Foods to Help Kids Focus [REPLAY]

October 18, 2020

Whether your student is in college or in kindergarten, food counts when you want them to have good brain power (and good behavior). Two nutritionists share how food helps build memory and focus in children, adults and even in seniors.

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CAROLYN: Good morning everyone and welcome to Dishing Up Nutrition brought to you by Nutritional Weight & Wellness. Currently kids are back at school. Already! Didn't the summer fly by?

TERESA: No Carolyn. Actually it didn't. Summer started in March. haha!

CAROLYN: Haha! Oh yes. Whether it is full time or part time, in person or because of the coronavirus this year, maybe your kids have taken over your dining room table. Teresa, I'm sure you're going to tell us a little bit more about that.

TERESA: Family room and every room.

CAROLYN: Every room, right? Whatever way your kids are attending school this year brings some very much extra challenges for both students and for the parents. So we believe it is even MORE important to feed your kids foods that will help them focus and learn.

TERESA: Yes, that is so true. Whether your student is in college or kindergarten, food counts when you want them to have good brain power.

CAROLYN: Well, good morning everyone. I am Carolyn Hudson. And as a dietitian, I am constantly reading and learning about how I can improve my own nutritional counseling skills so I can help my clients both young and of course old. I want them to feel better, do better, and I understand how food helps build memory and focus in children, adults, and of course, even in our seniors. Joining me today in studio is registered and licensed dietitian, Teresa Wagner, who is living through this unique back to school journey with her three children ages eleven, nine, and six. And in April, actually it was, oh yeah, it was an April. Right, Teresa? You wrote that great blog about the challenges as a parent who is trying her best to feed her kids healthy meals and snacks throughout every day. Right?

TERESA: Right.

CAROLYN: Teresa, I loved your line in your blog about quote "mom guilt".

TERESA: Oh my goodness. Don't we have that out there? I mean moms out there. I think everybody's saying, "yep. We sure do." Whether it's about food or anything. I think we're guilty. Or at least we feel that way. Yes. But I have been a registered dietitian, let's see here, for the past 12 years. And I know this because I remember passing the RD exam when I was very pregnant with my son, my first child. So over the years, I think I have had a lot of experience just trying to feed my kids healthy foods.

CAROLYN: Yeah. Well, however, when the order came to stay at home...


CAROLYN: What happened?

TERESA: I was constantly hearing, "I'm hungry. What can I have for a snack?" It's amazing at how much and how often my kids wanted to eat. To be honest, at first, I was able to manage the situation on how often my kids wanted to eat, but I have to admit that after a while I just threw up my hands in food exhaustion...

CAROLYN: Food exhaustion!

TERESA: ...and just started to say yes to whatever they wanted to eat. Now, remember, I'm a dietitian and food is very important to me. So I wasn't feeling very good about what they were choosing to eat. Yes, in the short term, I found it was easier to just let my kids eat whatever they wanted, but I knew that it was not what I wanted for my kids over the long term. And just like any parent listening, I want to feed my kids food that supports their body and their brain. And as reality of this COVID situation set in, I realized that, well we're all in the same position and we could be for many more months. So I came up with three simple insights to motivate myself and hopefully others to make good food choices a bigger priority again. I'll share some of these insights with you in hopes that they can help you. One of the first insights I had was I want to feed my kids healthy foods because they build strong bodies, well-functioning brains, and disease-resistant immune systems. All very important reasons.

CAROLYN: Absolutely.

TERESA: Especially right now.

CAROLYN: Especially right now that immune support. Immune systems. You have to have a really strong immune system right now.

TERESA: Right. Because if we come in contact with that virus, we want to be able to fight it off. Or if we get it, we want to be able to...

CAROLYN: Not have horrible symptoms or, you know, horrible reactions to it.

TERESA: Exactly. The second insight: poor food choices, like processed foods, equal poor focus and poor concentration. Frankly. Now that I've been forced into a new role as a at-home teacher's assistant, a role that I'm not super excited about, I don't want learning for my kids to be more difficult for them, which in turn would make my job more difficult. But most importantly, I want learning to be fun, exciting, meaningful, challenging, yes, but not difficult. So that was my second insight. And third maybe most important in the short term, and you know, kind of looking through my parenting eyes is poor food choices leads to poor behavior.

CAROLYN: And that is so well-documented Teresa. So, you know, but now you're a... you can see it at home occasionally.

