Part I Diet and Nutrition:
From the inbox...
Q: Where do you find gum that does not contain dyes and preservatives?
A: Excellent question. And the answer is we have been chewing gum which absolutely is NOT free of artificial colors, preservatives or even aspartame. This one slipped under my radar because I wasn't thinking of gum as food. This just goes to show how difficult it can be for a busy mom to live preservative and dye free. We do our best, and so now I'll need to switch brands. Thank you for pointing this out.
A little research turns up Glee Gum, a natural gum made from chicle harvested from Sapodilla trees. Another is Xylichew, sweetened with Xylitol, a natural product proven to prevent cavities. Both are available from Amazon. I'll order both and see if one works for us. Reviewers seem to think Glee gum is very sticky and Xylichew doesn't seem to hold its flavor too long. We'll see...and I'll let you know.
Q: Where did you learn about Omega 3s and their effect on the brain?
A: I've heard a great deal about Omega 3s from a great variety of sources and I'm sure you have, too. As interested as I am in the subject, I'm never sure what to believe when it comes to diet and nutrition. The field seems prone to passing fads and overemphasis of nutrients due to real discoveries which then become a marketing blitz only to fizzle out. We have so much more to learn and understand about nutrition and the balance of nutrients in particular. I've found the best approach for us is to keep myself informed and then see what really works for my family. That is to say, I don't use Omega 3 supplements simply because our grandmothers as well as dietitians and learning specialists recommended it. I use Omega 3 supplements because I have seen for myself the difference they make in my children. Expert advice is all well and good, but our job as mothers is to apply this advice to individuals and we know those individuals better than anybody else.
That said, Here's an interesting video that was sent to me by author, Susan Allport.
Q: Which Omega 3 supplements do you use?
A: I use these for the little ones and these for the boys who can swallow a pill. I've heard from many that their kids don't like the chewable Omega 3s (my kids don't mind them). If that's the case, look to diet to add Omega 3s. Flax seed or flax oil are a convenient food source for Omega 3s.
Q: Do you have any tips for getting protein into every meal?
Breakfast Proteins: Besides the obvious eggs and bacon, yogurt is an excellent and convenient source of protein for breakfast. You can add nuts, fruits or seeds to yogurt for added protein. Also, peanut butter on toast is a great protein breakfast. Bananas and blueberries are sources of protein, too. Serve them with a whole grain cereal in milk. Even just a glass of milk rather than orange juice with pancakes can help concentration. Remember, the point is not to consume large amounts of protein, just to consume protein consistently.
Lunch Proteins: Besides the obvious ham and cheese, peanut butter or tuna fish sandwich, there are breads that contain protein. You might consider using these for vegetable sandwiches. Also, serve trail mix with dried fruit and nuts on the side rather than cheezits or teddy grahams.
Dinner Proteins: Chicken and beef are obvious, but less known sources of protein for dinner include beans and rice, mushrooms, cauliflower, and quinoa. Quinoa is a seed that cooks like a grain and can be added to soups, pastas, or used as a side dish. Add quality cheese to pasta rather than red sauces, or add meat to your tomato sauce.
Protein on the Go: Cheese sticks are a wholesome protein snack that fit nicely in a pool bag. Also, raw almonds are convenient and we've found them particularly helpful for stabilizing blood sugar. Trail mix works for this purpose, too. Pumpkin or sunflower seeds are also good snacks. And there are protein drinks. Bolthouse Farms makes a Vanilla Chai drink with soy protein we like, but you can also make your own protein drinks with whey powders at home. These are easy to take out in thermoses.