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How to treat constipation in babies & children

As both a mother and dietitian, I deal with constipated babies and kids a lot. Two out of three of my own babies suffered for months after starting solids. It’s difficult to watch your little one in pain while trying to pass stool, or because they are so backed up!

The first thing to assess if you think your young child is constipated is the definition of constipation. The Canadian Pediatric Association defines constipation as “ bowel movements that occur less often than usual, that are hard and dry, and/or painful or difficult to pass.” So it’s not the frequency of stools as much of the consistency that is important. Your exclusively breastfed infant isn’t constipated when they don’t poo for 2 weeks, as long as their poo is regular breastfed-baby-poo consistency!

Causes of constipation can include toilet training, starting daycare or starting solids. It seems a tough transition for most babies to go from breastmilk to starting solids. If...

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My Top 5 Favourite Cookbooks

Robin Miller's Quick Fix Meals

This cookbook has a section called "Morph It." On the first day, you make a large batch of meat. Roasted Chicken with Smokey Apricot Sauce, for example. Then three "Morph Recipes" are included, all using the main dish cooked in the first day (like Chicken and Mushroom Quesadillas, Thai Chicken Salad with Peanuts and Lime and Chicken Curry with Chickpeas and Tomatoes). This batch cooking saves you time most days of the week, and I find the variety to be good even though you are using the same main component. Worth a try!

Sandi Richard, Eating Forward

Sandi is Canada's meal planning guru. She has 6 kids, therefore has to be organized! Her concept of Eating Forward means knowing what you are going to have for dinner - at the beginning of the day! Her cookbooks include a weeks worth of meal plans, including shopping lists. I have tried many of the full week plans, and most of the recipes are delicious, although I do modify some to include...

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Pregnancy Supplement You've Never Heard Of: MTHFR

You likely know of the importance of pregnancy folic acid supplements. Folic acid is a B vitamin required for normal cell growth and development. It helps prevent neural tube defects (NTD) very early in pregnancy, such as spina bifida. It may also prevent oral cleft and heart problems and high maternal blood pressure in pregnancy. I am a strong believer that folic acid supplements are important, and it's been well proven that they decrease the risk of NTDs in pregnancy. In Canada, grains have been fortified with folic acid for this reason. The effect has been decreasing the prevalance of NTDs by 46%.

Health Canada has some good basic guidance on folic acid and folate (the food form of folic acid) here. Essentially the recommendation is to start supplementing with 400 - 1000 ug (0.4-1 mg) three months prior to pregnancy, and continuing through pregnancy. If you have a family history of NTDs, supplement 5mg per day.

What's the problem with folic acid supplements?


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Do Cleanses Work?

Lemon water with cayenne; expensive herbal supplements; 7 day juice fasts: "Cleanse for the new year!" Or should you?

Cleansing is often promoted to improve health by 'cleansing' the bowel and removing toxins from the body that come from the air we breathe, the food we eat and the beverages we drink. Supporters claim the goal of cleansing is to promote healthy intestinal bacteria, boost energy and immunity, and start weight loss. However, there's little evidence that cleansing produces these effects. In fact, some forms of cleansing can be harmful. Cleansing diets, also known as detoxification or detox diets, are not recommended for preventing disease or improving bowel or overall health and especially are not for growing children and teens.

What is a Cleansing Diet? Cleansing is the removal of material from the bowel or colon. It can be done by a variety of methods, either alone or in combination: using a herbal or medicinal or laxative preparation fasting or following a strict...

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Is Juicing Healthy for Me and My Child?

Juice shops are popping up in major cities, you can get '7 Day Juice Fasts' delivered to your door and home juicers are likely flying off the shelves.

What is juice?

Essentially juice is sugar-water with some vitamins. It is fruit and veggies, without the fibre. And considering most North Americans get 10g of fibre per day instead of the recommended 25 -35 g, I'm not sure why we would purposely remove the fibre from produce before consuming it. Yes, you can use the leftover produce pulp in baking, but I imagine most of it gets thrown out. And if consumed as the entire meal or snack, juice is unbalanced as most contain very little protein or fat. I'd rather drink a smoothie, containing the whole fruit or veggie plus some protein and fat (from hemp, pasteurized egg whites, chia, flax, yogurt, nut butter or milk).

