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Archive for February, 2010

It is considered the most important meal of the day, yet according to a report from Which? the most popular brands of breakfast cereal – including those targeted at children – are laden with sugar. Typical portions of some were found to contain more sugar than a Cadbury chocolate Flake, despite manufacturers’ claims to be reducing the level of unhealthy ingredients.

Which? surveyed 100 cereals bought from the main supermarkets but only eight of the products qualified for a Food Standards Agency healthy “green light” for low levels of sugar, with 31 out the 100 cereals examined containing more than four teaspoons of sugar to a recommended serving.

Only one of the 28 cereals specifically marketed at children, Kellogg’s Rice Krispies, was found not to be high in sugar, but it was high in salt.

Many brands perceived to be healthy, including Kellogg’s All Bran, Bran Flakes and Special K, also had high levels of sugar. Morrisons Choco Crackles cereal tops the sweet mountain with more sugar to a serving than a Cadbury Flake, followed closely by Kellogg’s Coco Pops Moons and Stars, Frosties and Ricicles, which were more than a third – 37% – pure sugar, according to the Which? report.

The report, Going Against the Grain, said there had been some progress since 2006, with the biggest improvements made in reducing salt levels.

Which? highlighted Tesco Special Flakes, where 100g was still found to contain the same amount of salt as 100g of Walkers ready salted crisps.

Sue Davies, chief policy adviser at Which?, said: “Some cereals deserve their healthy image, but most simply don’t. It’s especially shocking that almost all those targeted at children are less healthy.”

Cereal manufacturers need “to wake up to the fact that people want to eat healthily and provide them with the means to do so by reducing sugar and salt levels and making labelling clearer”, she added. “With over £1bn spent every year, it’s time they rose to the occasion.”

Top 10 worst offenders for sugar content (per 100g)

Morrisons Choco Crackles (38.4g)
Kellogg’s Coco Pops Moons & Stars (37g)
Kellogg’s Frosties (37g)
Kellogg’s Ricicles (37g)
Sainsbury’s Choco Rice Pops (36g)
Tesco Choco Snaps (36g)
Nestle Cookie Crisp (35.3g)
Nestle Cheerios Honey (35.1g)
Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut (35g)
Nestlé Nesquik (35g)

Source: The Guardian

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Teenage girls eat more unhealthily than any other group in the population, ­government research has revealed.

The study from the Food Standards Agency is designed to shed light on the nation’s eating habits shows that despite multimillion-pound government initiatives to encourage us all to eat more healthily, obesity levels in the UK have barely changed in the last 10 years.

Perhaps the most shocking finding is that teenage girls are ruining their health with ‘size zero’ diets.

Teenage girls are not eating nearly enough protein and dairy foods in an apparent effort to keep as thin as celebrity role models.  The study found that 46% of teenage girls consume too little iron, putting them at risk of anaemia and the associated tiredness and lethargy.

The diets of teenage girls are also low in magnesium and selenium, lack of which can lead to insomnia, severe headaches and mood swings.

Only 7% of girls are eating the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day and the majority are not consuming enough oily fish, which contains the omega 3 necessary for a healthy heart and nervous system.  Teenage girls are eating twice the amount of sweets, chocolates and sugary drinks than their mothers consumed when young.

So if parental influence is key to good eating habits what can we do?

1. Be a positive role model – eat well and with your children and exercise

2. Show appreciation for beauty in all its forms.

3. Introduce a wide range of tastes from an early age and encourage creativity and involvement in the kitchen.  Help your children learn to love cooking and eating well.

4. Monitor your own comments about your self and your daughter.  Don’t talk negatively about your own body. If your daughter hears you complain about the way you look, she will feel that it’s appropriate to dislike her own body as well.

5. Try not to lose or gain weight dramatically, and don’t utilise fad diets. Practice what you preach.

6. Try not to hide your body from your daughter.

7. Have a healthty kitchen – rather than filling your kitchen with unhealthy snacks or “forbidden foods”, stock your kitchen with foods that are good for you.

8. Discuss Body Issues – Do not discard her concerns, encourage her to discuss her worries, about her body image and why she thinks she needs to lose weight.

9. Get girls involved with sports/physical activity, it can reduce their risk of chronic diseases. Female athletes do better academically and have lower school drop-out rates than non-athletes.

