For some reason, juice seems to have become synonymous with children. These days, we serve juice without even thinking. We send juice boxes to school in lunches, we serve it with meals and snacks, and drink it when we’re thirsty. My question is: what’s wrong with water?

My issues with juice are simple. First, it’s used as a substitute for water. So often I see people downing the sweet stuff like it’s going out of style. The problem is that juice is loaded with Calories and sugar that you could avoid with plain old water. The truth is, nutritionally, juice is not far off from soda. Think about how many oranges you would have to squeeze to get 1 cup of juice. 3? 4? That’s a lot of oranges! What you’re left with in that cup of juice is the sugar and Calories from 3 or 4 oranges, and none of the fibre. Juice should be a treat, not a regular thirst-quencher.

Secondly, there are too many impostors out there. “Cocktails”, “beverages”, and “punches” abound grocery store shelves and the packaging would have you believe there’s nothing but fresh-squeezed juice in the carton. Not so. Many of these other “beverages” have tons of additives and added sugar. As if we needed more sugar in our sugary drinks!

Juice isn’t all bad. It does have some vitamins and minerals, but so does whole fruit. However, whole fruit also has fibre, less Calories, and the fill-up factor that juice doesn’t have. Kids do not need juice. Period. Although studies have shown that drinking 100% fruit juice may not contribute to obesity like other sugary beverages, it is still a concentrated source of sugar and Calories and so, should be viewed as a treat like other sweets. If juice is a regular thing in your household, now may be a good time to try to cut back. If you’re going to have juice, there are a few things you can and should do.
  1. Put a limit on it. One serving of juice is 1/2 cup or 4 oz. This should be the limit for young children for the day. As kids get older, 6-8 oz is appropriate.
  2. Don’t dilute! There is no need to dilute juice. In fact, it can interfere with a child’s ability to develop a liking for plain water.
  3. Serve in a cup. Giving juice in bottles can increase the risk of dental caries.
  4. Make sure it’s 100% fruit juice. Look for the words “100% juice” on the label. Fruit “cocktails”, “punches” and “beverages” are NOT juice.

Janine Bolton

Cancer: It’s a scary word. But even if we don’t like to talk about it, the fact is that, according to the World Health Organization, cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the world — and the number of new cases seems to be increasing every year.

In Canada, 171,000 new cases were diagnosed in 2009, according to the Canadian Cancer Society, and, according to the American Cancer Society, 562,340 people died of cancer in the U.S. in 2006. With statistics like those, chances are, you or someone you love has been in for the fight of his or her life.

The point of all these numbers isn’t to scare you, though. In fact, there’s actually some good news about cancer floating around out there. According to cancer survivor and nutritionist Conner Middelmann Whitney, 30% of the cancers in the West could be prevented by proper nutrition, exercise and body weight control and another 30% could be prevented by not smoking.

While many people feel like cancer is waiting around to attack them at any time (and, let’s face it, for some people, it is) for a good many of us, the things we do — and eat — in our daily lives can keep us from ever getting the “big C.” Furthermore, whether we are fighting for our lives or cancer survivors, keeping away from the Marlboro man and tweaking our lifestyles can keep us cancer free in the future.

While there are certainly those out there who dispute each of these ideas, here are a few “rules” that can help you and your family prevent cancer from coming in the first place, or, if you’re a survivor, from coming back again:

  1. Sugar Feeds Cancer: If you’ve read my blogs about sugar, you know I’m not a big fan of the refined stuff and its health consequences. Neither is Patrick Quillin, PHD, RD, CNS. Quillin sites multiple studies that show that in mice and in humans, the more sugar consumed, the higher the risk for cancer. So save the Hershey’s Bars for an occasional treat. 
  2. Eat Whole Grains: According to Lucy Burney, author of Superfoods for Kids, the fiber in the wholegrains “helps to balance blood glucose levels and to carry toxins and carcinogens out of the body.”
  3. Go Organic: It might cost you a little bit more, but going organic is a crucial step in any cancer battle. Pesticides are carcinogens. Period. While I would always recommend going as organic as your budget allows, if you are going to eat meat, dairy products and eggs, it’s especially important to go organic in those areas.
  4. The ideas of bioaccumulation and biomagnification teach us that when a pesticide goes from the environment to the first layer of the food chain (i.e. grass to cow) the effects of it multiply. When it goes to the next link in the food chain (i.e. cow to human) they multiply again. In short, while the pesticides in that grass might not have been so bad, by the time they get to you, you can have some major poison on your hands (and in your body).
  5. Maintain a Healthy Weight: The American Cancer Society reports that excess weight leads to 90,000 unnecessary cancer deaths every year. That’s 20% of the cancer deaths in women and 14% in men in the U.S. And what’s frightening is that only 1% of the American public, when polled, even realized that weight and cancer could be linked.

