Thursday, September 29, 2011

Guest Post: Are you BPA Free?

By Angela A. Farris
BPA has been in the news for years. Articles focus on potential harm and health dangers of using products containing BPA. Should we really be worried?
BPA, or Bisphenol A, is an organic compound with properties used to produce clear durable plastics and strong hold resins. Current research reviewed by the National Toxicology Program at the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration found that low levels of BPA exposure could have potentially harmful effects on the brain, prostate gland, and fetuses, infants and young children.  BPA mimics the sex hormone estrogen found naturally in our bodies and can alter our hormonal balance. Disrupting this balance could affect a range of functions like reproduction, development, and metabolism. 
Individual state governments are working to ban BPA in baby bottles, but it is not currently banned on a federal level. The FDA is taking precautionary steps to reduce the exposure of BPA in our food supply and products, but BPA is here to stay (for now!).
In stores you’ll see reusable water bottles and plastic containers advertise ‘BPA-free’ prominently on the label.  If your plastic or canned good product doesn’t have this notification it likely has trace amounts of BPA. Some items in your home that might contain BPA are baby bottles, metal liners in canned food, plastic food or beverage containers, and most recyclables identified with the recycling number ‘7’.
Want to be BPA-free? Take these small easy steps to reduce your exposure:
1.       Replace plastic food containers with BPA-free containers. Try glass, stainless steel, or porcelain - not only are they BPA free; they don’t retain food stains like plastic.
2.       Re-heat leftovers on a microwave-safe plate or bowl; avoid microwaving all plastic. BPA is known to leach out of plastic when in the microwave.
3.       Try purchasing fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables versus canned goods to avoid metal can liners.
Will you take any precautionary steps to be BPA-free? 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Food Trends: Lipid Lowering Foods

A multi-center study including 351 people took a good look at dietary intervention and the ability to decrease LDL cholesterol.  David J. A. Jenkins of St. Michael’s Hospital and the University of Toronto and colleagues compared dietary interventions of a control diet and a portfolio diet for six months.  The control diet emphasized high fiber and whole grains and the portfolio diet emphasized soy protein, plant sterols, viscous fibers, and nuts.  Diets were randomized from June 2007 to January 2009 and counseling was delivered at routine dietary portfolio (two visits in six months) or an intensive dietary portfolio (seven visits in six months). 
Results showed that the control diet decreased LDL Cholesterol numbers by 8.0 mg/dL and the Portfolio diet decreased LDL Cholesterol by 24 mg/dL for the routine counseling and 26 mg/dL for the intensive counseling.
This research study proves a relationship with food, dietary adherence, and reduction of LDL Cholesterol.  When looking at the portfolio diet foods that were focused on were:
Soy protein
Soybeans, texture soy protein, tofu

Plant Sterols
Grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds
Also fortified in: margarine, OJ, cereal, granola bar

Viscous Fibers
“Sticky fiber” in oats, barley, beans, okra, eggplant

Almonds, walnuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, pecans, and pine nuts

As a dietitian, I am thrilled to see a study like this.  Depending on genetic history and cholesterol numbers, a dietitian can be very helpful in the treatment of hyperlipidemia’s.  Be an advocate for yourself.  At your next appointment, if your cholesterol profile is out of whack seek out a registered dietitian to assist with diet modification.  If you can decrease your cholesterol enough, you will not only avoid medication, but you will also avoid future coronary artery disease.  I have many clients who effectively change their lipid profile.  Clients are happy and their physicians keep sending clients my way.  Good luck and be well.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Guest Post: Introducing Kindred's newest Guest Blogger

As most of you know I am a big  fan of guest bloggers and am always looking for a way to communicate the right information to the Kindred Community.  I am feeling really excited to be able to introduce a new guest blogger.   Recently I met Angela Farris, a dietetic intern at the University of Maryland at College Park. I am excited for you to get to know her just as I have.  Angela will be appearing in guest blogs and helping out with some other very neat things with Kindred Nutrition and The Center for Intuitive Eating.  Check out her bio below and look for her first guest post September 29th.

