5 Best Foods for Moms—and Kids

Written by: on Friday, March 8th, 2013
Fresh blueberries

Eat more than three servings of fresh (or frozen) blueberries or strawberries a week, and you’ll have a 32 percent lower risk of heart attack than those who eat less.

As a mom of three, I try…really, really try, to make sure my kids eat the right foods. But let’s just say that “yucky!!” is a common response to the good foods that I like to cook: veggies (like sweet peppers), quinoa, and beans (no surprise, right?).

But, after some very frustrating trial and error, I’ve found that there are some good-for-you foods that my kids will eat. Try these superfoods—for you and your kids!

1) Salmon This low-mercury fish is high in DHA (which also stands for something called docosahexaenoic acid, which is an essential fat called omega-3) and niacin or vitamin B3. Study after study shows that DHA is critical for the developing brains of babies (if you’re breastfeeding) and kids. One study even showed that it helped kids concentrate better. But it’s also a crucial nutrient for us moms trying to juggle it all! The vitamin B3 helps keep your energy up—a definite must as, like most moms, I struggle with fatigue from nighttime kid wakings. (If you’re pregnant or nursing, though, don’t eat too much salmon in one week because it does contain some mercury; two or three 2-ounce servings per week should be your max.)

chewable omega-3 supplements for kids

My kids love to chew on these...so they must taste pretty good!

Now, I know what you’re probably thinking: there’s no way my kids are going to eat fish!! Ah…I thought exactly the same thing, but then I discovered that cutting up the salmon and breading it makes it look like kid-acceptable chicken nuggets—and it actually tastes yummy. My kids love them…and sometimes even dip them in ketchup!

If you want to steer clear of fish altogether, though, you can take fish-oil supplements. My kids love Nordic Naturals Nordic Omega-3 chewable Fishies in Tangerine flavor (you can get them for about $30 from omega-direct.com). I take the Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega supplements ($23.75 for 60; also from omega-direct.com).

2) Kale I know what you’re thinking: is she crazy?! There’s no way I’m going to get my kids to eat kale! I thought the same thing until I tried kale chips (see recipe below). My kids love them! But truth be told: if I try to sauté some kale in a pan with olive oil and seasoning, they literally gag on it and beg and plead with me to not eat it. Same stuff. Go figure!

But this veggie is probably one of the single healthiest foods we can eat. It’s rich in so many nutrients—beta-carotene, iron (critical to give fatigued moms energy), immune-boosting vitamin C, calcium, potassium, folic acid, and

Kale

Try to eat kale as fresh as possible; the longer it's stored, the more bitter it becomes.

disease-busting antioxidants. An interesting study from Tufts University in Boston also found that folic acid (so important for developing fetuses) helps reduce depression—why this is particularly important for moms post-partum.

Kid-friendly recipe: Kale chips I got this recipe from Rachael Ray. First, buy a bunch of kale with smaller leaves, which have a milder flavor than larger bunches. (Otherwise, this veggie can be a bit bitter.) Wash and dry the leaves, then chop them into 2-inch pieces. (You want them to be a little larger than the size of a potato chip.) Toss with olive oil (and if you want, a bit of nutmeg). Then place on a parchment paper-lined cookie tray, sprinkle with salt, and bake at 350°F for about 8 to 10 minutes. But—let’s be honest here—whatever you do, don’t tell your kids they’re kale chips…just call them homemade potato chips and they’re more likely to take that first bite!

3) Blueberries These fruits are super high in disease-busting antioxidants—as well as immune-boosting vitamin C, fiber, and vitamin K (important for blood clotting and for building strong bones). But my advice to you: if you

My Super Snack

My kids love to snack on these new, all-natural snacks! (They're also available in Chocolate Chip and Apple Raisin.)

buy nothing else organic, always buy organic berries. The reason: more than 52 pesticides (which are carcinogens, neurotoxins, hormone disruptors…the long horrible list goes on!) have been detected on the skin of these berries— and it’s hard to get them all off through washing (http://www.whatsonmyfood.org/food.jsp?food=BB).