Long story short, the bad news is that there will always be people out there who get cancer, even when they do all the right things. The good news, though, is that, for a good many of us, the choices we make can keep us strong, healthy and cancer free.

Kristy Harvey

Imagine doing something over 31 million times per year – and that is if you’re in good shape.  Now, imagine having to do it over 42 million times and MORE – and that is if you’re in bad shape.  The heart is a magnificent organ and ironically, the less we use it, the less efficient it is.  That is not to say that 42 million beats per year in a sedentary person is better than the 31 million beats per year in the active person… on the contrary, the person with the lesser beats actually has the better heart.

The heart is a muscle and like all muscles, it needs to be worked.  A heart that is not beating within a healthy, active body can be weak, small, or even enlarged due to hypertension.  When the heart tissue is unhealthy, the arteries and blood vessels are clogged and constricted and the blood supply to the heart is blocked.

It cannot beat and function without having a continuous supply of oxygen.  It then has to beat faster to pump enough blood through to function.  A conditioned, healthy heart actually beats slower, as more blood is pumped through with each stroke.  A normal resting heart rate is said to be between 70 and 80 beats per minute, but sadly, many people are struggling with heart rates that are much higher. 

Cardiovascular disease remains the top killer of society.  Major risk factors include:
  • high blood pressure
  • high LDL (“bad”) cholesterol
  • smoking
  • lack of exercise
  • obesity
  • diabetes
  • and stress.  
The two most important preventative measures against cardiovascular disease are diet and exercise.  However, for some reason, people just still are not getting it when it comes time to prevention.  They continue to look for a “magic pill” – one that allows overindulgence in junk foods and too much time on the couch!   

Can vitamins help?

Vitamins and minerals are called supplements (i.e. in addition to a well balanced, healthy diet).  Supplemental vitamins that help maintain a healthy heart - specifically vitamin C, B-complex, and vitamin E, along with the minerals calcium, chromium, zinc and selenium are all excellent supplements to a heart-healthy diet.

Although not literally called “vitamin Q”, another powerful supplement is Coenzyme Q10.  Claimed as a miracle nutrient, it is not actually a vitamin in itself, but rather a vitamin-like substance naturally present in our tissues, but declines with age.   Q10 energizes the coronary system and actually strengthens the heart muscle and improves tissue respiration.  It is been extensively researched and has no known side effects or toxicity.  It has been remarkably successful all over the world to enhance the immune system, treat heart disease, and high blood pressure.  It is remarkable for its ability to help treat heart attack and stroke victims.  It is also a powerful antioxidant capable of destroying the damage done by free radicals.   Q10 is found in such foods as salmon, sardines and mackerel as well as in supplement form from the health store.   

Of course, there is no sense in taking a handful of vitamins and minerals each day and continuing with a sedentary lifestyle packed with unhealthy, processed foods and other poor dietary choices.  Nothing can replace the heart-healthy benefits of a proper diet and exercise along with supplementation of heart friendly vitamins and minerals like those mentioned including the miracle nutrient Coenzyme Q10.  Take care of your heart – because if it stops, so do you!
As parents, we have an inherent need to make sure our kids eats enough, but when your child turns into a picky eater it can be extremely frustrating. If your child won’t eat the food you’ve served to the rest of the family it becomes very tempting to make them something you know they will eat. This, is when the “short order cook” parent is born.

If you’ve just served the rest of your family a hot, balanced meal, but find yourself in the kitchen 2 minutes later making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, you are a short order cook. 

What’s the problem with this?

The upside of being a short order cook (S.O.C.) is that your child eats and you feel better knowing they will not starve. However, the downsides to being a S.O.C. heavily outweigh the good. The most obvious downside is that once you start to be a S.O.C., it’s a tough cycle to break. You don’t want to be making separate meals until your kids go to college. Another downside is that children won’t learn to try new foods and, over the long term, they may not be getting a wide enough variety of nutrients. Although the intention is good, being a S.O.C. often does more harm than good.

The upside of being a short order cook (S.O.C.) is that your child eats and you feel better knowing they will not starve. However, the downsides to being a S.O.C. heavily outweigh the good. The most obvious downside is that once you start to be a S.O.C., it’s a tough cycle to break. You don’t want to be making separate meals until your kids go to college. Another downside is that children won’t learn to try new foods and, over the long term, they may not be getting a wide enough variety of nutrients. Although the intention is good, being a S.O.C. often does more harm than good. 

