Qn of the Month: Do Different Brands of Baby Cereal Provide the Same Nutrition?

A: No! Although there are some similarities, there appears to be more differences between different brands of baby cereal products, even between different brand products of the same type of cereal.  How so? Read on.

Generally all infant cereals are fortified in certain nutrients such as iron, thiamine, riboflavin and niacin. Baby cereal products also contain (per serving) similar amounts of macronutrients such as calories, carbohydrates, fats and protein. However, major differences exist. For example, in Canada, Nestle Gerber’s® baby oat infant cereal provides in a (5 tablespoons or 28 grams) serving the following: 15% Daily Value (DV) of calcium, 60% DV of vitamin B12, 100% DV of iron and 0 grams of fiber. But a comparable (1/3 cup or 30 grams) serving of Heinz’s baby oat cereal provides more iron (110% of DV iron), 4 times the amount of calcium (60% DV of calcium), 2 grams of fiber but absolutely no vitamin B12! Not only that, Nestle Gerber’s® baby oat infant cereal contains in a serving 30% DV of biotin, 15% DV of iodide, 15 % DV of zinc and 30% DV of magnesium. However, a similar serving size of Heinz’s baby oat cereal contains no biotin or iodide, only 6% DV of zinc and halfthe quantity of magnesium (15% DV)! It appears that Heinz’sbaby oat cereal is a really good source of iron and calcium per serving, but not so much of the other nutrients.

So the next time you go shopping, make sure to check the nutrition facts panel of the infant baby cereal you are planning to buy, to see what nutrition your baby will really be getting from consuming that particular product!

Qn of the Month: Are Legumes & Pulses Just Different Terms for the Same Thing?

 

A: What exactly are legumes and are they the same as pulses? The terms ‘legumes’, ‘pulses’ and ‘beans’ can certainly all be very confusing. A helpful way to keep these straight is to remember that ‘legumes’ is the overall umbrella name, just like ‘fruits’ is the umbrella name for a huge category of different types and varieties of fruits. Legumes simply refer to all plants whose fruit is enclosed in a pod. However, pulses only refer to the dried seed itself. So under legumes are 3 main subcategories: soybeans and peanuts, pulses and fresh beans/peas. I like this graphic from Pulse Canada which illustrates these categories aptly (see source citation for more details):

 

Pulses include dried beans, dried peas, lentils and chickpeas. Pulses are cheap, nutrient dense, low in fat, available throughout the year, and are high in protein and fiber. Soybeans and peanuts are separated out into their own separate subcategory due to their higher fat content. Legumes are also super versatile, as they can be cooked to the age appropriate texture in a variety of forms (e.g., pureed, mashed, or whole/halved but in soft cooked forms) for infants, toddlers and children of varying ages depending on their stage of oral motor development.

 

(Source: Pulse Canada. http://www.pulsecanada.com/about-us/what-is-a-pulse. Accessed March 15, 2017.)

Qn of the Month: What Are Key Infant & Toddler Feeding Transitions?

A: Have you ever wondered whether your baby or child is meeting or progressing well in terms of his or her oral motor development? For new mothers, it can be especially daunting knowing when to introduce a different texture or when to start teaching your baby how to drink from a cup. The following are key infant and toddler feeding transitions that are important for a child’s optimal growth and physical as well as oral motor development:

Feeding Transition Age of Occurrence
Establishing breastfeeding Birth to 1 month
Introduction of solid foods 4 – 7 months
Finger foods 6 – 8 months
Introduction to the cup 6 – 12 months
Introduction to table foods (texture) 9 – 12 months
Weaning from breast or bottle 12 – 18 months
Rotary chewing 2 -3 years

Even though it is true that every healthy baby develops differently and often at their own pace, it is still good to keep these general key infant and toddler feeding transitions in mind as you watch and help your baby progress.

[Source: Milano K. How Infant Feeding Transitions Relate to Feeding Difficulties in Young Children. PNPG Building Block for Life. Spring 2016, 39(2): 1-6]

 

 

Qn of the Month: Do Kids Have Stress?

A: Apparently! This as an issue that never crossed my radar until I recently received some resources from a community liaison on this topic. One of the sentences on the website I was pointed to was this “The signs and symptoms of stress can often be seen in challenging behaviours. Children may be reprimanded for actions that are really stress reactions, rather than intentional misbehavior or poor cognitive ability. Lantieri, L. 2008.”  Suddenly it clicked. Sure my child has had a pretty vivid “terrible 3s” phase, so much so I was happy to celebrate her fourth birthday and leave the “3’s” year behind. But reflecting on my child’s behavior made me realize there were many times when she would stop cooperating and start fussing when she got frustrated at something, or when we were stressed ourselves as parents.

