February 16, 2012

"Kid Food" in the Pediatric Rotation

I’m in my Pediatrics rotation now at a Chicago hospital and it is fabulous!  I never really imagined myself working with children, but what I love the atmosphere in the hospital;  there is a lot of importance placed on being gentle with the patients and their parents and we do so much education in order to help the kids remain healthy at home.  The majority of the parents I see are highly motivated to make positive changes that will affect their child’s health.  Secondly, I am absolutely fascinated by the interesting conditions that the children present with.  Today, I was remembering which part of the brain is the parietal lobe and what the difference is between the pituitary and pineal gland function.  Of course I've learned these things, but I just don't get a chance to use the information on a daily basis - so enthralling to me. Treating diseases is just different when you are dealing with a person who is very small, fragile and growing; very unlike the predominantly older, male Veterans that I usually work with. 

I have been lucky enough to be able to do “rounds” with the medical team of doctors, nurses, speech therapists, physical therapists and occupational therapists during this rotation.  I have also spent a day with the lactation consultant as one day in the Cystic Fibrosis clinic.  Its great seeing how dietitians work as part of the medical team.  Nutrition is so important to the health of our patients. 

 In honor of my time with the kids, I am going to start presenting some more information on “kid foods”.  This is a touchy subject – people always get offended when I go there…..but it’s really important!  I’m just going to say it:  our kids don’t need to eat chicken nuggets, soda, sugar cereal, chips, and fast food every day.  I took some (secret) pictures at the grocery store for you to prove my point.  Today, I am comparing yogurt to soda.  Please keep in mind that I eat yogurt every day, but I check the labels like crazy and I often use plain yogurt and mix in fruit on my own.  Below is a comparison of Coke vs. yogurt:

Note the calories in the yogurt are higher, understandably, but check out the sugar!  31 vs. 39 is way too close for comfort for my taste.  I prefer to choose varieties of yogurt that are 24 grams of sugar maximum.  Yogurt and other foods are marketed as health foods when they are more comparable to junk foods.

Not all yogurts are created equal.  A plain yogurt will still have 17 grams of sugar (in the form of lactose); that’s your base.  Anything above that is added to sweeten.   Yogurt has some great qualities:  probiotics, protein, calcium, potassium, vitamin D.  You just have to be careful with massive amounts of added sugar and the “kids” yogurts are often the worst!
Just a general suggestion:   beware of cartoon characters, bright colors, and products marketed towards children.  They don’t need “kid food” – they just need whole, healthy foods without a bunch of added sugars and colors.  Start with the yogurt, check your labels, and give your kids just plain, wholesome “food”.  

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