Hi, I am Ally Gottfried, a registered dietitian here in Roseburg. I have worked at the Community Cancer Center for the past eight years and also have experience in hospitals, pediatric health and community settings.
I think it’s safe to say that there is a lot of nutrition misinformation out there these days. My aim is to provide evidence-based answers to your nutrition questions. “Evidence-based” means there is solid scientific research to support recommendations.
If I have a suggestion that is anecdotal, it will be clearly stated as such.
Q: I’m confused now about organic produce. I thought it was supposed to be better for us than the regular stuff and yet I heard there’s no difference? It’s more expensive, too.
A: This is a question we’re hearing a lot right now in response to a recent Stanford University review of past research reports on the nutrition content of organic food. It found that generally, organic produce did not have a greater vitamin content than your regular store produce. However, the report did not really address the pesticide issue.
Many people choose organic foods to reduce their total intake of organophosphate insecticides. For others, it’s the taste factor. Organic foods often have more flavor compared to regular produce. It’s truly amazing.
As far as the cost goes, yes, some of the organic foods are more expensive. What I would do is to look at the foods you eat the most. Try and buy them in organic form if they have a high pesticide content.
For example, in my family we eat a lot of apples. Those are top of the list for pesticide content, so we always choose organic. Zucchini, on the other hand, tends to be lower in pesticides, so we buy the regular variety and save our grocery dollars for the apples.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture sets limits for what the government deems a safe level of pesticides in fruits and vegetables. The Environmental Working Group, a sort of watchdog group of scientists and researchers, develops a yearly list of fruits and vegetables with pesticide levels that are not safe.
Included on the 2012 list are the following, from most to least pesticides found:
3. Sweet bell peppers
6. Imported nectarines
11. Domestic blueberries
Q: How do I get more fruit into my kids? It can be really difficult to get them to eat it.
A: First, well done on trying to get your kids to eat a healthy diet.
For some children (and even some adults), eating a piece of fruit is just too much effort. For little kids, eating a huge apple can be daunting. I know we might not think about it sometimes, but their little mouths really can’t open that wide.
One thing that really helps is to cut the fruit up, peel it, if necessary, and put it on a plate in plain sight. Try this with a nice, juicy apple or orange and you will be surprised at how quickly it all disappears. Another way is to have your kids make a “fruit face” at snack time. You can use blueberries for eyes, sliced banana for hair, an apple slice for a nose and whatever else you have for a mouth. You can use this idea for getting more veggies in, too.
Remember, it’s always better to eat your fruit and not drink it. Juice tends to have a higher sugar content and doesn’t have the healthy fiber that you would get with a whole piece of fruit.
Q: I heard that eating oatmeal for breakfast was healthy, but I find myself really hungry around midmorning. Do you have any suggestions?
A: Good for you for trying to eat a healthy breakfast.
Oatmeal is a great way to start the day with good carbohydrates and soluble fiber, which is great for helping to lower high cholesterol. However, because it is a carbohydrate, it can get digested and absorbed fairly quickly. Try making the oatmeal with milk instead of water or adding some yogurt to it. The protein from the dairy will slow down digestion and keep your tummy occupied for a little while longer.
Q: My 12-year-old daughter is on the swim team and is very conscientious about what she eats. At school she will choose a salad for lunch or fruit. After school she has swim practice and by the end of the afternoon, she is exhausted. What should she be eating to give her more energy?
A: It is important for growing children to get enough calories to fuel the body’s need for growth and development. In addition to calories, children need a balance of protein, fat and carbohydrates. For a child who is actively involved in a sports, the timing and the composition of the food is important. First, I would suggest that your daughter expand her lunch diet beyond salad to include a good protein source and more complex carbohydrates. For example, a turkey or chicken sandwich or even a good old peanut butter and jelly. Carbohydrates are the body’s primary fuel source, stored in the muscles and liver. Eating carbohydrates a few hours before a swim practice will help stock her muscles’ supply of energy.
If possible, give your daughter a light snack of protein and carbohydrates about 45 to 60 minutes before the practice. For example, a low-fat yogurt with granola or a small banana and carton of milk. After the practice, a few graham crackers with peanut butter and milk would be a good recovery snack and, it’s hoped, not interfere with a balanced supper.
With any sport, don’t forget fluids. Dehydration not only makes us feel lousy, but also really affects performance.
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