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Battling the Bathing Suit Blues?

March 5, 2014 by  
Filed under J.Bright

By Jennifer Bright

As I sit in my home office, wearing comfy sweats and slippers, the thought of putting on—worse yet, trying on—bathing suits terrifies me. I’ve tried to maintain my weight this winter, but the fitting-room mirror is likely to tell a different story.

Here are some terrific weight-loss tips that doctors who are also mothers use themselves. These women are so super busy that if a tip works for them, it’s bound to be good. I discovered these tips—and hundreds more—while interviewing for the new book The Mommy MD Guide to Losing Weight and Feeling Great.

“I recently created my own diet. I call it VEGLY. I eat as many servings of vegetables, eggs, grapefruit, lean meats or Lean Cuisines, and yogurt as I want. If I stick with that all day, I earn a treat: a glass of beer or wine or a small dessert. I’ve lost six pounds so far!” —Amy Baxter, MD, a mom of three, the CEO of Buzzy4Shots.com, and the director of emergency research, Scottish Rite, of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, in Georgia.

“After my son was born, I worked with a personal trainer. He gave me a simple piece of advice that has really helped: Don’t eat any carbs after 7 pm. I try not to eat at all after 7 pm, but if I do, I’ll have something high in protein, such as a piece of cheese or a hardboiled egg.” —Shilpa Amin-Shah, MD, a mom of two and an emergency physician and director of the recruiting team at Emergency Medical Associates in Livingston, NJ.

“I have a very long commute. Because of this, I ‘live’ in my truck several days a week, driving to and from some rather isolated areas in the Appalachian Mountains. Sometimes, after a hard day of working and driving, I’m almost tempted to pick up a slice of pizza and a bag of chips at a gas station on the way home. A trick I use to eat properly on the run is what I call my “cooler diet.” I put everything I want to eat for the day in a nice, roomy cooler. If it’s not in the cooler, I don’t get to eat it—no questions. So that means I don’t get to eat the chocolate that’s everywhere around me at work, or the yummy-looking cream-filled doughnuts that one of the nurses brings in from the doughnut shop for breakfast. I pack my cooler the night before work with lots and lots of whole and nutritious foods and beverages—apples, pears, oranges, and cut-up veggies with low-fat dip. A couple of bottles of water and some unsweetened tea. A container of yogurt, some string cheese, and a bag full of nutritious trail mix. A box of low-fat granola cereal. I pack as much food as I can fit into my cooler. The only rule I have is that the food I pack must contribute to my overall good health and support a healthy weight.” —Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH, a mom of three, a family physician, and the coauthor of The Mommy MD Guide to Pregnancy and Birth, in Lexington, Kentucky.

“Want to ‘lose’ 10 pounds in an instant? Sit up straight, pull your shoulders down and back, and arch your back to get ‘cheerleader butt.’ By pulling your shoulders down, your neck looks thinner, and with a C-curve in your lower back, your thighs and tummy look thinner. Voilà, you’ll look 10 pounds slimmer.” —Jennifer Hanes, DO, a mom of two, an emergency physician who’s board certified in integrative medicine, and the author of The Princess Plan: Shrink Your Waist, Expand Your Beauty, in Austin, TX.

About the author: Jennifer Bright is a mom of two, cofounder of www.mommymdguides.com and coauthor of the Mommy MD Guides books, including The Mommy MD Guide to Losing Weight and Feeling Great.

10 Tips for Reducing Stress and Managing Picky Eaters During Holiday Meals

December 17, 2013 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

by Mommy MD Guide Jennifer A. Gardner, MD

Now that food-focused holidays are here, here are some tips for helping picky eaters and reducing mealtime stress. With a little planning, a day focused on food can be fun, not frustrating!

  • Emphasize to your child that these holidays are about family, not food. Reinforce that no food requirements or expectations will be placed on the child. This allows your child to enjoy the family celebration, instead of worrying about the meal.
  • Be sure there are one or two items on the table that your child will enjoy, but do not cater to the picky eater (this could be bread and butter, milk, corn, etc.). If you will be a guest, offer to bring a side you know your child will eat.
  • If family members frequently comment on your child’s eating habits, gently explain, “We are working on expanding Jane’s food repertoire and therefore we are not making food-focused comments during meals. We would really appreciate it if you could follow our lead!”  (This includes all iterations of “just try this,” “eat more,”  “clean your plate,” and “you are wasting food” comments.)  Along this line, be sure you let your child enjoy the holiday and avoid pressuring or commenting on food to your child.
  • If the thought of eating with all the grownups overwhelms your child, consider a kiddie table, but do not feed children before the big meal or serve them different food.
  • Let your child fill his/her own plate, if old enough. This gives your child control and reduces food anxiety.
  • Children learn a lot from parents. If the holidays stress you, it will stress them. Relax and set a good example.
  • A great way to encourage children to enjoy the meal is to have them help prepare for the meal. This could be help with meal planning, cooking, setting the table, or shopping.
  • A child that comes to the holiday table hungry (but not starving) is more likely to eat, so don’t overdo the appetizers.
  • If you have not already, teach your child to say “no thank you,” instead of “YUCK” to avoid a critical eye cast on your child by family members!
  • While we normally recommend that children take one bite of all new foods served, avoid this at holiday meals. (This “one bite rule” allows children to  put any food they don’t like into a napkin. It is best to avoid this around guests that may not be aware of this rule and be offended.)