In the Kids Have Stress Too! Booklet targeted for parents of preschoolers, it was stated that “Children can experience stress at home, in child care settings, or even in play with

others. In the course of an average day, preschool children experience stress when they have to wait, when they want something they can’t have, or when they lose or break one of their toys.” The following were listed in the booklet as examples of common sources of preschool stress:

  • Early or rushed mornings, being hurried
  • Exposure to new situations
  • Too many expectations or demands
  • Separation from parents
  • Difficulties with peer friendships
  • Fights or disagreements with siblings
  • Transitioning from one activity or place to another
  • New beginnings such as starting kindergarten or child care
  • Frequent change of caregivers

Hmm, rushed mornings, feeling hurried, too many expectations? Sounds a lot like our household. This information has caused me to re-evaluate the way our household is run, and whether my child is expressing some unneeded stress with having a busy daily schedule – something that may not be totally necessary for a 4 year old.

And what can be done if a child is stressed? Apparently one simply measure is just to allow the child to have some more down time. According to one resource handout “Kids also need time to themselves – just to relax and do nothing! Sometimes the best cure for stress is just to have some quiet time. Kids need some time on their own. Listening to music, reading or playing quietly may help them feel better. Doing nothing is fine too!” Hmm, sounds like this advice is applicable to adults too. Don’t we all wish we had more down time to relax and unwind in the midst of our busy and hectic schedules? I know I do!

For this and other great resources on how to help preschoolers and kindergarteners cope and deal with stress, see this link: KHST Preschool and Kindergarten

(Sources:

  1. Kids Have Stress Too! KHST! The Psychology Foundation of Canada. https://psychologyfoundation.org/Public/Public/Programs/Kids_Have_Stress_Too/Kids_Have_Stress_Too_.aspx. Accessed February 22, 2017.
  1. Kids Have Stress Too! KHST Preschool and Kindergarten. Psychology Foundation of Canada. https://www.psychologyfoundation.org/Public/Resources/KHST_Download_Resources/Copy_of_Download_Resources.aspx?WebsiteKey=7ec8b7ce-729b-4aff-acd8-2f6b59cd21ab&hkey=0e18b555-9114-49b4-9838-084fab967f0e. Accessed February 22, 2017.)

Qn of the Month: What Kitchen Equipment Is Needed On A Whole Foods Plant-Based Diet?

A: The best part of transitioning to a whole foods plant-based diet is that you don’t need much fancy equipment! This is because most of the foods included in this lifestyle can already be consumed in their natural raw state (like nuts, seeds, legumes, fruits and many vegetables). In fact, the two pieces of ‘equipment’ I have found the most useful so far as our family is transitioning to a whole foods plant-based diet are simply these:

* A plastic colander (without legs) with a mixing bowl that fits underneath
* A slow cooker

These plant-based kitchen friends are indispensable! Get a metal or plastic colander with a corresponding bowl that fits its size to use together, or simply purchase a plastic mixing bowl or other bowl that fits its size underneath. Why? This will allow you to fill up the colander with water and then you can easily lift it up to drain out the water quickly and easily. This makes it SO easy to soak and rinse vegetables, fruits like blueberries, canned and dried beans, split peas, lentils…you name it! Your prep work time will be quickly reduced and you can then get to cooking right away.

And the slow cooker? If it has been sitting dusty in a remote corner of your kitchen, it is time to bring it back out into the limelight again. There are many easy wonderful slow cooker recipes using plant-based foods that are hearty, filling and delicious. And the best part is that because the beans and legumes used in the recipes often need to cook for many hours in the slow cooker, I’ve found that they ended up being easier on my digestive system and we have been able to rapidly ramp up our vegetable and fiber intake without problems. You may not have such an issue but for those with sensitive intestinal systems, this is a factor to consider when transitioning over to a whole foods plant-based diet.

Eventually, as you begin to try more and more new plant-based recipes, you may find a hand immersion blender or food processor handy for whipping up vegan based desserts or bean dips or bean based soups.

Note: To those (like me) who are relatively new to the world of kitchen appliances, there IS a difference between blenders and food processors. According to a 2012 Consumer Reports news article, “A blender is better at mixing drinks and whipping up smoothies, while a food processor is ideal for chopping, slicing and shredding. You can puree foods in either appliance but crushing ice in a food processor can damage the plastic container.”

I happened to have both an immersion hand blender and a Ninja kitchen system at home. The Ninja has suddenly come in so useful (after collecting dust on the kitchen shelves the past 2-3 years as a long forgotten birthday present from my hubby). So far, I have made peanut butter and cashew nut butters, hummus, chickpea and black bean patties as well as flaxmeal muffins from the Ninja without problems. For split pea soups and making hummus and batches of baby food, I have also sometimes just used the hand immersion blender for easy and quick clean up.

You may already possess a blender or a food processor at home, which is more than adequate for your needs if you are just starting out in the world of plant-based foods. Eventually, as you try out the myriad of delicious healthy plant-based whole foods recipes out there, you may decide to fork out a little more money to purchase another food processor or blender. If so, there are many models and options out there!

(Source: Janeway K. Do you need a blender, a food processor or both? Consumer Reports News. June 20, 2012. http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2012/06/do-you-need-a-blender-a-food-processor-or-both/index.htm. Accessed February 1, 2017.)

