Witches, pumpkins, trick-or-treating, and lots and lots of candy. Today is Halloween. Worried about your kid’s candy consumption? Me too. With all the crazy additives from food dyes and preservatives,to partially hydrogenated oils and the 18 million different types of sweeteners out there, it sucks. Oh, and don’t even try to pretend that you’re not worried about all the candy YOU’LL be eating. So what to do? Turns out there are some creative ideas out there to deal with the candy issue:
Seven-year-old Emma attends a private school that provides healthy snacks but has recently discontinued its hot lunch program. After initial fears that each day would mean a PB&J sandwich,her mom, Karen, got creative and established a system where Emma would be in charge of her own lunches. With the help of friends and input from Emma, Karen compiled a list of favorite foods that fall under the headings of Protein, Grain, Vegetable, and Fruit. Additional categories are Soup, Combos (such as sandwiches), and Dips. There are many options; for example, the protein category includes hummus, nuts, Greek yogurt, turkey, sunflower butter, cottage cheese, ham, natural hot dogs, shrimp, trail mix, and chicken sausage.
Gerri French recently joined Be Food Smart as a Special Advisor. She comes to us with over 30 years of experience as Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator (see Gerri’s full bio here). I sat down with Gerri last week to ask her a few questions. Here are some highlights from our chat.
Are there any popular/major diets that you like? For example, Paleo, South Beach, Zone, blood type, Mediterranean, Weight Watchers, etc. Are there any you would recommend?
No one diet works for everyone. As a dietitian I listen to my patients to learn their needs and concerns while assessing their lifestyle, laboratory data and medical history; a very personalized approach. A general diet book does not take the individual person into consideration. There are many healthy people out there eating a variety of diets. Mediterranean and Asian people who follow diets taught by their ancestors tend to be healthiest and the research supports it. I am happy to see people returning to enjoying earthy seasonal local foods, heirloom grains and beans and also fermented foods.
You have a wonderful assortment of organic, local vegetables that you are ready to cook. You pour a little olive oil into your non-stick pan and saute your veggies. What do you get? Delicious sauteed veggies with a side of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). Wait, what?
PFOA is the chemical used to make the non-stick coating on cookware (pots, pans, muffin tins, baking sheets, etc.) and electric cooking appliances (griddles, indoor grills, sandwich makers, etc.). Products with Teflon can contain levels of the chemical or similar chemicals (such as Polytetrafluoroethylene or “PTFE”). PFOA is widely used in other products such as carpet, fast food wrappers, stain-resistant clothing, and in water repellents for fabric and upholstery.
We are exposed to PFOA through drinking water, air, dust, food packaging, breast milk, umbilical cord blood, and microwave popcorn. When non-stick cookware is exposed to high heat, the chemical gets into the air and there can be a risk of PFOA exposure.
On the Environmental Protection Agency’s website, this is what they have to say about PFOA:
“Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), also known as “C8,” is a synthetic chemical that does not occur naturally in the environment… EPA has been investigating PFOA because it:
- Is very persistent in the environment
- Is found at very low levels both in the environment and in the blood of the general U.S. population
- Remains in people for a very long time
- Causes developmental and other adverse effects in laboratory animals.”
When tested, the chemical has been found in all or virtually all people’s blood, including newborn infants. Many animal and human studies over the years have shown that PFOA may cause a multitude of health concerns. These include, low birth rates, developmental delays, various forms of cancer, tumors, and liver toxicity; although the makers of PFOA maintain that the chemical is safe for humans and there is no reason for concern.
A recent September 2010 study from the West Virginia University Health Sciences Center studied 12, 476 children