Go Ahead… Pick Your WIC!!

Well, I am currently in full swing of rotations! As of right now, I am rotating in the morning at Taziki’s Mediterranean Café for Institutional Foodservice and at West Virginia’s Monongalia County WIC office in the afternoons.

WIC is available for so many different types of families. The program is available to married and single parents, working or non-working, those receiving other types of aid or not participating in any other programs. Even if you are a grandparent, foster parent, or other legal guardian of a child under the age of 5, you can even apply for WIC.

WIC is available to expecting mothers, up until 6 months after the end of their pregnancy. Infants are categorized in another group and covered from birth – 5 months old. Children are covered from 11 months – 5 years of age. And throughout their childhood, they have appointments every 6 months.

Today marked my “official” first day at the WIC office. Every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, the Mon. County WIC schedules their nutrition clinics to see participants for follow-up and new client assessments. This afternoon, I observed a Registered Dietitian at WIC, assess 4 different appointments.

Each participant with a nutrition clinic appointment attends or completes an online nutrition education class 3 months prior to their appointment. The nutrition education classes cover a variety of topics like infant nutrition, nutrition during pregnancy, and shopping on a limited budget. Within the participant’s assessments, WIC RDs ask the parent(s)/proxy, who may also be the primary food preparer, a series of assessment questions. More importantly, these questions should spark a conversation with the participant(s) to try and get the most information about the nutritional status of the client. The suggested assessment questions are broken into three categories: women, infant, and children… How fitting!

Once the participants are seen and finished their clinic appointment, they are given food vouchers which can be used at WIC-approved stores. These vouchers are designated for specific foods through the WIC program. Here are some types of foods that are WIC-approved:

        Milk- Whole milk during infancy, 2% or less during childhood

        Cheese

        Infant Cereal

        Fresh Fruits

        Eggs

        Peanut Butter

        Infant Formula

        Fresh Vegetables

        Juice

        Canned Fish

        Beans

        Whole Grains Breads

        Cereal

        Baby Food

        Soy Milk

Participants receive certain foods based on their individual nutritional needs. If for any reason, mothers are incapable of breastfeeding their infant, WIC provides vouchers for formula. Yes, WIC is major advocate of breastfeeding but, sometimes women are not physically able to do so. Formula that WIC offers is grouped into 3 categories:

1.     Powder: Powder formula that is combined with water, usually cereal formula.

2.     Concentrate: Liquid formula combined with water, usually producing a bubbling effect. This formula may not be best choice for a child with nutritional problems like spitting up or reflux.

3.     Ready-to-Feed: Requires no addition of water.

The WIC is to improve the health of participants by providing the following benefits:

        Nutrition Workshops on a Variety of Topics

        Breastfeeding Support

        Nutritious Foods

        Referrals to Other Health and Social Service Agencies

Overall, I think the first day went really well. I still have a lot to learn and honestly, I’m soaking up the entire experience. I have a list of other projects that I will be completing at WIC so; I’ll have much more to talk about in the upcoming weeks!

A laminated visual that an RD at WIC has on-hand to show clients at appointments.

A laminated visual that an RD at WIC has on-hand to show clients at appointments.

Information that is provided within one of WIC's several pamphlets for participants, based by age of child/infant.

Information that is provided within one of WIC’s several pamphlets for participants, based by age of child/infant.

Is a Vitamin D Deficiency Linked with Food Allergies?

Vitamin D linked with Food Allergies?

Children deficient in vitamin D at age one are more likely to have food allergies, but only if their parents are born in Australia. This is based on researcher’s findings in Melbourne, Australia.

In a study of 5000 children, researchers from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute found that one-year-olds with vitamin D deficiency were 3 times more likely to have a food allergy than those whose levels were adequate.

Children with two or more allergies were 10 times more likely to have vitamin D deficiency, according to the study, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

The lead researcher said there was some evidence that vitamin D could play an important role in regulating a child’s immune system in the first year of life. It was likely that reduced diversity of bacteria in the gut due to increased hygiene explained the current food allergy epidemic, with vitamin D and an infant’s diet also plays a crucial factor.

