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Do You Have Diabetes? Buyer Beware: The Low-Carb Diet is Back Again

By Donna Moodie, RD CDN CDE

Recent newspaper headlines and cable news networks have stories about some of the newest trends in dieting, and the low-carb diet is back. There are many claims made about the low-carb diet curing or reversing diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. It advocates eating very small amounts of carbohydrate each day, and appears to demonize healthy foods such as beans and whole grains.

Some studies have shown that this diet can cause weight loss, and lower cholesterol and blood sugar. The low-carb diet advocates eating large amounts of proteins and unhealthy fats, however, which potentially can strain the kidneys and promote heart disease.

In reality, carbohydrates are not to blame for the obesity epidemic and increase in chronic diseases such as diabetes, pre-diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease in this country. Rather, it is the type of carbohydrate and the types of foods which are eaten, combined with sedentary behavior, that cause these problems. People are consuming too much juice, soda, fast food, processed food, fried food, chips, and sweets, and are not moving and exercising enough. Children and adults are looking at screens all day, and only interacting on phones and computers. People watch TV and movies when taking a break, rather than taking a walk. These are the real problems we need to address. We need to move more, interact with others, and choose healthy carbohydrates like beans, sweet potatoes, quinoa, lentils, whole wheat, and fresh fruit. These foods provide many vitamins and minerals, and are also a good source of fiber. Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy!

According to the “Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes: 2018” by the American Diabetes Association: “the role of a low-carbohydrate diet is unclear……., improvements tend to be in the short term and, over time, these effects are not maintained.” So, don’t give up healthy carbs, and try to include a small amount of food like lentils, beans, sweet potato, quinoa, etc., in each meal. You can work with a registered dietitian or certified diabetes educator to determine the correct portion size, but a good place to start is to fill up ¼ of your plate with a healthy carbohydrate. This type of carbohydrate breaks down more slowly in the body compared to a refined carbohydrate such as white bread or juice, and causes blood sugar to more slowly rise. It gives your body the energy it needs with an extra nutritional bonus of vitamins, minerals and fiber.

This article was not meant to take the place of medical advice, talk to your doctor before making any major changes to your diet or lifestyle and avoid all foods you are allergic to.

Donna Moodie is a Registered Dietician and Certified Diabetes Educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County’s Family Health and Wellness Program. She can be reached at

When They Want to Quit

By Tim Jahn, M.ED

The signs of spring are everywhere. Not the crocuses and daffodils – they’ve been up since March – but kids in uniforms on soccer fields and baseball diamonds. Thousands of youths will be playing some kind of team sport in the spring, and the benefits include exercise, friendship and real life lessons in teamwork, handling competition, and dealing with disappointment. But many teens drop out of youth sports in middle school and high school, often to the dismay of their parents who will miss being a coach, team parent or fan, and the camaraderie of other families.

The National Alliance for Youth Sports estimates that 75% of youths will drop out of sports programs by age 13. Other non-athletic youth programs, like Scouts and 4-H, report similar statistics. According to a University of Maryland study, the attrition rate is 35 percent each year. So why do kids drop out of organized youth activities and sports as they approach the teen years? Most kids will tell you, “It’s just not fun anymore,” which may mean they’re burned out from the stress of performing and competing, or they’ve had some bad experiences with coaches and teammates.

But often the desire to quit a sport they’ve played since age five has more to do with being a teenager than anything else. Here are some developmental reasons why teens drop out of youth sports:

  • Teens are extremely self-conscious and may be keenly aware that they no longer measure up to their more athletic peers.
  • The teen’s primary friendship group may exist outside the organized youth program, either in another formal program or informally.
  • During adolescence, there are many more leisure choices to pursue. Teens will want to try new things, and may also narrow their interests to those things that are more meaningful and satisfying to them.
  • When parents are very involved with an activity as a coach or leader, some teens will want to move in another direction to create some separation and establish independence.
  • Finally, teens express their growing autonomy by making their own choices, including the choice to stop playing soccer or baseball, when they can.

What’s a parent to do?

A parent whose young teen does not rejoin a sports team after years of involvement can feel confusion, disappointment, or even rejection. Here are some ways to ease the pain and help you and your teenager accept his or her choices:

  • Don’t take it personally. It may hurt that you will no longer sit in the stands and cheer/chitchat with other parents, but that’s not why your teen wants to quit.
  • Ask him how he thinks he will use his time now that he doesn’t have practice or games each week.
  • If she indentifies some other interest, be encouraging and supportive.
  • Let him know that he can always change his mind and rejoin sports teams and other youth programs if he wants.
  • Move on. Realize that your teenager is separating from childhood and from the family as part of the growing up process. She’s moving on, so should you.