Qn of the Month: How Do Canola Oil, Olive Oil and Sunflower Oil Compare to One Another?

Which is the fairest of them all? -Dietitianmom.com

Which is the fairest of them all? -Dietitianmom.com

A: Have you ever wondered which vegetable oil you should be using more of and which of these three oils -canola, olive or sunflower- is the ‘fairest of them all’? Of course these oils have different smoke points and so have various uses in cooking, but which is really most beneficial to consume? I was curious about this, so decided to do some research into it, and was surprised by what I found.

Canola, olive and sunflower oil all carry the same caloric weight (1 teaspoon giving 40 calories), but there are notable differences. For example, of the three, olive oil provides the most monounsaturated fatty acids (approximately 3.3 grams per teaspoon). Olive oil also has a decent vitamin K content but can’t compare to canola oil, which has about 16 times the amount of vitamin K as sunflower oil (3.2 micrograms of vitamin K in a teaspoon of canola oil compared to 0.2 micrograms of vitamin K in a teaspoon of sunflower oil)! Canola oil also has slightly more vitamin E and slightly less monounsaturated fatty acids than olive oil. Sunflower oil has the lowest vitamin K content.

You may be wondering, “Are there any benefits to consuming sunflower oil then?” The answer is, “Yes!” Of the three types of oil, sunflower oil (with less than 60% linoleic content) actually has the highest vitamin E content (1.85 milligrams of alpha-tocopherol per teaspoon compared to 0.65 milligrams in a teaspoon of olive oil). This may not seem like a lot, but small amounts do add up. Just two and a quarter teaspoons of this type of sunflower oil would provide approximately the amount of vitamin E in one avocado! Sunflower oil also has a decent monounsaturated fatty acid content (about 2/3 that of olive oil per teaspoon), and has four times the amount of polyunsaturated fatty acid content of olive oil. The polyunsaturated fatty acid content of sunflower oil is actually about 40 percent higher than that in canola oil. Recall that both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids.

So the take home message? If you ask me, it brings home the point that it is important to consume a variety of foods in one’s diet, and not just stick to one type. By consuming a variety of vegetable oils, you can maximize the nutritional benefits of each kind of oil – especially since they have different smoke points. So keep this in mind, the next time you cook, stir-fry, roast, bake or make salad dressing. Your family will benefit too!

(Source: USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. http://ndb.nal.usda.gov. Accessed December 27, 2016.)

Qn of the Month: Intakes of Baby-Led Weaning Infants & Traditional Spoon Feed Infants – Are There Nutritional Differences?

Pureed or Baby Led? - Dietitianmom.com

Pureed or Baby Led? – Dietitianmom.com

A: Yes, according to a study published in the British Medical Journal. Led by Morison and colleagues, this New Zealand based study looked at the intake of 51 age-matched and sex-matched infants at 6-8 months of age. One to three day weighted food records and questionnaires were collected from those in the baby led weaning (BLW) group and those in the traditional spoon feeding (TSF) group, which were then analyzed. The result? It was found that while infants in both groups had relatively similar caloric intake, those in the BLW group may be consuming higher fat and higher saturated fat intakes, along with possibly lower iron, zinc and vitamin B12 intakes.

Although the research finding results are exciting, it is important to note the strengths and limitations of the study. Strengths include analysis done by a registered dietitian blinded to which group an infant belonged to, the use of weighted food records and detailed questionnaires, and the age and sex matching of infants. The limitations of this study however include the fact that a small sample size was used, the use of estimated breast milk volumes, and the fact that there was no standard definition or classification used in the study of what constituted a baby led weaning infant.

As mentioned in my previous post on BLW (Qn of the Month: How is Baby Led Weaning (BLW) Really Defined?), research on BLW is complicated by the fact that there is no standardized definition of baby led weaning, with research studies using different definitions. In this study, parents self-reported and classified themselves which group their infant fell into. Also, the lower iron intake levels observed in the BLW group compared to the TSF group may be due to the fact that the BLW infants consumed less iron fortified infant cereals, and were breastfed for much longer (approximately 8 more weeks) than TSF infants. Hence infants in the BLW group would have received less iron fortified infant formula.

It is unclear whether this study looked at the potential differences in nutrients contributed by use of iron fortified infant formula and breast milk intake, which could have a big impact on the final nutrient intake of infants in either group.  Also, since estimated breast milk volumes were used, this study cannot accurately determine the exact differences in caloric and iron intake levels between the BLW and the TSF groups. A future study needs to not only control for potential confounding in terms of the length of breastfeeding in both groups, but may also need to include biochemical tests to determine more accurately the iron status of infants in both groups.

 (Sources:

  1. University of Otago. “Dietary intake differs in infants who follow baby-led weaning.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 May 2016. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/05/160517094206.htm. Accessed Nov 26, 2016.
  1. Morison BJ, Taylor RW, Haszard JJ, et al. How different are baby-led weaning and conventional complementary feeding? A cross-sectional study of infants aged 6–8 months. BMJ Open 2016;6:e010665. http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/6/5/e010665. Accessed November 26, 2016.)