Posts Categorized: Health

Practice barbecuing and food safety!

It’s burger season! And every burger season we hear about ground meat being pulled off the shelves due to contamination with E. coli. The reason burgers are more at risk than other meats is because the flesh is ground which increases the surface area. Proper cooking of ground beef is the only way to make sure all illness causing bacteria is killed. Chicken, fish, lamb and beef burgers should always be cooked well done.

Stay safe during BBQ season!

Burgers are such a pleasant part of the season that they are worth having, as long as you keep a few grilling safety guidelines in mind. (Also remember to choose lean meats and your binders and side dishes wisely to avoid derailing your diet in one barbeque.)

Here are some tips to minimize the risks of barbequing while maximizing safety and taste.

  • Always use a meat thermometer on ground meats. Insert it horizontally and check a couple of spots in the thickest part of the burger.
  • Use your thumb to create a dimple in the middle of each burger. This will fill in as the meat shrinks during cooking and ensure that the heat reaches the risky middle.
  • Chicken, beef and salmon all need to be fully cooked to well done. One small speck of E. coli or salmonella can cause tremendous illness.
  • Use moist and nutritious toppings to enhance flavour and juiciness.
  • Gourmet ingredients can elevate your burger: ricotta cheese, blue cheeses, pesto sauce, a variety of mustards, fresh vegetables, baby lettuces and sprouts all add a burst of taste.
  • Go beyond the bun! Paleo friendly lettuce wraps, kale or nappa cabbage leaves make great bases. If you do choose bread, keep the burger to bun ratio in check and don’t be afraid to try different grains and flavours.

So now that you are armed with these food safety tips get out there and grill!

About the Author:

Theresa Albert

Theresa Albert is a Food Communications Specialist and Toronto Personal Nutritionist. She is @theresaalbert on twitter and found daily at www.myfriendinfood.com

How to Keep Your Family’s Sleep on Track This Summer (Even With Multiple Kids)

With summer approaching days are getting longer and longer. While brighter evenings can make summer barbeques and outdoor play more fun, they can also mess with our internal biological clock. Sunshine in the early morning and at bedtime can send our natural circadian rhythms for a loop. Luckily, there are healthy sleep remedies that the entire family can follow to avoid summer insomnia problems.

Summer Proof Your Sleep Environment

  • Block out that early morning sun with black out blinds or drapes. Promoting a dark cave like room is going to keep our sleep drive revved up for sleep success. Heading to the cottage this summer? Purchase a travel black out blind or for a quick and affordable solution throw some garbage bags and painters tape in your overnight bag.
  • White noise machines can help mask those early morning bird calls and noisy afternoon lawnmowers acting as sleep remedies. The consistent lull of the white noise machine helps eliminate external sounds.
  • Keep things cool this summer by layering accordingly and keep your families sleep zone between 68-72 degrees.

Bedtime Routine – It’s Not Just For Kids

Practicing a consistent calming bedtime routine with our children helps cue them that sleep is approaching. It promotes a safe and secure environment for them, one that makes it easier to fall asleep. A calming bedtime routine can work well for mom and dad too. Turn off electronics, take a warm bath, listen to calming music, or read a bedtime book before drifting off to sleep.

A Consistent Schedule Means a Well-Rested Unit

We all have a personal baseline for rest. It’s the amount of sleep our bodies need to remain well rested each night. During the summer months it can be difficult to meet our basal sleep needs. We go to bed later, perhaps wake up earlier, and when we aren’t focused on maintaining our usual sleep schedule, our family’s sleep debt can build and build leading to eventual insomnia problems.

It can be difficult remaining consistent with your baby’s schedule when you have multiple children. How can you stay on track with a newborn sleep schedule while still keeping your eldest busy and having fun? It’s something I myself struggled with my daughter when I was training my twins and there are a few things you can do to help during this phase.

Don’t Do it Alone - Get help if you can. Recruit Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles, or your neighborhood baby sitter and work them into your weekly schedule. They can keep your eldest busy and you’ll be reassured knowing you’re able to provide both the engagement for your older child and naptime for your baby.

