6 WAYS TO MANAGE YOUR SUGAR CRAVINGS

 

Eath produces the food your body needs! (1)

The last post I did on why sugar is not good for your body  elicited a lot of interest and questions from people on whether there are ways to manage sugar cravings in a healthy manner.

Before I explore ways of how to manage sugar cravings I thought I should mention a hard and cold truth about sugar .

Sugar has no nutritional value whatsoever,yes it does sweeten some foods and drinks  the craving for sugar is derived from the pleasure it triggers through the release of dopamine into our brain.

Sugar has no proteins,vitamins or minerals that the human being would need in order to  be healthy .

The danger with the added sugar we take in  is that it plays havoc with our metabolism and it also contributes to a lot of the lifestyle diseases we see on the rise.Everything from obesity,heart disease,tooth decay are related to consuming more sugar than our body needs.

Sugar gives you nothing but empty calories and consuming foods high in sugar and fats leads to nutritional deficiencies  as well as it affects the consumption of other healthy foods.This deficiency on certain nutrients then leads to deficiencies that compromise our health and leave our immunity exposed.

The way to stave your sugar craving is to look for healthy alternatives to sugar that give you more than the sugar high and are high in nutritional value.

1.Take a fruit and leave out the sugar in your hot beverages.

Instead of having your tea with sugar,leave it out and instead have a fruit with your breakfast.Not a fruit smoothie because fruits have sugar in them in the form of fructose and over consumption of sugar in the form of fructose is unhealthy as all excess fructose will get turned by your body into fat.

2.Make your snack choices healthy ones.

To stave off the hunger pangs when you are feeling low on sugar at 3 pm Monday afternoon,take a fruit instead of the afternoon mug of tea.

Note:Intake of fruits should be limited to about 2-3 in a day.

Nuts and seeds also make very healthy snack choices nuts  provide essential vitamins from the B group,Vitamin E and minerals like potassium,calcium and magnesium and they will leave you fuller for longer as they slowly get broken down and sugar gets released into your body in amounts your body can use.

3.Take note of your calories

Take your calories from whole grains,starchy root vegetables like sweet potatoes,grains,cereals and not from baked foods .When you make healthier choices about where you will get your calories from,these sources of carbohydrates as highlighted are also sources of other micro nutrients  that your body needs.

As you grow older your body needs less calories and what your body needed when you were 20 will change as you head towards your 30’s and 40’s when you become less active and your body’s metabolism slows down.

4.Take water

Sometimes the hunger pangs we think we have that force us to reach out for something sweet may actually be a sign from our body  that we a dehydrated.Pick up that glass of water instead of a doughnut ,a cookie or a fruit drink.

5.Make your  food choices healthy choices.

Instead of eating three large meals during the day,stagger your meals through out the day in small portions and make sure they are made up of foods from all  the major food groups,cereals/grains,milk and dairy,fruits and vegetables,nuts and seeds.By taking your foods from the natural sources you are ensuring your body is able to metabolize the food in such a manner that stabilizes your blood sugars through out the day rather than experiencing the highs and the dramatic falls that come with consumption of processed foods which are high in sugar and fat.

6.Get to exercise

If you are struggling with your sugar craving,getting physically active will help you mange those cravings as it forces you make more healthier food choices,take in more water and you will definitely have to take in more than sugar for  your muscles to get working and to be physically fit.

Exercising will force you to be more conscious of your food choices and it will lead you to healthier ones.

 

Managing your sugar cravings is not easy but it can be done if you know how sugar affects your body and brain you will make healthier food choices.To find out how your body and brain are affected you may want to read the previous post.

If you find this information useful or you would like me to address something you are interested in knowing more of,please let us know in the comments section.

 

 

 

WHAT SUGAR DOES TO THE HUMAN BODY

The truth is that sugar is a drug and you can addicted to it.

By now you know  that sugar is not good for you,yet every time you seem to try to go cold turkey and stay off it you keep coming back unable to let go off what can only be described as an addiction.You cannot have tea or coffee without it and you prefer calling your addiction a sweet tooth.

But do you have a sweet tooth or what exactly is it about sugar that makes life so much sweeter (pun intended) ?

Yet everywhere we look there is something sugary and sweet calling out to us and tea,coffee does not really taste the same without a teaspoon or two or maybe three of sugar.

We cannot tell exactly why tea in our sugar or tea hits such a sweet spot and many people swear that they cannot take tea without sugar .If you have a cup in the morning another at 10 am and another at 4 pm and with each cup you take about 2 teaspoons of sugar that equals to about 6-9 teaspoons of sugar,depending on how much you put in per cup/mug.

If you are a woman a total of 6 teaspoons of sugar daily  is recommended.

Now imagine you take a soda during the day,it is hot ,then you decide to take with you a fruit smoothie of about 4 different fruits as you drive to work,meet a friend for coffee after work and you each order for a slice of the moist carrot cake you were  told  is fresh from the oven,how many teaspoons of sugar do you think that will total to

It will equal to a  lot of teaspoons of sugar.

Sugar occurring naturally in food are  an energy source for the body’s cells .When we consume carbohydrates they get broken down by the enzyme carbohydrase which breaks down the starch in foods into sugars.