What to do about it?

STOP! The first step is to stop making different meals for different people in your family. Kids need to learn to eat with the rest of the family, and that includes the types of foods. The second step is to try to incorporate at least one food that your child likes into most meals you preparing, and respect them if there is a food they genuinely dislike. Remember, it’s your job to decide what, where and when to serve food, and the child’s job to decide if they eat and how much. Finally, be patient! It can can 15-20 exposures to a new food before a child will try it. 

If you’ve been a S.O.C. for a while, your children may put up a fuss and refuse to eat at first. As long as your child is growing well, don’t worry about it. Make it clear to them that this is what you have prepared to eat and there will be no more food until the next meal or snack time. Your child will eat when they’re hungry enough. Offer them snacks and meals at regular intervals and they will soon try the foods you offer.
There are so many things you want to teach your kids: to be polite, wash their hands, keep their rooms clean. But what are you teaching your kids about food? In the past 30 years it seems food has been largely forgotten or simply taken for granted. Part of the reason the obesity epidemic is as bad as it is, is because at some point we stopped learning about food and we became so busy with our daily lives that we turned to convenience foods. We let other people make our food and we don’t know where it comes from, who made it, or what’s in it.

It’s a vicious cycle. If our parents weren’t around to teach us how to cook or relied on convenience foods, that is what we know and what we will inevitably pass on to our children. We need to break that cycle. We are now learning what the industrial food system has done to our health, and we are beginning to make positive changes. Knowledge is power and it’s extremely important to teach your children about food.

The Five most important things to teach your kids about food:

  1. What real food is. Real food does not come in a box and does not have a label or a long ingredient list full of words you can’t pronounce. Real food should be the rule, “food-like” substances should be the exception. 
  2. You are what you eat. You’ve heard it a million times, and that’s because it’s true. Eating a lot of food that isn’t good for you will make you feel, well, not good! Teach your kids that choosing healthy foods will help them in school, improve their soccer game, and give them more energy to play with their friends (as if they need it!).
  3. How to cook. You don’t need to be Martha Stewart and you don’t need to make your kids into mini Jamie Olivers (although, it would be great if you could!) but you do need to teach your kids the basic skills for how to prepare healthy food. Get them involved in the grocery shopping and in the kitchen, and show them that cooking is fun! 
  4. To listen to hunger and fullness cues. It may seem obvious that part of the obesity problem comes from overeating, but why do we overeat? Overeating usually occurs when we override our fullness cues, when we pay attention to our eyes and eat until the food is gone rather than stopping when our bodies are telling us that we’ve had enough. Help your child listen to their body by letting them decide when they’re finished eating, and never force your child to finish what’s on their plate. 
  5. Where their food comes from. Take your kids to your local farm and ask to go on a tour. Show your kids where lettuce and potatoes come from. Your kids will be more interested in the food and more likely to eat those foods if they know more about what they’re eating. Starting a backyard garden or even a windowsill herb garden is a great way to get the kids involved in gardening. They will love to watch their plants grow and it’s a great way for you to teach them how to use that food from “farm” to table. 

And remember, the best way to teach your kids about healthy foods is to be a good role model!

Janine Bolton

Not many foods would be able to bear the name “perfect food”, but breast milk proudly wears the label.  Anxious as a new mom only a few years ago, I opted to breastfeed my daughter.  Nothing could have prepared me for the challenge.  I thought childbirth would be challenging, but it was a cakewalk compared to breastfeeding.  At first, I envied new moms with glowing smiles – abundant with milk while their satisfied babies cooed and cuddled.    The breast just came naturally for their babies.  

However, for me at first, it was exhausting, frustrating and seemingly impossible. I think I ended up crying more for the first few weeks than my new baby.   What I had to do was learn to breastfeed my new little princess, and this took a great deal of patience and effort.  I often wanted to quit… just throw in the towel and run for the formula, but my determination paid off and I proudly gave her nature’s most perfect food for 18 months.  The challenges in the beginning became soothing, comforting, pleasant and bonding.  I soon got over the irritation of sore nipples and engorgement and learned to master the art - and it is an art -of breastfeeding.

Why is breast the best?

Breast milk compares very differently to other forms of milk, say - like cow’s milk.  In nutritional comparison, cow’s milk contains 3 times more protein than human milk, and is substantially lower in complex carbohydrates – of which is the largest component of human milk.  We tend to think that protein is best, but for baby, complex carbohydrates are required for development and growth, not heavy protein.  Human milk does have a little more fat in it than in cow’s milk, but the type of fat here is “good fats” – specifically what babies need for brain growth and development.   