Take Advantage of Quality Bonding Time - Use your time alone together while baby naps to work on that attachment that may get overlooked while you are busy with the baby. This is a great opportunity to focus all of your attention on them and them only. Bring out the crafts or have some cuddly storybook time. This time is all about you and them, make the most of it.

Keep Things Simple - So maybe you can’t do everything you used to be able to do when you only had one child. It’s okay to slow down and not overschedule yourselves. I always like to follow my 80/20 rule. 80% of the time you should be protecting your family’s sleep at both bedtimes and naps if they still apply. 20% of the time you can veer off course a bit as everyone is easier to manage when well rested.

 

Alanna McGinn is a mother of three (1 + twins!), Sleep Consultant and Founder of Good Night Sleep Site, and Representative and Director for the International Association of Child Sleep Consultants (IACSC).  When she’s not on route to the bus stop or tripping over fire trucks and tea sets, she’s working with families to overcome their sleep challenges.  Follow Alanna on Facebook and Twitter for daily sleep tips and advice.

When poop doesn’t happen

Guest post by Theresa Albert

Nutritionists love to talk about poo. Its size, shape, frequency and texture are all fascinating to us because they express so much about the food that went in and the health of the system that is supposed to be utilizing it. So it pains a nutritionist and parents, when a child won’t, or has trouble, going number two. We know how uncomfortable it can be, and yet important.

The scoop on poop

So what is constipation and what causes it? Naturopathic doctor, Jane Shou, ND, who practices at the Rosedale Wellness Centre in Toronto says: “By definition a child who is used to regular bowel movements who goes two or more days without a bowel movement, or has pain or difficulty passing hard stool is constipated. The most common cause is insufficient fluids and/or too little fibre.” Sounds simple enough but there are other constipation causes worth considering:

  • emotional stress (moving to a new location, or change in routine)
  • too much emphasis on toilet training
  • changes in diet or the introduction of new foods
  • too much fat in diet
  • lack of exercise
  • holding stool for various reasons such as being too active to take the time to have a bowel movement which can lead to reluctance in passing firmer stool due to the association of pain
  • using a medication that may be constipating

During short bouts of constipation, food isn’t used well, bloating or cramping is uncomfortable and fatigue can set in. After a few weeks, minor nutritional deficiencies can be present. Over the long term, chronic constipation can lead to a loss of muscle tone in the bowel, leading to a lifelong problem. In severe cases, rectal fissures (painful microscopic tears in the rectum) can result. Because the bowel presses on the bladder, children who suffer from constipation may also experience bedwetting.

A professional should conduct a very thorough review of past or current issues relating to digestive function and other factors, such as patterns with diet, sleep, stress, energy, demeanour, and other current health concerns. The idea is to find the root cause of the issue and treat from that standpoint and to allow the body to heal and grow stronger for a long term resolution and to prevent future issues.

Try these simple at home remedies:

  • Gradually increase the amount of fibre and fluid in your child’s diet.
  • Provide water, herbal teas, and clear soups before every meal.
  • Serve warm water with 1/4 squeezed lemon, first thing in the morning.
  • Probiotics are fabulous for helping establish healthy gut flora, try yogurt that is free of flavourings, colours or gums such as gelatin.
  • Serve hot cereals such as oatmeal each day.
  • Epsom salts baths, being high in magnesium, can increase circulation to the lower abdomen. Magnesium supplements can soften stool and help relax muscles
  • Massage lower abdomen to stimulate circulation and movement.  Start on the lower right corner and move upwards towards the ribs, and then over to the left, and then down towards the pelvis on the left side of the abdomen
  • Encourage physical activity and awareness of responding promptly to bowel needs. If a young child indicates an urge, respond promptly and take him/her to the bathroom.

The single most important thing to do in preventing or treating constipation is to use whole foods right from the first foods stage and avoid highly processed and packaged foods. If you are already in the toilet on this, so to speak, it’s not too late to find relief from constipation… start eating healthier now. Implement as many of the techniques listed as possible and prevent a lifelong struggle with digestion.

 

About the Author:

Theresa Albert

Theresa Albert is a Food Communications Specialist and Toronto Personal Nutritionist. She is @theresaalbert on twitter and found daily at www.myfriendinfood.com

 

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