Meet the avocado

halved avocado in bowl

You may be inclined to call an avocado a vegetable but did you know it is technically a fruit? (It’s a single-seeded berry to be exact.) Avocados are nutrient powerhouses, providing 20 different vitamins in minerals per serving, including potassium, B vitamins, folate, vitamin C and E, as well as natural plant chemicals that may help prevent cancer.

About avocados

  • Avocados are nutritious, but they are very calorie dense so you need to consume them in moderation.
  • The recommended serving size is smaller than you may think as 1/5 of a medium avocado (or 1 ounce) is 50 calories and 4 grams of fat.
  • They are naturally low in sugar and contain fiber which helps you feel full longer.
  • They are high in monounsaturated fat which is the “good” fat that helps lower bad cholesterol.
    • The American Heart Association recommends a diet high in fruits and vegetables and up to 30 percent of calories from mainly unsaturated fat.

Incorporating avocado into your day

  • Choose avocados instead of fats that are high in saturated fats like butter or cheese.
  • Use it as a spread in place of cream cheese or mayo.
  • Make guacamole.
  • Add it to a salad.
  • Make an avocado salad (see recipe below).
  • Add it to a smoothie for added creaminess.
  • Top an omelet.
  • Add it to your favorite soup.
  • Add a delicious creamy topping to your fish or chicken.
  • Simply enjoy it right out of the peel.

Avocado salad

avocado and black bean salad

image credit: Jennifer Segal, seriouseats.com

Ingredients

  • 2 cups corn, preferably fresh or frozen (about 2 cobs)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2/3 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 medium avocado, peeled and cubed

Directions

  • Combine all the ingredients.
  • Add the avocado last to prevent it from breaking apart.

Yield

Makes 8 servings.  Serving size equals ¾ cup.  Each serving counts as 1 starch and 1 fat.

Nutrition analysis per serving

  • Calories: 130
  • Fat: 6 grams
  • Cholesterol: 0 milligrams
  • Sodium: 260 milligrams
  • Carbohydrates: 20 grams
  • Fiber: 5 grams
  • Sugar: 1 gram
  • Protein: 4 grams

– Natalie Raymond, R.D. is a clinical dietitian with the Beaumont Weight Control Center in St. Clair Shores. The Beaumont Weight Control Center offers cooking demonstrations to the community. View a list of current demonstrations here.

Finding the Holy Grail of parenting: Date night

date ideas written on popsicle sticks

Cropped image. Personal Creations, Flickr. CC license.

There are some couples who are just good at it, and some who need a boost. I’m talking about date nights and nights out with grown-ups. No. Kids.

I have a friend who is really good at it. He and his wife schedule date nights once a month in advance. They usually try a new restaurant without their four kids and then run a few errands. My husband and I are horrible at it. I love the idea, but the mythical unicorn of “date night” hardly visits our marriage. I’m not sure if that unicorn even knows where we live.

When the opportunity does come our way, I’m all in though. To get myself motivated to plan a night out, I did some brainstorming about fun things to do without your shortys in tow.

Check out entertainment calendars. Try the Freep or MLive. They list special events at museums, concerts/music festivals, cultural events and more.

Try something different. The last time we went on a date, we tried mini golf. I hadn’t laughed that hard in a long time. We were horrible! But it was a blast and totally out of the norm for us. Also consider indoor rock climbing (before adult beverages, please), a comedy show, go to the drive-in theater or a play, or attend one of the after-hours events at the zoo, Cranbrook Institute of Science or the Michigan Science Center.

If the scheduling gods are smiling on you and you actually make plans with other adults, first take a photo. It’s a rare event. Second, come up with something to do quickly so you don’t just end up camped out at the house of whoever sent their kids off to grandma’s house.

Consider:

  • Feather bowling
  • Normal bowling
  • A sporting event
  • Wine tasting/whiskey tasting
  • Casino
  • Museums
  • Visit Belle Isle and rent a paddle boat, kayak or bike
  • Preservation Detroit has excellent walking tours
  • Try an escape room
  • Trampoline park

Are you ready to plan a night out? Me, too. Where are you going?

– Rebecca Calappi is a freelance writer, adoptive mom to twins and past Parenting Program participant. Surprisingly, she’s mostly sane.

Our summer bucket list

boy and his little brother in a stroller

Hitting our local splash pad was one of our summer bucket list items.

Summer is my favorite season and for good reason: There’s warm weather and extra sunlight, which brings outdoor activities and longer hours in the day to do them. Plus, my child behaves so differently in the summer because he can run, climb, swim, jump and play to his heart’s desire.

