A Night to Remember

There will be so many first in our kids’ lives. I personally live to whitness and experience every one possible with them. Last night the Babe suffered through her first upset stomach (to put it in less gross terms). This is one first I hoped would never happen, but knew the odds weren’t in our favor given that she is almost two. I suppose we should be thankful that she made it this far without having to experience the horrible feeling of nausea and everything that follows. A parent’s first response it to just do everything you can think of to make all the hurt go away and the second is to help the little one get better as soon as possible. In our house we weather the stomach bug with a lot of TLC, patience, Lysol and diet. This begins with nothing to eat or drink until we are sure it is not coming back out again. After a little time has passed they can have some clear liquids and if they tolerate that well, we’ll move on to some dry, bland foods (crackers, toast, etc.), maybe some applesauce. But this is a very slow process, at least taking all day before moving on to foods that are easier on the stomach (plain chicken, cereal-without milk, pasta with a touch of butter). I will even admit that I am so freaked out by vomit, I will even be careful with what she eats at least half another day just to be safe. Granted this is for a mild case of illness, if she was unable to keep anything down or if symptoms remained for more than a day, I would absolutely have her on the way to the doctor. Hopefully the worst is behind us and by the time she wakes up tomorrow, this day of really gross illness will be long forgotten.

What does your body good?

Whole, skim, almond, organic and everything in between. There are so many options for “milk” out there it can be incredibly daunting deciding which one is right for you and your family. Some people have allergies/intolerances to dairy, nuts or soy that limit their selection. For the majority of Americans, all the possiblilities are available so they must choose the best one for them. According to the USDA general guidelines, children ages 2-3 years old need about 2 cups of milk a day, children ages 4-8 need 2 1/2 cups, and anyone ages 9 and older need about 3 cups a day. It is also important to know that babies under 12 months of age should not be fed any milk other than breast for formula and that toddlers under the age of two should be drinking whole milk. (The USDA guidelines provide other options that equal one cup, such as 1 1/2 oz hard cheese, 1/3 cup shredded cheese or 1 cup yogurt). Now, one of the main purposes of consuming dairy is to have enough calcium in the diet, which brings us to having many more choices besides cow’s milk due to fortification and other products that naturally contain calcium.
The body needs calcium and vitamin D for bone health. However, more is not necessarily better, too much calcium can cause kidney stones or impair the body’s absorption of other important nutrients. Here are the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI’s) for both calcium and vitamin D.

Calcium Vitamin D
0-6 months* 200 mg 400 IU
6-12 months* 260 mg 400 IU
1-3 years 700 mg 600 IU
4-8 years 1000 mg 600 IU
9-13 years 1300 mg 600 IU

*Adequate intake (AI) for babies under 1 year.  Over 12 months recommended dietary allowance (RDA) is given.

Some of other options for those who choose not to or cannot consume cow’s milk or other dairy are as follows:

Cheese (swiss) 1 oz has 270mg calcium           Cod liver oil, 1 T has 1,360IU vitamin D

Yoghurt (nonfat, plain), 8oz, 490mg                Salmon, 3oz, 497 IU

OJ, (Calcium fortified) 3/4 c, 260mg                Tuna (canned), 3oz,  154 IU

Ice cream, 1/2c, 90mg                                           Yogurt (varies by brand), 6oz, 80 IU

Let’s begin the great organic versus conventional debate. There are positives and negatives on both sides of the argument. Conventional cow’s milk is considerably less expensive and easily available to most people. Also in a recent study by the American Academy of Pediatrics, Organic Foods, Health and Environmental Advantages, they found NO nutritional difference between organic and non-organic milk. The negative aspects of conventional milk centers around the farming practices of the cows. Some of the largest concerns are related to hormone and medication delivery and feed composition.
Organic milk has a high set of standards that the farmers must abide by to be certified organic. These include cows that are fed exclusively organic feed, no administration of hormones/growth promoters or antibiotics in the absence of disease. It is often ultra-pasteurized, which gives it a longer refrigerated shelf-life. This could be a plus or a minus depending on your point of view as there are many that oppose pasteurization due to the vitamins, minerals and other properties that may be lost during the process. (Personally I believe, along with the federal government, that it is a necessity to ensure a safe product for the masses). But when you pay an upwards of $4 a half-gallon, you don’t want a single drop to go to bad. Which brings us to the major negative aspect of organic milk. It seems like if you can find it for around $3 a half-gallon you are getting a great deal and anything less is a steal. Now in case you were wondering, in our house we use a milk delivery service that brings us regionally sourced whole and 2% milk. The milk is not organic, but the cows are humanely raised, only given medication when ill and are not administered hormones. Extravagant? Yes, but it is a premium we are willing to budget in for the product and the convenience for this family of four that consumes much of three different types of dairy. We also have soy milk in the house since I am lactose intolerant.
Here are the nutrition facts for some commonly used “milk” products that can help you to decided what one is best for you and your family.

