Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Hiding fruits and vegetables in our kids' foods

It's April Fools Day (well, actually the night before) and I thought I'd finally address the Deceptively Delicious/Sneaky Chef discussion.
But first, what do YOU think about the idea of hiding fruits and veggies in your kids' foods?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

What about physical activity?

So, you hear me talk about food and nutrition all the time. Well, what about physical activity? Well, I can be the first to tell you that I really fail in that area of my life. But I'm working on it. I have to. I have become increasingly lazy. I can tell in my attitude toward things.

I know that studies show that doing exercise in three 10 minute spurts throughout the day can be as beneficial as 3o minutes at once, but I don't know anything interesting enough to do for that long. Besides, it is rare to have 10 minutes of uninterrupted time around here. Except, of course, after the kids go to bed and I already feel done for the day.

I have considered taking a fitness class, but I'm simply not making time (or money) for something like that right now. But about a month ago I read this post about using a pedometer and it clicked: I can do this! So I finally remembered to buy one and I will start tracking my daily steps and showing it for all of you to see.

People exercise for many different reasons. Many people do it so they can get to particular weight or body shape. For me, being fit and healthy has little to do with weight. It has to do with endurance, a sense of well-being, and being able to sleep well. I confess, however, that I wouldn't mind losing that belly pudge that makes me look like I'm pregnant and just starting to show. I don't think about it that much, but once I noticed another mom had the same belly pudge and I didn't think she looked bad. Actually, I thought she looked great, and that maybe I was being too hard on myself. A few weeks later, she was wearing a maternity shirt --I wasn't! LOL!

So, how are you doing with regard to getting some physical activity? What are some of the things you do, or want to do? Why? What makes it harder or easier for you to be active?

Friday, March 27, 2009

No More Hunger on the Horizon

This is the view from my grandmother's house in Belo Horizonte (which literally means Beautiful Horizon) in Brazil.

Yesterday, my husband showed me an article called The City that Ended Hunger featuring this very city's initiatives to improve access to food by partnering with local farms.

This news article speaks close to my heart because it directly benefits some of my extended family.
“We’re showing that the state doesn’t have to provide everything, it can facilitate. It can create channels for people to find solutions themselves.”
May it happen here too.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Recommended Reading for the Case Against Breastfeeding.

If you are interested in following responses regarding an article called the Case Against Breastfeeding, I recommend the following:
Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog [update 4/12/09, Tanya wrote a second post summarizing several responses]
US Food Policy
Beyond Prenatals [added on 4/9/09]

Among the comments, there was talk about media bias, as one media venue did not call on a qualified professional for a proper rebuttal. A related post about media bias can be found on The Lactivist.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

More on Kids in the Kitchen

After I had written my previous post, I heard a segment on the radio that addressed this very topic! I wasn't able to find a copy of the segment, but I found a summary that had some of the elements in this particular conversation. Here are some highlights:

  • Cooking with your children can improve family dynamics.
  • A child who assists with meal preparation feels useful and appreciated when she sees other household members enjoying what she produced.
  • Spending quality time with your children is a key element of good parenting. In this case, it's time in the kitchen.
  • The goal of this activity is to spend time working together. Not only will this help your child feel needed and useful, but you will have the opportunity to give him or her age-appropriate responsibility.
A very good point was made in the broadcast: Sometimes we ask for 15 minutes to finish cooking so that we can then spend time with our children. However, if those 15 minutes of meal preparation are prolonged to 30 because of your child's involvement, then that's 30 minutes you have already spent with your child. That's probably more time together than if you separated the two activities.

Keep the comments coming.

Do you let your kids help you in the kitchen?

As much as I believe in including kids in the cooking process, I think I end up limiting their involvement more than encouraging it. While doing research for my cooking classes, I got inspired to change that. How much you let your kids do. And how old are they?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Not me!

