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Nutrition

Every parent has questions and our experts have answers. Read on:

There are 36 questions and answers.


1. Why are family meals important?

Adults who have regular meals eat better, are healthier, and are slimmer. Children and teens who have family meals, eat better, feel better about themselves, get along better with other people, and do better in school. However, as children move through the teen years, families are more likely to eat on the run than have meals together.

Here are more reasons to hold the line with family meals:

  • Family meals help adults and children learn to like a variety of food.
  • Family meals let everyone go to the table hungry and eat until they get enough. That helps both adults and children eat the amount they need to weigh what is right for them.
  • Family meals give a time and place for a family to keep up with what is going on with everyone, to help each other out, and to tell family stories.
  • Family meal time keeps food "in its place" as only one of life's great pleasures.

Reference: Ellyn Satter's Everybody Does Better with Family Meals

For answers to your healthy eating questions contact Dial-a-Dietitian to speak to a Registered Dietitian in Manitoba. Dial-a-Dietitian can be reached at 204-788-8248 in Winnipeg or toll-free at 1-877-830-2892.

-- ManitobaParentZone.ca acknowledges the assistance of Dial-a-Dietitian in responding to this question.

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2. How do I know when my baby is ready for solids?

Your baby is ready to start solids when they:

  • are six months old
  • hold their head up
  • sit up in a high chair
  • open their mouth wide when offered food on a spoon
  • turn their face away if they do not want food
  • close their lips over a spoon
  • keep food in their mouth and swallow it instead of pushing it out

Adapted from: Feeding Your Baby – From Six Month To One Year

For answers to your healthy eating questions contact Dial-a-Dietitian to speak to a Registered Dietitian in Manitoba. Dial-a-Dietitian can be reached at 204-788-8248 in Winnipeg or toll-free at 1-877-830-2892.

-- ManitobaParentZone.ca acknowledges the assistance of Dial-a-Dietitian in responding to this question.

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3. I am currently five months pregnant, and have started experiencing heartburn. Would you be able to provide me with some tips on how to deal with heartburn during my pregnancy such as are there any foods that I should be avoiding?

Heartburn is common during pregnancy because the hormone progesterone causes the valve between the stomach and the esophagus to relax. This allows the stomach acid to pass into the esophagus and irritate that lining causing the 'burning' sensation. And as the baby grows more pressure is placed on the stomach, this may also push stomach acid into the esophagus.

Steps to take to help avoid heartburn:

  • Eat five to six smaller meals throughout the day rather than three large meals. Avoid eating large amounts of food at one time
  • Limit or avoid greasy and fatty foods
  • Limit or avoid foods that may trigger symptoms such as spices, peppermint, chocolate, citrus juices, onions, garlic and tomato products
  • Wait an hour after eating to lie down
  • Wear looser fitting clothing – especially across your stomach

The types of foods that bother people with heartburn can vary individually. Eat a variety of foods and take note of which foods cause you discomfort. When your symptoms have settled, try reintroducing these foods.

Over-the-counter antacids may help to relieve heartburn problems. Do not take over-the-counter antacids without speaking to your health care provider. If your heartburn symptoms are severe, your health care provider may prescribe medication for you.

For answers to your healthy eating questions contact Dial-a-Dietitian to speak to a Registered Dietitian in Manitoba. Dial-a-Dietitian can be reached at 204-788-8248 in Winnipeg or toll-free at 1-877-830-2892.

-- ManitobaParentZone.ca acknowledges the assistance of Dial-a-Dietitian in responding to this question.

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4. How can I help my child become a better eater?

Children develop eating competence step-by-step throughout the growing-up years when they are fed according to a stage-appropriate division of responsibility. At every stage, parents take leadership with feeding and let the child be self-directed with eating.

The division of responsibility for infants:

  • The parent is responsible for what
  • The child is responsible for how much (and everything else)

Parents choose breast- or formula- feeding, help the infant be calm and organized, then feed smoothly, paying attention to information coming from the baby about timing, tempo, frequency, and amounts.

The division of responsibility for older babies making the transition to family food:

  • The parent is still responsible for what, and is becoming responsible for when and where the child is fed.
  • The child is still and always responsible for how much and whether to eat the foods offered by the parent.

Based on what the child can do, not on how old s/he is, parents guide the child's transition from nipple feeding through semi-solids, then thick-and-lumpy food, to finger food at family meals.

The division of responsibility for toddlers through adolescents:

  • The parent is responsible for what, when, where
  • The child is responsible for how much and whether

Fundamental to parents' jobs is trusting children to decide how much and whether to eat. If parents do their jobs with feeding, children do their jobs with eating:

Parents' feeding jobs:

  • Choose and prepare the food
  • Provide regular meals and snacks
  • Make eating times pleasant
  • Show children what they have to learn about food and mealtime behaviour
  • Be considerate of children's food inexperience without catering to likes and dislikes
  • Not let children have food or beverages (except for water) between meal and snack times
  • Let children grow up to get bodies that are right for them

Children's eating jobs:

  • Children will eat
  • They will eat the amount they need
  • They will learn to eat the food their parents eat
  • They will grow predictably
  • They will learn to behave well at mealtime

Reference: Ellyn Satter's Division of Responsibility in Feeding

For answers to your healthy eating questions contact Dial-a-Dietitian to speak to a Registered Dietitian in Manitoba. Dial-a-Dietitian can be reached at 204-788-8248 in Winnipeg or toll-free at 1-877-830-2892.

-- ManitobaParentZone.ca acknowledges the assistance of Dial-a-Dietitian in responding to this question.

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5. I am pregnant. Are there any foods I need to avoid?