10. Watch television, movies, and other media with your daughters and sons. Discuss how images of girls are portrayed.

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Buying organic is expensive and difficult to maintain if you’re on a limited food budget.

Fortunately the Environment Working Group have compiled a shopper’s guide to the worst and best foods for containing pesticides. The Shopper’s Guide ranks pesticide contamination for 47 popular fruits and vegetables based on an analysis of 87,000 tests for pesticides on these foods, conducted from 2000 to 2007 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration. Nearly all the studies used to create the list test produce after it has been rinsed or peeled. Contamination was measured in six different ways and crops were ranked based on a composite score from all categories.

So, next time you go shopping you’ll know which produce to buy organic, and which conventionally-grown fruits and vegetables are okay to buy if organic prices don’t suit your budget.

Fruits topped the list of the consistently most contaminated fruits and vegetables, with seven of the 12 most contaminated foods.

HERE ARE THE DIRTY DOZEN

Buy these organic

  1. Peach
  2. Apple
  3. Bell Pepper
  4. Celery
  5. Nectarine
  6. Strawberries
  7. Cherrie
  8. Kale
  9. Lettuce
  10. Grapes (Imported)
  11. Carrot
  12. Pear

AND THESE ARE THE CLEAN 15

Lowest in Pesticides

  1. Onion
  2. Avocado3
  3. Sweet Corn
  4. Pineapple
  5. Mango
  6. Asparagus
  7. Sweet Peas
  8. Kiwi
  9. Cabbage
  10. Eggplant
  11. Papay
  12. Watermelon
  13. Broccoli
  14. Tomato
  15. Sweet Potato

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Look no more, we’ve found the best mascara on the market and its 98% natural!

Couleur Caramel’s mineral and plant-based mascara is paraben-free, phenoxyethanol free, coal free, and PEG free. Better yet, it will stays put all day, without flaking or smudging (yes, it’s true).

Two separate applicators are available: “cils courts,” which deposits more color on the lashes to both lengthen and thicken, and “cils longs,” which uses furrows that separate, structure and thicken the eyelashes.

The nourishing water based formula allows you to apply several coats without damaging the eyelashes.

Available in 4 colours: black, brown, plum and blue

Active ingredients:

  • Sucrose: moisturising, revitalising and regenerating.
  • Cera alba (Beeswax): nourishing, protecting and repairing, it forms a protective film.
  • Acacia resin (Acacia senegal): softening, soothing and repairing for fragile mucous membranes.
  • Carnauba wax (Copernicia cerifera): protects from dehydration.
  • Candelilla wax (Euphorbia cerifera): forms a protective film, nourishing, repairing and moisturising.
  • Vitamin E from plants (Tocopheryl acetate): natural antioxidant, prevents skin ageing.
  • Shea butter (Butyrospermum parkii): moisturising, revitalising, and regenerating, rich in natural vitamins A, E and F.

With a price tag of £13.30 you can totally justify treating yourself.

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We are anxiously  awaiting the results of our primary school application. We live in an area with a high proportion of young families where schools are oversubscribed. This year, our first choice school had 45 places of which 30 went to siblings leaving just 15 places. We been researching other options and come across some interesting education alternatives.

Some families look for a more holistic approach to learning and child development. The concern with some state and private schools is the pressure put on young children. In these systems less academic and more creative children can get left behind with their potential going unrecognised.

I question the effects of very academic schools on an individuals sense of success.  At 4 surely the primary goal should be learning through play and experience, sparking a desire in children to want to learn, leaving them with a genuine interest and enthusiasm to know more, instead of routinely badgering them with writing skills and sums etc.

Steiner is probably one of the most commonly known. The first Steiner school opened in Stuttgart in 1919, since then it has  gone onto become international. Based on the insights of philosopher and scientist Rudolph Steiner, this progressive schools movement is noted for the effective education that it offers children.

The curriculum itself is a flexible set of pedagogical guidelines, founded on Steiner’s principles that take account of the whole child. It gives equal attention to the physical, emotional, intellectual, cultural and spiritual needs of each pupil and is designed to work in harmony with the different phases of the child’s development. The core subjects of the curriculum are taught in thematic blocks and all lessons include a balance of artistic, practical and intellectual content. Whole class, mixed ability teaching is the norm.