My family loves a good summer and this year we decided to make a summer bucket list. To me, summer feels like a fleeting moment that I’m desperately trying to extend. The anticipation of summer seems to last forever whereas the actual moments of sunshine tend to fly by. Our summer to-do list highlights all the major activities we have been anxiously awaiting. It’s also a great launching point when my child complains of being bored; I can point to our list and ask which one of the activities he wants to do. Mondays aren’t so bad when you decide to cover the sidewalk in chalk or pull out the slip and slide!

To create our summer bucket list, we pulled out white paper and my son’s crayons then started brainstorming. No idea was too silly or small. See a movie outdoors? Sure. Eat something from our home garden? You bet. Have a camp out in the backyard? My son had so much fun! We tried to create a comprehensive list of all the things we wanted to do. The end game was not to simply “check off” items on our list, but instead just to put on paper the fun ideas we each had and then do things as a family.

Incorporating my 4-year-old taught me that his idea of a fun summer is different than mine. While I was focused on including big-ticket items such as family vacations, camping trips and get togethers, my child had amazingly simple ideas to include items like “have a staring contest” and “catch fireflies” on our list. What is better than catching fireflies on a summer night to a 4-year-old? The Babcock Summer Bucket List has been a huge success and I will definitely continue this tradition in the future!

boys with bucket list

My boys with the official bucket list.

Here are the items that got included our 2017 summer bucket list:

  • Go swimming at Nana and Papa’s pool
  • Play on the slip and slide
  • Take a trip up north to the cabin
  • Lay on a hammock
  • Have a water balloon fight
  • Take a trip to the zoo
  • Get our faces painted
  • Go visit our local splash pad
  • Catch a frog
  • Camp in the backyard in the tent
  • Have a staring contest
  • Go horseback riding
  • Cover the sidewalk in chalk art
  • Take a family bike ride
  • Have a bonfire and s’mores
  • Catch fireflies
  • Climb a tree
  • See fireworks
  • Have a sleepover with the cousins
  • See an outdoor movie (at the drive-in or at the park)
  • Jump on a trampoline
  • Go for a hike
  • Visit Michigan Adventure waterpark
  • Go fishing
  • Get covered in temporary tattoos
  • Have a hot dog
  • Eat something from our home garden
  • Go fruit picking
  • Visit Belle Isle Aquarium

Stephanie Babcock is an IFS coordinator with the Parenting Program. She’s a proud mom of two boys.

Teaching kids why cars are not playgrounds

child sitting in driver's seat

Even if you live in a safe neighborhood, it’s a good idea to get in the habit of locking your unoccupied vehicle. Sadly there are, on average, 37 child deaths per year due to vehicular hyperthermia. The majority of the children who die in hot cars are accidentally forgotten; however, it is estimated that up to 30 percent of the time children are trapped inside an unlocked vehicle or trunk and they are unable to escape. Here are some tips to avoiding tragedy in your driveway:

  1. Always lock vehicle doors. Even if you don’t have young children, an open car creates opportunity for neighborhood kids to become trapped.
  2. Teach kids not to play in cars or trunks. The child locks on rear doors often prevent children from getting out, essentially trapping the child in the vehicle once they enter.
  3. Show your kids the emergency trunk release and instruct them how to use it. As of Sept. 1, 2001, all vehicles are required to have a glow-in-the-dark trunk release mechanism.
  4. Never leave children unattended in a vehicle. Watch this short video to see how temperatures can increase in a vehicle 19 degrees in just 10 minutes.
  5. If a child goes missing, we advise checking pools and nearby bodies of water first then vehicles and trunks second.

– Erica Surman, RN, BSN, Pediatric Trauma Program Manager, Beaumont Health

References:

Nutritional considerations for children with Crohn’s disease

child holding bowl of berries

For children with Crohn’s disease, good nutrition is important to allow them to grow and develop at a healthy rate. What your child eats or is able to eat can depend greatly on whether their Crohn’s is in remission (not active) and experiencing few symptoms or if it is active and causing increased inflammation of the digestive tract.

When your child’s disease is in remission, the goal is to maintain a well-balanced diet featuring a wide variety of nutrient-dense foods. These foods include: protein (meats, fish, poultry, dairy products, beans and legumes), carbohydrates (whole grain cereals and breads, vegetables, fruit), and fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated oils, avocado, nut spreads). A well-balanced diet can help make sure that your child gets enough calories, protein and vitamins/minerals.