Yes, although most foods are safe there are certain foods that you should limit or avoid while you are pregnant. Here are some important considerations for you:

  • There is no amount of alcohol that is known to be safe during pregnancy. Alcohol should be avoided.
  • Limit caffeine intake to 300 mg per day if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Sources of caffeine can include coffee, tea, soda pop, energy drinks and chocolate.
  • Raw or undercooked meat and poultry should be avoided. Cook all meat and poultry to a safe internal temperature.
  • Non-dried deli meats (bologna, roast beef and turkey breast) and processed meat such as hot dogs should be avoided. Dried and salted deli meats (salami and pepperoni) as well as non-dried deli meats and hot dogs heated throughout to steaming hot are safer alternatives.
  • Refrigerated paté or meat spreads should be avoided. Canned paté or shelf-safe meat spreads are safer alternatives.
  • Raw or refrigerated smoked seafood (especially oysters, clams and mussels) should be avoided. Cook all seafood to a safe internal temperature. Smoked seafood in cans that does not require refrigeration until after opening is a safer alternative. Avoid fish that contain high levels of mercury or fish from contaminated lakes and rivers that may be exposed to high levels of polychlorinated biphenyls. Follow Health Canada's advice on fish that are safe to eat.
  • All foods made with raw or lightly cooked eggs should be avoided. Eggs should be cooked until the yolk is firm. Egg dishes should be thoroughly cooked to a safe internal temperature.
  • Raw or unpasteurized dairy products, including soft cheeses and semi-soft cheeses such as Brie, Camembert and blue-veined cheeses should be avoided. Pasteurized dairy products and hard cheeses are safer alternatives.
  • Unpasteurized juices and unpasteurized apple cider should be avoided. Pasteurized juices and ciders are safer alternatives.
  • Unwashed vegetables or raw sprouts such as alfalfa, clover, radish or mung beans should be avoided. Wash all vegetables and cook all sprouts thoroughly.

Reference: Health Canada: Listeria and Food Safety

For answers to your healthy eating questions contact Dial-a-Dietitian to speak to a Registered Dietitian in Manitoba. Dial-a-Dietitian can be reached at 204-788-8248 in Winnipeg or toll-free at 1-877-830-2892.

-- ManitobaParentZone.ca acknowledges the assistance of Dial-a-Dietitian in responding to this question.

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6. Is organic food better for my family?

Both organic and non-organic foods are nutritious and safe to eat when you're making healthy choices based on Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide. Many factors affect a food's nutritional value, such as where and how it was grown, stored, shipped and even how it was cooked. Organic foods may have more, about the same, or less nutrients than non-organic foods and both organic and non-organic foods are grown and produced under strict regulations to make sure they are safe for you to eat. Like any food purchased, buying organic food is a personal choice.

Reference: Dietitians of Canada

-- ManitobaParentZone.ca acknowledges the assistance of Dial-a-Dietitian in responding to this question.

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7. I've been making my babies' formula with spring water and was told lately I am supposed to use distilled water. Can I use spring water or should I be using distilled water?

Water that is safe for preparing formula includes:

  • City tap water from the cold water tap. Run the tap for 2 minutes in the morning to flush out any residue.
  • Well water or spring water from the source (not bottled) that has been tested and meets the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality.
  • Bottled water (spring or treated water, but not mineral water)

Until baby is 4 months of age, use only sterilized water. To sterilize water, bring the water to a rolling boil in a pot and boil for 2 minutes. Keep the pot covered and let the water cool at room temperature. If you are not preparing formula immediately, cooled water can be stored at room temperature in a sterile container for up to 24 hours, or in the refrigerator for up to 72 hours.

-- ManitobaParentZone.ca acknowledges the assistance of Health Links in responding to this question.

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8. I am pregnant for the first time. How should I be eating?

Following Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide is one of the best ways to nurture baby's growth and development. Aim to eat as least three balanced meals daily with snacks in between. In your second and third trimester, your energy/calorie needs will increase by about 300 calories. These needs can easily be met by eating two to three additional food guide servings daily. For example, add an extra slice of whole wheat toast at breakfast and fruit with yogurt for a snack. It is also important to have at least 150 g, or 2 servings, of cooked fish each week as fish contains omega-3 fats and other important nutrients for pregnancy. Choose fatty fish more often, such as salmon, trout, mackerel, sardines, and herring. All women who could become pregnant and those who are pregnant should take a daily multivitamin containing 0.4 mg of folic acid to help prevent serious birth defects as well as 16-20 mg of iron to meet increased needs. Help your baby have a good start by eating well!

For answers to your healthy eating questions contact Dial-a-Dietitian to speak to a Registered Dietitian in Manitoba. Dial-a-Dietitian can be reached at 204-788-8248 in Winnipeg or toll-free at 1-877-830-2892.

-- ManitobaParentZone.ca acknowledges the assistance of Dial-a-Dietitian in responding to this question.

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9. Is cow's milk a healthy choice? I heard that cow's milk is full of hormones and antibiotics.

Not true. Canadian milk meets strict government standards so it's safe and healthy. Canadian dairy farmers give their cows the best diet and health care so they produce quality milk naturally. Growth hormones to stimulate milk production are not approved for sale or permitted for use in Canada. Just like humans, cows sometimes get sick and need medications like antibiotics. If this happens, the cow is identified and milked separately until she is healthy again. Her milk is properly disposed of for a mandatory length of time, to allow for the medication to get out of her system. Milk, organic and non organic, is a safe, nutritious choice.

Reference: Dietitians of Canada

For answers to your healthy eating questions contact Dial-a-Dietitian to speak to a Registered Dietitian in Manitoba. Dial-a-Dietitian can be reached at 204-788-8248 in Winnipeg or toll-free at 1-877-830-2892.

-- ManitobaParentZone.ca acknowledges the assistance of Dial-a-Dietitian in responding to this question.

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10. How can I make food for my baby?

There is no better way to feed your baby than by making your own baby food. Making food for baby lets you offer textures that are just right for your baby's unique needs and abilities. Food can be prepared easily by mashing with a fork or potato masher, or by using an inexpensive food chopper or food blender.

Store-bought baby foods are fine, but not necessary. If you want convenience, you can buy frozen vegetables or canned vegetables without added salt and canned or frozen fruits with no sugar added.

Preparing Meat or Poultry

What to use:

  • One-half pound (250 grams) of lean meat or poultry
  • Water

What to do:

  1. Remove fat, skin and bones from the meat or poultry and cut into cubes.
  2. Put into a pot of water and bring to a boil.
  3. Turn the heat down and cook until tender, about 30-45 minutes (beef is cooked when there is no longer pink in the centre and chicken is cooked when juices run clear). Save the cooking water. Meat or poultry can also be roasted, baked or braised.
  4. Chop the meat or poultry. Add a little cooking water to thin the mixture. Prepare to a texture that is suitable for your baby.
  5. Store prepared foods in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. You can also freeze leftovers in a covered container.

