How much of what should my child be eating every day?

even their teeth is missing the same way Children of all ages need the same number of servings of foods from each of the four food groups as do adults. The size of the serving increases as we get older. So, for example, a 2 year-old needs the same 5 to 6 servings of whole grain, but the serving is a half slice instead of a whole slice of bread. Your child also needs lots of colorful vegetables and fruits, or at least 5 servings a day. I emphasize “colorful”, since I don’t count French fries or iceberg lettuce, or even apple juice as a serving. A typical recommendation when it comes to serving size is 1 tablespoon for each year of life; so, a 4 year-old would need 4 tablespoons of green peas, while an older child or adult would need ½ cup. Children also need 2 to 3 glasses of calcium-rich milk and two servings of low-fat protein, such as chicken, fish, or beans. Total calories, on average, should be about 1,500 calories for a “low active” kid aged four to eight. Kids today are getting too much of the foods from the top of the Food Guide Pyramid, such as fat and sugar, and like their parents are shunning the most healthy foods, like vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Photo credit: Julie Kertesz via Compfight

I’ve heard mixed reports about soy and heart disease. Can you help?

udon noodles, with vegetables and tofu Most people are familiar with the heart-healthy benefits of soy. More than 100 studies show that soy protein lowers LDL-cholesterol by 10 to 15 percent and raises HDL-cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol), thus reducing heart-disease risk. Studies, such as one from the University of Kentucky, show that adding one to two ounces of soy protein to the daily diet lowers cholesterol by about 10 to 20 percent, reflecting a 20 to 40 percent decrease in heart-disease risk. Soy also lowers oxidized LDL-cholesterol, homocysteine levels, and blood pressure. The Portfolio Diet studied at the University of Toronto and published in JAMA found that diets that included several servings daily of soy, along with other real foods, managed cholesterol (29% decrease) as well as statin drugs, while conventional low-fat diets lowered it by only 8%. While you can’t depend on soy alone to lower heart disease risk, as part of a healthy diet, daily exercise, not smoking, and managing stress, a bit of whole soy foods added to the diet can be a help in preventing and managing heart disease for many people. Of course, always, always check with your physician before making any major changes in dietary intake.   Photo credit: sharyn morrow via Compfight

5 Key Heart-Health Factors to Cut Your Risk of Heart Disease

February is American Heart Month. Heart disease is the number one killer disease in the United States. Almost one in every two men and women will die from this disease. If that’s not a wake-up call, how about the fact that heart disease often progresses undetected; 63% of women have no signs of heart disease until they have a fatal heart attack!

I recently appeared on KATU-TV to discuss 5 factors that prevent or at least slow heart disease. Do you want to learn how to cut your risk for this disease in half? Click here to view this heart-healthy segment.

Is all-fruit jam a better or healthier option than regular jam?

Jelly Sandwich Heart (Blood Sugar Low?) Jam is jam. Some all-fruit jams even have more calories than regular jam. Both list whole fruit as the first ingredient. The only difference is that regular jam uses corn syrup (a vegetable-based ingredient..hence it can’t be called “all fruit.”) while in all-fruit the sweetener is concentrated white grape or pear juice, which is just highly refined sugar extracted from fruit. Either one is fine as long as you keep the serving size small and infrequent.    Photo credit: Robert Fornal via Compfight

Is breakfast really the most important meal of the day? If so, why?


Yellow Breakfast tray Yes, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but is skipped by one in every three people. Yet, a nutritious breakfast can boost your energy and mood, keep your mind sharp, and curb cravings. Study after study concludes that breakfast also is a habit shared by successful dieters. Breakfast is a critical part of a lifestyle associated with a healthier body weight. Plus, it maximizes a person’s chances of maintaining weight los. Recent studies show that overweight women who include 24 ounces of fat-free or low-fat milk in their daily diets, starting with breakfast, lose more weight than women who follow the same diet but ditch dairy.
Skip the excuse that there’s no time in the morning for breakfast! It only takes five minutes to prepare and eat a nutritious breakfast. Here’s a few suggestions:
1) The Gold Standard: Whole grain cereal, nonfat milk, and fruit.
2) Oatmeal cooked in milk and topped with dried fruit, slivered almonds, and brown sugar. Serve with a glass of orange juice.
3) Coffee Shop Specials: A cappuccino or latte made w/ fat-free milk, a low-fat bran muffin and fruit.

4) Morning Shake: A smoothie made with fat-free milk, 2 tablespoons each orange juice concentrate and toasted wheat germ, canned apricots, and a banana.
5) Whole wheat toast topped with peanut butter, a glass of nonfat milk, and a bowl of strawberries.
6) A slice of left-over vegetarian pizza, yogurt, and fruit.
7) Pack a box of cereal, carton of milk, and banana in your briefcase and have a “deskfest” when you get to work.

Photo credit: Stéphanie Kilgast via Compfight