It is not just carbohydrates that contain sugar ,fruits  also contain sugar made up of two simple sugars sucrose and fructose.It is why making a habit of drinking fruit smoothies made up of 3-4 fruits daily is not a good idea while trying to mange your wait is not a good idea as in the final end it will get converted to sugar and any extra sugar you do not use your body stores it in the form of fat.

“It is better to eat your fruit rather than drink it.”

When sugars are added to food it is because they play an important role ,they add texture taste and color to baked food products .Sugar is added to yoghurt,to tomato paste and sauce for added as well to  balance flavor, and to o dried fruits as a preservative,to bread  act as an energy source for yeast as well as in tea coffee to add taste to these drinks.

Naturally occurring sugars are beneficial to your body,it is the added sugars that pose are not good.The American Heart Association recommends that you get your sugars from complex carbohydrates starchy  vegetables,whole grain breads, and other cereals because these foods take longer to digest and the release of sugar into your blood gives steadier sugar levels as they take longer to digest.

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends not more than 6 teaspoons of sugar for women and not more than 9 teaspoons for men daily.That is about 100 calories and 150 calories respectively for women and men respectively.

Sugar does play a role  in a healthy diet ,it is the the source of sugar and the over consumption of sugars from other sources that pose a problem to your health.When you over  consume a lot of sugary foods and drinks  your body experiences rapid spikes and falls in blood sugar levels.The rapid rises and falls of your blood sugars drives your pancreas crazy!

Blood sugar levels are regulated by insulin which is released from your pancreas.Insulin is a hormone that prompts your body cells to absorb sugar that the cells need to use  for their cell functions and the excess then gets stored as fat.When your blood sugar falls the pancreas prompts the release of the hormone glucagon that has the liver releasing the stored sugar for use by the body cells.

We live at a time when there has been an increase in the number of people living with Type 2 Diabetes and the onset of diabetes in Type 2 keeps going lower.A major cause of these could be the foods we are taking in,especially  foods high in  added sugars.Type 2 develops over a period of time  when the body is unable to use the  insulin it producees in the correct way.The body then becomes unable to respond to the insulin it produces and this prompts the pancreas to release more  insulin.This over production of insulin wears the insulin producing cells out and eventually the body stops responding to the insulin it produces and that is when Type 2 Diabetes is diagonised.

Type 2 diabetes at the outset can be managed with a healthy diet and physical activity but with time one will need to take tablets and maybe have insulin injections as well.

The reason why the over  consumption of sugary foods is discouraged is mainly because sugar plays havoc with your body’s metabolism. Occasional indulgence in a cookie or a slice of cake is okay but it should not become a daily habit.Management of your weight is  important as excess weight makes your body unresponsive to insulin which will lead to over production of insulin and eventually your pancreas will lose  its insulin producing cells which will lead to pre diabetes,then diabetes type 2 as your body loses the capacity to be able to produce and respond to insulin which is needed to regulate your blood sugar levels.

While it is very easy to avoid soda,cake,cookies,ice cream and other foods where it is obvious sugar has been added,there are other places where we have hidden sugars.

A good habit to start practicing is reading food labels ,as sugar gets hidden in commercially produced foods and the names used may confuse most people .Sugar in the food you buy from the store will be hiding with names like corn syrup,fructose,dextrose,maple syrup,fruit concentrate,caramel,molasses and many other titles.

Having struggled with kicking off sugar in my teens,I finally did so in my early twenties and I know how hard it can be to keep off sugar . Sugar is actually a “drug” and its consumption from other sources other than the naturally occurring ones releases the feel good hormone dopamine into your brain making you cry out more,more ,more.It is why it is so hard to give up sugar because we have already created neural pathways for this  pleasure habit and the reason why it becomes hard to give up. Just like learning a new skill is hard,we have to  create new neural pathways in place of the old ones by replacing our cravings for sugar with healthy ones like eating more fruits,nuts,drinking more water and taking pleasure from these healthier habits.

It can be done,and you can take your tea without sugar and enjoy it,have your coffee without sugar and thoroughly enjoy it and yes even your cereals do not need the sugar as well and the plain yoghurt actually tastes better when you add  fruits real fruits to it.

If you found this  article useful or  helpful,please let us know in the comments section .

WHY THE DEMAND FOR ORGANIC FOODS IS GROWING

Organic Farmers are HEROES.
Peter Wendt

If you follow the Organic Farmers Market in Nairobi which I have for a couple of years,you may have noticed that  there are now more places where they have organized for Kenyans to buy organic food as well as more  vendors,  which means there has been an increase in the demand for organic food from the Kenyan market.

You must have wondered about what all the noise is  about Organic farming and why suddenly there has been a surge in the demand as well as consumption of organic produce. I thought this post would be  helpful in helping us appreciate organic farming  as well as  see why the demand for organic food has grown.

Organic farming is a system of agricultural production that involves the cultivation of crops and the rearing of animals using natural ways.

Conserve Energy defines it as a process that involves the use of biological materials,avoiding synthetic substances to maintain soil fertility and ecological balance thereby minimizing pollution and wastage.With a world population that is more than 7 billion and a land size that remains the same yet it is fighting with encroachment from human settlement,the demand for arable land is on the rise and people are looking for all manner of ways to make the most of the available land and animal resources.