Preparing Fish

What to use:

  • One-half pound (250 grams) de-boned fish fillets such as bass, sole, cod, perch, haddock or pickerel
  • One-half cup (125 ml) breastmilk or formula with added iron (whole cow's milk can be used if baby is at least nine months old).

What to do:

  1. Pour milk or formula into a large frying pan or pot. Heat gently but do not boil.
  2. Add fish fillets to the pan. Cover with a lid and cook over low heat for five to 10 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork. If using a microwave, put fish fillets and milk or formula in a microwave safe bowl. Heat on high until fish flakes with a fork (cooking times will vary). Fish can also be roasted, baked or braised.
  3. Flake fish with a fork.
  4. Leftovers can be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Leftovers can also be frozen in a covered container.

Preparing Legumes

What to use:

  • One cup cooked legumes (prepared using package directions) or
  • One can (19 oz/540 ml) canned legumes

What to do:

  1. If using dried legumes, cook according to package directions.
  2. If using canned legumes, drain and rinse well. They are already cooked.
  3. Prepare to a texture that is suitable for your baby. Add a little water to moisten.
  4. Store leftovers in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to two days. Leftovers can also be frozen in a covered container.

Preparing Vegetables

What to use:

  • About a cup (250ml) of fresh or frozen vegetables (ex: carrots, peas, green or yellow beans, squash, potatoes, sweet potatoes)
  • About half a cup (125ml) of water.

What to do:

  1. Wash, peel and slice fresh vegetables or use frozen vegetables (they do not have to be thawed before cooking).
  2. Put vegetables into a pot of boiling water, cover and cook until soft. If using a microwave, put vegetables in a microwave safe bowl with water and heat on high until soft.
  3. Drain the vegetables and save cooking liquid. You can use it if you need to moisten the vegetables.
  4. Prepare to a texture that is suitable for your baby. Add some cooking liquid if you think the vegetables need more moisture.
  5. Leftovers can be stored covered in the fridge for up to two days. You can also freeze leftovers.

Preparing Fruit

What to use:

  • Two or three medium-size fruits (ex: apples, pears, peaches, plums) or about a cup (250ml) of frozen fruit (no sugar added)
  • About four to six tablespoons of water.

What to do:

  1. Wash fresh fruits. Peel, core and slice.
  2. Place fruit (fresh or frozen) in boiling water and cook covered on low heat until tender. Do not drain.
  3. Prepare to a texture that is suitable for your baby.
  4. Store leftover fruit in a covered container in the fridge up to two days. Leftovers may also be frozen.

Note:
Ripe, soft fruits like bananas, mangos, papayas, avocados and canned fruit (no sugar added) do not need to be cooked. Bananas and avocados do not store well because they turn brown.

Textures

As baby gets older, it is important to increase the texture of the foods offered to baby. This will help baby learn to chew and swallow different textures. General guidelines:

  • 6 months old – Offer pureed foods first. You can then slowly add in smooth, mashed foods.
  • 7-8 months old – Continue to offer baby mashed foods. Try adding minced and grated foods as baby learns how to chew and swallow.
  • 9-12 months old – Continue to offer baby foods that are minced and grated. Add in foods that are diced and cubed.

References: Feeding Baby Solid Foods ? March 2010 (currently being revised)

For answers to your healthy eating questions contact Dial-a-Dietitian to speak to a Registered Dietitian in Manitoba. Dial-a-Dietitian can be reached at 204-788-8248 in Winnipeg or toll-free at 1-877-830-2892.

-- ManitobaParentZone.ca acknowledges the assistance of Dial-a-Dietitian in responding to this question.

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11. Fresh fruits and vegetables can be expensive in the winter, how can I offer fruits and vegetables on a budget?

There is strong research to show that eating a variety of vegetables and fruits can boost our health as well as reduce our risk of heart disease and some cancers. Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide encourages us to eat an array of vegetables and fruits each day. However some fresh vegetables and fruit may be more expensive in the winter.

Save money by buying fresh vegetables and fruits when they are in season. You can pick your own or buy extra at our many u-pick farms and farmers' markets and freeze them to use during the winter months. When fresh vegetables and fruits are not in season, frozen and canned products are a budget-friendly and convenient alternative. Frozen vegetables and fruits can be just as nutritious as fresh. Choose plain varieties without any added sauces or seasonings, they cost less and have less fat, salt and sugar. Canned vegetables and fruits can also be a healthy choice. Look for canned vegetables lower in sodium or drain and rinse canned vegetables which can lower the salt content. Look for canned fruit packed in water or its own juice instead of heavy syrup. Save money by buying frozen or canned products on sale. 'No Name' or store brands usually cost less.

Explore the variety of colours, tastes and textures this food group offers. Enjoy vegetables and fruit at each meal and/or snack to get the amount you need each day.

For answers to your healthy eating questions contact Dial-a-Dietitian to speak to a Registered Dietitian in Manitoba. Dial-a-Dietitian can be reached at 204-788-8248 in Winnipeg or toll-free at 1-877-830-2892.

-- ManitobaParentZone.ca acknowledges the assistance of Dial-a-Dietitian in responding to this question.

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12. As a parent what can I say/not say to encourage my child to eat right?

People come in all shapes and sizes. Allow your child to grow into the body that is right for them by encouraging a healthy relationship with food. Positive parental involvement is necessary to help our children learn to listen to their bodies, eat on time (right when they get hungry whenever possible), stop their under eating (eating too little or poor quality food) and make sure they don't miss meals as well as provide plenty of great quality food.

-- ManitobaParentZone.ca acknowledges the assistance of Dial-a-Dietitian in responding to this question.

10 things to encourage kids to eat right

  1. "Are you hungry?"
  2. "Can I fix you a snack? Or would you like to fix yourself a snack?"
  3. "How long did breakfast hold you this morning?"
  4. "Do you have snack packed so you can have it before basketball practice?"
  5. "What did you eat for lunch at school today?"
  6. "Do you like the food I/we packed for your snack?"
  7. "What 'real' foods would you like me/us to get at the grocery store for you?"
  8. "What are your five favorite dinners/snacks?"
  9. "What do you mean, 'You didn't have time to eat lunch?"
  10. "Let's make dinner together!"