TERESA: Firsthand. Yes. And the reality is is we as families are at home together hour after hour and for my personal sanity and theirs too we need to get along and be able to work together peacefully.

CAROLYN: So these are really difficult times for all of us. So we want to share some tips on how you can help your kids focus and learn as much as possible and also make it easier for you as parents out there in this COVID situation. So yes, staying away from those processed and convenient foods, convenience type foods, and feeding your family real food. Unfortunately it does take more time initially, but as you develop these real food habits and you start to see the results, you're going to say, "oh, I'm so glad I'm making that extra effort to feed my family real food because my kids are special and have their own unique abilities and talents." And that should be true for every parent out there. You know?

TERESA: Yes. One of the first steps I took to make the good food choices a priority again was to set up a meal schedule. I tried to stay with this schedule every day because I found my kids do better with consistency. They feel more secure when they have a schedule and structure. They know when breakfast will be. They know when they'll have lunch, when it's okay to have snacks, and what time to expect dinner. And honestly, it's not very surprising that kids and really adults too do better and feel better when they have a schedule to follow. The first couple of days were a little rough following the food schedule, but after a few days, maybe a week or so, there was a rhythm to each day that made my kids feel more balanced in this unsettling time.

CAROLYN: Yeah. Schedules are so important. And even in non COVID times. Schedules for children are extremely important. They really function so much better, you know, when you, THEY know what to expect and you do too. So I'm sure you have all heard breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Who hasn't heard that one, right? At first, you know, it may be really difficult to get your kids to eat what is considered real food at breakfast that will help them boost their focus, motivation, and moods all day. Some kids, they just want a big bowl of cereal for breakfast, right?

TERESA: They sure do.

CAROLYN: Sadly, it is definitely not a good, healthy, balanced breakfast for developing good brain power. Also because of the number of carbs, it's a breakfast that we would call kind of a weight gaining breakfast and statistics show that about one third of teens today are overweight or obese.

TERESA: Well, Carolyn, how many carbs are in two cups of cereal or your average bowl of cereal?

CAROLYN: I'm sure many of you are going to be a little bit shocked to hear that just two cups of dry cereal BEFORE the milk is added to that has approximately 55 grams of carbs. That breaks down to 14 teaspoons of sugar. And again, that doesn't include the milk because there's carbs in milk, right? Naturally occurring ones. While there's nothing wrong with eating some carbs for your breakfast, it is much better to limit the number of carbs to around 30 grams or less because the carbs will not keep your child's blood sugar balanced throughout the morning to help you... to help with staying alert or preventing those energy dips that can cause a lack of focus or a lack of concentration.

TERESA: So if you're not having cereal, what do you suggest Carolyn?

CAROLYN: Well, you know, it's almost time for our break...

TERESA: Ooo, cliff-hanger!

CAROLYN: So I'll talk about that when we come back. So you are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition brought to you by Nutritional Weight & Wellness. Because of COVID-19, we are finding that more and more people are interested in gaining more knowledge about what to eat to support good health and especially what to eat to support good immune function. For that reason, I want to tell you a little a bit about the book I have on my nightstand. I'm just loving this book. It's *Brain Maker* by Dr. David Perlmutter. I find this book so fascinating. There's so much information about what I should eat to help my memory as I age. So I am confident that *Brain Maker* will have the information YOU want about the foods to eat to support good health and the foods to eaT to support good immune function. And we'll be right back.

TERESA: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. Since we're sharing books that we are reading. I read and use the *Nutritional Weight & Wellness Cookbook and Nutrition Guide* often. And it's apple crisp season, but most apple crisp recipes are loaded with sugar. However, the apple crisp recipe on page 159 uses only one tablespoon of pure maple syrup and one tablespoon of brown sugar. Just add a dollop of whipped cream and it is a perfect dessert that your entire family will love.


TERESA: Yes, I'm also enjoying one of Dr. Mark Hyman's well known books, *Food: What the Heck Should I Eat?*.

CAROLYN: I love the title of that book.

TERESA: In this book, he explains more about the quality of the foods we should eat. Dr. Hyman shares information about foods that our great grandmothers knew were good for us. This information that our great grandmothers knew has gotten lost in this process prepackaged food era.

CAROLYN: Oh, has it ever! My goodness. You know, early this morning as I was getting ready for the show, I actually flipped open that book too, so...

