don’t like something, introduce it again in a few months. Try to make it easier on yourself by modeling good nutrition to your child and giving them some of your meal, instead of always having to make something completely different for them. Enjoying our meals improves digestion and overall quality of life, so do what you need to for yourself to de-stress mealtime and enjoy.

Join us on March 26th at 10:00am on the MyTalk, 107.1 Mom Show to learn more and visit https://www.health-foundations.com/mom-show/ after the show to download a specific food introduction schedule.

 

Colds & Flus in Pregnancy

Pregnant woman illness Well, its that time of year…with the cold weather comes the cold and flu season.  Unfortunately, pregnant women are not immune to these common illnesses.  The good news is that, so long as a pregnant woman stays nourished with foods and fluids, colds and flus do not generally pose any threat to mom or baby.

If you are experiencing severe symptoms such as:

  • A fever
  • Frequent vomiting
  • Severe diarrhea
  • Persistent coughing

It is a good idea to contact your care provider.

 Preventing Colds and Flus

The old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is the best approach to preventing illness during pregnancy.

Basic self-care to prevent illness includes:

  • Eating nutritious and whole foods
  • Getting enough rest and sleep
  • Reducing stress
  • Getting regular moderate exercise
  • Maintaining a positive attitude
  • STAY WELL HYDRATED!

Of course, situations and factors outside of our control can make maintaining all of these elements difficult.

 First signs of illness: Take a time out

Excusing ourselves from our daily responsibilities at the first sign of illness can go a long way in preventing or reducing the duration and severity of our illness.  If possible, step away from all that can be left for another time—turn off the phone, ask for help with other children, take a sick day at work, cancel social engagements and do what nurtures you.  That could be taking a warm bath, enjoying a warm cup of tea, snuggling into bed with a good book or movie, listening to soothing music, some gentle yoga poses, a long nap, or something else.

Eating and drinking during illness

For some of us, colds and flus wipe out our appetite.  While this may be a natural by-product of the body’s fight against illness, our babies still need nourishment!  For this reason, it is important to continue to eat even when you are feeling sick.  If food doesn’t sound the least bit interesting, try clear veggie or meat broths, soups or plain toast.  Miso, chicken noodle soup, and veggie soups can actually be healing during illness.

Same goes for drinking, it is paramount to the health of you and your baby that you continue to consume an adequate amount of fluids—your baby needs amniotic fluid and your kidneys need this nourishment.  In fact, your body may actually begin contractions under the stress of dehydration.  Aim for a full glass of water, tea or broth every 1-2 hours, more often if you have a fever.

 Herbal and Dietary Treatment of Illness in Pregnancy

  • Vitamin C: Take 250 mg every 2 hours, not to exceed 2,000 mg in the first trimester and 4,000 daily in the second and third.  Don’t take Vitamin C at these levels for longer than 5 days.
  • Echinacea: This herb, safe in pregnancy, boosts the body’s immune system very effectively, especially if taken at the first sign of illness.  You can purchase Echinacea tinctures at the co-op, natural health food store, and Whole Foods.  Take one drop for every 4 pounds of body weight (140 pounds / 4 pounds = 35 drops, for example) you can repeat this every 4 hours or more often for acute illness.
  • Garlic, lemon, ginger, green onions:  all of these foods can be consumed to boost the immune system during illness.  Garlic is a bactericide, good for treating many kinds of ailments.  Ginger tea is a great natural treatment of illness.
  • Kudzu Root: Sold in chunks or as a powder, this starchy root is good for reducing fever, relaxing the muscles, taming the tummy, and soothing inflamed nasal, throat, and lung tissues. You can make Kudzu root tea by boiling a cup of apple or pear juice, adding 1 teaspoon of root powder which has been diluted in 2 tablespoons of cold water.  You can add cinnamon or ginger for warmth.

 Natural Cold Tonics

Full of immune boosting goodness, these mixed can be sipped safely at the first sign of illness:

“Terrible Tonic”

  • 3 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
  • ½ cup honey
  • 1 cup of apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup of purified water

Add all ingredients to a mason jar, shake and take 3 tablespoons 6 times a day.

Cold and Flu tea

In a pan, gently boil one quart of water, adding:

  • 4-6 cloves of chopped garlic
  • 2-3 chopped green onions
  • 1-2” of minced/grated/sliced fresh ginger

Let gently boil for 10 minutes.

Remove from heat and add:

  • 2-3 tablespoons of honey, or to taste
  • 2-3 tablespoons of lemon juice, or to taste
  • ¼ t cayenne pepper

 Over the Counter Medications Considered Safe in Pregnancy

When all else fails, over the counter medications may be desired.  As with herbs, many over the counter medications are not considered safe during pregnancy.  Talk with your provider about what over-the-counter medications are best for your situation.