Some studies have also found that organic blueberries have higher concentrations of antioxidants than the conventional kind. But if you can’t find organic blueberries or they’re too expensive (as they often are in the off season), opt for frozen organic blueberries (which are just about as healthy as fresh).

Also, don’t be fooled into thinking that the blueberries that come in many cereals, muffin mixes, and snack bars are good for you. Many of these so-called “blueberries” are made from artificial colors, hydrogenated oils, and sugar. Look for real blueberries on the product label before buying. My fave new kids’ snack with real blueberries: nutrient-rich MySuperSnack Blueberry Banana Acai Granola Bites, with 17 essential vitamins and minerals—and no artificial anything ($3 a pouch; mysuperfoods.com)!

No-Sugar Added Sophie Greek yogurt

The mom who developed this yogurt is passionate about healthy eating!

4) Yogurt Not only is yogurt high in bone-building calcium and vitamin D (so important for nursing moms, women, and growing kids), but it also contains probiotics. Studies have shown that these healthy bacteria are important for digestion, as well as for the immune system. Just steer clear of the yogurt with fruit already in it; these products are high in sugar. Instead, opt for plain yogurt and add in the fruit and other toppings (like granola) that your kids like. My kids and I love Greek yogurt; it’s thick, creamy, and yummy!

But I recently had the opportunity to talk with fellow mom Sophie Anne Pachella; she’s a nutritionist, founder of EatStrong.com, and the founder of Sophie Yogurt (sophieyogurt.com)—a yummy brand of Greek yogurt that has no added sugar. It was Sophie who alerted me to the fact that some Greek yogurt—while seemingly all healthy—does have added sugars. (Be sure to check the label before buying.) That’s why she developed her own healthier product line (go Sophie!).

5) Dark chocolate I lovethis stuff because it’s super high in antioxidants, which help prevent diseases like heart disease and cancer. Plus, studies have shown that it helps reduce high blood pressure. I also find that when I eat dark chocolate, I’m satisfied after just a little bit (unlike milk chocolate, which I can literally not stop eating!).

Vita Chocolate Cacao Minis

This chocolate is probably the tastiest and healthiest around!

Just know that many kids can’t really tell the difference between milk and dark chocolate unless you tell them, which of course I don’t! To them, it’s just chocolate. Some of my other favorite snacks: dark chocolate-covered almonds, dark chocolate-covered goji berries (super high in antioxidants!), and Vita Raw Organic Chocolate Bars—amazing stuff! Try the Cacao Minis, which are rich in antioxidants; ($28 for half a case; vitachocolates.com). You can also find healthy, kid-friendly dark chocolates at naturalcandystore.com: they sell so many varieties (allergy free, vegan, fair trade, you name it!).

If you can try to incorporate these foods into your—and your kids’—diets, you’ll be on the path to a healthier family!

 

 

Eat beets, drink tart cherry juice & 4 other stay-healthy tips

Written by: on Monday, July 16th, 2012

Want to be healthy—and have enough energy to power you through sports and your daily activities? Follow these tips:

fresh organic beets with greens

Beets are packed with disease-busting antioxidants—and are high in folate and fiber.

1.) Eat beets…as well as rhubarb and arugala. They’re rich sources of dietary nitrates, a compound that gets converted into nitric oxide (NO). Nitric oxide dilates blood vessels, lowers blood pressure, and allows a person to exercise using less oxygen. In one study, cyclists consumed pre-ride beets and then three hours later (when nitric oxide peaks), they rode in a time trial. Every cyclist improved (on average, 2.8%) as compared to the time trial with no beets. Impressive! The amount of nitrates in 7 ounces (200 grams) beets is an effective dose. How about enjoying  beets—or a bowl of borchst—in your next pre-game meal?

bowl of red cherries

Tart cherries contain substances called anthocyanins, which help reduce inflammation and may even reduce tumor growth.

