Monday, 24 July 2017

4 Tips to Improve Kids' Summer Eating



It's summer! Is this what your eating schedule looks like (constant asking for food and/or eating)? The kids are home, they get bored, so they eat. Or they bug you for food. Sound familiar? Here are 4 tips for making summer eating a little more manageable.



1. Maintain an eating schedule with extra snack times [1].




Establish an eating schedule, including meals and sit down snacks, that work for you and your kids, and stick to it. Firmly tell your kids exactly when to expect the next eating time, and they will stop asking for food in between. Make sure to give plenty of warning though when you first start this up! So for example, when your child gets up from the table after lunch, ask if he’s eaten enough, because there won’t be food coming until snack time in 2 hours. Think of snack time as "mini meals" and include a variety of healthy and fun foods. If kids do ask for food between meals, simply tell them now is not the time, and when the next meal or snack is coming.




2.  Introduce your child to mindful eating.



Ask him to identify why he's asking for food: is he physically hungry (ask him to rate his hunger on a scale of 1-10, possibly identifying if he could have eaten more at the previous meal/snack, or may require a larger meal/snack coming up), emotionally hungry (eating in response to feelings or emotions), or mouth or mind hungry (wanting a certain mouth feel or eating because "it's time to eat")[2,3]. Once your child has identified what he is hungry for, you can help him find ways to feed it that don't involve food.  



3. Make drinking water fun



Children need to stay hydrated, especially if they’re outdoors and being active. Fluid needs increase as they age, but even a 2 year old needs 3 ½ cups (875 ml) of fluid per day just to meet his basic needs before factoring in heat and activity (Click here for more fluid/age requirements).  And while they can get some fluids from juice, fruit, Popsicles and icy treats, there’s a limit to how many of those you want your kids eating (and asking you for), and honestly your best option is water. Because children have an immature thirst mechanism [4], and may not be able to identify or communicate their thirst, ensure that water is always readily available. Make it enticing by keeping it cold, offering fun cups or straws, adding carbonation, or jazzing up plain water with fruit, vegetables... I’ve recently seen rose petals added!



4. Keep to a sleeping schedule



Though longer nights and less pressured schedules may leave you wanting less hassle around bedtime, ensuring your kids maintain their sleep habits will reflect in their eating habits. A lack of sleep lowers the level of the hormone leptin (the satiety hormone) and increases ghrelin levels (the hunger hormone), as well as affecting appetite control [5].  When 14-17 year olds were sleep deprived, though their hunger levels were not affected, the appeal and their intake of sweets was more than 50% greater than when they had slept a healthy amount [6]. Even children who aren’t sleep deprived, but sleep later, had increased hunger scores [7]. Keeping to a year-long sleeping routine allows your children to maximize their sleeping time, and keep their appetite and eating habits stable as well.



Summer-time eating and feeding can be tough. What tips have you found useful, and how do you manage? 


Monday, 10 July 2017

Tips for a Better Fast



With the fasts of Shiva Asar B'Tamuz and Tisha B'av coming up, it’s the perfect time to discuss what to eat before and after a fast to keep you feeling good throughout the day and with as little negative experience as possible. Though you likely won’t feel energetic, and will be hungry after fasting 16-25 hours, there are better foods to choose prior to a fast that can prolong your fullness, and stave off the almost inevitable weakness and crankiness. Because we can go without food for long periods of time, it’s not necessary to totally change up what you eat leading up to the fast, so you can keep to your regular eating schedule, with some minor adjustments.

BEFORE THE FAST:


WATER


Firstly, and most importantly, is hydration. We all know that water is always important, but now that it’s summer, and hot, we need to be well hydrated even more so than before the winter fasts. But don’t just guzzle down liquid hours before the fast; our bodies are so well regulated that excess liquid will result in the kidneys working overtime, and all that fluid leaving your body. For maximum hydration, start hydrating a few days (at least) prior to the fast, so you’ll be fully hydrated at the start of the fast. When dehydrated, the body will take water out of the cells, causing them to shrink and making the kidneys work harder, effectively overworking the body and causing wear to the cells(1). Low-hydration can both trigger migraines and prolong them. Drinking enough prior to dehydration can reduce their length and intensity.