If your juice is mostly fruit, it always shocks people to hear that fruit juice contains the same amount of sugar as pop. And the "but it's natural sugar"...

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5 Tips to Get Enough Iron when using Babyled Weaning

One of the main 'beefs' many health professionals have with Babyled Weaning (BLW) is the challenge of feeding your baby iron-rich foods.  As much as I love BLW, the concern about iron intake is real. A variety of studies in Canadian children show the prevalence of iron deficiency to range from 12% - 64%. And this can lead to anemia, which may cause irreversible physical and mental effects, like delayed attention and social withdrawal. So in contrast to a common quote: food before 1 is not just for fun.

By 4-6 months, your babies iron stores from before birth start to run out, depending on many things: mom's iron levels during pregnancy, delayed cord clamping at birth and gestational age at birth. Eighty percent of babe’s iron stores are built up in the third trimester of pregnancy. So I guess that's one benefit to those extra 17, 9 and 9 days I went "overdue" with my own babies :)

Babies need 11 mg iron per day from 7-12 months of age -...

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Cosmic Cookies

This cookie recipe was introduced to my by Casey over at Worthy and Well on her amazing yoga retreat! Originally from Planet Organic, I've modified the recipe a bit, and they are my favourite cookies! Sub the walnuts for extra seeds, if you're sending them in a  nut-free lunch box.

2 14 cups quick oats

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 cup sunflower seeds

34 cup chopped walnuts

12 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened

14 cup ground flax seed

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon cinnamon

2 14 teaspoons sea salt

1 34 cups dark chocolate chips 

1 14 cups raisins

14 cup water

14 cup blackstrap molasses

34 cup canola oil

1 cup milk

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Line two baking trays with parchment paper or silipads.
  3. Combine dry ingredients : from oats to raisins.
  4. Combine wet ingredients: from water to milk.
  5. Stir dry and wet together until just combined.
  6. Portion cookie dough into desired size and gently flatten.
  7. Bake for 24 minutes (will depend on size of cookie) or until lightly...
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BTV clip: Nutrition Month 2016 wrap-up

Nutrition Month 2016 has come to a close. How did your 100 Meal Journey go? I was more conscious to try and include a veggie with each lunch, which was my pledge for the month! And just because April is no longer nutrition month doesn't mean you can't make a new goal! Practice your small goal over the entire month, and by end of the month it should be a new and healthy habit. So much better than going on and off of crash diets!

Check out my clip from BTV taking about making your pledge and sticking with it. We made a Garden Buddah Veggie Bowl from the Dietitian's of Canada Cookspiration App. Yummm.

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Preventing Choking with Babyled Weaning

Many parents are terrified of feeding their baby beyond pureeds: “Won’t my baby choke if I feed him “real” food?”

Many proponents of Babyled Weaning (BLW) believe babies are actually at less risk of choking if they feed themselves rather than being spoon-fed by a parent. This is because the baby is in full control. There also may be less confusion on the baby’s part by using BLW. When starting with pureeds, babies just suck the food off the spoon and swallow right away, just like a liquid. When there are chunks introduced into a puree, babies have not yet learned how to chew and may be confused about what to do with it.

Another benefit of BLW and introducing full foods sooner, is that the gag reflex is further forward in the mouth and it moves back as baby ages. So the gag reflex effectively keeps larger food pieces near the front of the mouth, only allowing very well chewed foods to the back to be swallowed.

However, BLW does have the potential...

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How the division of responsibility worked for my picky eater

*This is a guest post from Sarah, a fellow dietitian & mom of three I requested Sarah share her story with you, as she has been through the experience of raising a very selective eater. Following The Division of Responsibility in Feeding, Sarah's son has finally has made it past the pickiest stage. I have many clients who are hesitant to believe that this method can really work. Well Felix is proof that patience pays off!!*

"I first became interested in pediatric nutrition after my first year of university. I had a job at the local community health unit, working for the community nutritionist as a summer student. She encouraged me to read all of Ellyn Satter’s books on child feeding. This was my introduction to the feeding relationship.   Ms. Satter defines the roles of parents and children in feeding and her 30+ years of research show how trying to do your child’s job with feeding or letting them do your job can lead to a dysfunctional feeding...

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