Dear Readers,

It has been brought to my attention that the Corn Refiners Association has launched an advertising campaign promoting high-fructose corn syrup. On their home page, there is a statement that reads, in part:

High fructose corn syrup provides many important characteristics, such as texture, flavor and freshness, to your favorite foods and beverages. It is nutritionally the same as table sugar and has the same number of calories, too. As many dietitians agree, sweeteners should be enjoyed in moderation.

In response to the advertising campaign and this statement, I would like to clarify:

1. I am a registered dietitian.
2. I do promote foods in moderation.
3. I do not promote the use of high fructose corn syrup.
4. I am not one of the dietitians this campaign or this web page is attempting to connect their product with.
5. Just as I am exercising my freedom of expression by posting this statement to this blog, I respect the right of the Corn Refiners Association to promote their product. I simply wish to clarify that I have no professional association with their statement or their association.
6. If anyone reading this blog chooses to consume high-fructose corn syrup, it is their personal choice and freedom of expression. It is not a choice based on any perceived endorsement related to the fact that I am a registered dietitian that may have been insinuated based on the wording of these advertisements and the Corn Refiners Association web page.


Renata Mangrum, MPH, RD.

Thanks to Monika Woolsey for writing this statement and allowing me to use it in its entirety.

Also see: HCFS: What's the Bottom Line?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Interesting poll: Which is more stressful: your weight or the economy?

Marsha at the blog, A Weight Lifted is conducting a poll:

What creates the most stress for you: Your weight or the economy? Please take our survey. We'd like to get as many people to participate as possible, so as to get a representative sample. So pass it on! We'll share the results with you in one month, and we hope that they will provoke a fruitful discussion of health in the 21st century.

Click Here to take the survey.

I'd also like to hear your thoughts.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

What I'm doing as I grow up...

March 11, 2009 is National Registered Dietitian Day. To commemorate, Monika at InCyst Network and I are hosting the first Registered Dietitian Blogfest. We have over thirty bloggers participating in this event, sharing about how we're living out our passion for nutrition in many different ways. Check out the links to other participants at the end of this post.

"Being a dietitian to me isn’t just a profession. It is very much a part of who I am (and so is being a wife and mother)."
That is what I wrote over two years ago, when I started this blog. I am part of the ~7% of dietitians who are staying home to raise a family. And when my children were born, I didn't stop thinking about nutrition, I didn't stop caring about the challenges that face people with limited incomes, and I didn't stop coming up with ideas to encourage people to live out healthier lives. But as any mother knows, I didn't have as much time and energy to devote much more than thought to it.

But that extra time has been my ally. I love being home to spend more time with the people I love and care about the most. Not diving in and doing all that I was thinking gave me time to think deeply about what mattered to me the most. This time has been a gift to observe and identify areas of need in the dietetic field that I probably wouldn't have paid attention to if I hadn't enough time to notice it.

I like to describe myself as a lifestyle dietitian. My interest isn't helping someone lose weight or prescribing a specific diet for someone to follow. As I wrote sometime ago, "a lifestyle change is the realization that our old habits and lifestyle is what is depriving us. Our quality of life has changed so that we see what we were really missing before."

And when I really think about it, relationships are at the core of everything I do. It is through several friendships that I was able to see dietetics from a different perspective. Their challenges helped me see what my role could be in meeting that need. Although I may take part in helping one make better lifestyle choices, I don't seek to give all the answers. Preferably, I seek to connect people to the proper resources so that they can find the answers that fit and improve their own and their community's lifestyle.

Here is some dietetics work I am doing as I (and my children) grow up:
  • I blog. Well, duh, you may say, but at one point, blogging was all I could do.
  • I am caring for my family by feeding them and encouraging them to eat healthy foods.
  • I am studying food allergies and intolerances so that I can assist people to adjust to the new lifestyle that has been imposed upon them.
  • I am a member of a local lactation alliance and the local food policy coalition. Currently, I haven't been as active in the lactation alliance as I would like, but as time permits, I will be increasing that involvement. I am more involved with the food policy coaltion right now.
  • I am developing cooking classes for middle-school aged children and hope to expand that to other age groups too.
  • I am developing classes on how to make more efficient time in the kitchen (actually, that is personal development that I hope to pass on to others)
  • I am organizing a community garden (I am preparing a blog about that too)
  • I am identifying resources for community members to increase the amount of fresh food in their schools. (This conversation started when I was picking one of my kids up at a summer program)
  • I am connecting with other RDs for support and encouragement, and especially so I can refer people to skilled professionals.
  • I am still dreaming, thinking, pondering about some other ideas...