Vitamin D deficiency was linked to food allergies only in children of Australian-born parents, which could be because they may have more diverse gut microbes.

”I personally think the hygiene hypothesis is very critical but in that context I think there’s a second factor, which is vitamin D and what we eat in first year of life.”

”It’s probably the two coming together at a critical moment in history which has driven this quite bizarre situation in the past 20 years where food allergies are on the rise.”

Australia has one of the highest rates of food allergy in the world, affecting more than 10% of infants.

Australia also had one of the highest rates of vitamin D deficiency, and was one of the few countries that did not fortify foods with vitamin D or provide supplements to infants.

”This study provides the first direct evidence vitamin D sufficiency may be an important protective factor for food allergy in the first year of life. We’re excited by these results, because what this suggests is there may be a modifiable factor that we can actually change and do something about to turn back the tide in the food allergy epidemic.”

Food allergies are obviously a concern to new parents and their young children. Children with food allergies are two to four times more likely to have other related conditions such as asthma and other allergies, compared with children without food allergies.

From 2004 to 2006, there were approximately 9,500 hospital discharges per year with a diagnosis related to food allergy among children under age 18 years, in the U.S. From 1997 to 2007, the prevalence of reported food allergy increased 18% among children under age 18 years.

These numbers alone, represent the alarming epidemic of food allergies that are affecting people of every age and on every continent of the world. Not only are children in danger of potential allergic reactions but, parents are the responsible parties that have to take precautions and manage their child’s everyday diet.

CDC

Vitamin D deficiency linked to food allergies

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vitaminD_allergy

What Parents Need to Know

It’s no secret that America has a childhood obesity epidemic. The health risks that can accompany childhood obesity are so regularly featured on news reports that it’s amazing the problem is still so prevalent. And although many parents can identify a weight problem in their child, they might not know what to do about it, especially when it comes to handling the situation without damaging her self-esteem. Here is some food for thought for parents of overweight children, along with some practical, real-life advice for handling the situation.

Your Doctor Might Not Tell You

Your doctor might not let you know that your child is overweight or obese. This may be because he assumes you do not want to know. As a parent, it is easy to turn a blind eye to things like your kids being overweight or even when your kids develop a bad habit. If you have a suspicion that your child is overweight, you should approach your doctor about it. This will show him that you are interested in learning more about the issue and are willing to work with his suggestions on what to change or tweak in your child’s life.

You Are Not Alone

Sometimes it’s difficult to realize that you are not the only one with overweight kids. There are others out there who are just as concerned as you are and who are willing to share their wisdom. Search out those other parents and work together to achieve a common goal. That extra support is just the thing you need to keep on track, and having another overweight child working toward becoming a healthier size will help put your child at ease and encourage her to work hard at losing that extra weight.

Exercise Is Always a Good Thing

Not everyone enjoys exercise, but it’s essential for kids’ health and physical development. Come up with an exercise schedule that everyone in the household sticks to. There’s no reason to send your kid off to the gym for an aerobics class while you sit at home. Make it a family event that everyone looks forward to. If everyone likes to do something different, then create a schedule that includes all of the activities throughout the week. Working together as a family not only creates a built-in support system, it can also boost the health of everyone in the family and gives you an opportunity to model the habits you want your child to adopt.

She Shouldn’t Have to Make Changes Alone

Along the same lines as exercising with your child, don’t make them go through any aspect of this experience alone. Singling him out will just create tension and remorse that doesn’t need to be there at all. If the doctor says he needs to change his diet, change the diet of your entire family. Clean out that pantry of the junk food and fill it with healthier alternatives, encouraging everyone to eat better. Even members of your family at an average weight can benefit from cutting out the empty calories.

Some Foods Should Be Avoided

Going out for fast food three times a week is a bad habit to get into, regardless of how convenient it might be for time-strapped parents. All of the grease that is typical of fast food has no place in a child’s diet. And, keep in mind the word “diet” does not mean counting calories and starving your child. She still needs a decent amount of food. After all, she is growing and changing. With how much energy children burn throughout each day, chances are they need to eat more food than you would expect. They just need healthier fare than deep-fried potatoes and genetically modified meat.