One of the ways unscrupulous people have found to get more from their land and animals in order to make a few quick dollars is to pump it with chemicals,pesticides as well as speed up the maturity of farm animals like chicken by injecting them with growth hormones.

The bottom line in all of these endeavors is not a concern for the people who will eventually buy these foods from the supermarkets,it is profit  greed that is the only driver for such practices that puts the lives of other  human lives at risk.

It is true organic food costs more , because of the work involved as it is a very labor intensive exercise.It is also true that you expose yourself to less risk if you choose to go organic.

About 4 years back,I lived on a farm in Nakuru where we grew vegetables and other crops I also took up some organic farming on the side as an experiment project as well as to keep me busy.

My crops of choice were potatoes,zucchinis,carrots , to prepare I read widely and found that potatoes do very well especially if you mix dried manure into the soil and so I went about asking for dung from the farmers that owned cows around where we lived.I got a lot of it as well as a lot of curious looks as to what I needed cow dung it for.

But the venture came with a lot of challenges as well.The area where we lived was infested with moles ,how to get rid of them without using chemicals?

And we set about looking for a mole catcher,they do not exist anymore by the way and before we found we had a village of molehills on the farm as well as lost a lot of potatoes.

Up until the time we harvested the potatoes and carrots I never used a single drop of pesticide on them and they did fairly well.They potatoes and carrots came in all manner of sizes and we lost some as well to pests,but I had done it ,grown something without use of a single pesticide or chemical.

The need for organic farming is driven by the need for more sustainable methods of farming  that ensure we will still be able to produce enough food 50 years from now on when the world population is estimated will be at more than 10 billion.

For those that have tasted organically grown fruits and vegetables you  agree with me that they taste better than what you get from the supermarket shelves.Eggs from free range chicken are also more tastier ,have a yolk with the must delicious yellow color   and just a bit smaller than the eggs  that you get at the supermarket.

We consume a variety of pesticides and chemicals from foods like chicken,beef and other dairy products as well as from fruits and vegetables .The chemicals from pesticides and other  drugs  like antibiotics used to treat these animals have found their way  into our food and we have started seeing resistance to the  most widely available antibiotics used to treat very common infections.

Scientists are having to work very hard to keep up with the microbial mutations  are now resisting the currently available antibiotics.

These resistance is leaving scientists and researchers worried as it means the increased resistance by disease  causing bacteria to these drugs will expose us to infections which currently available  antibiotics will not be able to treat.

The discovery of the latest antibiotic was reported this April and it was done by Canadian scientists,it was the first in antibiotic  discovery in 3 decades 30 years  and the drug is still years away from being available to the public.

The increasing public awareness on what is going on,increasing incidences of disease  and the effects of environmentally unsustainable  decades of farming methods have pushed organic farming  front and centre.

If you are in Nairobi, follow the Organic Farmers Market on Facebook to see where the market  will be next and get to interact with the farmers working hard to ensure we produce food in a more sustainable ad environmentally friendly manner than we are d right now.

Why is organic farming important and why should you care,I have a few reasons  to think about why organic matters and who knows maybe you may take it up or talk to someone about it then we have a  new generation  of organic farmers.We may even meet at the Organic market.

1.Buying organic foods  creates a demand in the market and  will push farmers to be more responsible especially  over the use of pesticides and other chemicals as they grow crops or rear their animals.This is already happening in some countries where consumers are demanding more responsibility over the use of drugs and pesticides.

In this way we are promoting a more sustainable model that ensures the earth is able to feed the future generations that  come after us.

2.Buying organic foods means that you get the foods fresh,these foods have not been treated with any preservatives or had nay additives added to them to lengthen their shelf life.

The shelf life of organic foods is  very short because of their very minimal  journey from the farm to your plate  which is what has encouraged the farm to fork movement  globally and has had people support local farmers by buying local foods.

3.Buying organic has helped  promoted the growth of agriculture as a means of livelihood especially among young people. Across the globe young adults are taking up agriculture and providing us with food.It has  helped stem the increase in the number of the unemployed,helped increase food production as well as seen technology revolutionize farming.Europe has seen the number of its youthful population taking up farming,you may find this article from The Economist really interesting.

In Kenya as well we have several groups on social media platforms talking nothing but farming.See how dailies are falling over themselves to provide information on farming especially in the Saturday paper .

Young people are going back to the farms to ensure there is food for the more than 7 billion of us.

4.Buying organic and consuming organic ensures you know where your food comes from,how it gets produced and what goes into the production process.You are  reducing your exposure to  the  chemical toxins that could put you at risk of developing certain life threatening conditions through the ingestion of chemicals that may have been used in their production ,processing or packing.

5.By buying organic you get to interact  with the farmers that grow your food and there are benefits to that.There is nothing like meeting the person or people that put so much work to ensure you do not go hungry and appreciating the work they do.Human interaction especially in an age where technology is taking over  how we socialize with each other,a conversation with another human being is always  a great way to spend the weekend.I think one of the reasons people in big cities like Nairobi are always angry and stressed is because we speak so little to each to other,yet we know  healthy relationships are part of living a fulfilled and healthy lifestyle.

