You try to do what is best for your child and yourself. You know that whole grains are good for you, but did you know that most products produced with whole grains are not providing you with the benefits of whole grains?
Often when we speak to the benefits of whole grains, we are speaking to the benefit of the actual whole grain, not necessarily the products made from it. Most forms of refining and processing diminish the nutritional value of the grains. This is especially true when it comes to wheat products. In order to extend shelf-life, it is common to exclude or limit the germ portion of the grain. In Canada, to carry a label of whole wheat, only 30% of the germ must be present. In cases like this, even the most dedicated label readers cannot be sure of the nutritional value of the wheat products they choose.
So, what is the solution? Given that Health Canada indicated that it has no intention of revisiting the labelling issue, you will have to choose wisely. If you are looking for the benefits of whole grains, try them in their whole state. And don't be afraid to explore grains and cereals beyond wheat. Quinoa, spelt, amaranth, millet and whole grain rice are all options. Further, if you are looking for a processed product like bread, choose a sprouted grain product - you'll generally find these in the refrigerated or freezer section in your supermarket. They are delicious, nutritious and generally free of preservatives and artificial ingredients.
If you are the parent of a hyperactive child, chances are you are constantly seeking information on how to improve your child’s quality of life. It is not only important for your child on a behavioral level, but it is also important for your child’s learning and development. One area that is often overlooked, despite mounting research, is diet. Nutritional imbalances and food sensitivity both play major roles in hyperactivity and children tend to respond favorably to simple nutritional adjustments.
Addressing dietary imbalances is the cornerstone of the nutritional protocol. Deficiencies and excesses in diet can both play a role in childhood behavior. Ensuring optimal intakes vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids is a crucial step. Further, maintaining healthy blood sugar levels by eliminating spikes and valleys is key to addressing hyperactivity.
Identifying food allergies and sensitivities is also very important. Allergies and sensitivities can contribute to a range of symptoms including inattentiveness, mood imbalances and hyperactivity. As many sensitivities may not appear in a standard allergy test, fine-tuning the diet may seem to be a daunting task. However, many foods and food additives, such as artificial colors and flavors, have shown to be common culprits. A supervised elimination diet is generally the best way to identify trigger foods. Further reducing or eliminating refined sugars, processed foods and food additives is also recommended.
Addressing these areas of concern can contribute to your child’s overall health and well-being and improve symptoms of hyperactivity. A well-nourished child is a child who is ready to grow, learn, achieve and excel.
While it’s in my personal belief that it’s way too early to be discussing anything related to Christmas and New Year’s , I realize that most people don’t feel the same way. Holiday parties are in full swing and the shopping has begun. So, before we get any further into the season, here are a few tips to help keep you healthy for the holidays and into the New Year. (Remember to check with your health care practitioner before taking up any new supplement or health regime).
1. Keep your baseline diet nutritious. With all the temptations of the holiday season, it’s easy to veer off track. But, by eating a balanced diet, of veggies, fruit, quality protein and whole grains, you’ll ensure your body is getting a steady supply of the nutrients it needs. That’s not to say you can’t indulge (see here for more) but keep your regular meals nutritious. This is also important to improve mood and keep blood sugar balanced.
2. Get enough sleep. I know, who am I kidding? But rest, relax and aim to get enough sleep to feel restored. And remember, caffeine in moderation is ok, but too much will contribute to feelings of stress as your nervous system is stimulated.
3. Prioritize. If you feel like you’re being pulled in all directions, remember it’s ok to say no. With the holidays, events that should be enjoyable often seem more like obligations to check off a list. Make a few commitments, but make sure to enjoy your time and if you have to, schedule some down time to catch up and rejuvenate.
4. Watch the excesses. Have fun, but resist the urge to have gingerbread for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Further, don’t over-do it with the eggnog, punch or other alcoholic beverages. Moderation is key.
5. Pop a good quality multi-vitamin: This can’t compensate for a poor diet, but it can help to ensure you’re getting the nutrients you need to stay on top of your game. Look for one with good amounts of B-vitamins as they’re important for helping your body combat stress. With all the products on the market, check in with you nutritional consultant to help find one that is right for you.
6. Enjoy the season. Forget about traffic, long shopping lines and everything else that contributes to stress, and remember friends, family and all the other things that matter most.
Everywhere I look it’s turkey! Turkey, turkey, turkey. American Thanksgiving must be upon us. As a Canadian, and a non-football fan, it’s essentially just another Thursday to me. But, I can’t deny that for most people it marks the true beginning of the holiday season. When planning for the holidays, I must confess, the number one thing on my mind is not shopping, or gift giving or even visiting friends and family. It’s food. All of the unique treats that we seem to reserve for this special time of year. Eggnog and gingerbread and my mom’s lasagne always seem to fit into the equation. I may be into nutrition, but I won’t deny that I love to eat.
Lately, I find however, that for every great recipe or meal idea I see, there is an equal and opposite article emphasizing how to stay slim over the holidays. And while I agree with much of what is said, yes, sneak in that extra work-out , I deviate from most experts in that I believe that some things are just meant to be enjoyed. Unless you are an athlete in training, a model or actress, or someone eating a specialized diet to control a health condition, such as diabetes, loosen up a bit! That is not to say go on a bender and gain 25 pounds between now and New Years. But for goodness sake, have some gravy with your turkey. Indulge a little.
While I generally feel we should eat to nourish our bodies, we should also satisfy our soul. If you have a favorite lightened up recipe, by all means, enjoy it. And if you want to skip the dessert cart at your third work-related holiday party, be my guest. But, don’t cut out where it counts. Enjoy your favorites, make the most of the moments and don’t let diet worries take away from the joy of the season.
The information presented here is not intended to replace advice form a qualified professional. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease or illness.
Hi, I'm Shara Vickers, a Nutritional Health and Fitness Specialist located in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Please have a look around to find out more about my approach to health and the coaching and consulting services I offer to both local and long-distance clients.