Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Sugar, Not So Sweet Afterall!

Sugar is everywhere we look! We, by nature, like comfort foods, sweets and sugar! In fact, sweet is the first taste humans prefer from birth, so it's no surprise that we tend to gulp sweetened foods and beverages! 
But why!
Humans have this preference for sugar largely because carbohydrates stimulate the release of the feel-good brain chemical serotonin which affects brain cells related to mood, sexual function, sleep, memory and learning, temperature regulation, and appetite. Thus carbs and sweets affect us more than we know it! 

Some examples of when sugar can lurk around in foods and drinks are coffee, cocktails, milkshakes, regular soft drinks, iced tea, fruit juices, sports drinks, energy drinks, salad dressings, cake mixes, ice cream, chocolate bars, jelly, cookie, pastries, sweets, knefe, croissants, cornflakes, chocolate spreads! And even though sweetened beverages are just liquids, these drinks provide you with empty calories more than beneficial nutrients and can pass by unnoticed especially in hot, humid weather, gulping one drink after another!

But sugar can be tricky, so how to detect it?
Spotting added sugar on the food label requires a bit of detective work. Food and beverage manufacturers must list the product's total amount of sugar per serving on the nutrition facts label. This is why you will need to scan the ingredients list of a food or beverage to find that added sugar! Note that all ingredients are listed in descending order by weight, yup! Therefore the relative position of sugar in the ingredient list is crucial and can give you an idea of whether the food contains a lot of sugar or just a little as compared to the other ingredients.
Added sugars go by many different names, yet they are all a source of extra calories! So here's a small list of what sugar can go by:

Moreover, if the label says "no added sugars", it should not contain any of the above mentioned sugars, although the food could contain naturally occurring sugars (such as lactose in milk for example). However, note that although these foods don't contain high sugar ingredients and no sugar was added during processing/packaging, foods without added sugar may still be high in carbs!
So in order to know how much exactly is a gram of sugar: One teaspoon of granulated sugar equals 4 grams of sugar. To put it another way, 16 grams of sugar in a product is equal to about 4 teaspoons of granulated sugar, so do the math!
Remember, your body doesn't care what the label says, it's all just "sugar"! Read the ingredients and watch out for drinks and foods that are high in sugar. Having a lot of sugar whether from food or sweetened beverages can lead to gaining extra weight, even in active people!


Monday, August 29, 2011

Zuwwedet Aline - A Healthy Vegetarian Night in Lebanon

Aline is making us some healthy vegetarian food on the 5th of September from 8.00 pm till 11.00 pm at Tarek Booze in Gemmayze! So give yourself a break from all those trans and saturated fats, refined carbs and unhealthy meals and enjoy some delicious vegetarian food under the theme of green beans and corn!

Vegetarian diets are known to be low in saturated fats & high in fibers! The consumption of a generous supply of whole grains, legumes, nuts, fruits and vegetables provides protection against chronic diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. A plant based diet is rich in its content of health promoting factors such as the many phyto-chemicals and antioxidants. Keep in mind that, when planned well, a vegetarian diet can provide you with all the nutrients, vitamins and minerals your body needs.

So fit such nights into your schedule, you'll be doing your health a favor!
For more info, you can call Tarek Booze at 03.148890

Zuwwedet Aline poster

Sunday, August 28, 2011

"Breastfeeding Basics" Seminar

Even though breastfeeding is nature's way of providing nutritional needs for infants, the "art" of breastfeeding and the techniques may not come as naturally!
Therefore, Moms and to Be is organizing a public seminar targeting working mothers, mothers with newborns and moms to be planning to breastfeeding to provide them with credible, trust worthy information about breastfeeding basics, essentials and practical tips from a certified breastfeeding specialist!

So when and where is it?
It will be held in Sin El Fil cultural center, Lebanon on the 6th of October from 4.30 pm till 7.30 pm.