6.Taking your children with you to the organic market for  grocery shopping and let them feel,touch,sell and taste food.As I mentioned in an earlier post  taking your children grocery shopping is a  way of getting them  involved in meal planning and ensuring they adopt healthy eating habits early in life.

They will get to know how to choose fresh ingredients,how fresh food looks like and most important they will learn to value the hard work of the people like farmers who work behind the scenes to make sure we get fed.

And just in case your children  hardly ever get to travel upcountry,they will know food does not grow in the supermarket :-).

7.Buying organic is an opportunity to increase the awareness on more sustainable forms of agriculture and hopefully this will lead to legislation by governments as well as  push them to develop policies that can protect as well as promote organic farming.

Do you buy or grown organic food?would you love to be featured on our blog,please get in touch with us.

As always your feedback,comments and suggestions are welcome.See you in the comments section.

 

 

 

 

4 SIMPLE WAYS YOU CAN LIVE MORE HEALTHY

 

Good food

Having listened to a lot of people share the challenges that come with losing weight or making a healthier choice of what they put into their bodies,I do find that a lot of them have the mistaken belief that to live healthy is somehow more expensive.

It is not.

It is also interesting to see that most people choose to eat out rather than carry lunch or a snack to work which I think is healthier because then you know exactly what has gone into preparing that meal.

Carrying lunch or a snack to work  was something I did when was employed some time back and the greatest motivation for doing so was because I got to save some of the money I would have used for lunch on something else like shoes or a handbag.

And no,I really do not mean that you should not enjoy lunch with friends and colleagues every now and then, you can .

 

To live healthy and to lose weight is affordable because we live in a country blessed with an abundance of healthy food.

When writing down meal plans for people who either want to adopt a healthier lifestyle or lose weight or manage any condition my first rule of thumb is to always get to hear from them what it is that they like eating .

Some of the questions I ask is what foods  they enjoy eating and how using those choices I can help them make more healthier choices.Getting to know other foods then enjoy eating helps me show them how they can incorporate healthier choices from the foods that are available to them and that they can afford.

That is how I come up with a meal plan.

The first thing in being able to lose weight or adopt a healthier lifestyle is to take stock of where you are and how you got there and a great tool that will tell you exactly how you ended up there is by keeping a food diary.

A food diary is a record of everything you eat through out the day,how often and in what amounts.It includes keeping track of what you ate for breakfast,lunch,dinner and any snacks in between.You need also to have an idea of how many tablespoons of oil you use in preparing your meals,how much margarine/butter and the number of teaspoons of sugar you are taking in.

A food diary can surprise you and just by looking at it you will be surprised at how much you really take in.With a detailed food diary a Nutritionist is able to calculate exactly how many calories you are taking in.

Now,back to discussing living healthy is not expensive and I will show how you can do that in just 3 simple ways.

1.Know where to shop

In Kenya we are blessed with an abundance of food and we are spoilt for choice when it comes to what we can eat and are willing to spend.You just have to know where you need to be shopping.

Vegetables and fruits especially come cheap and we have no excuse to not eat more of them .Sources of carbohydrates like rice,maize flour,wheat flour,traditional grains like millet and sorghum are  very readily available.You can get them at the supermarket,neighborhood kiosk or in the numerous open air markets scattered throughout Nairobi.

Toi market that is located on Ngong Road is a great place to buy vegetables cheaply and City Market gives you fairer prices on beef,chicken and fish fillets.Ngara Market and City Market just opposite the Aga Khan hospital will also give you a wide variety of fresh vegetables to pick from.

There are also the organic markets organized at various venues around Nairobi by the Organic Farmers Market   as well as farmers around Nairobi who do deliveries of their produce every week.

It is the sources of protein that make mealtimes more expensive but you  do not have to have beef,chicken,fish fillets  to meet your nutritional requirements for protein.More affordable sources of protein are legumes like  various varieties of beans,dried peas,omena(Lake Victoria sardines) offer youd  the proteins your body needs without breaking the bank.

Omena can be bought for cheap at Toi Market.

“Yes,good food does not have to be eaten with a fork.It is all around us if we are willing to make the right choice.”

2.Carrying lunch or snacks to work

Which do you think is easier,carrying lunch to work or buying food 5 times a week  from a restaurant ?

When you carry lunch to work then you have more choice over what exactly is in your plate and especially if you are losing weight then you need to know what it is you are putting into your body.

Having watched how our food habits have been changing over the years,I am happy to see the opening of more restaurants that are serving real food as well as the demand from Kenyans for healthier food rather than the choice of fries, deep fried chicken and soda  that was available some years back.

This demand has seen restaurants that are serving traditional Kenyan foods as well as foods from other cultures find a home as well as  enthusiastic foodies in Nairobi.

There has been an increase as well in the number of entrepreneurs setting up companies giving the Kenyan consumer more healthy food choices.

3.Learn how to cook

Maybe after reading the first two you thought how can I eat healthy when I cannot cook and I do not have time to learn?

You can learn how to cook by enrolling for a cooking class,one of my favourite Chefs on Facebook is Chef Raphael,he offers cooking lessons for groups as well as individuals.