10 things never to say to your child

  1. "How can you be hungry, you had a snack an hour ago?"
  2. "Don't eat that now, it's almost dinner time."
  3. "If you had eaten all your lunch, you wouldn't be hungry again now."
  4. "I never ate breakfast when I was a kid and I grew up big and strong."
  5. "There is no time to eat now. We have to get going."
  6. "You can't leave the table until your plate is empty."
  7. "Sally is huge. She needs to start dieting and lose weight."
  8. "You have to stop that after-school snacking. Do you want to end up looking like me?"
  9. "Have a little more. It's your favorite."
  10. "You can't be full. You've hardly touched your food."

For more information: Child Nutrition Council of Manitoba

Adapted from: Jean Antonello, RN, BSN, author of Naturally Thin Kids: How to Protect Your Kids from Obesity and Eating Disorders for Life

-- ManitobaParentZone.ca acknowledges the assistance of Dial-a-Dietitian in responding to this question.

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13. Cooking meals at home takes way too much time, how can I get a healthy home-cooked meal on the table more quickly?

Getting a healthy, home-cooked meal on the table doesn't take as much time as you may think. Simple, nutritious foods can make tasty meals, and planning meals in advance lets you use your time wisely.

Getting started:

  • Involve all members of the family – give each person a task.
  • Devise a meal plan, this can require some time initially but it actually saves you time in the long run. Consider your schedule when planning meals (eg. for busier nights plan easier recipes).
  • Shop weekly using your meal plan as a guide.
  • Make big batches of food on weekends; prepare recipes in bulk and freeze small portions and defrost on busier nights. Casserole, chili, soup, muffins all freeze well.
  • Use 'planned extras' – leftovers on purpose &ndash for another meal (eg. cook extra rice one night to use within a couple of days for another recipe).
  • Use healthy versions of convenience foods like pre-cut fresh meat skewers, canned fish or beans (rinse products well to remove some of the sodium) or pre-washed, ready-to-eat vegetables.
  • Use time saving appliance such as a slow cooker, rice cooker, toaster oven, etc.

More time saving tips:

Dietitians of Canada –Simple Meal Ideas for Your Family

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14. I am looking for helpful hints to wean 2 1/2 year old off of night-time bottle feeds.

Weaning a toddler from the bottle can be a difficult task, but the benefits make it all worthwhile including:

  • Increased appetite – bottle drinkers may consume more fluids than necessary possibly interfering with their appetite;
  • Decreased dental health issues – bottles with milk or juice can become dangerous to dental health as the liquid pools in the toddlers mouth and the sugars in the fluids can cause tooth decay.

Weaning at any age can be challenging, and weaning during the 'terrible twos' can be considerably more. Patience, understanding, determination and some friendly persuasion can help get the job done. There are two different approaches to weaning from a bottle – cold turkey, or gradual withdrawal. Ensure that all caregivers involved with your toddler are on board with the plan. Sometimes a little incentive can be a good motivator for either approach. Let them know there is something special in store if she can give up her bottle – a trip the zoo, a toy, or a new book, nothing extravagant, just something special to convince her that quitting is worth it.

Cold turkey:

This approach can work well for toddlers who are easy going, make transitions smoothly, are proficient with a cup, and doesn't panic in the face of change.

Tips:

  • Pick a day that starts off well.
  • Make a big deal – lots of praise, she's a big girl now.
  • Have your child help throw out her bottles (maybe save one for playing with).
  • Give extra time and attention. Extra hugs may help make up for the comfort she's not getting from her bottle.
  • If she is having second thoughts – offer her a bottle with water in it, not milk or juice.
  • Understand she will be more cranky and sensitive than usual.

Gradual withdrawal:

  • Offer fluids in a cup and a snack before she starts asking for her bottle. A full tummy might satisfy her enough.
  • Making drinking from the bottle less appealing - change the normal routine of how she gets her bottle, make her sit up when she drinks or have to sit on your lap.
  • Gradually work down to one bottle a day.
  • Make sure you have a comforting bedtime routine. Include a snack and a cup of milk (before brushing teeth), a bath and a few quite stories.
  • Don't offer the bottle automatically at bedtime, if your toddler asks for it, offer a cup of water instead.
  • Take a firm stand on the no milk in a bottle. Offer a bottle with water instead.
  • Expect your toddler to be cranky and out of sorts.
  • Substitute a teddy bear or doll or blanket as a comfort item instead of the bottle.

-- ManitobaParentZone.ca thanks Dial-a-Dietitian in responding to this question.

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15. How much candy should my child eat on Halloween?

As written in Ellyn Satter's book, Your Child's Weight: Helping Without Harming, halloween candy presents a learning opportunity. The idea is having children be able to manage their own stash of candy. Satter's advice is that after trick or treating, let children lay out all the goodies, sort them and eat as much candy as they want. Let them do the same the next day. Then have the child put the goodies away and relegate eating them to meal and snack-time: a couple of small pieces at meals for dessert and as much as they want for snack time.

If the child can follow the rules, they keep control of the stash. Otherwise, parents do, on the assumption that as soon as the child can manage it, they get to keep it. Maintain the structure of meals and sit-down snacks, with parents retaining their leadership role in choosing the rest of the food that goes on the table. With that kind of structure, candy won't spoil a child's appetite. Maybe children will even share a piece or two with parents and siblings or let some candy be saved for the gingerbread house to be created next month.

If you are still concerned about the amount of candy that will be eaten during this holiday, be a role model by handing out non-candy treats, eating treats in moderation yourself and spending time being active -- even after walking door to door collecting the loot. Some dentists and orthodontists have "cash back" programs that offer children money per pound of candy brought in. Taking care of one's teeth is good advice any time of year!

-- ManitobaParentZone.ca thanks Dial-a-Dietitian in responding to this question.

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16. How should I handle my teenager's request to become vegetarian in our non-vegetarian household?

People choose to become vegetarian for many different reasons. These can include personal, ethical, religious, cultural and health reasons. What are your child's reasons?

