- WebMD provides a helpful, step-by-step guide to shopping for a new pediatrician for your family.
- What should you look for in a pediatrician? This article at CNN.com offers some sound advice.
- About.com lists some factors you should keep in mind when picking out a pediatrician.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics explains what you should do in the event of a medical emergency involving a child.
- LiveStrong.com offers some tips for taking care of sick or injured children.
Fellow physicians, please read. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/751868?sssdmh=dm1.727495&src=nl_newsalert
Taking care of a child means being prepared for both medical emergencies and routine examinations. To learn how to ensure that your child receives excellent medical treatment whenever necessary, check out these first-rate online resources and contact Dr. Nan at (620) 330-8188.
For years, I have been telling people to get 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables in their diet every day. This past week, I saw someone post a new recommendation that stated we should get 10 servings of fruits and veggies a day. I haven't been able to confirm that. It doesn't make much difference, if most of us are only getting 3-4 servings a day. Many studies have shown that most Americans get only 3-4 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, with most of those being fruits. The recommendation I can find is that we should be getting 5-9 servings a day, with at least 3 servings being vegetables.
I'm not writing today to argue about the details of the recommendation. So, why am I writing? Because most of us aren't getting enough of the healthy cancer-fighting, heart disease-preventing vitamins and antioxidants that are found in fruits and vegetables. If you have family members in this situation, I would like to help. I am going to suggest several things that have worked for a number of people I know. Choose a couple and work them into your daily routine. Once you have done them for several weeks and they become habits, add a couple more.
First, let us talk about what constitutes a serving. A serving of fruit is either a piece, or 1/2 cup for fresh fruit, or 1/4 cup for dried fruit. Let me explain that. An orange is a serving. A medium apple is a serving. A watermelon is not a serving, but 1/2 cup of watermelon is. A grape is not a serving, but 1/2 cup of grapes is. For some reason, a banana is 2 servings. For vegetables, 1/2 cup is a serving for most vegetables with the exception of leafy green ones. It takes 1 cup of leafy greens to make a serving. They should be measured before any cooking, and do not press them down into the measuring cup.
I can already hear someone asking, "Do I really have to measure all this?" Um, yeah. I really don't know any way around that. Until you can accurately eyeball 1 cup and 1/2 cup as well as my great-grandmother, then yes. I suggest you buy several sets of measuring cups. Use them as serving spoons. Keep them handy when preparing food. For my little family of 2, we have 3 sets. It's not quite enough.
Now that you're prepared and have all the right tools, let's get started. It starts with breakfast. Try to get 2 servings of fruits and veggies worked into breakfast. Vegetables are easily added to omelets. Onions, tomatoes and mushrooms can also be put on breakfast sandwiches, English muffins and bagels. I can see getting 1-2 servings of vegetables in an omelet, but getting an entire serving of vegetables on a single breakfast sandwich may be more difficult. You may have to put half the serving on the sandwich and serve the other half as a side dish.
For many people, fruit is easier to eat at breakfast than vegetables. I recommend you use juice for only one serving of fruit (or vegetable) a day, as it is low in fiber. The exception to this is if you are using a juicer, as this retains much more of the fiber. Of course, whole, fresh fruit has all of the fiber and never any added sugar. Use whole, fresh fruit liberally throughout the day. Fruit smoothies are simple and quick and can be a complete breakfast. I suggest you use fresh or frozen fruit whenever possible. Smoothies need a little bit of liquid. Add milk or yogurt, rather than ice cream. For those who cannot have dairy, you can use soy milk, rice milk or almond milk. Smoothies are low in protein. You can add protein powder, or have 1/4 cup dry roasted nuts along with the smoothie (not in it) for a complete meal. Smoothies can be prepared in advance and kept in a thermos for an afternoon snack. Fruit can also be added to hot or cold cereals. For me, a typical breakfast is steel cut oatmeal with 1-2 cups of fresh berries and a little artificial sweetener.
Then there is snack time. For those of you who are home schooling, you have a bit more control over your children's snacks than children in the public or private school systems. However, parents can group together and put pressure on schools to change what is available at snack times. It is already working across the nation to get carbonated beverages out of schools. Snacks should be a fruit or vegetable paired with a source of protein. Simple things are a 1/4 cup of dried fruit mixed with 1/4 cup of nuts. My favorite is 1/4 cup of craisins with 1/4 cup of lightly salted, dry roasted peanuts. (I make several in advance and put them in sandwich-sized baggies). Another example would be an apple or pear and an ounce of c
Lunchtime comes around and we haven't had much in the way of vegetables. This is an opportunity to change that. Swing the balance back with vegetable sticks. Carrots, celery, bell peppers, jicama, sugar peas, even raw sweet potatoes are good choices. Use your imagination. Try to avoid dipping vegetables in cheese or salad dressing, as these are high-fat choices. Choose instead hummus, nut butters, or go without dip. However, if ranch dressing is the only way you can keep your child from trading away his veggies at lunchtime, then measure out one serving. Serving sizes are on the bottle.
After school is another snack time and another opportunity to get a fruit or vegetable into everyone. Don't miss out on this. You can look at what they have already eaten during the day, as well as looking ahead to dinner plans and choose accordingly. Okay. Face it. Most of us aren't that organized. Make sure you have choices available for afterschool that include fruits and vegetables. Build on what we've already discussed.
Dinner comes along and most of us have not yet had 3 servings of vegetables for the day. We might have had 3-4 fruits and 1 vegetable, if we have been working at it. This means that most of the time, dinner plans need to include 2 servings of vegetables. If you opt for a large dinner salad, you can easily get 2-3 servings of vegetables into a single meal. If you only fix one vegetable at dinner, place 1 cup on everyone's plate. It's an easy fix. Of course, if you do that with 2 vegetables and they only eat one, you still win.
Have you reached your totals? Are we at 5-9 fruits and vegetables for the day? We should have had our 3 servings of vegetables. If you aren't sure about the total count, then go ahead and add a fruit to dessert. This takes the focus off of sugar in your dessert.
I hear it. Someone is grumbling about the cost. "All these fruits and vegetables are more expensive." More expensive than what? I could go on for hours about how you will be saving on healthcare costs in the long run, but I won't. I will say that it helps to buy what is in season. More importantly, studies have been done that show diets rich in fruits and vegetables are less expensive than diets rich in junk food. Those studies show that if you Change your buying power from junk food to fresh produce, you actually save money. The problem is that you cannot buy both. You have to decide what is important. I can't do it for you.
One word of caution: this is a lot of fiber. If this is a big change in someone's diet, it can cause some gastrointestinal discomfort. It needs to be paired with an appropriate intake of water! You need to be getting 64-80 ounces of water a day. If not, the fiber can sit in the gastrointestinal tract and cause pain. In rare cases, it can cause obstruction. Please, do not use this as an excuse to avoid fruits and vegetables, just drink the water. You can do it.
Dr Nan N
House Call Pediatrician, Overland Park, KS
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