2.) Drink tart cherry juice. Tart cherries (the kind used in baking pies, not the sweet cherries enjoyed as snacks) have both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. In one study, trained athletes consumed two 10.5-oz. bottles per day of tart cherry juice the week before an excruciating exercise test. They recovered faster and lost only 4% of their pre-test strength, compared with 22% loss in the group without cherry juice.

woman's feet running up stairs

You exercise every day—but you still need to stay active the rest of the time (e.g. always take the stairs instead of the elevator).

Tart cherries can help not only athletes but also individuals who suffer from the pain and inflammation associated with fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis. Consuming tart cherry juice (two 10.5-ounce bottles/day for 10 days) reduced the muscle soreness associated with “fibro-flares” and enhanced recovery rate. Similar findings occurred in people suffering from osteoarthritis; drinking tart cherry juice for three weeks reduced arthritis pain.

Research to date has studied the effects of drinking 21 ounces of tart cherry juice per day for 1 to 3 weeks. (That’s the equivalent of eating 90 tart cherries/day). More research will determine the most effective dose and time-course. Because 21 ounces of tart cherry juice adds 260 calories to one’s energy intake, athletes will need to reduce other fruits or foods to make space for this addition to their daily intake.

3) Sit less, move more. While sleeping used to be our most common “activity,” today it is sitting. The average person sits for 9 hours a day. Prolonged sitting is a risk factor for heart disease and creates health problems, including deep vein thrombosis  (as can happen on planes). Athletes who exercise for one or two hours each day still need do more daily activity and not just sit in front of a screen all day.

athletic woman leaping in air

Get enough sleep and you'll not only feel more powerful—you'll be more powerful in any activity you undertake.

4) Get some sleep. While we may be sitting more than in past years, we’re sleeping less: 80% of teens report getting less than the recommended nine hours of sleep; nearly 30% of adults report sleeping less than 6 hours each day. Not good. Sleep is a biological necessity. It is restorative and helps align our circadian rhythms.

Sleep deprivation (less than five hours/night) erodes well being, has detrimental effects on health, and contributes to fat gain. When we become tired, grehlin—a hormone that makes us feel hungry—becomes more active and we can easily overeat. Sleep deprivation is also linked with Type II diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

Sleep deprivation is common among athletes who travel through time zones. This can impact performance by disrupting their circadian rhythms and causing undue fatigue and reduced motivation. In comparison, extending sleep can enhance performance. A study involving basketball players indicates they shot more baskets and completed more free throws when they were well rested versus sleep deprived. For top performance, make sleep a priority!

couple walking together

Doing activities with other people is one factor that may help you live a longer life.

5) Enhance your life. In a few communities in the world, an usually high number of people live to be older than 100 years. What happens in those communities that contributes to the longer life? Some factors include choosing a plant-based diet, rarely overeating, having a life filled with purpose and meaning, connecting with others in the community, moving naturally and/or socially (as in bike commuting and walking with family and friends), enjoying alcohol socially (in moderation), and not smoking. If you want to join the centenarians, take steps to re-create those life-enhancing practices!

Creating that life-extending culture has been done, to a certain extent, in Albert Lea, MN. The “Blue Zone” project included improving sidewalks and building walking paths around a lake. Restaurants supported the program by not bringing a bread basket automatically to customers, and not serving French fries (unless requested) with meals. These and many other environmental changes contributed to a healthier lifestyle that resulted in a 40% drop in the city employee healthcare costs over two years. Impressive, eh?

6) Appreciate your body. Athletes, as well as those who aren’t athletes, commonly struggle with the belief their body is not “good enough.” This struggle gets too little attention from health care providers who focus more on the medical concerns of heart disease, cancer, and hypertension. Yet, whether you are lean or obese, having poor body image often coincides with having low self-esteem. This combination generates poor self-care.

Image with I am beautiful written in mirror

If you have to, write notes to yourself to remind yourself just how amazing you (and your body) are.