Following a vegetarian lifestyle can have benefits such as decreased saturated fat intake, increased fibre, increased intake of most vitamins and minerals and lower rates of chronic disease. However, like the general population, vegetarians can also make poor food choices. A poorly chosen vegetarian diet can be low or deficient in protein, iron, calcium, vitamin D and more. Therefore, it is important to plan for a healthy vegetarian diet by following Canada's Food Guide and including a wide variety of legumes such as beans, peas and lentils; nuts and seeds; whole grains; as well as fruit and vegetables. Legumes contain significant amounts of protein that all people – especially teens – require. Some vegetarians, called lacto-ovo vegetarians, choose to continue to eat low-fat dairy products and eggs, also good sources of protein.

Parents can support their young vegetarians by providing healthy food choices that replace any lost nutrients. Many alternative foods are available to replace meat and dairy products. Foods and meat substitutes made from soybeans, wheat proteins or other vegetable sources can be used in place of meat products and easily incorporated into a family meal. Tofu and tempeh are other good sources of protein and can be used in pasta, stir-fries, and even in smoothies and desserts. Some meat substitutes mimic luncheon meats, sausages, hot dogs, hamburgers or chicken patties. And textured vegetable protein (TVP) – often sold as "ground round" – resembles ground meat and can be used in sloppy joes, tacos or pasta sauces. Alternative milks such as soy, almond and rice milks as well as soy yogurts and soy cheeses can be used to replace dairy products.

It is important to involve your children in the planning, shopping and preparation of their meals and snacks. Beyond this, parents can also support their young vegetarians by including meatless meals for the entire family to enjoy together! If you would like to further discuss your or your families nutritional needs with a dietitian, please call Dial-a-Dietitian at 204-788-8248 in Winnipeg or toll-free 1-877-830-2892.

For more information on vegetarian diets, click on the links below:

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17. What is a whole foods diet? And what are its benefits?

The definition of "whole food" varies. Some people describe "whole food" as natural foods or ones that are unprocessed and unrefined, while other people include foods that are minimally processed or refined. However, in general, "whole foods" are essentially foods closest to their natural form as possible. Whole foods do not typically contain added ingredients such as fat, salt or sugar. Whole foods can help nourish the body effectively as they retain nutrients such as fibre, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that are often removed during processing. Eating more whole foods can also help to reduce caloric intake from added fats and sugars found in processed foods. Some examples of whole foods are fresh fruits and vegetables, 100 per cent whole grains, milk, unprocessed meats, eggs, dried beans, raw nuts and seeds.

Steps you can take to increase your consumption of whole foods include:

  1. Use Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide to help plan your family's whole foods diet.
  2. Avoid or eat fewer processed foods as these often contain added fat, sugar, salt and additives.
  3. Consider your beverages as well. Avoid or drink fewer sugar-sweetened beverages. Choose unsweetened fruit juices, water, tea or milk more often.

-- ManitobaParentZone.ca thanks Dial-a-Dietitian in responding to this question

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18. How much milk (cows' milk or breast milk) does my one year old need to consume every day? I want to make sure that he is getting enough.

Pasteurized whole cow's milk (3.25% MF) can be introduced at nine to 12 months of age if the child is eating a variety of solids and adequate iron-containing foods. When the child is completely weaned from formula and/or breast milk, whole milk should be offered at a minimum of 500 ml (2 cups, 16 ounces) per day and a maximum of 720 ml (3 cups, 24 ounces) per day to ensure adequate intake of solids. It is recommended that pasteurized whole cow's milk be continued until two years of age.

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19. How can I encourage my one year old to drink more cows' milk? He drinks from a sippy cup and hates bottles.

A minimum of 500 ml (2 cups, 16 ounces) should be offered when the child is completely weaned from formula and/or breast milk. If the child is not completely weaned a lesser amount may be offered. Whole cow's milk (3.25% MF) can be offered throughout the day in smaller amounts at meals and snacks in a lidless cup. It can also be incorporated into baking, soups, casseroles, etc. Other dairy products such as cheese and yogurt can also be offered as part of the Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide Milk and Alternatives groups. Keep in mind that it is better not to put too much pressure on your child to make him eat. Also, remember that parents are responsible for the what, when and where of feeding, and children are responsible for the how much and the whether of eating/drinking.

For answers to your healthy eating questions, you may contact Dial-a-Dietitian to speak to a registered dietitian in Manitoba. In Winnipeg call 204-788-8248 or toll free call 1-877-830-2892.

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20. Should I be feeding my family a gluten-free diet?

A gluten-free diet is the only healthy way of eating for people with celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity. But it is not necessary for everyone else. Gluten is a type of protein found in grains like wheat, barley and rye, and any foods made with these grains. Unless you have celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity, or you are allergic to one of these grains, you do not need to avoid them. Whether the grain you choose is gluten-free (such as corn, rice, millet or quinoa) or not, enjoying more whole grains is a healthy choice. For good health, make at least half of your grain choices whole grain each day.

Reference: Dietitians of Canada – Myth – Everyone should eat a gluten-free diet.

For answers to your healthy eating questions contact Dial-a-Dietitian to speak to a Registered Dietitian in Manitoba. In Winnipeg call (204) 788-8248 or Toll Free at 1-877-830-2892.

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21. Should my children be snacking between meals?

Children have small stomachs and may need to eat often during the day. Healthy snacks are an important way for your child to get all the nutrition they need for growth and development. Snacks can make positive or negative contributions to a child's diet depending on the choices that are offered. Use Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide to plan healthy snacks. Choose 1 to 3 food groups for a snack. There is no clear definition of what exactly constitutes a snack however remember that your child's appetite will be the ultimate guide. The amount of food eaten at each snack will vary depending on the child's appetite, activity level and whether they are experiencing a growth spurt. Encourage your child to eat healthy foods when hungry and stop when full. Keep in mind that parents are responsible for what children eat and children are responsible for how much they eat or even whether they eat.