When the disease is active and your child is experiencing more symptoms, the goal is to make sure your child is consuming sufficient calories and nutrients. Your child’s health care provider may suggest a modified diet that may be helpful during this time such as a low fiber/low residue diet or a lactose-free diet. Changes to your child’s diet are recommended mainly to help with any discomfort or unpleasant symptoms your child may be having.

Low fiber/low residue diet

Fiber is the part of food that cannot be digested; it is also known as bulk and roughage. Fiber helps the body move food through the digestive tract. Eating foods high in fiber — such as fresh vegetables and fruit, whole grains, nuts and popcorn — when your child’s disease is active may increase diarrhea, increase pain and discomfort with bowel movements, and increase bleeding. A low-fiber diet can help to “rest” the intestines.

If your child’s doctor recommends a low-fiber low/residue diet, this article might be a useful reference for appropriate foods on a low-residue diet. In addition, a multivitamin or vitamin supplements may be recommended in order to add nutrients normally found in fruits and vegetables.

Remember to always check with your child’s health care provider before beginning a new diet.

Lactose-free diet

Lactose is the carbohydrate portion of milk. Children may experience lactose intolerance, especially with the disease in the small intestine. Symptoms include nausea, bloating, increased burping, increased gas, stomach pain and diarrhea. These symptoms can decrease or go away completely when milk and other dairy products, such as cheese, ice cream and yogurt, are removed from the diet.

Because milk and dairy products are very important sources of calcium and vitamin D for a growing child, your health care provider may suggest switching to lactose-free milk or fortified soy milk/almond milk/rice milk, or recommend your child take a lactase supplement when eating milk products.

Consult your health care provider before taking dairy products out of your child’s diet. A dietitian can also make suggestions that will help to lessen symptoms and keep up the amount of calcium and vitamin D in your child’s diet.

Supplements

Children with Crohn’s disease may benefit from vitamin and mineral supplementation of calcium, iron, B12, magnesium and/or phosphorus due to a variety of reasons including location of disease within the GI tract, poor absorption, surgical resections or poor food intake due to decreased appetite. Do not start supplementation without consulting your child’s medical health provider.

There is not one set diet that is applicable to every child with Crohn’s disease. Keeping a daily food journal can help identify foods that may trigger symptoms and avoiding these foods, especially when your child’s disease is active, may help lessen symptoms. It can be helpful to consult with a dietitian who can help develop a specific dietary plan for your child. A dietitian can also review your food journal to see if there are any patterns in your child’s diet in relation to his/her symptoms.

Mary Ligotti-Hitch, R.D., is a registered dietitian with the Beaumont Health Center’s Weight Control Center.

Resources:

The Face of Beaumont Parenting: Nichole Rozier and Tonya Davis

close-ups of two women

Nichole Rozier (L) and Tonya Davis make a great team when it comes to leading groups.

I would like introduce you to our dynamic duo. These two amazing Beaumont Parenting Program volunteers who have teamed up to co-lead a number of single moms groups for the BPP.

Tonya Davis and Nichole Rozier first met when they were members of a Single Moms group back when they had their first children. Both women felt the pull that many group members experience to give back to the program and to encourage and educate other new moms. When asked what they enjoyed most about being group leaders, both Tonya and Nichole emphasized that they loved being able to listen to the moms in their groups, oftentimes when those moms felt that no one else in their lives were doing that.

two portraits of young boys

Tonya’s boys are Sebastian (left) and Mason.

Tonya, 26, has two boys: 3-and-a-half-year-old Sebastian and 8-month-old Mason. In addition to volunteering for the BPP, Tonya attends college, works for Ford Motor Co., and volunteers for the social justice department at her school. She loves the book “Goodnight Moon” for her children, but has little time to read for herself beyond her textbooks. A self-identified tomboy, Tonya enjoys taking her kids to the park and the zoo with her partner, Brian. With all that this busy mom has on her plate, it’s little wonder that she identifies her hobby as getting a good night’s sleep! Tonya’s advice to other parents is to trust themselves. Remember that no one knows your child better than you do, so don’t let anyone else make decisions for your child, even the most well-intentioned grandmothers! She also likes to pass on the advice she received as a new mom: Enjoy your children because they grow up so fast!

mom and young son

Nichole with son Anthony

Nichole is a 31-year-old mom to 3-year-old Anthony who shared that he loves when his mom buys him new trains. Nichole also has a baby girl on the way due next year. (Congratulations!) This dedicated volunteer has a very long history of community service; she started volunteering with her family when she was 14! Before leading a parent group, she helped the BPP as an Individual Family Support caller and also lends a hand at the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit. Nichole is a student like Tonya and worked for the State of Michigan before having her son. Nichole and her partner enjoy taking Anthony to the zoo and the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum. Describing her work for the BPP, Nichole eloquently said that “becoming a volunteer with the BPP was one of the easiest decisions [she’s] ever made. As a participant in the Single Moms group, [she] learned a vast amount of information about parenthood, formed amazing bonds with other moms, and realized that [she] was not alone when facing the challenges of being a new mom. [She] knew from that point on that [she] wanted to provide that same experience and support to other mothers.”