Teach your child that at mealtime it is socially acceptable to:

● Pick and choose from what is offered that meal or snack.
● Decline certain foods, once a bite is sampled.
● Choose to eat only one or two food items.
● Leave uneaten food on the plate.
● Take more of one food even if other food is left uneaten.

It is not acceptable for your child to:

● Make an issue or scene around food refusal.
● Request food that is not on the table.
● Fidget or fuss during meals.

It is not acceptable for you to:

● Bribe, guilt, force, or cajole your child to eat.
● Discuss what your child is eating (or not eating!) or focus the topic of food at meals. (This one is hard at holiday meals, when everyone comments on the food.)
● Withhold dessert based on not eating a proper amount (whatever you think this is).

Dr. Gardner is a mom of a three-year-old son, a pediatrician, and the founder of an online child wellness and weight management company, HealthyKidsCompany.com, in Washington, DC.

Want to read more blogs by Mommy MD Guide Jennifer A. Gardner, MD? Here’s her recent blog about Halloween safety tips.


Maine Pumpkin Spice Bread

December 5, 2013 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

by Mommy MD Guide Jennifer A. Gardner, MD

There are so many great versions of pumpkin bread, but this one is truly delicious. Just the right amount of sweetness and spice. This bread is actually moister and more delicious the next day, so it’s a great make-ahead recipe. This recipe will make 2 loaves, 4 mini-loaves, or 24 muffins, and freezes exceptionally well as loaves or individual slices.

One 15-ounce can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling, which has added spices)

4 large eggs, room temperature

1 cup vegetable oil (such as Smart Balance or canola)

2/3 cup water

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup packed brown sugar

3½ cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1½ teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼–½ teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon ground cloves

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease/flour two 9- x 5-inch loaf pans (glass pans work best).
  2. In a large bowl, mix the pumpkin, eggs, oil, water, vanilla, and sugar.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix the remaining ingredients with a whisk, making sure there are no lumps.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and stir with a wooden spoon until just blended. Do not overmix!
  5. Bake on the center rack for approximately 60 minutes (it may take longer), until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean with no batter or crumbs. Watch that the top does not begin to burn (if it starts to brown, gently lay a piece of foil over the pan.)
  6. Place 2 large sheets of aluminum foil onto the counter. Allow the loaves to cool in the pans for 5 to 10 minutes, run a knife around the edges to loosen, then invert onto a large dish or chopping board. Immediately invert onto the aluminum foil. After 10 minutes, wrap it in foil if you like moist bread, or wait until it’s cool to the touch if you prefer drier bread.
  • For a healthier, but still delicious bread: Replace up to half of the all-purpose flour with white whole wheat flour. Substitute ½ cup oil with ½ cup applesauce. Reduce the sugar to 2 cups.
  • If you like nuts, add ½ to 1 cup chopped nuts.
  • If you like raisins, add ½ cup (I like golden raisins in this recipe). Dried cranberries work well, too!
  • This recipe can be doubled by using the 29-ounce can of pumpkin puree and doubling all other ingredients.
  • If you don’t have all of the spices, you can substitute 2½ teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice.

Dr. Gardner is a mom of a three-year-old son, a pediatrician, and the founder of an online child wellness and weight management company, HealthyKidsCompany.com, in Washington, DC.

Want to read more blogs by Mommy MD Guide Jennifer A. Gardner, MD? Here’s her recent blog about Halloween safety tips.

Does It Matter Which Fruit You Eat?

December 2, 2013 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

by Mommy MD Guide Ayala Laufer-Cahana, MD

Every decent guide for healthy eating encourages us to eat more fruits and veggies. Why? An abundance of fruits and veggies has been associated with lower risk of a whole range of conditions, from hypertension, to diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and metabolic syndrome.

Up-to-date guidelines don’t just encourage us to eat more plants; they suggest we eat a rainbow, they urge us to eat a variety of fruits and veggies. The latest superfruit trend has also hyped several supposedly high performers from the plant kingdom, touting their assumed powers above other humble, non-exotic varieties.

Does fruit choice matter? Should we eat what we like, what’s affordable and available, or should we carefully select specific, health-promoting fruit?

Two new studies, just published, address this question. Let’s take a look.

Quantity or Quality?

When it comes to reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes, some fruits are better than others, concludes a study in the British Medical Journal. The researchers pooled the findings of three large studies, following the diets and diseases of 185,000 people over 12 years. About 12,000 people developed diabetes during that time, and while people who ate more fruit also usually made other healthy lifestyle choices (such as exercise and eating fewer calories), after controlling for all these, the researchers found that specific whole fruits, especially blueberries, apples, and grapes, were associated with lower risk of diabetes, while other fruit, such as strawberries and cantaloupe, less so.

Fruit juice, though, didn’t confer the same protection. Greater fruit juice consumption was linked with greater risk of diabetes.

The other study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, looked at fruit variety and coronary heart disease. This study followed a cohort of about 120,000 people for more than 20 years, during which about 6,000 developed heart disease. After controlling for other variables, this study found that the quantity of fruit was more important than the variety. The people who ate the most fruits and vegetables had a 17 percent lower risk of ischemic heart disease. But quantity aside, some fruits and veggies, such as citrus fruit and green leafy veggies seemed to matter more—as long as quantity was maintained.

Superfoods and Miracle Foods and Plain Old Apples

A miracle, by definition, is something that happens very rarely (if at all). But nowadays, superfruits and miracle foods are ‘discovered’ weekly, and incorporated into processed foods and plastered with health claims promising eternal life.