Some healthy snack ideas include:

  • Fresh, frozen, dried or canned (with no added sugar) fruit
  • Fresh or slightly cooked veggies
  • Milk
  • Cheeses (including cottage cheese)
  • Yogurt
  • Whole grain breads, buns, pitas, wraps, bagels
  • Homemade muffins
  • Unsweetened whole grain cereals
  • Low sodium whole grain crackers
  • Plain popcorn
  • Homemade trail mix (without peanuts or other nuts if eaten at school or child care centers)
  • Legumes or legume dips
  • Eggs

Water should be the main drink served with snacks. It satisfies thirst without adding unnecessary calories or sugars. Milk and milk alternative beverages (only after age 2) are also healthy options. If occasionally choosing fruit juice, use 100% fruit juice, not fruit beverages and limit to 4 ounces.

Reference: Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide – A Resource for Educators and Communicators

For answers to your healthy eating questions contact Dial-a-Dietitian to speak to a Registered Dietitian in Manitoba. In Winnipeg call (204) 788-8248 or Toll Free at 1-877-830-2892.

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22. My three year old will only eat certain foods. What can I do?

A child may refuse to eat part or all of the family meal. If mealtimes are a struggle, the following tips will help your child develop better eating habits:

  • Follow Ellyn Satter's concept of the "Division of Responsibility in Feeding" which states that parents and children have different responsibilities in feeding. The parent's job is to decide:
    • What food and drinks are served
    • When food is served
    • Where food is served
    Your child's job is to decide:
    • If and how much to eat from the food and drinks you have served. Trust that your child knows when they are hungry or full.
  • Grow, pick, cook and shop for food together. Your child will be more open to trying new food.
  • Eat all meals and snacks at the table and eat together as often as possible. This provides an opportunity to be a role model for healthy eating.
  • Keep mealtimes pleasant and relaxed. Don't expect good table manners yet. Let your child eat with their fingers.
  • Avoid pressure, praise, rewards, tricks or punishment. Children do not eat well when they are pressured to eat.
  • Set regular meal and snack times. Offer 3 meals and 2-3 snacks at regular times each day. Do not let your child eat or graze throughout the day. Offer only water in between meals and snacks.
  • Do not make separate meals for your child. Your child will not learn to eat a variety of food if you only serve what they like to eat. Always serve one food you know your child will eat so they won't go hungry.
  • Don't be discouraged if your child does not like a new food on the first try. Sometimes it can take 8-10 tastes or more before a child likes a new food.

Nutrition screening tool for toddlers and preschoolers available at: Nutri-eStep.

Reference: "Dietitians of Canada – PEN – Feeding Your Picky Toddler or Preschooler"

For answers to your healthy eating questions contact Dial-a-Dietitian to speak to a Registered Dietitian in Manitoba. Dial-a-Dietitian can be reached at 204-788-8248 in Winnipeg or toll-free at 1-877-830-2892.

ManitobaParentZone.ca acknowledges the assistance of Dial-a-Dietitian in responding to this question.

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23. How can I make healthier baked goods for my kids?

Many recipes can be made healthier by:

  • Adding more fibre:
    Fibre is a type of carbohydrate that can be helpful to our bodies by controlling blood sugar, preventing heart disease and improving digestion. Increase fibre by using whole grains like whole wheat flour or oats, bran cereal and fresh and/or dried fruit. Replace up to 1/2 of the white flour with whole wheat flour. You can also replace up to a 1/4 of the flour with ground flaxseed.
  • Adding less fat:
    Lower fat diets help to manage weight and control blood pressure and cholesterol. Overall fat can be reduced (with no substitution) by a 1/4 to a 1/3 without affecting the quality of the end product. Replace up to 1/2 of the fat called for with mashed fruit or vegetables. For example, unsweetened applesauce or pureed pumpkin, squash or sweet potato is a good replacement in items like cookies, carrot cake or banana bread; pureed prunes are a good replacement for fat in chocolate cake.
  • Adding less sugar:
    Sugar provides sweetness, but few nutrients. Excess sugar can contribute excess calories and can raise blood sugar levels quickly in people with diabetes. Therefore, cutting down on sugar is a healthy idea. And end products are still tasty and sweet enough to be a treat. Reduce the sugar by 1/4 – 1/3 (with no substitutions). Or use extracts such as vanilla, almond, maple, etc. And/or use extra 'sweet' spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg or ginger.
  • Adding less salt:
    Salt is added to baked goods to help flavours blend together and help with product browning. Some recipes have small amounts of salt added (1/4 teaspoon less for the entire recipe). Also, there is a small amount of salt in butter, soft margarine, baking powder and baking soda. Salt is not usually a concern in home-made baked goods because such small amounts are used.

For answers to your healthy eating questions contact Dial-a-Dietitian to speak to a Registered Dietitian in Manitoba. Dial-a-Dietitian can be reached at 204-788-8248 in Winnipeg or toll-free at 1-877-830-2892.

ManitobaParentZone.ca acknowledges the assistance of Dial-a-Dietitian in responding to this question.

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24. How do I get my kids to eat their veggies?

The most common food complaint is this – "my kid won't eat their veggies". Although getting kids to eat the green stuff can be challenging at times, remember that fruits and vegetables are probably the most important food your child can learn to eat for a healthy body weight and the prevention of disease. How do you do it? Introduce your child to a wide variety of fruits and vegetables – the earlier in life the better. Serve them often. Children need to be exposed to, and ideally taste, a new food as many as 10 to 15 times before they'll accept it (parents often give up after less than 3). What else works? Give them to kids when they're most hungry. Slice them and dice them. A kid might refuse a whole pear, but will happily enjoy a sliced one. Serve veggies raw – alone or with dip. Make homemade smoothies. Taste matters – it's okay to put a little cheese sauce on broccoli or make honey-glazed carrots. Visit farmer's markets and pick-your-own produce farms as a family. Most important, don't give up!

Reference: Liz Pearson – Top 10 Things Every Parent Needs to Know About Feeding Their Kids

For answers to your healthy eating questions contact Dial-a-Dietitian to speak to a Registered Dietitian in Manitoba. Dial-a-Dietitian can be reached at 204-788-8248 in Winnipeg or toll-free at 1-877-830-2892.

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25. I am planning to return to work soon and I need to wean my 10.5 month old from her afternoon nursing sessions. The problem is she has never taken a bottle and will not drink from a sippy cup. I am worried she will get dehydrated or be very hungry in between meals without her nursing session. I have no idea how to go about this.