Whole 2% Skim Soy* Almond* Rice**
Calories 146 122 90 90 60 120
Fat 7.9g 4.8g 0g 3.5g 2.5g 2.5g
Saturated Fat 4.6g 3.1g 0g 0.5g 0g 0g
Protein 7.9g 8.1g 8g 6g 1g 1g
Calcium 275 mg 285.5mg 300mg 450mg 200mg 250mg
Vitamin D1 25% 25% 25% 30% 25% 25%
Cholesterol 24mg 20mg 5mg 0mg 0mg 0mg
Potassium 348.9mg 366mg 400mg 300mg 180mg ~

All values are based on 8oz or 1 cup.

*Silk brand, unsweetend

**Rice Dream Brand

1- Percentage based on a 2000 calorie diet.


These are some helpful websites and documents that I used when researching this blog.


usda.gov (Organic Foods Production Act of 1990)




Celebrate National Nutrition Month®

Every month of the year, our nation decides to devote much marketing and education about various topics.  Well, March is National Nutrition Month and the theme this year is, “Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day”.

As parents we tend to put so much pressure on ourselves trying to do what is best for our families.  We read books, research online, talk to our friends and consult professionals like registered dietitians and doctors, all in hopes of finding the ideal methods of taking care of our children, in this case, what we feed them.  How great is it that we live in a society where a world (literally) of information is available at our fingertips?  The downside is that all of those opinions and knowledge can leave a parent feeling very inadequate or even guilty regarding the choices they make for their family.  It seems these days that if you aren’t buying  totally local, organic, farm-raised foods or if you feed your child something with even a hint of preservatives, dye, refined sugar, hormones, antibiotics, trans-fats (you the general idea), you are guilty of slowly killing your family.  Yes, some of those foods are genuinely bad for your body but there is much grey area on the effect they may have especially depending on how much and how often you consume.  There must be some balance because setting unreasonably high expectations can lead to frustration and disappointment for all parties involved.  Knowledge is power but only if you can decide what is “right” for your family.  Have confidence in the decisions you make, especially the ones that you take the time to research and educate your selves with.  Do not let anyone food-shame you, because only you know what is best for your family.

“Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day” sends a message of empowerment.  Seek out the knowledge for eating healthful and well, but also decide for yourself and your family the best way to utilize what you learn and apply it to your daily life in a way that is manageable and realistic for everyone.

All in the Family

Family influence, where do you draw the line? Let’s face it, just because you are in the same gene pool does not mean you share the same beliefs about food and feeding your children.
This topic has been very much on my mind lately as we have been visiting various family members over the past week. (As I write this I am sitting at my parents’ dining room table). How our parents/families have influenced our eating behaviors is a whole other topic for another day. Lets just focus on the present situation, or should I say temptations. To be fair, the purpose of this visit was to attend our annual “family renunion” at Mardi Gras (Mobile, AL not New Orleans). So by definition it is a time of gluttony. I tried to do my best to bring some of our staples that would not be easily available such as milk, fruit, breakfast food where the first ingredient was not sugar. Would you believe I devoted half a suitcase to this?
Basically, my strategy is to at least provide some balance to what the kids are getting every day. I am not the type of parent to tell the well-meaning in-laws they can’t share their treats with the kids. The situation is temporary and no one wins if I say no. My hope is that this is a lesson in moderation for the Babe and AJ. What better example than to see all the excesses available, be allowed to choose some all while still having healthful foods at the same time. It usually went something like this, “Sure you can have some chips, but you need to have a cheese stick and some fruit too.” Or, “Ok, you can eat that cookie with some milk (low fat and plain)”.
Now when it is your own parents, it can be much easier to be more outspoken about your desires. (This is possibly due to your argumentative skills you have been perfecting since middle school, or that may be just me). Ironically, my mother falls at the complete opposite end of the spectrum. She should be the spokeswoman for fruits and vegetables. I have to to be very diligent in reminding her that it was necessary to offer the higher calorie foods first to her petite granddaughter. While she did not necessarily agree that it was okay if the Babe did not have fruit with her lunch, she did comply.
The point is, know your limits and pick your battles. Short of food allergies and intolerances, I believe it is much easier and beneficial to relax a little on the food “rules”. Try to remember that all parties involved love your kids and just want them to be healthy and happy.