Plants are very clever biochemical machines; it seems like there are many more mysteries within their cell walls that we have yet to discover, and the more research we do, the more benefits we find. (The opposite can be said of the Western, processed diet; the more we explore its effect, the more harm we find.) Not to take away from acai, blueberry, and chia, most fruits and veggies, once studied, become super. The love-of-my-kitchen tomato was thought to be poisonous and evil, but is now a superfood because we discovered its health-promoting lycopene.

It very well might be that certain fruits’ and veggies’ benefits are more targeted to certain conditions, but since our understanding of this is still limited, I’d stick to a simple plan: Eat more fruits and veggies and aim for variety, any variety. As long as you don’t confuse whole fruit with fruit juice, and don’t consider potatoes and corn a major veggie, I think you’ll be okay. Diet as a whole affects health—profoundly—but eating the latest fad miracle fruit, sensationalized by the media, is not likely to make much of a difference. Sorry, but shortcuts are improbable.

Bear in mind, superfruit is a marketing—not a scientific—term, invented by the food industry for the sole purpose of selling products.

Here’s my prediction: the fruits and veggies you like and eat anyway might have their moment of fame, and be rebranded as superfruit once studied, and you’ll be able to say you believed in them all along.


Dr. Ayala is a pediatrician, mother, artist, serious home cook, and founder of Herbal Water Inc., in Wynnewood, PA. Dr. Ayala is known for her extensive knowledge of nutrition and food, as well as her practical approach to improving health and preventing obesity and disease.

Want to read more blogs by Mommy MD Guide Ayala Laufer-Cahana, MD? Here’s her recent blog about salt.

Justification for a Family Vacation–and Great Disney Deals from Pixie Vacations!

October 25, 2013 by  
Filed under J.Bright

by Mommy MD Guides blogger Jennifer Bright

This is the third and last blog in a series on Disney World travel. Yes, I’m in a Disney frame of mind! I’m always either planning a trip, on a trip, or scrapbooking a trip. My life is one big Walt Disney World Vacation! (And below you’ll find some great Disney deals from my friends at Pixie Vacations.)

Writing these blogs got me thinking: What’s my justification for a family vacation? I believe that happy memories are the glue that holds us together. I’ve seen firsthand how my sons made great leaps in maturity and also intellectually on our family trips. It was on a Disney trip when my older son really “got” the idea of reading. He went from barely reading to noticing words and language everywhere, thanks to Disney signs that are everywhere. As my kids get older, they express more and more that they don’t get to spend enough time with me. On a trip, I’m focused on them 24/7, and we all love that.

According to a study conducted by Kelton Research, quality family time increases while on vacation, and both parents and children say they’re more likely to learn something new about one another during this time. The study found that family vacations made people more excited (77 percent), relaxed (75 percent), silly (68 percent), calm (54 percent), and affectionate (54 percent). That sounds so great that I can hardly wait until our next family vacation!

And now about those deals!

Play, Stay & Dine at Disney World & Save Up To $600

Booking Dates:
October 8 – December 31, 2013

Travel Dates:
For Stays most nights January 5 – March 5, 2014

Walt Disney World vacation packages are here for 2014 travel.  You can save $600* on your family vacation by booking this offer.  Here are the details:

Purchase this Walt Disney World Vacation now through Dec. 31, 2013 for stays most nights Jan. 5 – March 5, 2014 at select Walt Disney World Resort hotels. Save $600* (based on a family of four) on a 5-night, 6-day Plus Dining Disney Vacation Package at select Disney Moderate, Deluxe and Deluxe Villa Resorts. Or, save $400* (based on a family of four) on a 5-night, 6-day Disney World Vacation Package Plus Quick Service Dining at select Disney Value Resorts.

Booking Window:
Oct. 8 – Dec. 31, 2013

Travel Window:
For stays most nights Jan. 5 – March 5, 2014

Don’t delay! With savings this huge, rooms will fill up fast! If you are interested in this offer contact Pixie Vacations today.

Save Up To 35% – Select Walt Disney World Resort Hotels

You can save up to 35%* at select Walt Disney World Resort hotels with this offer.

Booking Window:
Book Oct. 8 – Dec. 31, 2013

Travel Window:
For stays most nights Jan. 5 – March 5, 2014 and March 14 – April, 12, 2014:

Save up to 35% at
Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resorts,
Disney’s Beach Club Resort Villas,
Disney’s BoardWalk Inn & Villas,
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge (standard/pool view rooms),
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa,
Disney’s Polynesian Resort,
Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa,
Disney’s Old Key West Resort,
Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Disney’s Wilderness Lodge (standard/woods view)

Save up to 25% at
Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort,
Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort,
Disney’s Port Orleans – Riverside
Disney’s Fort Wilderness Cabins

Save up to 20% at
Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort,
Disney’s All-Star Music
Disney’s Pop Century Resort

How to Book:

Contact Pixie Vacations
Call 678-815-1584
Email: Info@PixieVacaitons.com
Get a Quick Disney World Quote

Disney World Christmas 2013 vacation packages from $118 per person

Spend the Holidays at Walt Disney World with this special vacation package offer from our friends at Pixie Vacations.

Booking Window:   10/10 – 11/18/2013
Travel Window: 12/18 – 12/25/2013
You must stay the night of the 18th, you can extend past the 25th based on availability.

Package for 5 nights / 6 days at select Disney Value, Moderate, or Deluxe Resorts
and get a FREE Disney Water Park or DisneyQuest Ticket for each person in your party.