What's cooking in this seminar? 
  • Basic principles of breastfeeding
  • How to increase milk flow
  • Breastfeeding positions that are helpful for comfortable and successful lactation
  • Early hunger cues of babies
  • Babies needs of water and vitamins
  • Dad's role in the breastfeeding process
  • Feeding babies at night time
  • When to introduce bottle feeding
  • What to do if moms are sick
  • How to know if babies are getting enough milk for proper growth and development
  • The process of pumping and storing milk
  • The recommended duration for breastfeeding

The session will be fun and educational! Starting 4.00 pm, there will be a welcome coffee break and snacks will be ready for early arrivals and better yet, a special animation is foreseen for your kids all through the session! Free parking is also available at the center so for more information, contact 01.566 999!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Breastfeeding Week in Lebanon

Al-Safir Website [Link]
I love it when issues as important as increasing awareness about breastfeeding are emphasized on in Lebanon. In fact I got this online article via http://daasetsobbat.blog.com/ aka @Yara_Assi who actually participated in making this event a successful one!

Spread the word about breastfeeding and provide every mom and mom-to-be with this user friendly, very beneficial Hotline: 03.824100 that provides useful information and tips about breastfeeding!

The Art of Breastfeeding

Just like learning a new skill, knowledge, practice and support from family, friends and coworkers are the key to perfecting the "art" or techniques of breastfeeding.

It is important to discuss your decision with your doctor before delivery and inform your hospital staff in order to provide you with a breastfeeding friendly environment as soon as you arrive to the hospital!

Warming up & getting started 
To help ensure an adequate milk supply and build confidence, start nursing as soon after delivery as possible >> within 20-30 minutes after your baby is born, perhaps in the delivery room. This is why it is important to remind the hospital’s staff of “rooming in” with your infant.
The first feeding will be most probably short, for about 10 minutes. Find a comfy chair with a good arm and back support or lie down with pillows positioned to help support your baby. This way, you won’t feel any tension in your neck, back or shoulders and it’ll be easier to hold your baby while breastfeeding him/her. Keep in mind to plan to nurse your infant on demand, that is, whenever your baby decides it is time to eat.
Signs that your baby is hungry: If your baby is mouthing, rooting toward your breast, playing with his mouth and tongue and has an increased alertness. Usually, crying is a let sign of hunger so learning the earlier signs of hunger could be helpful to better understand your baby’s hunger schedule.
During the first months, be prepared to nurse very frequently: about 8 - 12 months every 24 hours. A newborn’s stomach is small and his nutritional needs are exceptional during this period of rapid growth and development. Frequent nursing helps establish your milk supply and keeps your breasts from becoming hard and swollen. 

Latching on 
Some newborns instinctively suckle when they are first put to their mother’s breast while others take time to get used to the process, but either way is normal. Latching on correctly helps your baby get enough milk and protects you from sore nipples.
>> Help your baby by stroking your baby’s cheek or lower lip nearest to your breast.
>> As your baby turns toward your nipple, guide your baby’s mouth. Newborns have a “rooting reflex” at the breast thus they open their mouths naturally.
>> Try to offer both breasts at each feeding. Let your baby nurse as long as he or she wants – about 10 to 20 minutes on each breast. The longer they stay the more of the “hind milk they take. This milk is higher in fat and helps the baby feel full and satisfied.
Make sure to wash your hands before nursing. 

Breastfeeding – About Your Baby 
Burp your baby when you change breasts and at the end of the feeding. This relieves any discomfort from air swallowed while nursing. Hold him or her upright on your shoulder or lay your baby tummy side down across your lap. Then gently rub or pat your baby’s back. It is normal for a baby to spit up a bit of milk.
Trust your baby to let you know when he had enough to eat.
Signs of fullness: Your baby may close his or her lips, turn away or even fall asleep. Sometimes babies rest during a feeding as well, so this makes it hard to know when one feeding stops and the next begins.

Breastfeeding – About You 
Because babies nurse more energetically when they start breastfeeding, alternate the breast you offer first.This will help ensure that both breasts are empties regularly and helps you prevent breasts stiffness. If your breasts feel tight and full, soften the by expressing a small amount of milk by hand or breast pump. Fullness and discomfort are signs of engorgement and may happen when your milk supply first comes in or if you have gone too long between feedings. Feed you baby often and if your baby is not hungry yet, you can store the milk in a clean container and refrigerate it, then offer it in a cup later on. 
Don't forget to hydrate yourself well during the day!