If you cannot enroll for a class,but a cookery book from any of the bookshops,follow food bloggers   or watch the food shows available on TV or YouTube as well.

A quick search of this blog will give you some recipes,easy ones I promise using local ingredients that you will enjoy.

When you cook for yourself you get to experiment and once you get cooking you will be surprised at what you can whip up with simple ingredients and a sense of creativity.

4.Exercise

Eating healthy is only one side of the healthy living coin,physical exercise is the second side.

One of the most affordable ways of exercising available to anyone on planet earth is walking.Physical exercise is an integral part of a healthy lifestyle and every human being of whatever age will thrive with physical activity.

Physical activity also helps  reduce the risk  of developing certain conditions that may come with weight gain and it also helps improve physical as well as psychological well-being.

As always I love hearing feedback from readers,how are you living healthy or making more healthy choices,what has helped and what do you think I have left out from my list that has helped you and would help someone else?

Please share your feedback in the comments section.

 

 

HOW TO PREPARE HEALTHY SNACKS FOR YOUR CHILDREN

Snacking for children

A woman wields the  greatest  power over her household as she determines what gets eaten in her house ,she determines how healthy her family will be and most of us forget the power we have.You solely can  set the course over what kind of eating habits your children will carry with them through out their lives and well into adulthood.

As a woman many times I have found myself  asking this very simple question- ” why am I  here?” .

I don’t know if many others struggle with the same question ?This   feeling  that even though I may be doing very well in my career,business,relationships….I am not yet quite there.

It feels like we are in some kind of waiting room,you know like the one at the docotrs where you have to wait out your turn?

Hospital waiting rooms and waiting rooms of any kind are interesting places to get to see what people do when they have nothing to do but wait their turn.

Some are busy on their phones,reading newspapers ,magazine or a book or just people watching.

When you have children and have to take your children to the paedetrician,it is a great time to meet other mother,fathers as well though they are pretty rare.As a nutritionist it is also a time to see the kind of snacks children carry with them.Snacks are a great way to keep children  busy,their  very short attentions spans (15 minutes with my kids)means that they get bored pretty fast.They have very creative ways of keeping you busy as a parent with their trips to the dispenser pouring out cup after cup of water or making repeated trips to the bathroom to wash their hands.

Snack time is an opportunity parents can use to teach children to pick the healthy option rather than the one that looks tempting.Whether it is a hospital visit or packing snacks for school ,whatever snacks we put into their hands should more often than not be a choice that feeds their bodies and their taste buds as well.

Snack time is an opportunity to meet our nutritional requirements and growing children require more micro nutrients which are the vitamins and minerals than adults do.Giving them  a choice of fruits,nuts as well as vegetables is a healthy way of meeting their nutritional needs.

The trick to getting children eat more vegetables and fruits is to present it in a very attractive manner.

After the last post on the building blocks of your child’s nutrition some readers asked if I could give some ideas on healthy snacks they could give to their children .

Just before I share the suggestions I have  prepared I thought I should say some things to every woman who is doing her best to raise her children to eat better and have healthier habits.

A woman yields the  greatest  power over her household as she determine what get eaten and most do not  know it.You are the one that sets the course over what kind of eating habits your children will carry with them through out their lives.

A woman has the power to determine the kind of lifestyle her children,grand children and future great grand children will live.

A woman determines what ends up on the plates of her children,by the choice of the kind of foods she chooses to wean her child on, she is developing her child’s taste buds for healthy food .

The reason why we are told to wean children on a variety of natural foods is to develop their taste for nature’s goodness and not food from little  jars or boxes that is filled with a lot of sugar,salt and other additives and preservatives.

As much as possible try and develop healthy eating habits in your children as early as you can.

And even when you may have missed the opportunity earlier on,as long as they live under your roof you still have the power to change the course of their eating habits.

Children who develop healthy eating habits from an early age have fewer incidences of disease and hospital visits.They are more likely to perform better in school as well as socially.

You may want to read a post I did on why you should be reading food labels as well.

The foods that are great and healthy alternatives are foods you can pick from your local kiosk or grocery shop and when it comes to fruits,the best choices are the fruits in season,these offer you a fresh as well as cheaper alternative than those that are out of season.

1.Fruits

Fruits are best eaten  whole not blended.

Blending a few fruits for juice may seem healthy on the surface but fruits contain fructose a sugar and drinking too much fruit juice means  children while enjoying nature’s goodness in a glass of juice are also taking in too much sugar.

2-3 fruits daily are enough to meet a child’s dietary requirements .

Instead of blending 2-3 fruits to make fruit juice have your children eat the fruit whole,if it is an orange,slice it and let them have the orange.If an apple let them crunch their teeth  through the skin of the apple or let them peel the banana .Peeling bananas is a good way to develop your child’s fine motor skills as well.

As we live in the tropics,Kenya is never out of fruits,we enjoy a wide variety of fruits all year round,be sure to have your child eat at least 2 in a day by packing them as a snack for school and having another as an after school snack.

3.Salads

Salads are a great way for getting your children to meet their dietary requirements for  vitamins and minerals .

Making salads is a fun and easy way to get children to eat more of their vegetables.

Better still is if you use your own dressing,forget the one you buy from the supermarket that is loaded with preservatives,sugar and salt.Home made salad dressing are easy and tasty.

