Nutrition vegetables

Ask Amanda: Should I Buy Organic? Your Questions Answered By Expert RD

Hi Amanda, my kids are 1 and 3 years old.  I am wondering about buying organic versus non-organic. Is it really necessary to buy organic?

Thanks for asking this question!  This is a personal preference, however, there are ways to make informed decisions when you are shopping to ease the process.

In general, organic foods, like fruits and vegetables, have the same vitamins and minerals as conventional foods, but they are lower in pesticides. This can be significant for children. In addition, organic animal products are less likely to be contaminated with drug-resistant bacteria because U.S. organic farming rules prohibit the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics.

If cost was no factor at all, buying organic would be a good option. However, for most of us, this is not the case. When possible, I buy milk and meats that are organic, then followed by dairy foods (like yogurt and kefir). For fruits and vegetables, there are many good resources available to help inform your shopping. I refer to research and expertise provided by the Environmental Working Group. Each year, they release a Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 list of fruits and vegetables. When possible, I try to buy organic if the fruits and vegetables are on the Dirty Dozen list. The produce on the Clean 15 list, I am more likely to buy conventional (or non-organic).

There are other factors to consider as well. Organic produce from far away may have to travel for longer to get the store where you buy it. Local produce might sometimes be the fresher option, even if it is conventional. Plus, small farmers at farmers’ markets, for example, may practice sustainable farming techniques without becoming certified organic because it is cost prohibitive.

Most important is to offer children a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, whether organic or conventional.  And, make sure to wash all fruits and vegetables well before consuming them!

 

 

Giving back to the community

Giving Back to the Community By Gia Diakakis RD

Muscular dystrophy, a group of genetic diseases that leads to the weakening and loss of muscle mass, is a condition that is close to my heart. It’s something I have worked closely with in my career and seen firsthand its impact it has on its families.

That’s why Feed to Succeed is proud to support the Burn Boot Camp in Glenview fundraiser for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) by donating a nutrition evaluation session to their silent auction. The “Be Their Muscle” fundraiser starts at 8AM with a silent auction alongside the radio personalities from 102.3. At 9AM, there is a free bootcamp work out.

We use our muscles to chew, swallow, digest and move stools through our bodies. With the weakening of these muscles, eating and nourishing our bodies becomes progressively more difficult. Registered dietitians are a regular part of the muscular dystrophy healthcare team.

Patients with a muscular dystrophy diagnosis can often be underweight, overweight, malnourished (regardless of their weight), have difficulty swallowing, are unable to feed themselves and can also be constipated. Their often long medication list just further complicates the picture.

Working with muscular dystrophy patients, I often managed enteral feeding regimens (tube feeding) and oral feeding recommendations (in conjunction with a speech-language pathologist). My role was to assure the regimen supported optimal growth and development, was not contradicted with medications, and was something the patient was able to tolerate from a gastrointestinal perspective.

Along with a pediatric pulmonologist I worked alongside with, Dr. Girish Sharma, I wrote a chapter on nutrition in neuromuscular disease in a pediatric pulmonary disease book. The chapter further details how nutritional status can be impacted in muscular dystrophy.

 

How much milk do kids need

Ask Amanda: How Much Milk Do Children Need? Your Questions Answered By Expert RD

Hi Amanda, my 3.5 year-old-son will drink milk, but it’s not his favorite. He drinks about 6-8 oz. per day, if I encourage him. He never asks for milk, and he would rather drink water. Is this enough calcium for him?

Great question. Calcium is very important for developing bones and teeth. It is one of the many nutrients that kids really need to grow. Milk and other dairy foods are a great way to get kids enough calcium. Sometimes a parent will ask me, if my child eats broccoli and other green vegetables, does that have as much calcium?

Broccoli and other green leafy vegetables do have calcium, but a child would need to eat more than 2 cups of cooked broccoli to equal one cup of milk, so it’s not quite equivalent!

A 3-year-old needs about 700 mg of calcium per day. This is 2-2.5 cups of milk per day (16-20 ounces). If your son isn’t drinking this much milk, but can/will eat other dairy foods, 1 cup of milk (skim, low fat or nonfat milk) is equivalent to 1 cup of yogurt, 1.5-2 oz of cheese or 1/3 cup of shredded cheese. In addition to milk and dairy, you can also try to offer foods that have moderate amounts of calcium including oranges, spinach, almonds, beans, tofu (made with calcium sulfate), and calcium-fortified breakfast cereals and oatmeal.

In my house, my son is far from a milk-enthusiast. I have had luck with fresh mozzarella cheese (the “ciliegine style” which are small balls that come in a container and are perfect for snacking). I have also started making breakfast smoothies with Kefir, a drink made from fermented cow’s milk. It has as much calcium as a glass of milk and also loads of probiotics. It can be a bit sour-tasting, but works well in smoothies. I combine 1-1.5 cups of low-fat, plain Kefir with frozen fruit and one tablespoon of honey in a blender for an easy breakfast drink. And, I don’t have to nag my son to drink it like I do a glass of milk!