Here's what other dietitians are doing:

Beyond Prenatals - Food vs. Supplements and Real Advice vs. Fake Advice
Annette Colby - No More Diets! A Registered Dietitian Shares 9 Secrets to Real and Lasting Weight Loss
Ashley Colpaart - Dietitians working in food policy, a new frontier
Diana Dyer - There and Back Again: Celebration of National Dietitian Day 2009
Marjorie Geiser - RD Showcase for National Registered Dietitian Day - What we do
Cheryl Harris - Me, a Gluten Free RD!
Marilyn Jess - National Registered Dietitian Day--RD Blogfest
Julie Lanford - Antioxidants for Cancer Prevention
Liz Marr - Fruits and Veggies for Registered Dietian Day: Two Poems
Meal Makeover Moms' Kitchen - Family Nutrition ... It's our "Beat"
Jill Nussinow - The Registered Dietitian Lens I Look Through
Wendy Jo Petersen - March 11 is our day to shine!
Diane Preves - Registered Dietitians and the White House Forum on Health Reform
Andy Sarjahani - Dr. Seuss Tribute continued: Green Eggs and Ham and a Sustainable Food System
Rebecca Scritchfield - Big Tips from a "Big Loser"
Anthony Sepe - RD Showcase: Registered Dietitian Day, March 11, 2009
Kathy Shattler - RD Showcase for Nutri-Care Consultation
Sharon Solomon - Happy Registered Dietitian Day
UNL-Extension, Douglas/Sarpy County - Nutrition Know How - Making Your Life Easier
Monika Woolsey - Dietitians--Can't Do PCOS Without Them!
Monika Woolsey - In Honor of National Registered Dietitian Day
Jen Zingaro - My life as a Registered Dietitian

Monday, March 9, 2009

How not to overspend on groceries

Over the years, I've tried many of the suggestions put out there to save money on groceries. I cook mostly from scratch, shop around sales, plan for leftovers, stock up on bargains, and use coupons. But these three things have been most effective so I don't overspend:

1) Learn the prices for the main items you buy. Some people make price books. I don't. I just get used to the prices. Which leads to the next point...
2) Set an upper cost limit for pricier items. I don't go past a certain dollar amount on some items. I had to readjust when I moved to a different part of the country (right when food prices were soaring), but it doesn't take long to do that. Either adjust or go hungry :-) One of my adjustments last year was joining a warehouse club. The prices were consistent and helped me establish my budget in a new area. Now there are better supermarket sales and our budget has stabilized, so we didn't renew.
3) Pay all in cash. I always take out less money than my budgeted amount. It helps me stick to what I really need and if I forget anything (and I usually do), I still have some money left to get those things later on.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Day The Earth Stood Still...Again

This past December, Twentieth Century Fox released a remake of the sci-fi classic The Day The Earth Stood Still. While the original movie is one of my all time favorite films, the first news I received of the remake caught my attention for other reasons: it was to be released on December 12th, a rather significant date in my own life. It would be ten years ago on December 12, 2008 that Renata became my bride. In the months leading up to the movie's release, Renata and I would joke amongst ourselves each time we saw the movie's poster (which featured the release date quite prominently) that maybe, just maybe, someone in Hollywood had made a movie about our wonderful wedding day.

While the earth certainly stood still for us on that day back in 1998, the love on which our relationship was founded did not. It has continued to propel our marriage forward through the highs and lows of life while yielding an enduring union that has steadily grown in depth of intimacy and in mutual appreciation for what we have been given in each other. For this reason, we've always looked forward in anticipation to our wedding anniversaries, seeing them as times for genuine celebration and thanksgiving. And given our shared, human affinity for round numbers, anniversary number ten was going to be quite the celebration.