Try making them with some olive oil,freshly squeezed lemon juice ,black pepper,pinch of salt ,honey and use that dressing to toss your grated cabbage and carrot,or lettuce tomatoes and carrots.

Salads can be served for dinner or over the weekend and are a great way to get kids involved in preparing healthy meals ,lessons that they will definitely carry with them through adult hood and when they bring up their own children as well.

4.Nuts and seeds

Before you start giving your children nuts and seeds,ensure they do not have any nut allergies.

Cashew nuts,macadamia nuts are   favorites with most children , we also have peanuts(some children have peanut allergies)  we also have almonds,hazel nuts that are not produced locally and cost more but are also healthy choices and are stocked in a variety of stores.

Before packing nuts and seeds as a snack for children ensure they are past the age of 4 years and can comfortably eat them in your presence as they are a choking hazard for younger children.

There are also nut butters available and these nut butters can be used on bread,on sandwiches as well and are healthier than margarine as well as most commercially produced fruit jams.

5.Dried fruits

Dried fruits like sultanas,dates  and raisins are also good but not too much though as sugar is used as a preservative to lengthen their shelf life.These you can mix in with your favourite nuts to create some variety or added to breads you make at home and to cakes as well.

Salads can be jazzed up with some nuts,dried fruits and seeds like sesame seeds as well.

6.Sandwiches

Everybody loves bread(at least I thought so until we started thinking gluten was evil)

You may want to read :WHY YOU MAY NOT REALLY BE ALLERGIC TO GLUTEN.

You can make sandwiches from left over chicken and add tomatoes and with a simple simple dressing of olive oil and lemon you will have  a really delicious sandwich.You can add some crunch to it by first grilling the bread,rubbing some garlic clove on it and what you will end up with your children will keep asking for every time you have left over chicken.

One of my favorites as well as my kids is placing a slice of bread on a plate and layering it with thinly sliced avocado pieces  ,slices of  tomatoes  and topping it with a slice of bread then slicing the bread  diagonally into 4 cute triangular pieces.

You can come up with as many sandwich varieties as you like depending on what your family likes and as long as it is a healthy.Make your sandwiches  irresistible  by cutting them into fancy shapes using cookie cutters,your children will love them.

The secret to  getting it right with  sandwiches is to buy sandwich bread which is denser in order to hold the filling(s )and pick a healthy filling as well.

Fillings for sandwiches can be anything from fruits like avocado,tomato  to salads like guacamole or left over roast beef,chicken,turkey or tuna.

6.Making your own fruit yoghurts

A lot of the fruit yoghurts available in the market have a lot of sugar in them,a great idea is to buy  plain yoghurt and it with a fruit of your choice and pack it for your child  which they can have  as a mid morning or after school snack when they come back home.

Fruits that will give you a really great flavor when blended with yoghurt are strawberries,bananas,avocado,blueberries and just  one fruit per serving of yoghurt at a time .

A few years back I bought a popsicle maker and would often make popsicles with fruit yoghurt. The kids loved it especially when the weather was hot.

You may want to read :BENEFITS OF YOGHURT

A great way to ensure you do not have to push your children to choose healthy snack options is to always have a fruit bowl in the house,make sure its filled with fruits like bananas,oranges,apples ,grapes and by keeping a jar of nuts and seeds as well so that when the hunger pangs strike then they know where they can refill from.

If this post helpful,we would love to hear from you.It is readers like Wambui and everyone else who sends in their questions that keep us writing.

We may not always get it right all the time but when we can get it right 75% of the time when we pick a fruit over a packet of crisps then we are doing the right thing.

See you in the comments section and thank you Wambui!

LIVING WITH A CHILD WITH FOOD ALLERGY

Image from foodallergyfun.com

Red,puffy watery eyes, incessant itching that is accompanied by lots of sneezingand coughing.

That is what my son gets when he comes in direct contact with raw eggs.

…and that is s why we always have an anti histamine in the house

Allergic reactions to foods among children are  increasingly becoming more common.

A food allergy is defined as a toxic clinical reaction to foods or food additives that involves the immune system.

Your immune system then develops a reactive response to protect the body from this “invader”.

Some common food that cause allergic reactions include :eggs,cow milk,wheat and gluten,cheese,nuts and fish especially egg fish though you could develop an allergic reaction to almost any food .

Children with food allergies need to be informed of them early enough so they know what they can and cannot eat.

We let my son know early enough that he cannot have eggs ,he also cannot have peanuts or peanut butter either.

By letting our children know early enough we can empower them to be aware of their food choices.

It is also a good idea to let the school your child attends know just incase they may need some special dietary considerations.

Always have anti allergy medicine close by or take your child to hospital for treatment.

Doctorstv.com lists the symptoms to watch out for :

  1. Skin rash or hives
  2. Trouble breathing
  3. Wheezing
  4. Trouble swallowing
  5. Swelling on the lips,throat or any part of the body
  6. Diarrhoea
  7. Vomiting
  8. Coughing
  9. Red watery eyes
  10. Dizziness
  11. Fainting

Let your child know the importance of hand washing before mealtimes or snack time to prevent cross contamination.