TERESA: Oh good!

CAROLYN: Yeah. Okay, before we went to break, we were talking about getting kids to eat real foods at breakfast instead of like that two cups of cereal that would be turning into about 14 teaspoons of sugar. So, and I think you said, so what should your kids eat?

TERESA: What do you eat? Yeah, what do you do?

CAROLYN: Well if you don't do cereal, you, I would suggest that you should be eating a high protein breakfast. That's really the best, most ideal choice for your children and your entire family, to start the day to keep their blood sugar balanced. And an old research study from George Washington University, which is still relevant today, found that a high carb breakfast such as cereal resulted in poor attention. At Nutritional Weight & Wellness, we tell our clients that the best breakfast for better focus and positive behavior is a balanced breakfast of some protein. Such as eggs and some fruit or veggie and a healthy fat. So you can cook that egg in butter. You know that's a healthy fat. I find that many kids love cooked carrots.

TERESA: Yeah, they're sweet.

CAROLYN: With a little bit of butter. Or sweet potato. My kids love sweet potato, that's for sure, topped with a little bit of butter and a small bowl of berries or cantaloupe along with their scrambled eggs. That's a great, healthy, balanced breakfast.

TERESA: You know, I was chatting with Dar and for those of you who don't know, Dar is the owner and founder of Nutritional Weight & Wellness. She told me that when her grandkids came to visit recently that she made the zucchini pancakes. She topped the zucchini pancakes with butter, some blueberries, and a couple of teaspoons of pure maple syrup. Sounds pretty good. I think maybe I'll have to try that with my kids, but this recipe, it has four eggs and three cups of shredded zucchini. So her grandkids probably didn't even realize that they were eating eggs and vegetables for breakfast.

CAROLYN: Yeah. You know, I shred zucchini into like my meatloaf or my meatballs and it keeps it nice and moist. And you can't…

TERESA: tell that that's in there. Yes. Well, if you're interested in that zucchini pancake recipe, you can find it on our website at And then another option that you could do with this recipe would be to substitute cooked sweet potato and add a dash of cinnamon. And with that maple syrup, it would be a sweeter version of that zucchini pancake. And it would be orange for fall or for Halloween, so that would be kind of fun.

CAROLYN: You know what I might top that with? Maybe a little bit of ricotta cheese.

TERESA: Oh yeah. The zucchini pancakes? Yeah. So that savory kind of a flavor. Yeah, that sounds great. You know, sometimes in a pinch I'll just fix my kids an organic grass-fed beef hotdog and have apples and peanut butter on the side. Just when you have to do something really quick. My youngest, she loves to eat the chicken maple sausages that you can get at Target.

CAROLYN: Oh yeah. I love those.

TERESA: And then, like your kids, she likes to have sweet potatoes roasted in coconut oil. My middle, she loves to have banana protein shakes. And my son just likes to keep it traditional: eggs with toast and butter and some fruit.

CAROLYN: Great, great.

TERESA: These are balanced breakfast of proteins, some fruit or vegetable, and some healthy fats that provides the nutrients for good brain function.

CAROLYN: Absolutely. So skipping breakfast or eating junk food for breakfast can lead children and adults - I got to put that in there - to be impulsive, distracted, and restless. So if you or your child or anyone that you know has some ADHD signs or symptoms, it is very important to feed the brain the nutrients needed to function well. I think that's a different concept. We're FEEDING our brain. Do people really know that that's what they're doing?

TERESA: You know I think when we say it, they're like, "oh yeah, sure. That makes sense." But I don't think that that's really a thought that we have unless somebody kind of says that.

CAROLYN: Right. Right. So not only do we need to feed these nutrients for our brain to function well, and not only at breakfast, but also throughout the entire day. So if you have a picky eater, you know, you have to try turning breakfast maybe into a bit of a picnic. Do they have to sit at the breakfast table or the kitchen table?

TERESA: I suppose not.

CAROLYN: No, not really. Maybe when they're really young because they tend to make a lot of mess. I know my granddaughter makes a real mess that's for sure. But you know, throw a beach towel on the floor and say, "hey, we're going to have a picnic." And suddenly the picky eater is eating a lot more things. Maybe eating everything that you've put in front of them. It can work like magic.