Angela A. Farris Biosketch

Angela is a dietetic intern with the University of Maryland College Park. Her program emphasizes information management and communication enabling her to visit a variety of sites over the next year; including IT rotations at the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion and the International Food Information Council. Prior to starting her dietetic internship Angela received her MA in Human Sciences from Hood College and her BS in Human Nutrition and Foods from West Virginia University. She has worked in the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and at Cakes for Cause, a non-profit organization operating the social enterprise Moxie Bakery & CafĂ©. Angela’s interests outside of nutrition include reading, cooking, practicing yoga, and blogging about her internship rotations at You can also follow Angela on her journey to become a dietitian on Twitter @AngelaAFarris.

Join me in welcoming Angela to the Kindred Community

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Family Nutrition: Overweight toddlers and children: To restrict or not to restrict?

I was asked this specific question a lot in the last two weeks from clients, friends, and a physician group I work with.  We’ve all heard that our children are the first generation that will not outlive their parents.  Fifteen percent of children in the United States are considered overweight and another fifteen percent are at risk of being overweight.  There’s a lot of scary statistics out there and it's starting to cause some panic.
Here are my thoughts.  I feel strongly that it’s important to catch irregular eating, unhealthy habits, or weight gain in kids earlier than later.  When I say early I mean as early as two believe it or not. There’s a reason that pediatricians and dietitians recommend changing from whole milk to skim after the age of two, as brains no longer require the extra fat intake for development. 
If your child is in the toddler years or beyond and eats multiple servings of food, is ‘addicted’ to junk food, or there is concern of weight gain or excess weight for height,  it is time to initiate a change. Waiting can cause psychosocial issues in addition to putting your child at risk for heart disease and diabetes later in life.
To start, it’s important to take a true look at your child’s intake throughout the day. Does it seem excessive? If your child asks for more servings, is he truly hungry or is it habitual?  Are you certain your child knows what hunger or fullness feels like?  What do their meals look like? Do they eat fruits and vegetables or is his or his/her plate full of processed carbohydrates?
Once you take a good look at your child’s meal it’s time to initiate changes.  You can do this on your own or working with a dietitian.  An initial change I always recommend is to increase consumption of vegetables.  Non starchy vegetables are loaded with vitamins and minerals and are low calorie at about 25 calories for ½ cup cooked. If your child doesn’t like vegetables try a bunch until you find some he or she likes.  Make a rule that everyone at the dinner table must at least try everything on their plate.  If your child likes dipping sauces, go ahead and use that but monitor the portion size.  If you find that you’re consistently serving up quick meals that include processed foods, figure out a way to make a fresh spin off of some favorites.  There are many resources out there, to include websites and cook books. Training your child to eat can be a lot like the Ferber sleep method in my opinion.  Although it may be horrible while you are in the moment, it persistence pays off and it can be a beautiful thing.
Evidence Based Management of Child Obesity by the Department of Public Health at Oxford University includes six ideas to take into consideration with overweight or obese children.  I fully agree with all of them.
1)      Create a goal to maintain or gain appropriate growth weight slowly
2)      Teach healthy habits rather than restrict
3)      Sustain lifestyle activities
4)      Be aware that psychosocial problems have important consequences
5)      Behavioral treatments should be individually designed
6)      All treatments need to be accepted by all family member

If you are concerned about your child, start early.  The changes you initiate now will be important for the remainder of your child’s life.  Be a positive role model and help break this growing epidemic.  Have you had any experience with changing your child’s habits, diet, or lifestyle activities?  Let’s hear them. 

Breaking the cycle of childhood obesity

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Spotlight: Around the Plate Award- Nutrition Expert of the Year AND Blog of the year goes to....

I hope you all had a great labor day.  I had a wonderful one filled with friends and family.  I was especially excited when I was notified at the end of the weekend that my Ask Amy's blog was awarded Nutrition Expert of the Year AND Blog of the year through Around the Plate. 
Have you checked out Around the Plate?  It's a great blog that consists of many Nutrition Experts, Healthy Eating Champions, and Recipe Guru's.

Check out the other winners in each category here.

As always thanks to all of my fans who follow Kindred Nutrition's Ask Amy blog.  It's a passion of  mine and I especially love to compile blogs based off of your suggestions.  Have any nutrition questions that have been on your mind?  Email me at  and I'll get you the answers.

I hope everyone has a fantastic week!


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