Teach your child to say no to foods offered to them that they are allergic to,as that the only way to avoid food allergy.

A child or any person with food allergies also needs to avoid processed foods as much as possible as the preservatives and additives used may contribute to allergic reactions.

Some allergies may go away with time but some especially nut allergies you live with them for life.

Incase you suspect your child has a food allergy please visit a food allergy specialist.

 

 

INTRODUCING YOUR BABY TO SOLIDS

Weaning is a really exciting time for both mother and baby.

After 6 months your baby’s nutritional needs cannot be adequately catered for with just breast milk or formula.

That is why a careful choice  of first foods is important

Your little bubba at 6 months is  ready to be introduced to solid foods….gradually.

Breast milk should still remain the main source of nourishment for your baby but she needs some extra nutrients which is why t is very important to make informed choices on what the best foods for weaning your baby are.

You will find a lot of   ready made baby food,ignore them.

Jar of ready to eat baby food
Jar of ready to eat baby food

Nature provides some of the best foods for baby,remember too that you are also setting the foundation for  future food choices.

Always follow the lead pattern of your child when it comes to introducing solids to your baby,introduce a  teaspoon or two of just one kind of food at a time.

Sauteing  or steaming your baby food are the best methods when it comes to preparing your baby’s food.

Here is a guide on foods that are perfect starter foods for your baby.

Cereals

When introducing cereals to a baby when introducing baby porridge always make sure it is of a thin consistency and should be mixed with your breast milk/formula as cereals do tend to be pretty bland.

Cooked green baby bananas not the matoke variety are also a very common and easily accessible first food for babies within the east African region.

Because they are low in calories ,once cooked puree them and add some breast milk till you have a thin consistency your baby can swallow.

With time you can mix your bananas with vegetables like pumpkin ,peas,carrots in order to increase their nutritional value.

There is no need to add any sweeteners to your baby’s cereal at this point.

 

Fruit

This should be added when baby is already used to solids,most babies take to fruits like fish to water.

Fruits like pawpaw,bananas which should be really ripe then mashed  with a  fork and some breast milk/formula added to thin it out,also do try avocado.

Stay away from citrus fruits till your baby is one year.

Other fruits like apples and pears  can be introduced after 8 months need to be steamed to make it easier for your baby digest them.

 

Vegetables

Peas,pumpkin,carrots and even sweet potatoes are a great source of nourishment for baby during the  first months.

Cook then then strain or blend making sure you add milk to ensure your baby is able to swallow them.

stay away from strong tasting vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli till a little later when your baby has formed a consistent eating pattern.

Watch the  stool pattern of your baby  when you start them on vegetables and in case of any loose bowel movements or mucus in their stool omit it and try again after a month.

For further assistance i  can be reached  here.

WHY READING FOOD LABELS COULD SAVE YOUR CHILD’S LIFE.

We all know what the Kenya Bureau of Standards does ,which is not ensuring  unsafe and harmful food substances do not get  to the consumer.Remember the illegal alcohol drinks laced with methanol that by passed all the stringent measures put in place by the standards body,yes that is how efficient we are.

In 2007 there was an article published in the Daily Telegraph that linked eating sausages with an increased risk for cancer.Reason for this was that an ingredient added to sausage meat and burger meat posed a risk to humans,the article can be found here.

Between January and July of tha year,the paper had published articles highlighting the dangers of food additives and preservatives especially for children and the risks it exposed them to.

Now in Kenya with food safety not being a major concern for the standards body and with the country lacking a strong consumer awareness movement,we as individuals and parents need to take the health and safety of our children into our hands.

We need to be more keen and informed in the choices we make especially in regards to processed foods.

Some of the ingredients used in processed foods have a wide range of effects especially on children and they may range from hyperactivity,lower IQ to putting children at risk of cancer.

Some countries in Europe are already calling for the banning of some of these food preservatives and ingredients , companies like Nestle are already working on using  naturally occurring flavourings and colorings.

In addition Europe’s food safety body EFSA carries out continuous risk assessment and evaluation of risks along the food chain and communicates the same to consumers.

In Kenya that is what we lack,that is why it is very important to arm ourselves with knowledge and information that will enable us make more informed choices .

Some of the ingredients you need to look out for are listed below and are from an article in The Daily Telegraph that equated their effect to that of leaded petrol.

Artificial flavorings to avoid,sourced from the Daily Telegraph of the UK

CLEANING UP MY PANTRY,ARE YOU?

Kenya is  seeing an unprecedented rise in the number of lifestyle diseases with everything from the number of cancer cases,diabetes and high blood pressure on the rse.Alot of it has been blamed on the way we have changed our eating habits and now have more processed foods in our diets than ever before.

Unofficial estimates put the number of people being diagnosed with cancer at 82,000.Grim fgures if i may say so myself.

We seem to think that with increased affluence anything out of a can or box is good enough,forgetting that the best food is always the one that is fresh.

I have therefore gone through the list of items in my kitchen pantry and  am getting rid of a few things that though they form a staple of Kenyan kitchens aren’t that good for you.

The first item to go was Royco,there are a lot of things that are packed into this green plastic can that is coded as flavorings and that aren’t too good for your body or your children’s.