This Exclusive Holiday Season Disney World Vacation Package Includes:


  • Accommodations
  • Magic Your Way Base Ticket
  • Disney’s Plus Dining**
  • A Free DisneyQuest or Disney Water Park Ticket

Spend Christmas at Walt Disney World.
Available Disney Resorts for this Disney Holiday Special Vacation Package are:



To Book:

Click this link to get an online quote: Christmas at Disney World Vacation Quote
Ask about packages available in other resort categories and for other lengths of stay.

Phone: 678-815-1584
Email: Info@PixieVacations.com

Get a Disney Vacation Quote Now For Your Travel Dates.

Note: I was compensated by Pixie Vacations with a Mickey Mouse Santa Hat and Minnie Holiday headband. However, I love talking about and planning Disney World vacations and feel passionate about helping families make magical memories and I would gladly have written it anyway!

Bio: Jennifer Bright is a mom of two sons and coauthor of The Mommy MD Guide to Losing Weight and Feeling Great. Next to her home in Bethlehem, PA, Walt Disney World is her favorite place on earth!

Catching Up with Melina Jampolis, MD

October 3, 2013 by  
Filed under J.Bright

by Mommy MD Guides cofounder Jennifer Bright

I have one of the best jobs in the world. I get to meet and talk with fascinating people and share their tips and experience with other moms to help them lead healthier, happier lives. Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with Melina Jampolis, MD. Dr. Jampolis is one of those people who does it all—so well. She’s a mother, physician, author, and entrepreneur. Here’s our recent chat.

How did you decide to specialize in physician nutrition?

When I finished my residency, I became very disillusioned with the practice of medicine. I felt that I spent 90 percent of my time putting patients on medications. I was making pharmaceutical companies money, but not doing a whole lot to impact patients’ health.

I took a position doing physicals at a weight-loss clinic, and I suddenly discovered that by helping people learn more about nutrition and better  manage their weight, I could profoundly change people’s health—and their lives. It was a “light bulb” moment for me.

Your book, The Calendar Diet, looks terrific! How did you come up with the idea for it?
I took some time to think about what I do that’s most successful in helping people to lose weight. I realized that it’s my month-by-month coaching, where I talk with people about the challenges they face at different times of the year and we brainstorm ways to meet those challenges.

Plus, I look at ways that you can work with the seasons to make weight loss easier, such as eating fruits and vegetables that are in season and combating winter cravings in a satisfying way.

I combined these healthy eating tips with cutting-edge exercise ideas, such as high-intensity interval training. The Calendar Diet isn’t a fad diet; it’s a lifestyle.

Your Dr. Melina Bars look great; I love that they have no trans fats or HFCS. Can you tell me more about them?

As a busy doctor, I find myself constantly suggesting that busy people eat protein bars as between-meal alternatives. But I couldn’t find the perfect bar on the market to recommend!

So I went to a food science lab and explained the bar I wanted to create. After months of trying different formulations, we came up with a great snack that keeps hunger at bay and blood sugar levels stable. The bars contain no trans fats or artificial sweeteners. My son loves to eat them too!

My coauthor and I are big believers in the importance of omega-3 fatty acids. I see you recommend Omax-3. What makes it unique and recommended?
While it is not always true with supplements, with omega-3s, you get what you pay for. Omax-3 has both purity and potency. For purity, it’s a pharmaceutical-grade, easy-to-swallow soft gel dietary supplement that delivers the highest omega-3 purity levels available

For potency, Omax-3 delivers 91 percent pure omega-3 content, as compared to many over-the-counter omega-3 capsules, which deliver only 30 to 50 percent purity—and mostly fillers.

Omax-3 also has a unique ratio of EPA to DHA, which has great health benefits. For example, it’s been shown to help reduce inflammation, an important contributor to diseases including diabetes, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, skin aging and heart disease, as well as maintain healthy triglyceride and cholesterol levels.

It’s ironic that I’ve spent much of my career taking people off of the medications and supplements that they were taking, but omega-3s—in the right purity and potency—can really make a difference in people’s health.

What are you looking forward to in the future?

I’m very excited about the concept of food as medicine. I look forward to learning more about how foods work on a cellular and molecular level. I’m also interested in the idea of nutrigenomics, which is learning more about gene-food interactions. We are moving toward people being able to have more personalized nutrition recommendations. This will help people to learn the optimal diet for them. That is really going to take “food as medicine” to the next level.

Answers about Vitamin D

September 24, 2013 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

by Mommy MD Guide Sonali Ruder, DO

Q: I was recently diagnosed with vitamin D deficiency. How can I get more vitamin D, and are there any foods that I should be eating?

—Lyz from N.Y.

A: This is a great question because vitamin D deficiency has become more prevalent in recent years. Just last year, the National Center for Health Statistics published data showing that 33 percent of Americans were at risk of vitamin D deficiency or inadequacy based on serum blood levels. Vitamin D is sometimes referred to as the “sunshine vitamin” because our bodies make vitamin D naturally from sun exposure to the skin. Exposure to ultraviolet rays specifically triggers the conversion of cholesterol in the skin to vitamin D3, a form of vitamin D. We’ve all been taught to use sunscreen to prevent the harmful effects of exposure to UV rays, but all of this sunscreen use has led to another problem—vitamin D deficiency. Sunscreen blocks the absorption of UV rays; correctly applied sunscreen reduces our ability to absorb vitamin D by more than 90 percent.

