Health & Nutrition
Teaching our kids about food for a lifetime of healthy eating
Food for Thought is our new nutrition-education initiative that is being launched to New Zealand primary schools in 2007.
This educational programme is designed to assist primary school teachers in supporting their students make healthier food and lifestyle choices. With one in three New Zealand school children either overweight or obese , Food for thought is an important initiative that Pak ‘n Save and Pams is supporting.
The programme, which is to be taught over one school term, consists of 7 posters, over 126 nutrition and food-related activities, and allows for students to visit their local Pak ‘n Save supermarket to get a new prspective on making healthy eating choices. To conclude the programme, students will participate in creating a healthy shared lunch that meets the nutritional requirements of their class. Both the supermarket tour and shared lunch are valuable experiences as they reinforce the knowledge gained in the classroom setting.
Our Pak ‘n Save nutritionist will coordinate the programme and at times will be available in-store to provide nutritional advice to parents. If you want to know more about Food for Thought, please contact Jackie Tyrer for the lower North Island on firstname.lastname@example.org
Food Allergy and Food Intolerances
Everyone needs to eat food to live. Some people are sensitive or allergic to certain foods and even very small amounts can prove to be harmful and even dangerous.
Two classifications are used to describe the different levels and types of reactions that may occur even though the symptoms may be similar or even the same. Symptoms include digestive upsets (nausea, abdominal pain, wind, and diarrhoea), swelling of lips, mouth, tongue or throat, hives, rash, hay fever, runny nose, coughing, asthma, migraine, headache, irritability and mood swings.
A person with afood allergy will find the body's immune system is affected and antibodies are produced specific to the proteins found in the food causing the adverse reaction. This can occur very quickly, within minutes, and is seen more often in infants (5%) and children (1-2%). The foods more commonly linked with this type of reaction include milk, egg, peanuts, fish, seafood, gluten, soy, sesame seeds and nuts. Allergies to these foods are believed to occur in around 1% of the adult population. Many children grow out of milk and egg allergies before starting school while allergies to specific foods such as peanuts, seafood, nuts and gluten usually last for life.
In some cases the reaction can be very severe and this is called anaphylaxis where the mouth, lips, or throat swells causing difficulty breathing and possibly fatal collapse. Peanuts allergy is the most well known for causing an anaphylactic shock and deaths have occurred.
These are more difficult to recognise and diagnose as the symptoms often do not appear soon after eating and can be triggered by many different compounds. Food intolerance is also more common (5-10% of adults) and can run in families. It appears to be dose related -the body reacts when the tolerance level (often referred to as threshold) has been exceeded. Lactose (milk sugar) intolerance is interesting as it is more often seen in certain population groups such as Asian, Maori and Pacific Islanders due to the absence of an enzyme. Foods containing small amounts of lactose are often tolerated by many adults.
Check food ingredient labels carefully. Where a specific food or a food group has been removed due to the presence of a recognised food allergy or food intolerance replacing the missing nutrients is important. Advice from a Dietitian is helpful to plan menus and eating patterns, especially for growing children and teenagers, to provide the wide range of nutrients needed for health. A number of Allergy Awareness groups provide support and recipe suggestions. The correct diagnosis of a food allergy or intolerance is very important to avoid any confusion with other medical conditions. Consultations with a doctor or allergy specialist are often needed along with blood tests, skin tests and food records or diaries to assist with diagnosis.
The New Zealand Nutrition Guidelines
Guidelines on how to eat well and make the best nutritional choices.
The Ministry of Health has produced several nutritional guidelines for various ages and stages of development for New Zealanders in consultation with researchers, scientists and nutritional experts.
The guidelines provide nutrition-based recommendations for food choices based on the current scientific information in a sound, practical and clear way, and as easily actioned messages. The guidelines are about ‘doing'. They are designed to assist healthy people of all ages to improve their health and assist to prevent disease (especially lifestyle conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, some forms of cancer and obesity).