The Montessori approach offers a broad vision of education as an aid to life. The inherent flexibility allows the method to adapt to the needs of the individual, regardless of the level of ability, learning style, or social maturity. These schools are often the first choice for parents looking for a nursery/preschool. There are, however, some Montessori schools that go up to age 11.

Montessori classrooms provide a prepared environment where children are free to respond to their natural drive to work and learn. The children’s inherent love of learning is encouraged by giving them opportunities to engage in spontaneous, meaningful activities under the guidance of a trained adult. Through their work, the children develop concentration, motivation, persistence, and discipline. Within this framework of order, the children progress at their own pace and rhythm, according to their individual capabilities, during the crucial years of development.

The role of a Montessori teacher is one of guide and observer, whose ultimate goal is to intervene less and less as the child develops. The teacher builds an atmosphere of calm, order and joy in the classroom and encourages the children in all their efforts, thereby promoting self-confidence and discipline.

Forest Schools are an innovative educational approach to outdoor play and learning.  By participating in tasks and activities in a woodland environment each child has an opportunity to develop intrinsic motivation, emotional and social skills.

Sessions are designed around a theme,  such as Romans, butterflies, spies, fairies or nature investigators.

Activities are set up so they are within the capabilities of every person within the group. Teamwork skills are developed through games and activities. Individual skills and self-esteem are heightened throughout activities such as hide and seek, shelter building, tool skills, lighting fires or environmental art, the list is endless. Each activity develops intra and inter-personal skills as well as practical and intellectual skills.

There are lots of other alternative schools up and down the country offering different perspectives on educating children. If this interests you research what’s in your local area. I was amazed at what I found.

What I find most appealing about these schools is they focus on helping children grow into balanced individuals with a purpose and place in society  as opposed to passing exams and getting a well paid job.  Surely there is more to life.

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According to the World Health Organization (WHO) providing breastfeeding education and support to new mothers could prevent more than one million child deaths every year.

The WHO recommends that infants start breastfeeding within one hour of birth and consume nothing but breast milk for the first six months of life.  Despite this advice,  less than 40% of mothers worldwide exclusively breastfeed for this time. Insufficient breastfeeding is a problem in both rich and poor countries, the agency says.   The nutritional value provided by breast milk means that the baby is get exactly what it needs and no artificial formila is able to match this.  In addition, breast milk provides important antibodies to the underdeveloped infant immune system. 

If 90% of women met the WHO breastfeeding guidelines, the agency says, 13% of global deaths under the age of five could be prevented, translating into 1.3 million lives saved per year. Although many women start out breastfeeding, many stop due to poor latch or because they are unable to feed without pain. “When it comes to doing it practically, they don’t have the practical support,” said the WHO’s Constanza Vallenas. 

If you are breastfeeding and feel in need of extra infomation and support check out our links under Support – there is lots of help out there if you know where to look!

Source: Reuters/Naturalnews.com

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The Department of Health has revealed it is to scrap plans for healthy children under five to continue to be vaccinated against swine flu, just three months after urging GPs to vaccinate more than three million youngsters against the outbreak.

In a major U-Turn, the Chief Medical Officer, Sir Liam Donaldson, revealed the programme of vaccinating healthy children would wrap up at the end of next month, although GPs have been told to continue to try to vaccinate children until then.

Extending the vaccination campaign to children has proved a disappointment, with just 17% of children in England having had the vaccine according to the latest uptake figures.

GP leaders blamed protracted negotiations with the Government, which refused to provide concessions on GP workload via a national deal, for the lack of uptake in a campaign which ended up being launched as a hugely patchwork and bitter set of local arrangements between PCTs and GPs.

The move to scrap child vaccination against swine flu will also be seen as vindication by many GPs, with the majority of respondents to a Pulse poll in December claiming that it was a waste of NHS resources.

The Government also revealed that just 32% of all target groups had been vaccinated in England, which confirms Pulse’s predictions that the vast majority of GPs will fail to receive reduced thresholds in this year’s patient survey, after the GPC’s national deal based on vaccination of at risk groups aged between 5-65.

Sir Liam revealed overall figures for vaccination take up were far worse in England than other parts of the UK and elsewhere in Europe, adding: ‘We continue to receive anecdotal accounts of people not being aware of their need and entitlement for vaccination or believing that vaccination clinics are unavailable.

Source: Pulsetoday

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