Category Archives: National Nutrition Month

Preventing illness through clean hands, food and home

By: Cindy Baranoski MS, RDN, LDN

Bacteria and viruses are everywhere, all around us. They live in our bodies and on our bodies. Even our digestive and immune systems depend upon their presence to provide us with optimal health. While viruses create illnesses we all remember, bacteria are the culprits more often, bringing us foodborne illness or that nasty ‘stomach flu’. With bacteria the obvious places, such as the kitchen sink, bathroom, garbage can, are usually associated with ‘germs’ and the potential for some sort of illness.  But bacteria are an invisible society living among us. Bacteria’s numbers are in the millions, and the types of bacteria we are exposed to can bring illness and health.

Wash your hands!

One of the easiest ways to prevent illness is to keep clean. Our hands, foods, kitchens, bathroom, anything we come into contact with in our world. If we simply wash our hands regularly, and not touch our eyes, noses, mouths, our chances of becoming infected by bacteria are significantly lessened.

The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a dedicated web page to washing hands, with clear instructions and tips such as:

  • Wash hands before, during, and after preparing food
  • Before eating food
  • Before and after caring for someone who is sick

Keep your food and kitchen clean!

In kitchens, we have a ton of opportunities to come into contact with bacteria that can bring on an illness.  With millions of bacteria foundbac in the tiniest of places, imagine the size of your kitchen and just how many places are teeming with the little critters.

The Partnership for Food Safety Education at www.fightbac.org has a wonderful website loaded with helpful information on food safety. If you visit their site, you can find answers to many questions about the food you buy, prepare, eat, store, throw away and reheat. One of the most helpful sections of their site is The Core Four Practices. These are simple practices for food safety.

bacCLEAN – Wash hands and surfaces often

  1. Wash your hands with warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food, using the bathroom, changing a diaper, or handling your pets. (Check out the hand washing guide from the CDC).
  2. Wash items in the kitchen – dishes, utensils, counter tops, cutting boards with hot soapy water, after you use an item and before you use it on something else.
  3. Use paper towels for clean up, or if you use cloth towels be sure to wash them on hot.
  4. Rinse all fruits and veggies under water. For those with firm skins, use a vegetable brush.

SEPARATE – Don’t cross-contaminate

  1. Separate raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs from other foods in shopping cart and bags, as well as your refrigerator.
  2. Do not use the same cutting board for meat and fresh produce.
  3. Do not place cooked food on a plate that had raw meat, poultry, seafood or eggs on it.

COOK – Cook foods to a safe internal temperature

  1. Use a thermometer to measure internal temperature when cooking meat, poultry and egg dishes.
  2. Cook roasts and steaks to no less than 145°F. Poultry to 165°F. Ground meat to 160 °F. Fish to 145 °F.
  3. Cook eggs until the yolk and white are firm.
  4. Be sure there are no cold spots when cooking foods.
  5. Heat leftovers thoroughly to 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

CHILL – Chill foods immediately

  1. Refrigerate foods quickly to 40°F or below. Use an appliance thermometer to be sure of the temperature. Freezers should be 0°F or below.
  2. Refrigerate foods as soon as you get home from the store.
  3. Never allow raw meat, poultry, eggs, cooked food or fresh fruits or veggies to sit at room temperature for longer than 2 hours. If the room is warm, then less than 1 hour sitting out. Do not defrost food at room temperature. Allow foods to thaw in the refrigerator. In a pinch you can use cold water or microwave for thawing, but these foods need to be cooked immediately.
  4. Marinate food in a refrigerator – and do not use marinate from raw meat, fish, poultry as a dipping sauce.
  5. Divide large quantities of foods into shallow containers to allow for faster cooling when storing foods, such as leftovers.