Now love can do so much more than just move a marriage along. If cultivated, it will eat away at selfishness, fill the marital relationship with substance and seek an outlet to overflow into the lives of others. Thus, as our relationship has grown, so too has the size of our family. It should surprise no one then that Renata and I, with joyful expectancy, learned last September that our fourth child was on the way, due to make landfall in May. Even though number four would be joining us for our planned tenth anniversary festivities, Renata and I remained dead set on making the date an occasion to remember.

Despite our plans and intentions, the days approaching our anniversary unfolded unlike anything we would have envisioned. After a debilitating first trimester (a first for my wife), December 4th brought some startling and unwelcome news of potential trouble in the sixteenth week of the pregnancy. After several days of prayer and waiting with family and friends, December 8th brought for us the worst news of all: the child that my wife was carrying had no heartbeat. Never before had we experienced a miscarriage. Our disappointment was only amplified in having to relay the news to those around us, especially our children. Though deeply saddened by it all, we were thankful for the peace that we shared together. In the lead up to what was to have been a festive occasion in our relatively young lives, circumstances beyond our control now dictated that we would need to spend our tenth anniversary in the hospital.

I will remember a number of details about December 12, 2008.

  • I'll remember how my wife lay beside me in bed after midnight and shared that she was afraid, having never been induced or medicated in labor. I'll also remember how she exuded nothing but serenity when she arose from her sleep.
  • I'll remember the mixed emotions of being in a delivery room again, sitting in a place that my memories associated with the happiness and joy of greeting new lives, profoundly aware that the pending outcome would be different.
  • I'll remember how Renata encouraged me to eat when she herself was not permitted and smiled affectionately with gratitude in her eyes when I conceded to do so.
  • I'll remember a staff of nurses so genial and attentive that it was almost beyond belief and a medical doctor with purple highlights who in our minds was heaven sent.
  • I'll remember wondering if the designers of the maternity room fold-out sleeping chairs have any tall friends. Any.
  • I'll remember how natural my wife's hand felt in my own, the numerous times we just gazed into each others eyes and smiled in silence.
  • I'll remember holding the lifeless, fragile body of my daughter Caressa in my right hand as the life that I wished for her filled with all the hopes and dreams of a father's heart for his child flashed before my eyes repeatedly. I'll also remember the realization that Caressa and I were the picture of how our Heavenly Father carries us, desires life for us and dreams dreams for us even as He did for Renata and I then.
  • I'll remember leaving the hospital in deep thought, admiring the silent beauty of a steady snowfall in the cold, wee hours of the night as my heart refused to say goodbye to the child we were leaving behind, hoping that she somehow knew just how much we loved her.

All these details in vivid clarity I will remember and more. But what really stands out in my mind from our tenth anniversary is this: I was granted the opportunity to see that my wife's God-given attributes that have so enchanted me in all the years I have known her still shown brightly on one of the darkest days of our lives. Neither obscured nor enhanced by the trappings of our wedding day, her beauty continued to radiate from within, her godliness continued to be manifest in her actions, and her gentleness and caring remained evident even amidst the tears from her loss. The dark, dismal circumstances of our anniversary day served as a backdrop against which the woman whom I took as my wife ten years prior was more resplendent in her person than on any occasion I could remember. I cannot thank God enough for the years that he has placed her in my life and look forward to spending many, many more anniversaries with her.

Stan M. Mangrum is the happily married husband of the author of this blog.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Been busy...

A lot has been going on in my life. In addition to dealing with some unspoken (on this blog at least) life matters, I've been studying for recertification, I've been organizing a blogfest (so far there are about 25 blogs interested. Amazing!), and I'm in the very early process of starting a community garden.

I've tried writing some posts, only to not quite know where I am really going with them. But I'll definitely have one up in a week for the blogfest.

Even with the business and trials, God has been faithful and present in our lives. There are many moments of discouragement, but He keeps proving Himself to us. And for that I will praise Him.

Until sometime later...