Most of us recognize vitamin D as being important for bone growth, which it is. Vitamin D aids in the absorption of calcium, helping to form and maintain strong bones. When you don’t get enough vitamin D, it puts you at risk for diseases such as rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. That’s why the government started fortifying milk with vitamin D in the 1930s—rickets was a major health problem at the time. But vitamin D is not just important for healthy bones—it actually has several other important functions in the body, including maintaining a healthy immune system and modulating proper cell growth. Recent studies have linked vitamin D deficiency to cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, autoimmune disease, and several types of cancer.

So how much vitamin D do we need? Currently there is a lot of scientific debate over what the optimal amount of vitamin D is. The official Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) in adults is 600 International Units (IU) per day and 800 IU for those over age 70. But many groups including Harvard’s School of Public Health are recommending much larger amounts based on the most current research.

What are the best ways to get an adequate amount of vitamin D? The best way is through exposure to sunlight. Just 10 to 15 minutes of sunlight exposure can provide 3,000 to 20,000 IU! The problem is that the amount of vitamin D that we get from sun exposure varies considerably, depending on several factors, including geographic latitude and skin color. Sunlight is generally weaker in northern latitudes, leading to less vitamin D synthesis. Also, people with darker skin tones generally need a lot more sun exposure to synthesize vitamin D because melanin reduces the skin’s ability to produce vitamin D from sunlight. Of course, it is also important to protect your skin from the harmful effects of sun exposure, which leads to millions of cases of skin cancer every year in the U.S.

To further complicate the issue, there are relatively few natural food sources of vitamin D. The best sources are fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines, and mackerel. Canned fish generally has more vitamin D than fresh. Small amounts of vitamin D are also found in egg yolks, beef liver, and some cheeses. In fact, a new analysis done by the USDA found that eggs contain 64 percent more vitamin D than the last time they were analyzed by the government in 2002. This increase is probably due to changes in the diet of chickens by egg producers. In addition to natural food sources, many cereals, milk, and dairy products are also fortified with vitamin D. The U.S. also mandates the fortification of infant formula with vitamin D. Mushrooms also can be a source, especially if treated with UV rays during growth. Here are some specific levels taken from the N.Y. State DOH website:

Natural Sources:

Herring: 1,383 IU per 3 ounces

Salmon, canned: 530 IU per 3 ounces

Cod liver oil: 450 IU per teaspoon

Mackerel: 306 IU per 3 ounces

Oysters: 272 IU per 3 ounces

Shiitake mushrooms, dried: 249 IU per 4

Sardines, Atlantic, canned in oil: 203 IU per ½ cup

Tuna, canned in oil: 200 IU per 3 ounces

Large egg: 41 IU (new data)


Fortified Sources:

Tofu: 120 IU per 1/5 block

Cow’s milk: 100 IU per 8 ounces

Soymilk: 100 IU per 8 ounces

Orange juice: 100 IU per 8 ounces

Cereal: 40 IU per serving

If you are concerned that you are still not getting enough vitamin D through sun exposure and food sources, you can always take a vitamin supplement. Most multivitamins provide about 400 IU of vitamin D.

So what’s the take-home message with vitamin D? Vitamin D is very important for the body, and the more we learn about it, the more true this seems to be. If you’re concerned about vitamin D deficiency, consult your physician and get tested. Try to get brief periods of sun exposure daily, but after 5 to 15 minutes, make sure you apply sunscreen. To get the rest of your daily needs, incorporate natural food sources into your diet and, if needed, add a vitamin supplement.

Dr. Ruder is a mom of a two-month-old daughter, an emergency physician at Coral Springs Medical Center near Fort Lauderdale, FL, and a recipe developer and blogger at TheFoodiePhysician.com.

Want to read more blogs by Sonali Ruder, DO? Here’s her recent blog about the importance of eating breakfast.

Brace Yourselves: Cold and Flu Season Is Just around the Corner

September 18, 2013 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

by Mommy MD Guide Jennifer Gardner, MD

The autumn color show arrives soon, but with it comes the misery of cold and flu season. Both illnesses are caused by viruses that spread quickly from October through May, but the flu is typically much worse and lasts much longer than the common cold.

For some, flu means a respiratory illness so powerful that it keeps you in bed for a week or more. For others, it can mean a hospital visit. And for the most unfortunate, it can mean death, so prevention efforts must be taken seriously. Those at highest risk are young children, adults older than 50, and individuals with a chronic illness or weakened immune system.

The flu virus changes each year, so even if you’ve been exposed to it before or received a previous vaccination against it, you are still at risk for flu this season.

How Do You Tell the Difference between a Cold and the Flu?

Cold: Gradual onset (over days) of symptoms including hacking (productive) cough, sneezing, runny nose, nasal congestion, sore throat, and excess mucus production. (Fatigue, headaches, and body aches are rare with colds and, if present, are only mild.)

Complications: ear infection, sinus congestion, or sinus infection

Flu: More abrupt onset (over hours) of the same symptoms, but also high fever (lasting several days), chills, dry (unproductive) cough, severe headache, body aches, weakness, extreme fatigue, vomiting, diarrhea, chest pain, and chest congestion. Sneezing, stuffy nose, and sore throat are rare.

Complications: bronchitis or pneumonia

Can You Treat the Cold or Flu with Antibiotics?