CAFFEINE


Research shows that caffeine-withdrawal headaches can be prevented by reducing caffeine intake leading up to the fast. However, a 25 hour fast (Yom Kippur was used in the research) is not sufficient time to experience caffeine withdrawal. Having some caffeine on the actual day of the fast may help prevent that headache (obviously not applicable when dealing with an overnight fast), but if you find it helpful, definitely restrict your intake leading up to the fast. Some people may develop headaches simply from the act of fasting over 16 hours, which is when fasting headaches come to play (2), and it should resolve within 72 hours of eating.

FIBRE & PROTEIN


High Fibre & Protein Bowl




Another cause of headaches may be reactive hypoglycemia, low blood sugar after eating (3). This can be prevented by eating foods with fibre and protein, as they slow down digestion, and are more filling (so you’re not ready to eat a couple hours into the fast). Ideally, when choosing your grains and starches, go for complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, legumes and vegetables for their fibre content (this chickpea lentil veggie soup combines all three!). Fibre is important because it’s filling and isn’t quickly digested, so it keeps you feeling full for longer than low fibre foods (4). Chose soluble fibre, such as oats, sweet potato, beans & lentils, oranges and avocado to keep your sugar and fullness levels stable through delayed digestion. As the most filling nutrient, chose protein containing food, such as beans, fish, eggs, chicken or meat, as they take longer to digest than carbohydrates and keep us feeling full for a longer time.


AFTER THE FAST:


You'll probably be very hungry once the fast is over, but try not to go to extremes in your break-fast meal. You don’t need to fit a day’s worth of food into one meal, and if you’re really in-tune with your body’s hunger and fullness cues, you won’t be able to eat that much. Rehydrating after the fast is extremely important. Dehydration may influence mood, brain functioning, concentration and alertness and short-term memory, plus increase fatigue, confusion and anger. But, all symptoms are reversible, so drink up! Besides for water, you can include soup and fruit and vegetables which have the added bonus of electrolytes you may have depleted while fasting. (Try this spinach quiche if you're looking for a new veggie dish). As you eat, slow down, listen to your body, and eat until you’re satisfied. It may even be helpful to take a break after relieving your initial hunger, just so you can really tune into your needs.


What do you eat before and after a fast to make it easier?

Chocolate Chip Protein Squares


I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Peanut butter and chocolate are a perfect couple. In this recipe I've added canned chickpeas for a high protein boost that makes these squares a great option for a post-exercise recovery treat, an afternoon pick-me-up, or even breakfast. (Because who doesn't want cookies for breakfast?!) They are creamy, peanut buttery, and chocolaty- a trifecta of perfection.

If you're looking to include more plant based protein options, pulses are where it's at! They are packed with protein and fibre, and canned chix are just so easy to use: open~drain~eat.
Check out the Half Cup Habit for lots of easy ways to incorporate chickpeas and other pulses into your day. (and chances to win prizes!!)

In this recipe, I recommend using low sodium chickpeas, but if you can't find those, or don't have them on hand, you can use regular chickpeas and rinse them well, which removes 40-50% of the sodium (do this all the time if you're concerned about your sodium intake!).
I also used natural peanut butter here. While you can use other types, they do have sugar in them, so even though this isn't an overly sweet recipe, you may want to cut down even more on the sugar here.




Chocolate Chip Protein Squares

Ingredients:

  • 1 24 oz. can chickpeas
  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup less 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 /4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350℉.
  2. Drain chickpeas. If they are not low sodium, rinse well.
  3. Add all ingredients, except chocolate chips into food processer.
  4. Pulse on high for about 5 minutes, until all ingredients are well combined and there are no visible chickpeas.
  5. Add in chocolate chips and pulse until just combined.
  6. Scrape batter into 12 inch pan.
  7. Bake for , remove from oven to cool.
Yield: 8-12 squares.