When my sons were little, I always felt as if I had a hundred things to do, and at least half of them needed to be done immediately. There were clothes to wash and fold, floors to sweep, meals to make, and phone calls to return. It was a challenge for me to put all these pressing tasks completely out of my mind at breakfast, lunch, and dinner so that I could focus my attention on preparing healthy, delicious meals. The temptation was great to call out for pizza and hot wings, but I knew that it was critical to get my kids eating right from the start.
Children need a balanced diet consisting of three meals a day and two nutritious snacks, that provides key nutrients for growth and development including:
- Protein: to build healthy muscle and tissue
- Carbohydrates: the body’s primary source of energy
- Fat: stored for energy and to transport essential fat-soluble vitamins
- Calcium: to support healthy, strong bones and teeth
- Fiber: to help keep the gastrointestinal system clean and running smoothly
Of course, I quickly learned that I could prepare the healthiest food in the world, but my kids might not eat it! That’s when I realized that eating should be fun. Kids are more likely to eat fruits, vegetables, and other nutritious foods if they’re fun and easy to eat.
If you can get your child to put her hands on his food, there’s a good chance it will end up in his mouth! Cut your child’s food into fun shapes and sizes. For example, you can cut apples into building blocks, slice celery and carrots into quarters to make logs, and cut broccoli and cauliflower florets so that they look like miniature trees.
Kids love dipping and decorating their food, and this often leads to eating! Fill a small container with yogurt or a wholesome type of salad dressing, such as one made with olive oil, and allow your child to dip away. Or fill a squirt bottle with yogurt or salad dressing and allow her to decorate her food. Nutritious food can be fun, and when it is, kids will eat it!
Fostering good childhood nutritional habits can lead to lifelong healthy eating habits. But that’s easier said than done. Moms today race through life at speeds that should be envied by NASCAR drivers, but our pit stops are all to easy to make at the local drive-thru. Do you want fries with that? Who can resist?
With parents pulled in so many directions at once and so many less-than-ideal nutritional choices so easily available, some children don’t eat the nutritious foods they should. This is a real problem because every growing child needs protein, calcium, fiber, and other critical nutrients.
I was determined not to introduce chicken nuggets and French fries to my children until they had sampled every fruit and vegetable under the sun. One of the physicians in my residency program had started feeding her daughter chicken nuggets when she was just a baby, and that child didn’t want to eat anything else. If she couldn’t have those chicken nuggets, she’d clamp her jaws shut, and then she would refuse to eat whatever she was offered.
I figured that if babies found chicken nuggets and French fries that addictive, I’d just bypass them altogether. I started feeding my boys tiny pieces of bananas and grapes and other fruits, and then moved on to bits of cheese, meat, and cut-up vegetables. Fortunately, none of my boys ever developed a serious addiction to chicken nuggets or French fries.
Pregnancy is an enchanting time of joyous expectancy for the mother-to-be. You’ll find yourself contemplating with awe the miracle of the new life that you carry inside of you. You’ll spend countless hours eagerly anticipating the arrival of your little bundle of joy.
Thank heavens you have something so wonderful to look forward to! You’ll need to hold that thought as you endure some of the less-than-wonderful realities of nine long months of pregnancy.
Unless you’re extremely lucky or genetically gifted, your first trimester might feature a bit of morning sickness and fatigue. Under the influence of your rampant hormones, you might become a bit of an emotional fruitcake. But not to worry. This too will pass!
You’ll experience equal parts delight and dismay as your body evolves to assume its new, pumpkin-like dimensions. With the promise of your precious baby, you’ll gladly accept the battle-scars of pregnancy: Stretch marks, hemorrhoids, varicose veins, and slightly-wider hips. No problem!
If you’re like most expectant women, you were fully prepared for the physical changes of gestation, but you might not have been warned about the total loss of privacy that accompanies every pregnancy. I’m not talking about the loss of modesty that occurs at the latex-covered hands of your obstetrician or midwife. By now, you’ve come to realize that as long as you’re pregnant, a number of folks will be peering closely at your private parts. That’s not the worst of it. The greatest loss of privacy you’ll experience stems from the tremendous fascination that friends, family members, and even total strangers have with your pregnancy.
These people have heard and heeded the adage that it takes a village to raise a child, and they like to get involved in their child-raising duties the minute your pregnancy makes itself evident.
Your belly and the little bundle of joy that resides inside become public domain of the village. Well-meaning villagers will find it absolutely imperative to interrogate you about the status of your pregnancy, the events surrounding the conception, and your post-partum plans. Nothing is sacred.
Unsolicited and erroneous advice will flow freely from the villagers. Regardless of their age or experience, everyone you know, meet, or pass in the supermarket aisle will have a strong opinion about how you should deliver, name, feed, and discipline your child for the next 18 years.
Older, seasoned mothers generally feel obligated to recount their pregnancy-related miseries and delivery-room war-stories to you. They’re eager to welcome you to the sisterhood of women who have walked through the fire of the reproductive process and lived to complain about it.
All of this attention is tolerable in small doses, but the slight-nosy-to-downright-rude inquisitions are often more than a mere mortal mom can bear.
Having two babies in two years, I had 18 months of pregnancy to ponder the most frequently asked questions and to formulate the snappy retorts that I wish I had been brave enough to use.
Undoubtedly, the number one FAQ is, “Do you know what it is?” Your reply, (with all of the innocence you can muster): “Why yes! We’re quite certain it’s a baby! We’ll know for sure after the ultrasound!”
The second question most often posed to moms-to-be is, “When’s your baby due?” Inquiring villagers desperately want this information. Give it to them. To save your breath, you might want to have some cards printed up. Be sure to include the exact date and time of delivery and a map to the hospital. Invite them to bring a friend, a camera, and a bag lunch.