TERESA: Yeah. Yeah. That sounds like fun. Another healthy spin on a typically high sugar breakfast is making French toast with one slice of your favorite healthy bread. I like the Papa's Organic Bread. I don't know if you've seen that, but I really like the ingredients on that one and you can find it at regular stores but in anyway to make the French toast and to make sure it has sufficient protein, double dip the bread and the egg mixture, then top it with full fat cottage cheese and berries or pineapple and serve that French toast with a couple of slices of nitrate free bacon. You could also make the turkey sausage patty's from the cookbook I was talking about before the *Weight & Wellness Cookbook*. And have that in place of the bacon. I love that recipe. I make that one all the time.

CAROLYN: Yeah, I do too. I actually divide my turkey. I do three pounds at a time and I season it differently and make it all in the oven and then throw them in the freezer. So they're really handy to grab out.

TERESA: Oh perfect.

CAROLYN: So we cannot stress enough. The importance of a balanced breakfast with protein, a complex carb, preferably from vegetables or fruit, and one tablespoon of natural, beneficial fat. This is going to help keep blood sugar levels steady, which of course, prevents mental and physical drops in our energy. Your focus is going to be better. Learning will be easier. Your kids will have less anxiety and hopefully fewer emotional outbursts.

TERESA: That's the goal. Here's another important tip. Don't buy junk food. Don't bring junk food into the house. Only bring foods that you are proud to feed your kids into the house or proud that's in your grocery cart. Carolyn, have you ever hide anything in your grocery cart? So people or other shoppers didn't see what you were buying. Probably not you. haha!

CAROLYN: You know, it would have been a long time ago that I would have done that. I try, I don't, I don't bring junk into my house.

TERESA: Yes. This habit works great for my kids and it works great for me cause I'm not tempted either. It's a win, win. The less I have to say no the better.

CAROLYN: Yeah. And it's already all the time for a second break. You are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition brought to you by Nutritional Weight & Wellness. Today we are discussing food and nutrients that support focus, concentration, memory, and positive moods for both children and adults. Next week, join JoAnn and Kara as they share tips on how you can avoid weight gain during perimenopause and menopause. Many of our clients have used the COVID-19 stay safe at home order to focus on healthful eating and many have actually lost weight. And we'll be right back.

TERESA: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. Research shows that what you feed your body has a direct relationship on how your brain functions. They account for this recurring theme that many of our Nutrition 4 Weight Loss participants have reported. Quote, "I'm not only losing weight and have more energy, I also think better. That awful brain fog and those memory lapses have almost cleared up." End quote. If YOU want more energy or a better memory or maybe both, I encourage you to sign up for either dishing up or, excuse me! You can listen to Dishing Up Nutrition, but sign up for either the Nutrition 4 Weight Loss class online at our website, or one of the several Zoom offerings available to you. Later in the show, we'll share all of the September class options so YOU can feel better and think better.

CAROLYN: So before we went to break, we were talking about not bringing junk food into your house. Right?

TERESA: Yes. Good idea.

CAROLYN: I think that's a really good thing, especially now, you know, cause we're home all the time. And I have heard that a lot from my clients is maybe they're not bringing it in, but their husband is or maybe the teenage son that can drives off to the convenience store or whatever.

TERESA: And those foods call to you, you know, the ice cream in the freezer, it has somehow develops a voice. It says, "Carolyn!" Or "Teresa! Come eat me!"

CAROLYN: Right! So just don't bring that stuff in.

TERESA: That's right! And then it won't talk to you.

CAROLYN: So, you know, I have a granddaughter. She's two and a half and you know, whenever I have her over I like to make sure that I have some good healthy foods for her and I call it her treat bowl. But of course it's not a bowl full of candy or chips, like other people might think, but...

TERESA: You mean, you can still be a good grandma and not give them cookies and candy?

CAROLYN: I can! I certainly can! Instead, I fill it maybe with some fresh veggies, some fruit, protein snacks and my granddaughter loves protein shakes or smoothies. So, you know, she'll see me making one and she'll go, "can I have some?" She almost drank half of mine the other day.

TERESA: Well, they're like milkshakes basically. You know they're just a healthy version of that.

CAROLYN: So Teresa, let's talk about other snacks that... What are you doing for your kids?

TERESA: Well, here's something that I found that works well and it's kinda like the idea that you just said: a snack bowl or platter. And what I do is I just put some foods that are okay for my kids to eat and then they can go to that bowl or platter and pick out what they want. And maybe for some people it might be four different bowls or platters, if that would fit in their refrigerator. Fill one of the bowls or platters with veggies like baby carrots, sugar snap peas, grape tomatoes, cucumber slices, jicama sticks, cauliflower, or broccoli florets.