Going back to work can be a stressful time for mothers. Some women wean their babies completely off breastfeeding, others partially wean while others are able to continue with their breast feeding routine once they have returned to work. Whatever your situation is, there is support for you as you make this transition back to work.

During the weaning process and as a child breastfeeds less, they will start to feel hungry and show more interest in solid food. Since this weaning is around nap time, how about offering some food and milk in a cup as a snack either before or after the nap? At 10 months of age, having 3 meals and 2 snacks a day is supported. Some snack ideas to try are;

  • Applesauce or mashed avocado on whole-grain toast or pancake or muffin with milk
  • Half a bagel with peanut butter or pea butter and banana slices with milk
  • Infant iron fortified cereal or cooked barley topped with berries and yogurt
  • Small cubes of cheddar cheese and cut up fresh fruit like berries or melon or cut up fresh vegetables like cucumber or tomato

Weaning

Weaning can be either natural (child-led) or planned (mother-led).

Natural weaning or "child-led weaning" happens when your baby starts to accept more – and different types – of solid foods while still breastfeeding on demand. With this type of weaning, you watch your baby's cues and wean at her pace. Babies who are weaned naturally usually stop breastfeeding completely sometime between 2 and 4 years of age.

Planned weaning or "mother-led weaning" happens when mothers decide to start the weaning process.

A "partial wean" means substituting one or more feedings with a cup or bottle and breastfeeding at other times. This can work well if you are going back to work or school, but still want to breastfeed. Early morning, evening and night feedings can continue even if you are separated from your baby during the day.

Your weaning experience is up to you and your baby. Try to follow your baby's cues whenever possible. If you feel your baby is not taking what you think is enough other foods or liquids, see your primary care provider.

When you and your baby are ready to wean, there are few things that can help make the experience a more positive one for both of you:

  • It's easiest for you and your baby if weaning is gradual – over several weeks, months or even longer. A sudden, abrupt wean should only be considered in extreme circumstances such as maternal illness.
  • Start by substituting one feed. When one feed is going well, substitute another feed, and so on.
  • Continue this way, substituting one feed at a time. The pace is up to you and your baby, but in general, the slower the better.
  • Someone else, such as your baby's father, may need to offer a feed for your baby to accept it. You can start with a liquid (such as expressed breast milk) in a bottle or cup or a complementary food after about 6 months of age.
  • Follow your baby's cues. She'll tell you when she's had enough.
  • Hold and cuddle your baby if you are feeding from a bottle. This extra closeness will help both of you during the weaning process. Never prop a bottle. Bottle propping can put your baby at risk for choking and causes early childhood caries.
  • Watch the cues you give to your baby. If you sit in the same chair you usually use when you're nursing, he'll likely want to breastfeed.

During this time, the child may need more hugs and loving attention. Most importantly, keep trying and be patient. Trust that the child knows when they are hungry or full. If meals and snacks are provided, the child will do their job with eating the amounts that are right for them. Forcing or bribing to drink the milk (or eat food) doesn't usually work.

How should I care for my breasts when I start to wean?

  • If your breasts are uncomfortable while weaning, try expressing some milk. Over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen might help. Cold compresses or gel packs applied to your breasts can also be of some comfort.
  • Don't bind your breasts or drink fewer fluids while you're weaning.
  • Check your breasts regularly to make sure you aren't developing a blocked duct. A block duct will feel like a firm, tender area (the size of a pea) of the breast.
  • Sometimes you can clear it with gentle rubbing or by putting a little bit of pressure on the area. If it's painful, see your doctor or lactation consultant. This is more likely to occur during an abrupt wean.

For more information contact Health Links – Info Santé at 204-788-8667 OR Toll Free at 1-888-315-9257, your local public health nurse or your primary care provider. For more information about feeding your baby, contact Dial-a-Dietitian at 204-7888248 or toll free at 1-877-830-2892.

ManitobaParentZone.ca acknowledges the assistance of Health Links – Info Santé in responding to your question.

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26. What types of foods should I be including in my child's lunch?

Feed your children real food. Focus on nutrient dense foods to help nourish your growing children. Foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, milk, meat, fish and 100% whole grains. It's important to eat real foods and foods that are as close as possible to their natural state. A whole apple has so much more to offer than a container of applesauce. Parents buy fruit roll-ups in the hope that there might be a fruit serving in there somewhere. There usually isn't. Start feeding your kids food. When you do purchase processed stuff, learn to read food labels so at least you buy foods with less salt, sugar and unhealthy fats and more fibre, vitamins and minerals – nutrients that actually fuel your child's ability to think, grow and be healthy.

References: Top 10 Things Every Parent Needs to Know About Feeding Their Kids – Liz Pearson, RD

For answers to your healthy eating questions contact Dial-a-Dietitian to speak to a Registered Dietitian in Manitoba. Dial-a-Dietitian can be reached at 204-788-8248 in Winnipeg or toll-free at 1-877-830-2892.

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27. How can I make my child's holiday parties healthier?

Make your child's next party a healthy one. Take the focus off the sugary cakes, cookies and candies. Choose healthy foods and focus on fun.

  • Opt for a menu change. Whole-grain mini bagels or naan bread with tuna or lower-sodium deli meats such as turkey, chicken or ham are a great alternative. Make tacos with cooked lean ground beef or shredded cooked chicken, diced tomatoes, green pepper, shredded cheese, etc and let the kids assemble them.
  • Make old favourites healthier. If serving pizza, choose whole-grain thin crust with mostly vegetable toppings over the thick crust double cheese and pepperoni. Or serve chicken, turkey or veggie hot dogs instead of beef.
  • Serve up the veggies. You will be amazed at how many kids will go for sliced veggies with dip in addition to whatever else they are eating. Serve a platter of cucumber slices, baby carrots, grape tomatoes and pepper rings for kids to snack on during the party instead of candies and chips. You can also make it fun by creating a salad bar that kids can pick and choose from.
  • Treat with fruit. Fresh fruit can be a refreshing snack or dessert at the end of an eventful party. Strawberries and melons taste delicious on their own or when dipped in vanilla yogurt. For a real fruity treat, try homemade chocolate covered frozen bananas.
  • Bake a heart-healthy cake. Instead of fat-laden, store-bought varieties, try baking your own birthday cake made with ingredients such as whole-wheat flour and unsaturated oils.
  • Create a sundae bar. Give each child a small cup with a scoop of frozen yogurt. Have fun toppings for them to choose from to create a delicious sundae. Fill small bowls with fresh berries, dark chocolate chips, granola, etc.
  • Have healthy beverages available. Quench kids thirst with water, milk and 100% fruit juice instead of soda pop, punches and other sugary drinks.