People who know your spouse will find it necessary to ask, “Is your husband happy about the pregnancy?” My favorite, unused response: “I’ll let you know after we get the results of the paternity test!” Make sure you give your inquisitor a big wink and a poke in the ribs for added effect.
Tactless villagers with excessive concern for your financial security and emotional wellbeing often inquire, “Did you plan this pregnancy?” You are perfectly within your rights to counter with a question of your own, like, “Did you plan to be rude?”
Although these FAQs will annoy you, they can’t touch the very real problem of the belly-rubbers. Belly-rubbing villagers will not hesitate to rub, pat, caress, or croon to your belly and its contents, often positioning themselves for up-close and personal, face-to-belly interaction.
You may have to fight the impulse to flop down on the ground, roll over, and shake your leg in the air when a belly-rubber gets her hands on you. You probably won’t be able to stop her It’s difficult to defend your belly when you can’t reach it all, and in your condition, you certainly won’t be able to make a run for it. You might feel a little better if you return the favor and rub the belly-rubber’s belly while she’s rubbing yours.
There’s a reason that expectant mothers used to sneak off to the woods as their due dates approached. It was to escape the loving, annoying attentions of their fellow villagers.
If the villagers are driving you crazy, remember, they’re only doing their jobs. The moment you give birth, they’ll focus all their wonderful efforts and energies on welcoming your baby to the world, and your entire village will help you raise your precious child.
Cranberry Juice May Help Ward Off
Urinary Tract Infections
If you’re plagued by urinary tract infections, you’re in good company. Infections of the kidney and bladder send over 8 million Americans scurrying to their doctors’ offices every year.
The infections typically occur when bacteria, called Escherichia coli, invade the urinary tract and set up housekeeping along the walls of the bladder or kidneys. Although the urinary system is routinely cleansed of germs through the elimination process, an infection can develop when stubborn bacteria stick to cell walls and begin to multiply.
Urinary tract infections are a nuisance, at best. At worst, they can lead to serious illness and permanent damage to the kidneys and bladder.
With concerns about the overuse of antibiotics and the potential for bacteria to develop resistance to these drugs, attention has turned toward preventing the infections in the first place. One doctor-approved home remedy for warding off urinary tract infections is cranberry juice.
Cranberries have a long history of medicinal use. For hundreds of years, Native American healers have used the fruit to treat bladder and kidney ailments.
Scientists once believed that cranberry juice reduced the risk of urinary tract infections by acidifying the urine, making the bladder and kidneys less hospitable to invading bacteria. Recent research has led to a greater understanding of the protective powers of cranberries.
In the mid-1990s, scientists at Rutgers University isolated compounds called condensed tannins from cranberry fruit. These agents were found to prevent infection-causing E. coli bacteria from attaching to cells in the kidneys and bladder.
Researchers at Tulane University later demonstrated that the condensed tannins in cranberries interfere with the growth of hair-like filaments on the surface of the bacteria. Without these Velcro-like appendages, the bacteria aren’t able to latch on to the cells lining the urinary tract, making them more likely to be flushed out of the body during urination.
Last week, scientists at the Massachusetts-based Worcester Polytechnic Institute reported their findings that tannins in cranberry juice prevent E. coli from forming a slimy substance, called a biofilm. In the body, the biofilm not only protects the bacteria from destruction by cells of the immune system, it may also render antibiotic medications less effective.
Even before experts fully understood the mechanisms behind the mystical properties of cranberry juice, there was plenty of evidence to support the notion that drinking it could, in fact, help prevent urinary tract infections.
More than a decade ago, Harvard scientists reported that regular consumption of the juice led to significant reductions in the population of E. coli bacteria in women. Over a six-month period, the women who downed 10 ounces of cranberry juice daily developed 58 percent fewer urinary tract infections than those who didn’t drink the juice.
Recent research suggests that in addition to protecting the urinary tract, cranberries may also safeguard the tissues of the mouth and the digestive tract from bacterial infection. Drinking cranberry juice has been shown to help reduce the risk of periodontal disease by preventing adhesion of disease-causing bacteria to the gums and teeth.
Cranberries appear to have a similar effect on Helicobacter pylori, the bacteria responsible for many stomach ulcers. While the juice may have a negative impact on infection-causing microbes, it doesn’t harm the beneficial bacteria that normally populate the human digestive tract.
With dozens of cranberry concoctions on the market, choosing the one that’s best for you can be challenging. Many brands of cranberry juice cocktail contain only about 30 percent cranberry juice, with water and sweeteners making up the remainder.
If you’re watching your calorie intake, you can opt for a juice with no added sugar. If your taste buds are fearless, you might try a concentrated cranberry juice product, an extremely tart beverage sold at most health food stores.
While drinking a few ounces of cranberry juice daily may help banish disease-causing bacteria, you shouldn’t rely on the juice as a treatment for an existing infection. If you suspect that you have a urinary tract infection, it’s important to see your doctor as soon as possible.
Treatment with antibiotic medications may be necessary to prevent worsening of the condition, which could result in permanent damage to the kidneys or bladder.
Cranberry juice cannot be considered a cure for urinary tract infections, but drinking a few ounces of the tart, tasty beverage each day may be an excellent strategy for preventing them.
Rallie McAllister, M.D. is a family physician, speaker, and co-founder of www.MommyMDGuides.com, a website featuring tips from trusted doctors who are also moms. To find out more about Rallie McAllister, M.D., and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
If you’re not exactly sure what you should eat or which nutritional supplements you need for optimum health, you’re not alone. The “facts” of basic nutrition seem to change almost daily.