In a five-year study of teens, low body satisfaction stimulated extreme and destructive dieting behaviors that led to weight gain, not weight loss. The same pattern is typical among many seemingly “healthy” athletes. If you want help finding peace with your body, please seek help from a sports dietitian. Use the referral network of Sports & Cardiovascular Nutritionists (SCAN)—SCANdpg.org—to help you find someone local. What are you waiting for…?

 

Copyright: Nancy Clark MS RD CSSD, May 2012

 

These Skincare Products Work! Chance to Win!

Written by: on Thursday, June 28th, 2012
Replere skin-care products created by Dr. Debbie Palmer

I use these products religiously!

Sure, you already know to slather on sunscreen to protect your skin from aging UVA rays and burning UVB rays (and if you don’t, you need to start today!). But what you may not know is that you also need antioxidants to protect your skin. UV rays create something called free radicals in the body (and the skin) that can trigger premature aging—and may even contribute to cancer and other diseases. Antioxidants help neutralize the free radicals. We get antioxidants through fruits and vegetables (and even our vitamins), but applying directly to the skin can help, too.

And that’s why I love these Replere skin-care products (replere.com) created by a mom and dermatologist, Dr. Debbie Palmer. They contain some of the highest amounts of antioxidants in skin-care products—and I trust them because I trust Dr. Palmer. I’ve noticed that my skin has never looked better so far this summer: it’s clear, radiant, and looks healthy.

Don’t expect any fluffy, sweet-smelling creams with these products; they’re meant to be medicinal and repair your skin. They’re brown in color and a bit tacky in feel, but they absorb quickly and get the job done.

And I slather them on my eight-year-old son’s skin at night; he’s gotten a little too much sun lately being outdoors all day (even with sunscreen on), so I feel confident when I put these products on his skin before he goes to sleep. (They’re paraben-, fragrance-, and dye-free.)

Replere Deep Clean & Clarify Face Wash created by Dr. Debbie Palmer

You can win this foaming face wash if you vote now!

If you’re willing to take a shot at these products, go to this link by tomorrow (Friday, June 29)  http://www.qvc.com/qic/qvcapp.aspx/app.html/params.file.|sprouts|sprouts,html and vote for the Replere Deep Clean & Clarify face wash (it’s a super exfoliating face wash); the first 5 people to do this and e-mail me to valerie@valerielatona.com will win the face wash (be sure to send me your address). Dr. Palmer is trying to have her products featured on QVC and I want to help her spread the word about these amazing products!

5 Healthy Skin Secrets of a Celebrity Dermatologist

Written by: on Monday, January 30th, 2012
Dermatologist Debra Jaliman

With youthful skin like this, you'd never know that Debra Jaliman has a 20-year-old daughter!

So many women I’ve spoken with are overwhelmed by skin care: which products to use, what to do about the little lines here and there, how to treat a certain condition, and more. Typically you’d have to book an appointment with a dermatologist to get answers to all your questions (or chance it with Internet answers). But not so anymore.

Celebrity dermatologist Debra Jaliman, M.D., has written a book (out March 13; preorder for $15.34 from barnesandnoble.com) that demystifies everything about skincare. Called Skin Rules: Trade Secrets from a Top New York Dermatologist, the book features seven-seven rules about skin care. Sounds like a lot, right? That’s exactly what I thought when I picked up this book. BUT, the way Jaliman writes (each rule is short, sweet and super easy for everyone to understand), I actually enjoyed reading every single rule—and page. A few of her secrets that resonated with me (I’ve dog-eared the pages on these):

1) Don’t waste money on expensive cleansers. Spend it on moisturizers, sunscreens, and anti-aging products instead. Otherwise, “you’re just washing money down the drain,” says Jaliman. This is one rule that I myself follow—and was happy to see it in Jaliman’s book: I buy drugstore cleansers (despite trying to be persuaded otherwise by department/specialty store salespeople). My favorite cleanser is Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash because it keeps adult breakouts at bay. (I also use Neutrogena’s Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover to take off mascaras, shadow, and liner.) Then I splurge on serums: one for day (I love SkinAuthority’s Wrinkle Reversing Serum,