Human milk contains a smaller ratio of calcium, phosphorus and sodium compared to cow’s milk, but again, these ratios are much more adapted to a new infant, whereas the higher levels of these micronutrients in cow’s milk can lead to excesses of these elements.  This can be hard on kidneys and other organs.  Often infants do not digest cow’s milk very well.  It was explained to me once using this analogy:  molecularly speaking, cow’s milk is a much larger “molecule” – something like trying to push a basketball through a garden hose, whereas human milk has a much smaller molecular size – like pushing a marble through a garden hose.  

Human milk “fits” through babies’ digestive tracts much better than cow’s milk.  It’s the protein content and type in cow’s milk that makes it so hard for babies to digest - the protein ratio is too high and consists mostly of casein, whereas breast milk is mostly whey protein.  Consequently, many children develop intolerances to cow’s milk and mostly to the protein casein.

Breastfeeding benefits both baby and mom

In addition to being low to no cost, it’s always available and extremely convenient.  A study in the journal New Scientist indicates that breastfeeding was shown to reduce the risk of heart attack in women as well as help the mothers regain their metabolism after pregnancy – something most moms look forward to.   Breast milk is easily absorbed by baby’s delicate intestinal tract and delivers millions of immune boosting factors with each feed.

To increase and maintain milk supply, drink at least 1.5 -2 litres of pure water per day and use herbs like fenugreek to increase production.  Eating a diet rich in:
  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • lean protein
  • and complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, 
will ensure your milk supply as well as deliver the best quality milk to your baby. Moms should supplement with a quality multi-vitamin and mineral supplement suitable for nursing mothers and make sure it has vitamin D in it. Or take a separate vitamin D supplement – as cow’s milk is fortified with vitamin D, but human milk has less vitamin D, simply because the D in cow’s milk is added at production.  

Nothing brings you closer to the joys of new life than providing that life with perfect nourishment.   Breast really is best.

Erin Bell

BPA. It sounds like it would be a friendly acronym. Maybe something you would text to your friends. Unfortunately, this acronym, which stands for bisphenol A, has been popping up in the news lately. And the things being said about it aren’t so friendly. 

According to bisphenol-a.org, an online resource about the chemical, BPA is:

“...an industrial chemical used primarily to make polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins – both of which are used in countless applications that make our lives easier, healthier and safer, each and every day.” 

They are undoubtedly right about the countless applications part. There are the things that we might think of right off hand that we hear about all the time like those plastic water bottles we can’t live (or get on the treadmill) without. Then there are the things that we might not think about: aluminum cans, baby bottles, baby toys, water pipes — even our sunglasses!

The interesting (and potentially dangerous) thing about BPA is that it mimics estrogen in our bodies. In fact, thedailygreen.com reports that BPA was originally made in 1891 as a possible estrogen replacement therapy. And too many hormones in the body, as we well know, can have dangerous health consequences, especially when we are exposed to it all the time.

Our eyes are the windows to the world around us.  They are very complex organs and we often just take them for granted.  That is, until they begin to show signs and symptoms of damage and or vision loss.  Diseases and conditions of the eyes include:

-   cataracts
-   eyestrain
-   colorblindness
-   glaucoma
-   inflammation and infection
-   macular degeneration
-   dryness
-   bloodshot and blurred eyes 

These disorders and symptoms are often an indicator of a more serious health problem within the body.

Protecting our eyes goes beyond wearing UV protecting sunglasses and minimizing eyestrain at the computer screen.  Many other considerations can affect eye health, including the use of various pharmaceuticals, inadequate water intake, poor lighting and malnourishment.

Key to good eye health is diet.  A poor diet contributes to many of the symptoms of eye trouble.  The well known vitamin for eye disorders is vitamin A, but often overlooked is essential fatty acids, commonly known as omega 3 and 6, alpha-linolenic and alpha-linoleic acid respectively.   To be healthy, we must include these essential fats in our diet.  A deficiency of these fats in the body are associated with many physical and mental conditions, and specifically, the eyes require essential fatty acids for optimum function and health.

Sources of EFA’s

The Standard (North) American Diet (SAD) is exactly that… sad and lacking in general in omega 3’s but overly abundant in omega 6, which is found in products like safflower, sunflower, canola and corn oils, as well as almonds and olive oil.  It’s omega 3 that our eyes are looking for. This essential fatty acid is absolutely necessary for good eye health.  Good sources of omega 3 are flax seeds, flax oil, evening primrose oil, nuts and seeds such as walnuts, dark leafy green vegetables and cold-water fish.  