Book reference: Complete Food and Nutrition Guide, ADA
by Roberta Larson Duyff, 3rd ed.

Photo references:
World Breastfeeding Week Logo 
Mother and infant 
Breastfeeding Rocks

Monday, August 1, 2011

7 Things You Gotta Know About Coffee

  • Coffee has its different national days in some counties that are actually public holidays. In Japan, for instance, October 1st is 'Coffee Day'. In Ireland, it is September the 19th, and in Costa Rica it is 12th September.There's no such thing in Lebanon, at least not yet!
  • A cup of black coffee does not contain any calories if served without sugar, yet is still contains the caffeine. And even if you decide to go decaf, you'll still get some of that caffeine. In fact, if you drink 5-10 cups of decaffeinated coffee, you could get as much caffeine as from 1-2 cups of caffeinated one.
  • More than 1.4 billion cups of coffee are consumed each day worldwide and it takes around 40 roasted coffee beans to make just one single espresso shot!
  • Caffeine is not the main bitter compound in coffee; it's just responsible for 15 % of the bitterness you taste. The rest is due to antioxidants that form during the roasting the coffee beans.
  • The traditional espresso machine was actually invented in France, not in Italy, bummer! However, the Italians took this idea, perfected it & made it their own and nowadays, the best espresso coffee machines are still made in Italy. Note that espresso in Italy is rather too important to be consumed with a meal. It is treated as a separate event and is given its own time after the meal.
  • The most expensive coffee in the world comes from Civet poop. Civets are cat sized mammals that only ingest fine ripe berries and excrete them partially digested. Yup the partially digested berries are those fine coffee beans! Believe it or not 1 pound (around 1/2 kg) sells between 120 and 600 $.
  • Last but not least, here's a quick mini poster that would help you to decipher all those coffee options next time you're ordering/making one: Make sure to go decaf, get yourself some skimmed milk & lay low on those added sugar, cream, syrups, toppings and chocolate chips! You can read more about what to choose when ordering/preparing your coffee here.
Illustration by Lokesh Dhakar


Breastfeeding – The Baby Friendly Way for August

The 1st week of August is the “Breastfeeding Week” when all countries around the world announce their pledge to the importance of breast feeding and its promotion around their nation.
Every country should put specific health objectives to increase the incidence of breastfeeding and this is increasing around Lebanon. This is a must to overcome any barriers that cause a decrease in breastfeeding norms such as:

•Lack of knowledge about the importance and benefits of breastfeeding
•Absence of work facilities or policies that support lactating women ( for example: extended maternity leave, part time employment, facilities for pumping breast milk, child care on site set, etc.)
•Advertising bottle feeding
•Lack of breastfeeding support 

Therefore, to promote breastfeeding, every maternity facility, hospitals, health professionals and dietitians should follow ten steps recommended by the World Health Organization:

•Hospitals should develop written breastfeeding policies that are communicated to all health care staff.
•Allow rooming in once the baby is born; that is, mothers and babies should be together in the same room 24 hours a day.
•Facilities should train its staff to implement such policies.
•Pregnant women should be educated and informed about the importance of breastfeeding and how to manage it in a successful way.
•Breastfeeding should be initiated half an hour after delivery and staff in hospitals should highly recommend that.
•Demonstrate to mothers how to breastfeed and to maintain lactation even if they should be separated from their children for medical reasons.
•Encourage breastfeeding on demand.
•Health care professionals should refrain from giving newborns any food or drink other than breast milk unless it is medically indicated.
•No artificial nipples or pacifiers should be given to breastfed newborns.
•Hospital staff should refer mothers to breastfeeding support groups or dietitians after being discharged.

Today, more than 20,000 maternity facilities worldwide report ever having achieved Baby-friendly status. So whether the hospital you deliver your baby in is baby-friendly or not, you know what the “Ten Baby-friendly Tips” are and yes, it is possible that you implement them yourself. Ask your doctor and the nurses helping for your own “baby-friendly” way. Go for breastfeeding for both you and your baby.

Mom & infant photo