NO. Each is caused by a virus, which is not killed or affected by antibiotics. Once you catch the flu, your best option is to monitor the symptoms and treat them with the tools available—antiviral flu medications can help, but these are best taken within 48 hours of onset. Check with your physician to make sure that these medications are suitable for individual members of your family.

Soup, plenty of fluids including warm tea with honey, over-the-counter cold medicine, humidifiers, saline nasal sprays (for congestion and stuffiness), salt water gargle (for sore throat), cough drops, and rest provide the remaining tools. Never give a child medications containing aspirin. Always check cold medications for acetaminophen (Tylenol) before giving additional Tylenol for fever.

What Doesn’t Work?

  • Antihistamines (these treat the runny nose, watery eyes, and sneezing associated with allergies, but have the exact opposite effect with cold and flu symptoms by drying out mucous membranes)
  • Nasal decongestant (temporary relief followed by worsened rebound congestion)
  • Cough medicine (Most are not particularly effective unless they contain codeine. I recommend that you let kids cough to expectorate mucus unless it is preventing sleep.)
  • Not eating (Turns out the old adage “starve a cold, feed a fever” is not sage advice!)

Should I Stay or Should I Go?


GO to School or Work

FEVER (child should have no fever for at least 24 hours without a fever-reducer before returning to school) NO FEVER (less than 99.6º oral) or mild   fever in a child who is otherwise active (less than 101º oral)
Productive, deep, or uncontrollable cough Nonproductive cough
Sore throat (very painful, difficulty swallowing) Mild sore throat
Less than 24 hours on antibiotics (if prescribed) More than 24 hours on antibiotics (if prescribed)
Thick, green or yellow nasal discharge Mild runny nose
Moderate to extreme fatigue Active or just mild fatigue
Flu Mild common cold
Vomiting or diarrhea


Remember, if you send your child to school with mild symptoms, be sure to send along hand sanitizer with instructions to use frequently, especially after coughing, sneezing, or handling a tissue. Your child should also be reminded to cough into the crux of the elbow, not the hands.

Prevention Is the Best Medicine!

The flu virus spreads many ways: directly by coughing, sneezing, or personal contact and indirectly by touching something harboring the virus and then touching your eyes, mouth, or nose. Viruses can remain infectious for more than 2 hours on surfaces such as phones, doorknobs, water fountain nozzles, desks, and tables!

Below are some proven methods for avoiding the flu virus.

  1. Wash hands regularly: Washing hands regularly and keeping hands clean is one of the best ways to avoid catching the flu and transmitting the virus. Make sure to have everyone in the house wash his or her hands for at least 20 seconds (the time it takes to sing Happy Birthday twice). Sanitizing hand wipes and gels work well too.
  2. Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth: Cold and flu viruses are often spread through contact with these mucous membranes. Kids do this much more frequently than adults, so keep an eye on them.
  3. Use the crook of your elbow to cover coughs or sneezes: After using a tissue, throw it away, and wash your hands as soon as possible. This applies to everyone in the house.
  4. Don’t go to school or work sick: Whenever possible, stay home, and keep your kids at home until symptoms are gone for at least 24 hours.
  5. Clean work and home surfaces regularly: Computer keyboards, books, binders, desktops, phones, and pens can all harbor 21,000 germs per square inch. Compare this with a toilet that contains 49 per square inch. Keep some disinfectant wipes around to eliminate these infectious agents on a regular basis. Have your kids take sanitizing gels or wipes with them to school.
  6. Get flu shots for you and your kids: Flu vaccine is typically available between October and December, the earlier the better. Contact your healthcare provider to determine if you and your kids should get a shot. If so, you may be able to get it at some pharmacies.
  7. Stay healthy: Get your needed sleep (at least 7 hours), eat healthy amounts of fruits and vegetables, drink plenty of fluids (60 ounces of water per day is recommended), limit your stress, and stay physically active.

What If a Classmate Appears Sick?

Unfortunately, there is little to do if it does not violate school policy. But I recommend that you teach your child to walk away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (most viral organisms do not travel more than 3 feet), and provide sanitizing alcohol for your child to use frequently.

You can also teach your child to wipe surfaces with alcohol wipes or gels during the cold and flu season (desks, lunch tables, computers, borrowed pens). And of course, being up to date on all immunizations (flu, whooping cough, measles) can give you piece of mind.

Dr. Gardner is a mom of a three-year-old son, a pediatrician, and the founder of an online child wellness and weight management company, HealthyKidsCompany.com, in Washington, DC.

Want to read more blogs by Mommy MD Guide Jennifer Gardner, MD? Here’s her recent blog about making sure your kids eat healthy meals at school.

Breakfast is the Most Important Meal of the Day

September 12, 2013 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

by Mommy MD Guide Sonali Ruder, DO

We’ve all heard the old adage, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” but how many of us really follow it? On weekdays, I’m usually rushing out the door with only a cup of coffee to sustain me until lunchtime, by which time, I’m usually starving. Of course, I’ve always heard about how important eating a good breakfast is, but I never really thought it was a realistic goal for my lifestyle.
So why is it important to eat a nutritious breakfast? Studies show that people who eat a good breakfast end up eating fewer calories throughout the rest of the day. Eating a good breakfast keeps you feeling fuller longer so that you will avoid overeating later in the day. Although you may think that skipping breakfast will help you lose weight by cutting calories, it actually increases your risk of obesity. Eating breakfast boosts your metabolism, which makes you burn more calories throughout the morning rather than storing them.

