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How to prevent food poisoning

Many of us are aware of the recent nationwide recall of peaches and other fruit due to the potential of bacterial contamination.  Although thankfully, no illnesses have been reported so far, I’d like to take this opportunity to refresh our knowledge about ways to avoid food borne illness or food poisoning.

 
According to The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), food poisoning affects approximately 1 in 6 Americans every year. Often it results in relatively mild symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea and vomiting that resolve within a day or so. However, food poisoning can also lead to more dangerous and even deadly outcomes, which is why food safety is so important! 
 
So how should we protect our family from food borne illness?   It’s pretty easy!  Just remember 4 basic steps:  clean, separate, cook and chill!

Gluten intolerance or low FODMAPs?

Despite test results that show no evidence of their children having neither any detectable allergies to wheat nor any signs of celiac disease, many parents choose to have their children follow a gluten-free diet.  This is because of convincing stories of how gluten (a protein found in wheat and other grains) seems to cause their kids to have belly aches, nausea, bloating and a variety of other symptoms.  

For years, this was hard to explain without a scientific explanation.   Gastroenterologists like me had a hard time supporting families who wanted to follow gluten free diets, without a good “medical reason”.  Then, in 2011, researchers from Australia conducted a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, rechallenge trial in nearly 3 dozen patients (none of whom had celiac disease or wheat allergy), all of whom described worsening symptoms when unknowingly ingesting small amounts of gluten.  The results of this study described a condition termed, “Non-celiac gluten intolerance”.    It was after reading this landmark study that many physicians, including myself, began to validate parents’ concerns about gluten being the culprit behind their children’s gastrointestinal (GI) problems.

But then in 2013, just as word of non-celiac gluten intolerance was gaining popularity amongst physicians like me, the exact same group of researchers from Australia published a follow-up study on a similar set of about 3 dozen patients.  The findings of this 2nd study showed that instead...

Does your child have a food allergy or food sensitivity?

“Every time my child eats, his belly hurts. I think he must have a food allergy. Can you help us?”

Countless times have I heard this from parents of children worried about foods being the cause of their child’s gastrointestinal (GI) complaints. Some families wonder whether their child should start a “gluten-free” or other type of dietary change. More often than not, families have already tried a few diets before meeting with me.

Parents considering these types of elimination diets need to be aware of a few key points:
The difference between “food allergy” and “food sensitivity”:

Public Comment Period on Food Label Changes Ending Soon

Time is running out if you want your opinion to be heard when it comes to the FDA’s proposed changes to the iconic food label that we’ve all come to rely on when buying packaged foods. 

This is a big deal.  For those of you who haven’t heard, highlighted below are the key proposed changes:

  • Require information about the amount of “added sugars”.  A review of this was discussed in Dr. Thekke Karumathil’s blog a few months ago.

  • Remove the “calories from fat” label

  • Update serving size requirements

  • Present “dual-column” labels to differentiate “per-serving” and “per-package” calorie and nutrition information

  • Only require the declaration of amounts of 4 nutrients (vit D, calcium, iron, and potassium).  No longer will nutrients like Vitamin A and C be required, although manufacturers may declare them voluntarily.

  • Refresh the format to emphasize calories, serving sizes, and percent daily value.

Here's what these changes would look like:

How to eat more vegetables

Did you know half of your plate should be from vegetables? Here are some ways to get more vegetables into your family’s meals and snacks.
 
1. Experiment with a new vegetable each week or each month!

Check out your local farmers market or produce aisle for something new and seasonal. Search the web or your favorite cook book for ideas on preparation, and don’t be afraid! Find recipes with some of your other favorite flavors or styles and you may just find your new favorite vegetable.

2. Get sneaky

  • Pureed peppers, zucchini or carrots can be “snuck” into tomato sauces for pasta or pizza. Not even the pickiest eater will notice!
  • Cauliflower, carrots or sweet potato can be steamed and pureed into mashed potatoes or a casserole.
  • Have a ...

How to make healthy substitutions

This week for National Nutrition Month, we featured how to make healthy substitutions to your cooking techniques. Easy swaps can help reduce calories, fat, sugar, and sodium from your diet without noticing a change in flavor.
 
We demonstrated this by featuring our Low-Sodium/Low-Fat Banana Bread recipe. Many of you loved the taste better than higher sugar, higher fat versions! You can halve this recipe to make 1 loaf. I have made this recipe using 1 cup Greek yogurt in place of the buttermilk and vegetable oil. You could make this gluten free by using a brown rice flour or gluten-free flour blend!

Also, see below for some other tips on how to slim down your favorite foods without sacrificing flavor:

New nutrition labels, same healthy eating advice

We all know that as a nation, we are getting bigger and heavier. Worse still, our future - our children- are becoming obese and unhealthy at increasingly younger ages. For decades, the scourge of obesity was blamed on a high calorie, high fat diet. Turns out, we have probably been doing it wrong all these years and our bulging waistline attests to this colossal failure. Research and the medical community now have increasing evidence that the real villain of the story is a very sweet little molecule called fructose. Fructose is what gives us the sweetness in table sugar (sucrose)…also in brown sugar, honey, agave, and of course, high fructose corn syrup. Call it by any name, but sugars are dangerous to our health. Fructose is addictive, much in the same way as alcohol and illicit drugs are. In fact, sugar (fructose) metabolism closely replicates alcohol metabolism except for the acute effects on brain. Sugar has been likened to alcohol without the buzz!

You may already have heard about First Lady Michelle Obama’s work with the FDA which has led to newly proposed changes to nutrition labels on packaged foods. The amount of sugars, specifically, “added sugars” will be part of that new label. I am not implying that a zero added sugar diet will be the panacea for the pandemic of obesity and ill health. We still need to eat healthy and exercise right. There is no magic pill, no startling new advice. Remember what our grandmothers used to say:
 

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