Tim Jahn is a Human Ecology Specialist and Parent Educator at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County. He coached youth baseball for more than ten years, including a final year when his son quit before the season began.

Tim Jahn is a Human Ecology Specialist with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County’s Family Health and Wellness Program and leads workshops for parents of pre-teens and teens. He can be reached at 631-727-7850 ext. 331 or at

A Fun Way to Decrease Adult Anxiety

By Maxine Roeper Cohen, M.S.

Children enjoy arts and crafts and the utter fun of creating “works of art” to be displayed on the refrigerator. I remember having such a delightful time making construction paper collages, finger painting, coloring with crayons, designing simple jewelry, weaving potholders (remember those looms?) and teaching my children the rudiments of needlework. Somehow, and too quickly, young children grow up and these crafty art projects fall by the wayside.

In the last few years, these creative and fun crafts have become very popular with adults. Many people enjoy knitting and crocheting, finding it a relaxing and pleasant way to unwind after a busy day. Go into a bookstore and you will find entire display racks filled with coloring books and colored pencils for adults. Many of the designs are intricate and require focus. It has been found that bringing focused attention to a particular project helps to relieve adult stress and anxiety. Breathing slows and calmness sets in. It’s almost meditative to concentrate on a repeating intricate pattern such as a mandala. Drawing stimulates creativity which gives us pleasure. This focus crowds out other thoughts of the day which might cause worry or troubling thoughts. It’s interesting that a study published in 2005 in “Art Journal” found that merely coloring in a free form type of way did not decrease anxiety. Rather it was the coloring of complex plaids, mandalas, or other intricate designs which provided structure and direction that forced a person to have a heightened attention to details. This focusing acted to alleviate stress and anxiety.

The next time you need to take a break from your busy day, turn on some classical music and sit down with a challenging coloring book. While you are coloring within those bold black lines, take deep breaths, relax your shoulders, calm your mind, smile at the pleasure you are having, and feel anxiety and stress leave your body. You can even display your finished work of art on your refrigerator!

We never outgrow the joy of creation. If you find that you are dealing with an abundance of stress and anxiety, try to carve out a few minutes of each day to play a musical instrument, create jewelry, knit a gift for someone, or create art masterpieces. Your mood will be elevated and perhaps some cares will melt away as you concentrate on beauty.

Maxine Roeper Cohen is a Parent Educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County’s Family Health and Wellness Program. She can be reached at


How Much Milk Should a Toddler Drink?

By Dinah Torres Castro

Parents of young children are often confused by the sudden changes in their child’s eating habits after the first birthday. This period of development, called toddlerhood, is a time when a child no longer relies solely on formula or breast milk to get the most nutrition. By this stage, most one year olds eat a variety of solid foods, and parents notice changes in appetite that coincide with this natural development. For the most part, healthy infants getting adequate nutrition will likely triple their birth weight by the time they are a year old. Parents need to know that it takes a lot of calories to get to that point, and very often infants do have wonderful appetites. Then, toddlerhood arrives and suddenly their toddler doesn’t eat as much (decreasing the quantity they eat) and gets fussy about food (lessening the variety of foods they eat). I frequently hear parents tell me that as a nine month old their child was eating beets, spinach, and broccoli, and now (a few months later) they are lucky to get their child to eat carrots! It is important to realize that at this stage of toddlerhood, growth rates are slowing down, and children do not need the larger quantities of food they were previously eating. They still need a variety of foods to provide all the nutrients for growth, and as parents we still need to make the effort to provide new eating experiences even if they don’t seem to be interested. The key to curing the picky eaters is to provide a variety of food, and not limit foods to only the ones they will accept.

Once a child becomes a year old, the switch from formula or breast milk to most commonly cow’s milk can bring on different issues. Some parents are worried that their child no longer wants to drink milk, while others find their toddlers only want to drink milk and have no appetite for other foods. Think about it this way: milk is nearly a perfect food—it contains protein, sugar, fat and water. The toddler who is drinking too much milk is getting plenty of nutrition from milk, however not the variety of foods to provide all the other vitamins and minerals needed. Between 12 months and 18 months most children drink 24-30 ounces of milk, and should gradually decrease to drinking 16 ounces by their second birthday. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) 2010 Dietary Guidelines recommends a daily intake of 2 cups (16 ounces) of milk for two year olds. If your 2 year old child drinks 18-20 ounces a day but has a good appetite and eats a variety of foods, these extra few ounces are usually okay. The problem with going over the 16 ounce recommendation is that the child tends to fill up on calories from milk and then don’t look for other foods to fill up on. You need to be aware of how much milk your toddler drinks because it is at this time (between ages one and two) that toddlers learn to eat and establish the foundation for their future eating skills.