Counting Calories Isn’t Always Right for Kids

The strict course of counting calories is a lot of pressure to put on a child and will single them out more than their weight already does. Stress can even be a trigger for kids and adults who are prone to emotional eating. So skip the added stress of counting calories and think about ways to instill healthier habits as a whole.

Your Child May Have Low Self-Esteem

It is possible that your child is being picked on at school or being made fun of by his peers because he is overweight, and he may very well be too embarrassed about the bullying to tell you about it. Sometimes kids don’t even necessarily mean to be cruel, but it can still feel that way to your child when his differences are being highlighted at every turn. If you think your child may be being picked on at school, speak with the guidance counselor to see what she has noticed and what she suggests that you do, but make sure that you’re making efforts to boost his self-esteem at home as well.

It’s Okay to Embrace Your Child’s Weight

Most importantly, embrace the way your child is no matter what. She should feel comfortable with who she is no matter what her weight is and understand that your focus on her weight is out of concern for her health rather than an emphasis on her looks. Just because she is overweight doesn’t mean she’s not a good child, and she needs to know that.

AuPair.org

fatty

Free Play Saturday 2: CDMWV

Service Learning with the Children’s Discovery Museum of West Virginia

For the second Saturday in the month of January, WVU’s Human Nutrition & Food undergraduates were staffed and participated in an event at the Children’s Discovery Museum of West Virginia, called “Free Play Saturday”. Free Play Saturday consists of 3 events in January, where the undergraduates, ISPP Dietetic Interns, and graduate students have demonstrations, activities, and displays for children and parent participants. The events are taking place the last 3 Saturdays this month and our table have themes for each event. Our three themes consist of:

  1. Crave Your FAV Rainbow
  2. Feed Your Brain, Go With Grain
  3. Sugar Shockers

Experiences like these are ideal service learning opportunities for students at every level. These events give students exposure to children of younger ages and also practice their community nutrition skills, away from campus-aged individuals.

At last Saturday’s event, “Feed Your Brain, Go With Grain”  was the theme. We had different activities for the children participating:

– Small pieces of paper cut in the shape of slices of bread. Then, we had the children write, or write with the assistance of our volunteers, their favorite type of grains.

– Slices of different types of bread in small plastic bags, labeled. And the same slices of bread in plastic bags, numbered on the back. This was our version of a matching game. We instructed the children on matching the slices of bread to its matching mate.

– Small printed pictures of grains and an assortment of other (non-grain) food and/or beverages. Then we grouped the pictures in sets of 3. One picture was a grain and 2 pictures were not grain. Then we instructed the children to identify the grain in the group of pictures. This gave the children product and food identification of grains, hopefully to use later on with their parents in such places like grocery stores.

– Then, for all 3 “Free Play Saturday” events in the month of January, we have a tri-fold poster, made by a graduate student that identifies all three themes (“Crave Your FAV Rainbow”, Feed Your Brain, Go With Grain”, and “Sugar Shockers”)

Undergraduate Interns: Mary Salvatore, Tiffany Mihaliak, Stephanie Thompson, and Danielle McCarthy (left to right)

Undergraduate Interns: Mary Salvatore, Tiffany Mihaliak, Stephanie Thompson, and Danielle McCarthy (left to right)

A game where children could out their favorite grain in the WVU HNF "bread box"

A game where children could write out their favorite grain in the WVU HNF “bread box”

Our grain identification game

Our grain identification game

A game created for children to match the different types of breads to their matching type of bread. The bread on the top was labeled. The bread on the bottom were numbered on the back, so children couldn't identify the correct answers on their own!

A game created for children to match the different types of breads to their matching type of bread. The bread on the top was labeled. The bread on the bottom were numbered on the back, so children couldn’t identify the correct answers on their own!

http://thefunfactory.org/