Eating breakfast also helps boost your intake of important nutrients such as vitamins and minerals. People who eat breakfast are more likely to eat a healthier diet overall, including less fat and cholesterol, which is good for your heart and helps to maintain a healthy weight. Also, eating breakfast gives you more energy, which translates into increased concentration and productivity throughout the morning.
So what exactly constitutes a healthy breakfast? A good breakfast includes a balance of complex carbohydrates with protein, fiber, and just a small amount of fat. This combination will keep you feeling full for many hours as opposed to the high-carbohydrate breakfasts that we sometimes grab in a rush, such as muffins, bagels, and sugary cereals. These foods give you a short burst of energy, but in no time, you’ll be left feeling tired and hungry all over again. These are the components you want to include in your breakfast:

• Whole grains
• Lean proteins
• Low-fat dairy or soy products
• Fruits and vegetables

If you include foods from all of these categories in your meal, you will be eating a healthy, well-balanced breakfast. Need some examples? Here are some specific examples of healthy breakfast ideas that are quick and easy to prepare:

• Bowl of whole-grain cereal (watch the sugar content) with berries and skim or soy milk
• Whole-grain toast with peanut butter and sliced apples
• Whole-grain waffle topped with almond butter and sliced strawberries or banana
• Bowl of oatmeal with fresh or dried fruit and/or chopped nuts (apples, walnuts, and cinnamon are a great combination; another good combo is blueberries and almonds)
• Whole-grain toast with low-fat cottage cheese and sliced peaches or pineapple
• Parfait made with layers of fat-free Greek yogurt, fresh fruit, and chopped nuts or whole grain cereal
• Smoothie made with strawberries, blueberries, bananas, fat-free yogurt, and flaxseed
• Whole wheat pita topped with low-fat cottage cheese or part-skim ricotta cheese and sliced tomatoes; serve with fresh fruit or a glass of fruit juice on the side
• Whole-grain English muffin with lean ham or turkey, reduced-fat cheese, and sliced tomato
• Homemade breakfast burritos (see recipe below)

My Jump-Start Your Day Breakfast Burritos are a hearty and nutritious meal to jump-start your day and set you on the right path for healthy eating all day long. And the best part is that if you’re not a morning person, you can prepare a whole batch of them ahead of time and freeze them. Then when you want to eat one, you just unwrap, pop it in the microwave, and take it to go!

Jump-Start Your Day Breakfast Burritos
Makes 6 burritos
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon chili powder
6 whole eggs plus 6 egg whites
½ cup shredded reduced fat Cheddar cheese
6 (9-inch) whole grain wraps (I used La Tortilla Factory Smart Delicious Whole Grain Soft Wraps)
¾ cup salsa
¼ cup sliced scallions
Hot sauce (optional)

Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and pepper to the skillet and season them with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, for 7 to 8 minutes. Stir in the beans and chili powder, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes until heated through. Pour the contents of the skillet into a bowl and set aside. Wipe the skillet clean.
Whisk the eggs and egg whites together in a large bowl along with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Spray the skillet with nonstick cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Add the eggs and cook them, stirring occasionally, until soft curds form. Stir in the cheese and cook 1 minute until melted. Remove from the heat.
Spread each tortilla with equal amounts of the veggie/bean mixture and top with the scrambled eggs. Spread 2 tablespoons salsa, some sliced scallions and hot sauce (if using) on top. Roll the tortillas up burrito style—fold the side closest to you over the filling, then fold both sides in toward the center and roll up. Serve alone or with reduced-fat sour cream, if desired.
If not eating right away, wrap each burrito in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and freeze. To reheat, unwrap and microwave until warm, about 2 minutes, turning over halfway through. For a crispier wrapping, heat in the microwave, then bake in a 450° oven for 5 to 10 minutes.

Dr. Ruder is a mom of a two-month-old daughter, an emergency physician at Coral Springs Medical Center near Fort Lauderdale, FL, and a recipe developer and blogger at TheFoodiePhysician.com.

Healthy Food Is on the Menu at School

September 4, 2013 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

by Mommy MD Guide Jennifer Gardner, MD
Happy New (School) Year!

The new school year is just that, a new year, so we think this is the perfect time to institute some new “school year” resolutions. One great place to start is in the school lunchroom. If your kids are attending school full time now, then they will be eating at least one meal away from home.

If your kids buy lunch from the school cafeteria, this may be the first time that they will get to choose their food without your direct input. But you can still exert some direct control over their meals if they brown bag their lunch (but recognize that they still might trade it). Each provides a great opportunity for you to teach your kids about healthy food choices and the importance of food. Below are some helpful guidelines for getting your kids to eat healthier at school.

Don’t Forget to Have Your Kids Eat Breakfast

Regardless of what you make for lunch or what the school is serving, please make sure that your kids have a nutritious breakfast before they leave the house in the morning. This will assure that they have the nutrition and calories they need to focus on their school tasks and to last until lunch. Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day!

Brown-Bag Lunch

Parents have many options for sending their kids off to school with a healthy lunch. It is all about balance and variety. Each lunch should include a healthy combination of lean protein, low-fat dairy, whole grains, and fruit and veggies. Whatever you choose, be sure to include your kids in the process of making the meal. Discuss with them the importance of nutritious and healthy meals and the right portion sizes, and have them help you pack the meal. This will help ensure they eat what you pack!

Classic sandwich choices include PB&J or PB & banana, chicken salad, tuna salad, egg salad, sliced chicken, or turkey. When sandwiches are on the menu, make sure that you use whole grain bread or pita, and mustard or low-fat mayonnaise when appropriate.