Now that you are aware of the recommended amounts of milk for toddlers, if your child is not meeting these goals, here are some suggestions. In general, one cup of milk or yogurt is equal to 1 ½ ounces of natural cheese or 2 ounces of processed cheese (American cheese) and can be considered a serving from the Dairy group (see link below). If your toddler avoids milk, enough calcium (a mineral found in milk that is needed for building bones and teeth, and maintaining bone mass) can be gotten from foods such as green leafy vegetables, cooked fish with edible bones, tofu, and foods fortified with calcium such as juices, cereals, and soy or rice beverages.

My Plate: Dairy Group University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension:


Dinah Castro is a Bilingual Family Well-Being Educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County’s Family Health and Wellness Program. She can be reached at 631-727-7850 ext. 351 or at

Screen-free week is April 30 – May 6, 2018

By Kerri Kreh Reda, M.P.H.

Screen-free week is a worldwide movement that is growing each year. Past participants of screen-free week have indicated that going screen-free was easier than they expected it to be. They also found that they had fewer discipline problems with their children and had more family time for fun. They plan to reduce their family’s time with screens on a permanent basis.

Screen-free week is just around the corner as this year’s screen-free week begins April 30, 2018. What better time to re-connect with family, friends and nature? Families everywhere will be unplugging their screens (computers, televisions, smart phones, tablets, etc.) and rediscovering the joys of life beyond digital entertainment.

Also, consider joining the Wait Until 8th movement. Wait Until 8th is a pledge parents make to wait until 8th grade to provide their child with a smart phone. When parents band together, it alleviates the pressure they and their children feel about having a smart phone.

For great ideas on non-screen activities from the Campaign for Commercial Free Childhood, click on the links below:

101 Screen-Free Activities:

The Family Guide to a Great Screen-Free Week:

Healthy Kids in a Digital World – Preschoolers:

For more information on Wait Until 8th:


Kerri Kreh Reda, M.P.H., is a Human Development Specialist with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County’s Family Health and Wellness Program. She can be reached at 631-727-7850 ext. 330 or at

Warding Off Meltdowns

By Nancy Olsen-Harbich, MA

Meltdowns happen. Just visit any grocery store, restaurant, park or any public place around 4pm and you are likely to encounter at least one young child who has gone “over the brink” into a meltdown with a parent (or two) following not far behind. Children often “lose it” when they are tired, hungry, or otherwise feeling at the end of their rope. The trigger for the meltdown can be as simple as a request to “put on your shoes” or a “funny look” from a sibling. Once the bucket of emotions tips over, parents often feel frustrated and helpless about what to do with this melting child, and also puzzled as to how to avoid going to this unpleasant (for everyone) place again in the future.

If your normally cheerful and positive youngster seems to be disintegrating into tears more often than usual, take some time to reflect on what may be going on for her. Is she getting less attention than usual because “her grown-ups” are preoccupied with work or family stress? Could she be coming down with a cold or ear infection? Is she struggling to adjust to a new schedule that demands more of her (new school, visitors in the household, missed rest times or later bedtimes due to other family members’ scheduled activities)? Try to make adjustments to get her back on an even keel. If the meltdowns are sporadic, but horrible to deal with nonetheless, keep the following in mind:

An Ounce of Prevention…….. 

Children need more sleep than most of them get. If you have not established a reasonable bedtime and a bedtime routine that relaxes your child and soothes frayed nerves at the end of the day, your child will have meltdowns about going to bed and staying in bed. Decide on a bedtime (somewhere between 7:30-8:30 pm is reasonable for young children) and begin a half-hour in advance with activities that quiet and ready the child for sleep, such as stories and calming music.

Children need to eat at regular intervals throughout the day. Their small stomachs don’t hold as much “fuel” as ours do, so they need healthy snacks in between meals to keep from running out of gas. Eating at home first is so important before beginning an outing. Stash a few packets of crackers in your purse, car, stroller, and coat pockets for times that you get unavoidably stuck on line or in traffic. Ask for some bread or an appetizer to share if you anticipate a wait for your meal at a restaurant.

Children need “downtimeto recharge their batteries. If you have ever attended a family holiday gathering where children seem to be melting in every corner of the house, you have witnessed how too little space, too much noise, and too much stimulation can throw young children into overload. Go outside to take a walk, and remember that a two-hour activity or visit that is going well is always more fondly remembered than a longer one that ends in a meltdown.