Image of food with additives from www.telegraph.co.uk

Instead I have bought a spice rack that includes everything from Oregano ,cummin seeds,fennel,cloves and black pepper and  am using more  ginger and garlic,my kitchen now wafts with smell that would make any connoisseur of Italian or Indian food proud.

 Trust me if you incorporate herbs and spices into the preparation of your meals,your family will never ask to eat out again.The smells wafting from the kitchen will be enough to have everyone at the table before the food is even ready.

Next was the flavored brand of drinking chocolate that was recently introduced into the market.

Soda is no longer welcome in my house anymore,I can make my own juice.

The bottles of ketchup and tomato sauce have to go to,making tomato sauce s easy i am going to be making my own sauce from now own.

The additives and preservatives  added to most of these every day items to enhance their flavour or increase their shelf life have been shown to result in long-term effects that may range from mild reactions like rashes and some have even been suspected of causing cancer.

From now on before you eat anything out of a can or bottle,read the label of ingredients,does it contain anything you do not recognize?then put it back on the shelf and get something that later in life your family will thank your for.

 Are you getting rid of anything unhealthy from your pantry too?

Here is an article by the Daily Telegraph in the UK calling for Banning of Food Additives

HOW AFFLUENCE AND POVERTY FUEL CANCER RISKS

Back in the days when nutrition was a relatively new area of specialization ,about 10 years ago,everyone thought a nutritionist belonged either in refugee camps,hardship areas or hospitals .

Most of the Kenyan population still thinks so but a growing number of people are now realizing that a nutritionist is key towards achieving overall good health.

A number of them are being sought by all and sundry to advise on how to live healthier lifestyles.

Sadly every Tom,Dick and Harry now claims to be a nutritionist,even a gym instructor.

Affluence and better incomes in Kenya have brought  a lot of things with them,and one of the most significant is dietary changes.

A lot of people when they get more money to spend on food items,the firs thing they think about is diet change.Processed and packaged foods are thought to go well with their elevated socio- economic status.

You will then find a lot of people having lots of processed foods like cereal-out-of-a box,sausages,hot dogs and all manner of packaged foods ,loaded with preservatives just because they can.

At the bottom of the economic pyramid are the very poor who for lack of choices will eat everything and anything of what is available.

Both of these groups have one thing in common,they  suffer malnutrition for different reasons.

While one group suffers because it lacks knowledge and not choice,the other suffers from lack of choice because of limited economic resources.

Both of these groups need nutritionist but for different reasons.

Lets us start with the higher end of the socio-economic bracket,the upper middle class and the über rich .

What do they have for breakfast?lots of processed foods because they have more money to spend they  shun porridge,arrow roots,sweet potatoes and go for high-end cereals,preserved meats just because we can afford it or don’t have time to prepare healthy meals.

Most of the cereals mask hidden sugars in all it forms from sucrose,glucose to fructose.

Kenya is seeing an increase in the number of lifestyle diseases like diabetes which previously were unheard of and the patients are getting younger by the day.

It is all because of the hidden sugars available in some of the foods we are giving our children.

Am sure we never read the labels..right?

Next on that list is preserved meats that are loaded with preservatives to lengthen their shelf lives as well as to appear attractive.

The most common preservatives used is sodium nitrite that  gives  preserved meat its fresh looking color.

Its use has been associated with increased cancer risk and especially that of leukemia and brain tumors in children and young infants.This is according to a study done by the American Association for Cancer Research which also linked  the use of this preservative as a leading cause for the increased risk of pancreatic and colorectal cancers.

But did you know you can make your own sausages from minced/ground beef ?well that is a recipe for another day.

Now on the extreme side of the socio- economic ladder are people who for various reasons and especially economic ones cannot afford to eat well-balanced meals.

So what do they do,they settle for fast foods like fries which have been cooked in oil that has fried tonnes of chips before, the oil has literally decomposed and turned color.

Which is always a bad sign,it should be thrown out.

But how many fast food joints throw out their deep frying oil after  a few uses?

If you walk into most informal settlement in Kenya you will meet enterprising men and women frying up potatoes and  little doughnuts and this are especially attractive to young children.

Most of them use wood to cook but just so that they do not use as much fuel as they should and to save on costs ,they pile plastics to get the right temperatures at which to fry their foods.

The result..obnoxious foul smells from the burning plastics and we all know the toxicity of these substances and how they increase cancer risks.

This group of people is especially liked by the manufacturers of soft drinks and other carbonated drinks that are loaded with sugar,preservatives,artificial color and all manner of chemicals that when conusmed in high amounts are increasing Kenyans risks of cancer development.

Now for both groups of people I would suggest re-education on the basics of what is healthy and what isn’t,both of them have the means and ability to be able to live well on their budgets with the food available without resorting to some lifestyles that are increasingly shortening our lifespans and increasing medical costs.

Let us arm ourselves with the knowledge that is available,seek medical advice from medical practitioners and especially consult a nutritionist if you are in doubt as to whether what is on your plate is good for your body.

Most government hospitals and private ones too now have nutrition departments .We should make use of these men and women who either for free or for a small fee can take us back to the basics of good and healthy meals.

NB:Some nformation on the risks of sodium nitirite has been sourced from www.naturalnews.com