Battle Hymn of the Picky Eater

How many of you have been there? You prepare this nice meal, absolutely positive it is kid friendly, only to have it immediately rejected by your toddler within seconds of putting it on their plate. This has been my kids’ MO since they both were around 12 months old.
Initially, my son AJ’s stand was against any food that was once living and walked, swam or flew around the earth. I know this is not an issue for all, but he was on the smaller side and I was still concerned with his protein intake as well as other vitamin and minerals. That boy could have consisted on yogurt, bread and fruit alone. The Babe on the other hand, she definitely has a more diverse palate. She is intrigued by a wide variety of flavors and foods. You can generally count on her to at least take that first bite to try the new food. But that is where it ends, food seems to be for tasting purposes only. (Really, I should be thankful for this, tasting is half the battle). In the Babe’s case, I suspect teething is the culprit for her lack of appetite. Her pickiness is definitely heightened when there are ANY teeth breaking through. There are no favorites, no go-to foods that she will always eat. Dining is totally at her whim and often times she just has zero interest. My two children, textbook examples of the common eating behavior termed “food jags”. AJ demonstrates the classic desire to eat the same foods time and time again, while the Babe often refuses to eat at all, shoving aside foods that she has devoured in the past.
So there it is. Picky eating has been, by far, my one of my greatest challenges as a parent. Mostly because it drives me INSANE. There is all that wasted time, effort and food, but I continue to work at it. I am proud to report that after many years of relentlessly exposing AJ to new things and repeatedly trying them, at five years of age he now eats and enjoys foods from ALL the food groups. He still has picky tendencies but both he and the Babe’s diet and palate are continuing to expand.

Here are some tips for dealing with the picky eater in your life:
1. Stay calm.
2. Make sure they are hungry at mealtimes. (No snacking or giving filling beverages at
least 60-90 minutes before a meal).
3. Offer the new foods or foods you most want them to eat first.
4. Have minimal distractions.
5. Make it appealing (for a kid). Use fun shapes, colors, plates or silverware.
6. Eat together as a family, be a good role model.
7. Offer a variety of foods.
8. Don’t be a short-order cook. (This is especially true for older kids. With your
food-refusing toddler, I personally believe there is some grey area on this one).
9. Let them make decisions when possible. i.e. milk or water, peas or carrots, the Elmo or
Mickey Mouse plate
10. Try, try again. On average it takes 8-10 times for a child to grow accustomed to a
new food. It is not unheard of for it to take 20 plus time for this to occur. (See tip
number one).

On the Road Again

The holidays are winding down, the days of relaxing and gluttony are becoming fewer and farther between. Our family has spent much time on the road, visiting friends and relatives. In other words, indulging in delicious home-cooked food and eating out way too much. Well now the party is O.V.E.R. We all need a little detox and a jump-start back to our normal routines.
First thing on the agenda, minimize the amount of sweets we ALL consume. No more dessert every evening, no more plates of cookies just begging to be eaten and no more breakfasts loaded with sugar. (Sorry AJ, you will not be seeing a Pop-Tart for many months to come). Next thing to conquer is the constant need to dine out. Fortunately this is not as difficult as the adults of the household tire of this fairly quickly when we must eat at some establishment on a daily basis. Usually by the time we return home, we want nothing more than to prepare our own meals. On the other hand, the Babe and her brother (AJ) would be content with a lifetime of Chic-fil-A. Finally the next big adjustment to the real world involves upping EVERYONE’s physical activity level. This means back to the YMCA at least three times a week for myself, starting a running routine for my husband and daily outdoor time for the Babe and AJ.
Hopefully with these adjustments we will all be back on the road to our (relatively) healthy lifestyle. Here’s to the new year, our successes and yours!


We are very happy to report that the babe (my 19th month old) had successful 18/19 month check up. And when I say successful, yes I do mean that she is healthy, but she also gained three pounds in four months. Now, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the average weight gain for toddlers between one to two years is about three to five pounds. Score one for the Babe and score two for the Mama! This took months of patience getting a strong-willed toddler to eat (did I mention, she wouldn’t even stop to do that if she wasn’t strapped down in a high chair?) foods that are both high-caloric and healthful at the same time. There was no way I was going to cave and feed her “junk” all day. The AI (Adequate Intake) for daily calorie consumption is 992 kcal* (calories) for girls ages 1-3 or 15kcal per centimeter.** In the Babe’s case that equates to 1200 kcal/day. That is quite a bit of food for such a small being. Here are some of the foods we added or substituted for my daughter’s enjoyment.
Enfamil (Stage 3) formula, added to whole milk
Whole milk yogurt made with cream
Almond butter
Whole milk cheddar and colby cheese
Like I said, these are just a few of the foods we used, and most likely that made the biggest impact on her daily diet. There were numerous other tactics we employed while cooking or preparing her meals/snacks to get results. Now the plan is to continue until she is older and demonstrates adequate gain for a longer amount of time. Here’s to continued success!

*The Institute of Medicine, Dietary Reference Intakes
** Mitchell, M.K., Nutrition Across the Lifespan, 2003 (I know it is dated, but I liked the information provided on this subject.)