To vary things, you might want to try a pita packed with hummus and vegetables, sliced hard-boiled eggs, nut butter, avocado, or any other favorite protein. A whole grain tortilla loaded with beans, cheese, and favorite grilled veggies is another option. Sandwiches are an obvious way to add some veggies. Tomatoes, onions, lettuce, sprouts, cucumber, and sliced or shredded carrots are a great place to start.

You should also include one of the following in the bag: some whole or cut up fruit, dried fruit, a small salad, assorted veggie sticks, single serving applesauce, yogurt, nuts, seeds, or popcorn to round out the meal. And remember, once in a while, it is okay to send them with a small bag of potato chips, corn chips, or cheese puffs to avoid feelings of deprivation or envy!

Alternatively, you can pack a bento box full of food from home. Almost any leftover is a great option (meatloaf or meatballs for a sandwich, lasagna, omelets, quiches or frittatas, baked chicken nuggets, mac and cheese, BBQ or baked chicken, tacos, quesadillas, burritos, stir fries, sloppy Joes, salmon or crab cakes, pot pies). You can also include a salad, hummus, cut fruit, sliced veggies with dip or guacamole, cubed hard cheese, yogurt, trail mix, nuts, homemade pumpkin bread, or many other choices too numerous to list here. Kabobs are also fun in bentos and can be made from chicken, beef, or shrimp plus veggies. Or why not try fresh fruit or fresh veggie kabobs? Lastly, consider hearty soups, stews, and chilies (especially inviting when summer fades into a fall chill).

Avoid sending your kids off to school with prepackaged lunches such as Lunchables. Also limit the amount of highly processed deli meats (salami, bologna, ham, liverwurst, or deli “loaves”) by choosing whole roasted turkey, chicken, or roast beef. Processed deli meats are very high in salt, fat, sugar, additives, and preservatives. Plus, they are not cost effective. We also recommend that you avoid packing a dessert for most lunches. But of course, occasionally send them off with a cookie, pudding, or brownie!

Tips for Packaging a Safe Lunch

We want to pack healthy school lunches for our children, but we must also make sure that they are safe. Since your kids’ lunches usually remain at room temperature for several hours, you should take steps to minimize bacterial contamination and growth. Here are some steps you can take:

  • Seems obvious, but you should always wash your hands before preparing the meal.
  • Use insulated lunch containers over a brown bag if you’re serving perishable items (such as mayonnaise-based sandwiches or salads, dips, and dressings).
  • Use an icepack to keep food at a safe temperature.
  • Alternatively, you can put frozen juice or (preferably) water in the lunch bag. The drink will thaw by lunchtime, so this can be used in place of an ice pack. (You can also freeze a yogurt stick to use as an ice pack.)
  • Use a thermos to keep hot things (soups, stews, chilies, casseroles) hot and cold things cold.
  • Store the lunch bag in a cool area, away from sunny windows or heat vents. Use a refrigerator if available.
  • Keep all lunch boxes, bento boxes, bags, and thermoses clean. Wash with warm soap and water after each use and dry thoroughly.
  • Make sure your kids wash their hands before eating. Alcohol gels or wipes can be used in a pinch. (If you’re storing these in the lunch container, use wipes, not gels.)
  • Teach kids that they should not trade items in their lunch (and then keep your fingers crossed that they follow your instructions).

To compete with cafeteria lunch options, keep foods colorful and interesting (use cookie cutters to make sandwiches into fun shapes, leave lunch notes for little ones, pack in a favorite lunch box, or occasionally include an unexpected favorite breakfast food such as waffles with Nutella and bananas).

Cafeteria Lunch

When a homemade lunch is not an option, your kids can choose from the menu at school. Many schools now serve healthier items, such as grilled chicken and salads. But some choices still contain unhealthy amounts of fat, salt, or sugar.

Most schools also now post the weekly menu online or make it otherwise available to parents so they can see what is on the menu. Some even allow parents to check what the child has purchased!

If your school is among them, take advantage of this to discuss with kids the importance of healthy eating and nutritious foods. Ask which meals they particularly like or want to try. Make sure to point out what is the best choice, and once in a while, let your child pick out what he or she wants despite your input! Just let them know that the healthier foods will give them more energy for the rest of the school day and for after-school activities.

Counsel your kids to choose meals that contain fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats. Advise them to avoid fried foods (chicken fingers, french fries, fried chicken or fish) and heavily processed foods (hot dogs, lunch meats, processed cheeses, potato or corn chips, and commercial baked goods). They should also avoid sugary drinks, including fruit juices and sweet teas, and drink water or low-fat milk instead.

But at the same time, let them be kids too. Remember to allow them to make their own choices from time to time. Otherwise, they will feel stifled and rebel entirely against your efforts to help them build healthy eating habits!

Alternate bagged lunch days with cafeteria lunch days to maximize variety while still retaining significant control over what your kids eat. Done well, your kids will internalize the lessons they learn from you and from the choices they make on their own. This will help them be healthy for life.


Dr. Gardner is a mom of a three-year-old son, a pediatrician, and the founder of an online child wellness and weight management company, HealthyKidsCompany.com, in Washington, DC.


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The information on MommyMDGuides.com is not intended to replace the diagnosis, treatment, and services of a physician. Always consult your physician or child care expert if you have any questions concerning your family's health. For severe or life-threatening conditions, seek immediate medical attention.