Also available are EFA oil blends sold in most health food stores.  Essential fatty acids are very susceptible to oxidation.  This means that they do not have a long shelf life and they are very prone to the formation of free radicals.  Essential fatty acids should be kept in a refrigerator away from air, light and heat sources.  They should also be kept in a dark bottle or container. 

Deficiencies of essential fatty acids can lead to any of the potential eye problems mentioned above.  It can also lead to retinal damage and problems with pressure in the eyes.  Nutritional deficiencies affect the entire body and as mentioned, poor eye health can be an indication that there is another problem going on elsewhere in the body.  Our eyes are precious, delicate and very susceptible to damage.  We need to nourish them as much as any other part of our body and a diet including fresh vegetables, fruits, sufficient protein, carbohydrates, pure water and the essential fatty acids are a healthy approach to protecting one of our greatest blessings – to be able to see!

Erin Bell


After a long and hectic week, one of the most enjoyable weekend activities can be savoring a Sunday morning in the kitchen. Cooking a delicious (and, of course, healthy!) breakfast can be fun for the whole family. While thinking outside of the Bisquick box can be difficult at first, putting a nutritious spin on your family’s favorite meals is totally worth the effort.

Plus, unlike traditional bacon-and-egg meals that leave you feeling like you need to crawl back in bed, these morning pick-me-ups will give your family the energy they need to keep going all day!

baby food
Switching baby from breast milk or formula to solid foods can be a stressful time, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are some common questions and answers related to switching baby to solid foods:

When should I start introducing solids?

We now recommend introducing baby to solid foods at 6 months of age. Research has shown the introducing solids earlier may increase the risk for infections or allergies, and can prevent baby from getting enough Calories. Despite the myth: introducing solids earlier does not help baby sleep. Introducing solids too long after 6 months may cause some delays in growth, nutrient deficiencies or aversions to textures. 

What foods should I introduce first?

At 6 months of age, baby’s iron stores begin to run out, and breast milk doesn’t provide enough iron. For this reason it is important to offer iron-rich foods at 6 months of age, such as iron-fortified cereals, meats, egg yolk, beans and lentils. Providing a source of vitamin C with iron-rich foods, such as sweet potato, squash, and broccoli will help baby absorb the iron better. 

Slowly introduce new foods, one at a time, every 3 days. This allows time to watch if an allergy develops. Introduce foods from a variety of food groups to ensure baby gets adequate nutrients.

*Always breastfeed (or give formula) first before offering solid foods. Milk will still provide the majority of nutrition and Calories at this stage.

What about textures? 

Baby needs to start with smooth textures, such as pureed, strained and mashed. Over time, as they develop better oral-motor skills, they can progress to grated, minced lumpy and diced textures. Around 9-12 months baby should be able to handle soft, finely chopped and finger foods.

When can I switch to cow’s milk?

You can start to introduce whole (homo) cow’s milk at 9-12 months of age. If your child is eating solid foods really well, 9 months is ok, otherwise it is best to wait closer to 12 months.

*Soy, rice and other vegetarian beverages do not have the same nutrition as breast or cow’s milk and so are not recommended before 2 years of age. 

What foods should I not feed my baby?
  • Egg whites and honey should be avoided until one year of age.
  • Low fat milk products should not be given to baby until 2 years of age. 
  • Excess salt and sugar. Extra sugar does not provide nutrients, and salt his hard on baby’s kidneys. 
  • Allergin foods: if you have a family history of allergies, talk to your doctor or dietitian about which foods to avoid and until what age. 
Does my baby need supplements? 

Exclusively breastfed infants (for the first 6 months of life) will need a 400IU vitamin D supplement until 1 year of age, even after they start eating solid foods. Multivitamin drops with vitamins A and C are not required for healthy term infants. After one year of age, babies should continue to get 200IU of vitamin D until they are getting 2 cups of vitamin D-fortified milk per day.

Things to remember: 
  • All babies are different - don’t compare your child to other children. Let your child go at their own pace, and don’t stress about it
  • Don’t take advice from friends and family. Recommendations and research changes all the time. Take advice from a health professional.
  • Babies have small stomachs and will not eat a lot right away. Offer frequent meals and snacks, 1-2 tsp at a time, and slowly increase as baby wants it.
  • Babies do not need juice! If you’re going to give juice make sure it’s 100% fruit juice and limit to 2-4 ounces in a cup, non-diluted.
  • Gagging is normal as baby gets used to new tastes and textures. Choking is NOT normal.

Janine Bolton