CAROLYN: Teresa, I used to have what I called my Mom Approved Snack Bowl. And it had, it was just one bowl, but I would put all of the snacks, like when the kids, when my kids are all grown now, but when they were young and they came in from school, I had a bag, a little small bag of nuts. I had some celery sticks and some carrot sticks and maybe a couple of hard boiled eggs and a couple pieces of fruit. They knew whatever was in that bowl, they could have. That's fair game. You're coming in from outside, you grab the bowl and whatever's in it, they can have. Another idea would be maybe to do a fruit platter with some apples or clementines or berries or grapes. Maybe little cups of applesauce. Oh yeah, I used to do those too. And some olives. My kids loved olives. Or Individual cups of a cantaloupe or watermelon.

TERESA: Yeah. So we'd have a platter with veggies, then a platter with some fruits, maybe another bowl might contain some fats like nuts, sunflower seeds, or olives like your kids like. Or maybe those little containers of guacamole. That could work for dipping their veggies. And for a protein platter, maybe put in nitrate-free turkey sticks or beef sticks or some rolled up nitrate-free deli meat or cheese sticks, hard boiled eggs, or even some slices of summer sausage, that's a really easy protein.

CAROLYN: Yeah. And you can also make those bite-size muffins using like a mini muffin tin. And of course our muffins have protein powder in them and aren't overly sweet at all. And we have the banana and blueberry muffins... they're on our website at And I would encourage you to get your entire family involved by cutting up some of the fruits and veggies, packing up the nuts or olives and in little cups, have them help you make those little muffins. They would love that so that they have ownership in their food choices. And rather than baking cookies with your kids, teach them how to prepare healthy snacks, so they don't get caught up in that unhealthy sugar trap.

TERESA: Yes. And you know, one thing I've found with my daughter who with her, she's getting a little older and she's has this newfound independence and she's like, "I want to make my own lunches". And what I have found that she has, because we have planted these seeds of how you build a meal with proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, she naturally does that because she wants to do a good job because she's showing, you know, her skills.

CAROLYN: She's showing mom!

TERESA: Yup, she's showing what she's going to make for her lunches, that she naturally gravitates towards that now, which is really fun for me to see, because I feel like if I'M making her meals or snacks, maybe there's some complaints, but if she's in charge of it, like you said, taking that ownership, she does the things that I've been trying to ingrain in her over the last few years. So that's really fun to see. Okay. So I think we should give you some more healthful tips about foods you can prepare for your families. Okay. So one thing is not to throw away the egg yolk. Eat the whole egg. The egg yolk is the most nutritious part of the egg, but it's really confusing when you go to the grocery store because there are so many different labels on the eggs. So what should we be looking for on those labels? Or what on the packaging, what do we want to look for? Well, one of the first things I look for is antibiotic free and hormone free, or excuse me, antibiotic free, but hormone-free sometimes you see that on the label. That's meaningless because it's illegal to give hormones to poultry. So antibiotic free. Another thing is certified organic is good because it guarantees that the chickens did not eat GMO grains and they weren't... and those grains weren't doused with pesticides or antibiotics. So organic is good to see on the label. If it happens to say gluten-free on the label, that means nothing because eggs are gluten free. That would be just a marketing tactic. It means nothing. Pastured eggs are a great option, especially if you know the farmer who raised the chickens. Cause that means that those chickens were out on the pasture. They were able to eat both grains and bugs, which makes for very nutrient dense eggs. You can tell because the yolks are really, really yellow, almost orange. Organic DHA eggs are also great. These eggs are high in Omega DHA fatty acid, which supports your child's brain and the retina of their eyes. And our eyes too. Each egg yolk contains about 100 milligrams of DHA fatty acids. So for good brain health and vision, we often recommend for people to have at least 400 milligrams of DHA a day. So two egg yolks and one DHA supplement would meet that requirement.

CAROLYN: So Teresa, I'm just going to back up here a little bit. I think we really need to remind our listeners that DHA, you know, they're just initials.

TERESA: Right. What does that mean?

CAROLYN: But it is one of the two primary fatty acids in fish oil or Omega-3s right. The other one. So it's DHA and EPA. Those are the two fatty acids in Omega-3 fish oils.