Wrinkle Reversing Serum from SkinAuthority

My favorite serum for day—in an airtight pump container.

which absorbs quickly and makes my skin healthy and radiant; $125, skinauthority.com) and one for night (I’m addicted to Skinceuticals Phloretin CF antioxidant serum; $162, skinceuticals.com); both are pricey, but are worth the smooth-skin results you get. Just use sparingly so you don’t go through the containers too quickly.

2) Buy physical sunscreens that are white, not clear. Despite all my years of working in health and beauty, I had never heard this advice before. According to Jaliman, the whitish part of the sunscreen is what “makes these products safe to use. They appear white because the particles of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide [the protective ingredients] are too big for the skin to absorb”.  Jaliman goes on to say that “particle size matters…and this is one area where big truly is better”. But “when [the sunscreen] comes out clear from the tube, the manufacturer has used nanoparticles that are many times smaller. And scientists are growing increasingly concerned about nanoparticles and their possible effects. Recent studies have shown that people whose sunscreens contain zinc nanoparticles have increased levels of zinc in their blood.” Hmm…a bit disturbing, but good advice that I’ll be putting into practice ASAP. One sunscreen I do love—and feel comfortable using on me and my kids: Soléo Organics All-Natural Sunscreen ($19.96; amazon.com).

3) Take it nice and slow.“I always tell my patients to approach skin treatment the way they would approach exercise. Nobody should run a marathon the first day out on the track: by the same token, you should gradually build up a tolerance to any skin treatment.” I just love this analogy. People expect miracles when it comes to skin care (just as they do with weight loss or exercise regimens)— but slow and

Skin Rules Book

The new beauty bible: every woman should read it!

steady wins the race when it comes to keeping your skin healthy.

4) Good things come in tubes and pumps. Anything else, says Jaliman, “deteriorates quickly when exposed to air and sunlight, which happens every time a jar is opened”. If you want to use a product in a jar, use a cotton swab (or the little spatula that sometimes comes with it) instead of your fingers to get the product out. “Every time you stick your finger into a jar, you are introducing bacteria into it,” she explains.

5) Take biotin for cracked, brittle nails. “Far more effective than those ‘nail-strengthening’ polishes is a daily dose of biotin (vitamin B-7),” says Jaliman. “Most recent studies recommend 2.5 milligrams a day.” I’ve started taking biotin after reading this! But Jaliman also adds:

Avoid the UV heating lamps used in salons to speed drying of nail polishes “because those UV rays age your hands”.

Stay away from nail gels; “more and more salons are offering them, but there are increasing reports of serious side effects, including neurological damage (they’re so hard to get off that nails can be damaged in

woman with smooth skin smiling outdoors

You'll look more youthful with this advice from dermatologist Debra Jaliman.

the process),” explains Jaliman.

Ban nail extensions. “People don’t realize that the space between the fake nail and the real nail is the ideal environment for bacteria and fungi to grow,” says Jaliman, who adds: “Sooner or later, people who use nail extensions are going to get an infection…If you like long nails, take biotin and grow your own instead.”

Just a few of the helpful tips she includes…

What I also love about this book: despite the fact that Jaliman has her own line of great products, she never mentions them once in this book and actually goes out of her way to recommend other products—drugstore brands and pricier options—to go along with each rule. So you know exactly what to buy to get results. In my mind, this gives her even more credibility as a smart, objective dermatologist.

I’m not one for casually reading skin-care books, but this one is a keeper: it’s the new “bible” of skin-care for every woman. I highly recommend reading this…and putting Jaliman’s advice into practice. Your skin will thank you for it! (And just so you know, I’m not even a patient of Jaliman’s…I just love the book!)