Your Refrigerator

eat-rightWatch this video from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) on keeping your refrigerator clean. Wiping the inside and outside down, cleaning the shelves and the front grill are as important as the counter tops you use to prepare foods. Going through your refrigerator often to toss outdated foods is something you should do on a regular basis. Know that foods have ‘use by’ dates which refers to food quality, and ‘expiration’ dates to know when to throw something away that is no longer consumable.

nutrition blog.pngYou can access more Home Food Safety resources at the AND website including:

  • Apps like Is My Food Safe?
  • Videos on how to wash fruits and vegetables
  • Safety tips on Holiday cooking to raw milk or keeping lunch boxes clean,
  • Food safety with hiking and camping, as well as keeping fruits fresh and reducing food waste are at this site as well.

Be Aware

Use common sense with foods and have respect for the fact that much of what we consume comes through a process where many people have been in contact with our food before we even purchase it.  Who has picked the apple from the tree?  Where did the chicken egg even come from? Who prepackaged your deli meats? Was the tomato you purchased ever rolling around the grocery store floor before you picked it off the shelf?

nutrition-therapy
Photo by Rich Howe

Certainly we don’t want to become so focused on cleanliness that we bring more harm than good to our bodies. Remember that millions of bacteria depend on our bodies for their home. When these bacteria are living in a symbiotic relationship with us, we have health. And when they have a good life, we do as well. But when the good bacteria are outnumbered by the bad bacteria, we have illness. An awareness to clean hands, foods and areas that support our mealtimes is great place to start.

For more information on Nutritional Therapy and scheduling an evaluation at Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley, visit our website: http://www.easterseals.com/dfv/our-programs/medical-rehabilitation/nutritional-therapy.html.

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Beyond the Nutrition Basics

By, Cindy Baranoski, MS, RDN, LDN

Earlier this month, I provided some introductory nutrition resources and tips for infants to children. Now as we continue to celebrate National Nutrition Month, we will look at the next steps to aid our children’s nutrition needs.

Photo by Nancy Kerner
Photo by Nancy Kerner

Seeking the help of a dietitian can be invaluable in helping to determine so many particulars about nutrition, especially if your child has specific needs. A dietitian can help with determining how much nutrition your child actually needs. Typically based on their age, weight, length or stature, sex, and activity, no two children need the same amount of nutrients.

Calories change with weight gain and length growth. They continue to change over time, and what your child needs today will not be the same in a month. Monitoring growth and diet is helpful, especially when your child is not gaining enough weight, or possibly gaining too much. It’s not necessary to count calories, so tools such as SuperTracker are not always necessary.

Using MyPlate Daily Food Plans are an easy way to ensure children are not over or under eating. When in doubt, asking a dietitian for some help can give you the basics on calories so you can monitor them on your own over time.

Protein is similar to calories, and will change with growth and age as well. Most every food contains some protein, and the amount needed is much less than most people would think. If your child is not the best eater, they may be getting enough protein, regardless. A dietitian can help you determine how much is needed, and how much is actually in your child’s diet now. They can also give suggestion on food sources that work for your child.

The government provides guidelines on vitamins and minerals, as well as essential fatty acids, but many conditions can change needs. Some medications interfere with absorption of certain vitamins, while vitamins can interact with some medications. Knowing this information, a dietitian can better guide with changes to help limit the interactions, and allow medications and vitamins do what they do best. Use of a supplement may be needed, and this can be a discussion with the dietitian, about which kind, brand, gummy, liquid, chewable, single nutrient, or multivitamin mineral supplements would be best.

Photo by Lauren Vitiello
Photo by Lauren Vitiello

Hydration is the last of the overlooked nutrients in the diet, and although most of us think we drink an adequate amount of fluid in a day, most often this is not the case. With infants most of their hydration comes from breast milk or formula, so no added fluid is necessary. With introduction of baby foods, hydration is still achieved as most baby foods are very watery. But as children reduce and eliminate these primary sources of nutrition, they are replaced with solids. Nearly all foods provide fluid, so we do get fluid from foods, but the body has to work to remove the fluid from the molecules it is bound to when the food is more solid in form. Drinking water is the best way to hydrate a body, and as a rule of thumb, drinking half your body weight in water is an achievable goal.

Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley offers exceptional Nutritional Therapy for anyone who feels their child is struggling with nutritional development. Our registered Dietitian/Nutritionist will first asses your child’s nutrition and then provided a individualized plan specific to your child’s needs.

Click here to learn more about this great service, or to schedule an appointment, call our intake coordinator at 630.261.6287.

For more information about Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley please visit EasterSealsDFVR.org.

Nutrition for Your Children

By, Cindy Baranoski, MS, RDN, LDN

Although March is National Nutrition Month, and March 11 is Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day, every day of the year is a nutrition celebration.

We eNNM_Logo_2015_hires_lg_r1at, drink, or are fed every day, throughout the day, in order for us to survive, grow and thrive. As adults we tend for forget just how important nutrition is for us, unless we are diagnosed with a nutrition related disease, such as diabetes, heart disease or cancer. For children, however, nutrition is the key ingredient in helping them grow and develop into the best they can be.

At Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley, parents are learning more and more just how important nutrition is to their child at a very young age, and these parents are becoming very proactive in this area, to the benefit of everyone involved in their child’s world.

Most people have a difficult time even knowing where to begin. Nutrition is a degree that can be earned at all levels, including doctorate degrees. Although the detail and level of understanding to receive a degree is pretty huge, it doesn’t’ take a degree to provide good nutrition for yourself or your child.

How can you even begin to delve into this science of nutrition? Start by keeping it simple. The government has done a lot of research, and MyPlate is one of the easiest websites to find daily food plans, menus, recipes, tips for nutrition, videos, games and more.

myplate_green

MyPlate is the easiest way to know how much food to eat in a day for optimal nutrition. It’s divided into food groups, and one of the easiest tools on this site is the Daily Food Plan. Depending on your child’s age, or if you know a calorie level you are trying to aim for, it will give guidelines on how much to eat from each food group to achieve this goal.

Another resource on MyPlate, is SuperTracker. This resource is easy to use and you can put information into it for analysis of nutrition for you or anyone in your family. It’s not completely accurate, but it is helpful to determine how many calories, protein, vitamins and minerals were included in that diet.

Infants and Toddlers

If your child is an infant, there are limited tools available that tell you what they are supposed to eat or drink every day. However, if you go to Gerber you have an opportunity to access general information or create menus specific for your child.

gerber

Based on your child’s developmental level, they may need to only drink formula or breast milk, or they might be ready to start solid foods. Gerber’s website tools are helpful because they are based on development, and not necessarily ages. The website is geared for Gerber products, but the menu system can really be helpful to see 7 days of what your child could be eating or drinking, how many times in the day and how to keep their diet balanced.

Top Ten List  For Nutrition for Children Over 1 Year of Age

  1. Keep your child on a schedule as much as possible.
  2. Do not allow your child to graze through the day. Most children eat 4-6 meals and snacks each day.
  3. If not an infant, offer three meals and 2-3 snacks a day, with 2-3 hours of time separating each of these eating times.
  4. Offer water between all meals and snacks.
  5. Ensure supported seating with mealtimes; the body should be at 90 degrees at the ankles, knees and hips. Be sure they
    Photo by McKenzie Burbach
    Photo by McKenzie Burbach

    don’t fall to the sides in a chair – it should provide support in all directions. The table or tray of their chair should be at a level their shoulders are not too high up and fatigue.

  6. Offer a source of protein, vegetable, fruit, grain and dairy at each meal. If they are an infant, this is not a rule.
  7. Meals are for nutrition, snacks are for extra food or drink, or an opportunity to practice more challenging foods.
  8. Be sure your child is stooling each day. Stools should be soft, easy to pass. Urine should be clear or light in color and often through the day.
  9. A good indication your child is receiving enough to eat and drink in the day is how well they sleep at night.
  10. When in doubt, speak to your child’s doctor or consult with a dietitian with who has skills with children.

Find a Dietitian in your area at Eat Right.org.

For more information about Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley please visit EasterSealsDFVR.org.