Nancy Olsen-Harbich is Program Director and a Human Development Specialist with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County’s Family Health and Wellness Program. She can be reached at 631-727-7850 ext. 332 or at

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Taking the Car Keys Away from Mom and Dad

By Kathy Sinkin, RN, CDE

Do you remember how you felt when you passed your road test and drove by yourself for the first time? Remember that sense of freedom and privilege? Think for one minute how you would feel if someone took your car keys away and said you couldn’t drive anymore. For older drivers and their families, the conversation about giving up the car keys can be challenging.

Age is just a number and shouldn’t be the sole reason a person stops driving. There are people in their 90’s who are safe drivers, while others who are much younger can be a real danger to themselves and others.

If you feel the need to take away a parent’s car keys, be empathetic and not confrontational. Try to keep the conversation non-accusatory and honest. Remember that this conversation is between adults, not child and parent, and help the senior gain comfort in asking for assistance.

It’s helpful if you can assist with driving your loved one to doctors’ appointments, shopping, and other activities. Look into other means of transportation such as a local bus. A driver’s license can be exchanged for an identification card at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

If your efforts fail, look for assistance from the senior’s physician. Sometimes it’s easier for a person to hear these words from their doctor instead of their children. You can ask the Department of Motor Vehicles to request the senior take a new vision examination, or a test on paper, and even go for an examination drive with an inspector. You can also ask the DMV to withhold the name of the person making the request.

Be prepared for some backlash and resistance. Try putting yourself in their shoes and imagining how you would feel if the car keys were taken away from you.


Kathy Sinkin is a Registered Nurse and Certified Diabetes Educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County’s Family Health and Wellness Program. She can be reached at



Peanut Powder

By Kim Manfried, RD CDN

Unless you have an allergy, peanut powder is a great way to add a quick and easy protein to your snacks and meals.

Peanut powder is not just ground up peanuts; it is the protein part of the peanut which is removed. This powder is a versatile protein that can be used in a variety of ways. There are benefits of using peanut powder rather than peanut butter. It is lower in total calories (2 tablespoons = about 45-50 calories depending on the brand) and contains little or no saturated fat. However, you are still getting a good source of protein with a great taste.

Peanut powder can be found in most supermarkets in the peanut butter aisle, at home goods stores, and online at various retailers. Try adding this quick and easy protein to:

  • smoothies
  • cereal
  • oatmeal
  • yogurt
  • fruit
  • baked goods (such as whole grain pancakes or breakfast muffins)
  • popcorn
  • coffee ,tea, or hot chocolate
  • or just reconstituted with water

Protein is an important part of a well balanced meal. Peanut powder is a simple way to add protein without adding high fat and calories, and can turn an ordinary food into something unique.


Kim Mendel is a Registered Dietician and Diabetes Educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County’s Family Health and Wellness Program. She can be reached at

Arsenic in Rice! Really?

By Donna Moodie, RD CDN CDE

We all scratch our heads and wonder when we read warnings and alerts about foods that we have eaten our whole lives. Recently there have been stories in the media about arsenic levels in foods such as apple juice and rice, causing potential concern. Currently the FDA is conducting studies and analyses regarding arsenic levels in all types of rice and rice products, and the potential for harm to the general population.  

Arsenic is a chemical that is both naturally occurring (organic) in soil, and can also be added to plants like rice in the form of pesticide (inorganic). It is believed that the inorganic arsenic is much more toxic than the organic arsenic. In April of 2016, the FDA set “a proposed action limit of 100 parts per billion for inorganic arsenic in rice cereal.” The FDA has also established a set of recommendations for pregnant and nursing women as it has been found that high amounts of inorganic arsenic during pregnancy can lead to adverse pregnancy outcomes and developmental difficulties in children. Inorganic arsenic in high amounts can also lead to lung and bladder cancer in the general population.

 The FDA tested 76 samples of infant cereals and found that 47% meet proposed action limits. The FDA has also analyzed many different types of rice and rice products. Studies of arsenic levels in rice and the establishment of recommendations for safe foods/levels in food are ongoing. Brown rice, which is always recommended as a healthier choice, has been found to have higher levels of arsenic than white rice.

 While the FDA is studying these products, it may be wise to at least cut back on your rice intake, especially if you eat it often. Try to avoid it completely if you are pregnant or nursing. There are many other grains to try like barley, oats, bulgur, millet, quinoa, etc. Experiment with cooking and eating these other grains at home instead of rice. Eating a wide variety of foods is always a healthy habit due to the increased variety of nutrients you get by consuming many different foods.  

If you want to read about the FDA’s investigation, follow the link below at FDA.GOV for more information.

This article is not intended to take the place of a professional medical examination. Please see your health care provider to discuss your concerns.

Donna Moodie is a Registered Dietician and Certified Diabetes Educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County’s Family Health and Wellness Program. She can be reached at

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