Separate guidelines cover infants, children (2-12 years), teenagers and adults. Nutrition guidelines are also available for pregnancy and breastfeeding.
The New Zealand Nutrition Guidelines are part of the Government's Healthy Eating -Healthy Action Strategy to improve the health of all New Zealanders. More detailed information is available through the Ministry of Health's website www.moh.govt.nz
Cholesterol - What Does It Do?
We all know about cholesterol - it's that bad stuff that causes heart attacks, right?
Well, yes and no. We can't live without cholesterol. Our liver makes it and it is an essential part of the wall of every cell in our body. It also helps the body to use fat and certain vitamins and helps us make some hormones.
Cholesterol doesn't just float around in the blood, it is carried by fat-protein substances called lipoproteins. LDL (low density lipoprotein) is called ‘bad cholesterol' because it takes cholesterol from the liver and dumps it off in the arteries where it can build up - just like rubbish building up in a water pipe. It can build up so much that it blocks blood flow and cause a heart attack or, if it happens in the brain, a stroke. HDL (high density lipoprotein) or ‘good cholesterol' carries cholesterol from the blood back to the liver where it can be removed from the body.
How do I reduce it?
If you have high cholesterol, especially if it is mainly LDL, you can help reduce it by stopping smoking, doing regular exercise and being active, losing weight if you need to and reducing stress - often easier said than done!
Foods to eat less of:
The food we eat also greatly influences the amount of cholesterol in the body. Cutting back on foods high in saturated fat and trans fats* is a key way to reduce cholesterol. We get our saturated fat mainly from butter, cheese, milk, coconut milk, fatty meats, processed meats and cakes, biscuits, pastries and pies.
Foods such as eggs, liver, kidneys, prawns and squid are naturally high in cholesterol. But the cholesterol in food is not as bad for blood cholesterol as saturated fat. If your cholesterol is high, 3-4 eggs a week is OK so long as it is not eaten with saturated fat. So instead of fried eggs with bacon and buttery toast (which would give your cholesterol a real boost) try poached eggs with tomato, onion and mushrooms.
Foods to eat more of:
Rolled oats, baked beans, lentils, dried and canned beans, split peas and some fruit such as apples, pears and oranges contain soluble fibre which helps reduce cholesterol. Nuts, avocado and olive oil also help reduce cholesterol. Even though they are high fat foods, the fat is healthy unsaturated fat. Too many nuts or generous splashes of oil make you gain weight but these foods are great to use as a replacement for saturated fat foods. Fish doesn't affect cholesterol levels but oily fish such as tuna, salmon, sardines, trout and mullet does help drop high blood pressure and reduce blood clotting. Eat 1-2 meals a week. Finally don't forget the vegetables. Aim for 2 + 2 - at least 2 cups of vegetables and 2 pieces of fruit a day.
- Try avocado or hummus as a spread in place of butter
- Use low or reduced fat milk and yoghurt
- Eat just small amounts of cheese (it's 1/3 fat). Choose tasty varieties that you don't need to eat so much of
- Try cottage cheese instead of regular cheese
- Instead of crackers with cheese, try them with hummus or salsa. And choose a lower fat cracker. Read the nutrition label to find one with less than about 10 grams fat per 100 grams
- Instead of crisps, try nuts (preferably raw, unsalted) or olives
- Cut off all fat from meat before cooking
- Choose meat cuts that don't have white fat marbled through the red meat
- Choose lean mince
- Buy skinless chicken - all the fat sits under the skin
- Keep processed meats - sausages, salami, chorizo, canned corned beef and pastrami for occasional treats. Look for reduced fat sausages - less than about 12-15 grams fat per 100 grams
- Add red lentils or a can of beans to stews, soups and mince dishes
- Eat baked beans on whole-grain toast (no butter)
- Try porridge or other oat based cereal for breakfast
- Eat a few nuts each day.