Reference: Adapted from Heart and Stroke. Make your child's birthday party a healthy one. Alyssa Rolnick, RD. Posted May 1, 2008.

For answers to your healthy eating questions contact Dial-a-Dietitian to speak to a Registered Dietitian in Manitoba.

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28. How can I help my child and teen grow well?

Helping your child and teenager to grow well is not always an easy task. These tips are some of the ways to guide their choices and pass on lessons they can use for life.

Healthy Eating Tips

Making breakfast a regular habit in your home.

  • Breakfast helps children to participate and learn better at school.
  • Great choices include: fruit, while grain cereals, bannock, pita, toast, milk, soy beverage, yogurt, tofu, eggs or peanut butter.
  • Try to gather the family early to allow times for breakfast.

Drink water often – it’s the best choice when thirsty.

  • Limit the amount of sugary drinks such as pop, fruit drinks and sports drinks. They provide little or no nutrition and can cause dental cavities.
  • Limit 100% fruit juice to ½ cup for younger children and 1 cup for teens per day.

Make mealtime a family time.

  • Cook together. Eat together. Talk together.
  • Family meals help promote healthy eating overall.

Share decisions about food.

  • Parents and caregivers decide what kinds of food to offer and when.
  • Let children decide whether and how much to eat. Trust their feelings of hunger and being full.
  • Praise, hugs and just spending time together work well as rewards, rather than using food.

Meals and snacks.

  • Sit down for snacks and meals.
  • Serve a variety of foods from all four food groups in Canada’s Food Guide.
  • Offer foods that are generally high in fiber, low in sugar and fat.

Tips for Active Living

Build physical activity into the daily routine.

  • Regular physical activity helps children develop strength and energy.
  • Aim for 60 minutes of physical activity every day.
  • Have fun together with activities suitable for your child’s age.
  • Plan walks or a bike ride after dinner.

Limit screen time to less than 2 hours a day.

  • Screen time includes TV, computer or video games.
  • The more time children spend at a screen, the less time they have for family chats or being active.

Get enough sleep.

  • A child or teen is more ready for their daily activities if they have had a good night’s sleep.
  • Having enough sleep also promotes a healthy weight.

Model Healthy Habits

  • Children learn from watching others. They are more likely to make healthy choices when that is a part of your family routine.

Reference: Dietitians of Canada – Tips to help your child and teen grow well

For answers to your healthy eating questions contact Dial-a-Dietitian to speak to a Registered Dietitian in Manitoba.

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29. What is the best weight for my teen?

Weight and body image can be sensitive issues, especially for adolescents. As such, there is no ideal weight. The right weight for one may not be the right weight for another. Instead of focusing on weight let's focus on behaviors that promote health, nourishment and performance. More information.

For answers to your healthy eating questions contact Dial-a-Dietitian to speak to a Registered Dietitian in Manitoba.

Dial - a - Dietitian  1-877-830-2892, 204-788-8248 in Winnipeg

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30. I just had my first baby. How do I best take care of myself while breastfeeding?

Breastfeeding is good for you and your baby. Making healthy, nourishing choices during this time is important. More information.

For answers to your healthy eating questions contact Dial-a-Dietitian to speak to a Registered Dietitian in Manitoba.

Dial - a - Dietitian  1-877-830-2892, 204-788-8248 in Winnipeg

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31. What are some simple snack ideas for kids?

Nutrient dense snacks are an important part of a child's daily intake. Children have specific nutritional requirements as well smaller stomachs and higher metabolic rates than adults. The right snack at the right time provides nutrients and calories for optimal growth, development, energy and overall good health. More information:

Quick and Easy Snack Ideas.

For answers to your healthy eating questions contact Dial-a-Dietitian to speak to a Registered Dietitian in Manitoba.

Dial - a - Dietitian  1-877-830-2892, 204-788-8248 in Winnipeg

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32. How can I get my kids to eat vegetables and fruits?

Everyone knows eating our vegetables and fruit is good for us. Getting our kids to eat theirs can sometimes be challenging. More information:

Helpful tips and recipes

For answers to your healthy eating questions contact Dial-a-Dietitian to speak to a Registered Dietitian in Manitoba.

Dial - a - Dietitian  1-877-830-2892, 204-788-8248 in Winnipeg

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33. At what age should I start including my child in the cooking process?

Cooking can be a pleasure at all ages. It is fun and easy and can help your child develop lifelong skills in the kitchen. More information:

Cooking with Kids

For answers to your healthy eating questions contact Dial-a-Dietitian to speak to a Registered Dietitian in Manitoba.

Dial - a - Dietitian  1-877-830-2892, 204-788-8248 in Winnipeg

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34. How do I get my picky eater to try new foods?

Getting your child to try new foods can be frustrating however there are some tips that can help. For more information:

Picky eating: 10 fun tips to get kids to try new foods

For answers to your healthy eating questions contact Dial-a-Dietitian to speak to a Registered Dietitian in Manitoba.

Dial - a - Dietitian  1-877-830-2892, 204-788-8248 in Winnipeg

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35. I want to teach my children healthy habits. Where should I focus my efforts?

Parents play an important role in teaching children healthy habits. For more information:

Tips for Raising Kids with Healthy Habits

For answers to your healthy eating questions contact Dial-a-Dietitian to speak to a Registered Dietitian in Manitoba.

Dial - a - Dietitian  1-877-830-2892, 204-788-8248 in Winnipeg

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36. How do I know if my 2 year old is eating well enough?

Many parents ask this same question. Take the NutriSTEP questionnaire to determine your child’s nutrition risk. For more information:

Nutri-eSTEP: Eating Habits Survey for Toddlers

For answers to your healthy eating questions contact Dial-a-Dietitian to speak to a Registered Dietitian in Manitoba.

Dial - a - Dietitian  1-877-830-2892, 204-788-8248 in Winnipeg

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