It is easiest to sum up the positivity and empowerment that Nichole and Tonya bring to the families they support by reading their favorite quotes. Nichole expresses drive and hope when she encourages other moms to “never say never!” Tonya reminds families of their blessings and encourages a positive outlook by reminding moms that “there is no such thing as a better life than yours.” With their listening ears, combined talents, and supportive spirits, Nichole and Tonya provide both invaluable service to their families, and powerful link between the volunteers who guided them through the beginning of motherhood, and the many families who they are guiding in turn.

– Nicole Capozello, Parenting Program volunteer

Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex

mom breastfeeding baby

Cropped image. Cheryl, Flickr. CC license.

What is Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex (D-MER)?

D-MER is a condition affecting lactating women that is just recently been recognized. It is characterized by abrupt dysphoria, or negative emotions, that occur just before milk release. This reaction to letdown may occur when pumping, breastfeeding or when experiencing spontaneous letdown (i.e., milk releasing when not breastfeeding/pumping).

Moms have used many different words to explain the feelings that take place with D-MER. Some of the most frequent descriptions are anxiety, sadness, dread, nervousness, emotional upset, irritability and hopelessness.

D-MER presents itself with slight variations depending on the mother experiencing it, but it has one common characteristic: a wave of negative emotion just prior to letdown. This emotional response is the consistent key component in D-MER. The breastfeeding mother experiences a surge of negative emotions 30 to 90 seconds prior to her milk release when breastfeeding, pumping, or with spontaneous letdown.  It can last for a few seconds at the beginning of a feeding or it can happen repeatedly with multiple letdowns in the same feeding.

For some mothers D-MER is gone by the time the baby is 3 months old, but for other moms it lasts until weaning.

What is the cause of D-MER?

Before discussing what it is, it is important to discuss what it is not.

  • It is not a psychological response to breastfeeding.
  • It is not postpartum depression or postpartum mood disorder.
  • It is not general dislike of breastfeeding.
  • It is not breastfeeding “aversion”.
  • It is not due to a history of depression, a history of physical/sexual abuse.
  • It is not related to the mother’s birthing experience.
  • It is not because she doesn’t love her baby enough or because she’s a bad mother.

Other important things to note:

  • Mothers themselves cannot cause D-MER. It is a hormonal problem.
  • The feelings a mom experiences with D-MER are not real. They are her hormones are fooling her and even though it feels like it’s in her head, it’s not.
  • Mom did nothing to cause it, and she cannot make herself snap out of it

Research tells us that D-MER is physiological not psychological. This means that hormones in the mom’s body, not past experiences or repressed memories, that are causing the condition.

Preliminary studies found that D-MER is the result of the drop in dopamine levels at letdown. This drop must occur to allow the prolactin (milk-making hormone) level to increase. This happens to all mothers, but in women with D-MER, the dopamine level drops too far or too fast in the central nervous system. This results in a wave of negative emotions.

What treatment is available?

For mothers with mild to moderate D-MER, education may be the best treatment. Many women find their symptoms are more easily managed once they are aware it is a medical problem and not an emotional one. Tracking symptoms in a log and learning what makes them better or worse is helpful for many moms.

Mothers with more severe D-MER are encouraged to visit their health care provider. Together, they can determine the best way to treat this condition effectively. So far, it has been proven that medications that increase dopamine levels in a mother can treat D-MER effectively. The best way to receive the proper treatment is to let your doctor know exactly what is happening when you experience these feelings.

Education

D-MER is not a new condition, but until recently, little was known about it. Many mothers were embarrassed to talk about this; they thought they were the only ones struggling with the feelings they had during letdown. If they did speak of it, many times a mother’s feelings were dismissed. We are just discovering how widespread this is. As more people continue to speak up about this condition and awareness increases, progress will continue to be made in the education, support and treatment of D-MER.

– Pat Ashley, RN, IBCLC, Beaumont Hospital, Grosse Pointe


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