TERESA: Yup. That's right. And those are really important. Like you said, they are ESSENTIAL fatty acids.

CAROLYN: Right. That means our body can't make those.

TERESA: Right. Yes. We have to get them from our diet. Good point. Okay. So let's talk about chicken nuggets because while I don't think that we have to feed our kids, kid food, it is fun sometimes to have things that are kind of your traditional kid food foods. So my kids sometimes want to have chicken nuggets and being the person that I am, I have to read the labels, right? I need to know what my kids are eating. So I read the ingredient lists. I looked in what the chicken consists of in the chicken nugget. And here is what I found from a well known chicken nugget package: ground chicken meat, water, soy flour, soy protein isolate, sodium tripolyphosphate, which is...

CAROLYN: That sounds horrible.

TERESA: Yeah, right. You can find that in your pantry, right? That's a chemical preservative that's also used in detergents.


TERESA: Yeah. And lastly, of course there's sugar. The crazy thing is, is those ingredients do not include the breading or batter. That's just the chicken parts.

CAROLYN: Okay. So they're not really chicken.


CAROLYN: A little bit of chicken.

TERESA: Yes. Right? After looking at those commercial chicken nuggets, I decided to make my own on page 86 of the cookbook of our *Weight & Wellness Cookbook*, you will find a recipe for turkey or chicken nuggets. You can make either way. When I want to make the recipe gluten-free, I'll use almond flour for the coating. And I'm happy to say that my family actually likes those homemade chicken nuggets better than the frozen store bought chicken nuggets.

CAROLYN: It is time for us to go back to a third break. So you were listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. We are pleased to offer you so many options to learn more so you can put healthful eating into practice. We really do understand that every day there are many temptations calling your name. In fact, a client told me that during the stay at home order, when she did not do her own grocery shopping, she actually ate better because all of her special treats didn't get into that grocery cart. The reality is that most of us need to do our own grocery shopping, to learn to develop the very important habit of only buying healthy foods and leaving the junk and treats in the store. With that in mind, think of when it will be best for you to take our next series of classes. And we will be right back.

TERESA: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. We are offering our 12 week Nutrition 4 Weight Loss program online, which means you can watch it whenever you want. Early in the morning while you drink your coffee, while the kids are napping, or late at night when everyone is sleeping. But if you prefer to be a part of a small group, there are a number of virtual zoom classes available for you. And they're starting really soon. They're starting this week. So on Monday, September 21st, our first class is at 5:30pm. Then on Tuesdays starting September 22nd, that class is at 6:30pm and then Fridays, September 25th, starting September 25th at noon and that's a lunch hour option.

CAROLYN: There's a Wednesday class there too, right?

TERESA: Oh, we're not doing the Wednesday class. And then we have a special bonus for you. You save $50 when you sign up for either our prerecorded online weekly videos or any one of the zoom Nutrition 4 Weight Loss programs that I just shared with you. So you can save 50 bucks. Also, you can save up to $135 on one-on-one nutrition counseling packages in September. These are zoom or phone appointments with a nutritionist or dietitian. So, and you can also check with your insurance for coverage to see if that appointment would be covered for you.

CAROLYN: Okay. You know, I thought this would be really timely at this point, you know? So what does Dr. Fauci, the top infectious disease doctor, take to support HIS immune system? Well, he takes vitamin D, vitamin C, and guess what? That's exactly what we have on sale for the month of September. So you can save up to 25% on vitamin C and vitamin D plus, and the very popular Wellness Formula. So if you want more information, give us a call at 651-399-3438 or send an email to

TERESA: Okay. So it's time to talk a little bit about eating meat. Is it good or is it bad for us? I get a lot of questions about plant based diets and this is a big topic, so we're just going to do some basic information. So animal protein is our only source of vitamin B12, which is essential for life. B12 is especially essential for our nerves and our nervous system, so think brain and spinal cord. Meat also provides the other B vitamins and contains key minerals for our immune system, such as zinc, selenium, magnesium, and potassium. Meat also contains iron, which is very important for menstruating women. Protein is the building blocks of our brain chemicals and supports the production of serotonin, dopamine, and all of our neurotransmitters. Lastly, animal protein is necessary to maintain and build our muscles and our bones. Sometimes we forget that protein is so important for the bones.

CAROLYN: Since we're talking about kids we really need... a lot of kids don't eat enough protein.

TERESA: Yeah. You calcium gets all the attention.

CAROLYN: Yeah, it does. And they need protein. Okay. So have you heard the expression, "You are what your food eats". I want to put that into some perspective for you. So grass-fed beef has two to three times more healthy fats, such as CLA and a better ratio of Omega-3 to six. These fats have been associated with reduced cancer and cardiovascular disease. So nutrient wise, high quality grass-fed beef is going to beat even the organic, if the beef is coming from cows fed organic grain. So the absolute best to be for your health and Mother Earth is meat from grass-fed cattle raised on organic pastures. So the USDA seal is a stamp. That means the producer is being regularly checked to make sure they meet the standard. Grass fed is really a term that isn't subject to any federal standard. So what I'm suggesting to our consumers is you should look for trusted third party verification, like PCO 100% Grass Fed Certification Seal. So this actually requires the grass fed producer to also be certified organic. So that's really good. Or you can look for American grass-fed seal, which verifies the cattle were raised on pasture, eating only grass, and were never given any antibiotics or hormones.

TERESA: Wow Carolyn - that's really good information because it is so true. I mean...

CAROLYN: It's confusing!

TERESA: It is very confusing. The labels are very confusing and it's hard because some labels designations are regulated and some are not. And so it's good to know which ones to look for. Okay. So here is a recap of what we've shared with you earlier today. As a parent, I make it a practice to feed my kids real food. Real animal protein, real carbohydrates, such as vegetables and fruits, and real natural fats, such as butter, avocados, olives, olive oil, cream, and cream cheese. I avoid all refined oils, such as soybean oil, corn oil, cotton seed oil, and even canola oil because these oils are damaged oils.

CAROLYN: They're processed.

TERESA: They're processed and refined. And really what that means is that in that processing and refining of those fats, it damages those fats and eating damaged fats damages your body.

CAROLYN: Yeah. I always tell my clients, you know, we really stress good healthy fats because every single cell membrane, the membrane itself, the cell wall is made from FAT. And it's made from all three fats, actually more saturated fat than polyunsaturated or the mono unsaturated. So it's really important not to feed on healthy fats, but where are those lurking, Teresa?

TERESA: Oh, they're everywhere.

CAROLYN: They're everywhere.

TERESA: Everywhere. They're in your processed foods. I mean, you look at any package: cracker, cereal, bread, granola bar, all those things. So if you look, you find soybean oil or canola oil.

CAROLYN: Yeah in everything.

TERESA: In everything, it's there. But it's not in vegetables. It's not in fruits. It's not in meats. And it's not in the natural fats we're talking about. It's not in olives. It's not in avocados. So those are the good fats. So why do we as dietitians choose to cook real food for our families? I think Carolyn, why, why do you do that?

CAROLYN: Well, first of all, real food, not processed food, right now - we really need to pay attention - this is going to be what supports our immune function. So right with COVID we have to have strong, healthy immune systems. So not only should we be wearing masks and keeping social distancing, but we should be really focusing on trying to eat, prepare, shop for real foods, shop the perimeter of the grocery store. I have actually some friends that have like started getting their meats flown in, I think with Butcher Box or something. I think that one, and I was looking at that the other day and the cause the salmon share is, you know, so you don't even have to go to the store really. And they're, you know, either wild caught the salmon and the butcher box is all grass fed. And it would be a really good way to get that good, healthy grass fed meats.

TERESA: Right and how convenient too. And it's, you know, potentially safer. Correct?

CAROLYN: Exactly.

TERESA: You know, one of the reasons why I cook real food for my family is because real home cooked food supports healthy brain function, which I'm thinking about right now because my kids are in school. So it supports, better focus and concentration, memory, grades, moods, fewer emotional breakdowns. And for these reasons we believe it is so worth the time it takes to cook real food.

CAROLYN: Of course, eating real food, the best quality you can afford, leads your family down the road of good health today and into the future from childhood through teen years and even into older age. What a great reason to cook real food at home. So this was great to be with you. This is the first time I've been in studio Teresa! So this was really fun. So thank you everyone for listening. Our goal at Nutritional Weight & Wellness is to help each and every person experience better health through eating real food. It's a simple yet powerful message. Eating real food is life changing. Thank you for joining us and today for joining us every week. Lots of people do right? Be healthy and be safe. And we'll see you next week.

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