Boost Your Iron Intake By Eating Pasta

mac & cheeseIf you’re not a big supplement fan, but want to boost your iron intake, grab a bowl of pasta. Really? Yes, really. And you probably thought I was going to tell you to eat your spinach or, even worse, liver. Nope, if you choose the right pasta, you can get as much as 33% of the recommended daily dietary allowance for iron from a 2 oz serving of pasta. How great is that?!

Most of us are at least vaguely aware that we need to consume iron so that we produce lots of healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen through our system. If you don’t absorb enough iron and can’t produce enough red blood cells, you develop iron deficiency anemia.

Without enough oxygen due to anemia, your body will become fatigued and your brain and immune system functions may diminish. A lack of iron may also prevent your body from maintaining or producing healthy cells, skin, hair, or nails.

For most of us, low iron levels will be avoided by simply consuming sufficient iron in our diet, but almost 10% of women in the US are iron deficient. In fact, according to WebMD(1), low iron is the most common nutritional deficiency in the US.

Pasta seems like a natural part of the solution for this deficiency. For one thing, we eat a lot of pasta. What kid doesn’t like mac & cheese, or spaghetti? Food Network lists both of these pasta dishes in their list “America’s Best: Top 10 Comfort Foods”. For another thing, pastas high in iron are readily available.

pastaNot every type of pasta is high in iron, but those made of chickpeas or lentils are filled with it. Banza® Rotini delivers 30% of the daily value in a 2 oz portion and 50% in a 3 oz portion. Tolerant® Organic Red Lentil Penne also delivers 50% in a 3 oz portion. These pastas are gluten-free and they deliver a healthy portion of protein and fiber. They are also lower in net carbs than pastas made from wheat flour, corn, or rice. This makes them a good choice for those with, or at risk for, diabetes.

While a sophisticated palette may detect some differences, these pastas are pleasing enough for most of us especially when covered in cheese or red sauce. Why fight with yourself over eating liver or spinach when you can chow down on the mac and cheese you really wanted anyway? Go ahead, have a helping of pasta and boost your iron.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Responsiveness Matters to All of Us

When your request is the one being ignored, do you feel responsiveness matters?
In this day of electronic devices, it´s easier than ever to ignore a message. It´s easy to believe that no response is efficient and acceptable. If we´re experts in a particular area, it´s easy to ignore what we believe to be ignorant questions.

How does an accumulating attitude of acceptable dismissal affect all of us?

Obviously, this is a large topic so I´ll just have to hold it to a few high points or be dismissed myself. That´s okay. My hope is that we all come away with more awareness and the willingness to examine our feelings and behaviors so that we can then choose the level of responsiveness we hope to contribute to our relationships with our spouses, children, extended family, bosses, coworkers, customers, as well as corporate behemoths, the sick, the distressed, and the suffering we encounter.

The World Health Organization lists responsiveness as one of the 3 areas of focus for its goals for health systems. This makes sense given that:
1)When a healthcare system fails to be responsive to patients, it often results in higher mortality rates.1
2) Patient surveys rate doctors higher when the treating physician is perceived as empathetic. It is hard to be perceived as empathetic if you are not responsive.2
3)Frustration at a lack of response leads to nursing home falls, higher stress levels, and diminished trust – none of which are conducive to healing.

Similarly, frustration at a lack of response has fueled the anger of many African-Americans toward law enforcement. You can view the pain, suffering, and violence that have resulted almost daily on the news.

Eric Holtzclaw noted in an article entitled, ¨The Importance of Responsiveness¨, which appeared in Inc. Magazine, ¨A lack of responsiveness is the most common underlying problem I find at the businesses I work with that are experiencing issues achieving growth.¨ 3 Not only can a lack of responsiveness prevent business growth, it can cause a loss of customers. How many of you have left Comcast, AT&T, or Windstream as soon as you had another option due to a lack of response to your specific problems with their service?

Failing to respond is probably one of the fastest ways to get sued when you get crossways over quality of service, fulfillment of a contract, or payment of a bill. Speaking of, sending a non responsive email is no more effective at preventing a lawsuit than no response at all. It may, in fact, accelerate the process by escalating a feeling of conflict or dismissal.

All of us want to be validated and acknowledged. Babies learn about themselves through the mimicking of their facial expressions by a responsive caregiver. They also learn trust and the concept of having some control over their circumstances when the caregiver responds to their cues.

And according to a post on Psychology Today originally written for the website Science of Relationships, the best life partner is one who is responsive. ¨A responsive partner is someone who makes you feel understood, validated, and cared for.¨ 4,5,6 Sounds right to me. If a partner has that quality, then everything else is going to be easier to negotiate.

From our very beginning, responsiveness shapes our perception of who we are and how we fit in the world. It then affects our health, our safety, our trust level, our career success, and our satisfaction with our partners. Can changing our level of responsiveness make a difference in the world?

Why not? It seems obvious that responsiveness matters to all of us!

5) Reis, H. T., Clark, M. S., & Holmes, J. G. (2004). Perceived partner responsiveness as an organizing construct in the study of intimacy and closeness. In D. J. Mashek & A. P. Aron (Eds.), Handbook of closeness and intimacy (pp. 201-225). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
6) Maisel, N. C., Gable, S. L., & Strachman, A. (2008). Responsive behaviors in good times and bad. Personal Relationships, 15, 317-338.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Travel Tip #16 – Be Kind

viewWhen you travel, it´s important to be kind to yourself. It´s not a bad idea to be kind to everyone you meet either, but why not start with yourself? I´ve been traveling for the past 6 days. Every moment has been packed full of something.

Yesterday evening I could have jumped in the pool, walked on the beach, or gone out for dinner. It was the first time in days that I had nothing scheduled and all of those sounded appealing. Instead, I ate chicken salad and edamame in my room, put on my pj’s and fell asleep watching the Olympics. I was worn out.

When I travel, I feel like I should pack in as many local sites as I can – after all, I´m there and who knows whether I´ll be back. This is not everyone´s approach I was reminded at dinner Saturday night when a portion of our group described their afternoon as primarily consisting of a nap. While they were sleeping, we had toured the courthouse tower, the art museum, and a dedicated gluten-free bakery.

I have also observed several of our group wincing in pain, wilting from thirst, and too hungry to decide on a restaurant. How can you avoid these traveling pitfalls? Be kind to yourself. How?

palm-Wear comfortable shoes.
-Pack light when laundry facilities are available.
-Pack a day tote in your suitcase to use for snacks, a change of shoes, a jacket, etc.
-Drink plenty of water and always have a bottle with you.
-Time meals and snacks with your home time zone in mind.
-Give yourself time to ease into the day.
-Carry food on day trips and when you fly.
-Wear sunglasses.
-Take naps.
-Be willing to say no when you´re tired.
-Map locations in advance to avoid annoyance when the GPS is slow.
-Take your time and enjoy what you´re doing.

Just a little kindness goes a long way toward enjoying a vacation to the fullest whether you relax or pack in as much as possible.

World Breastfeeding Week

SidebabyWorld Breastfeeding Week just drew to a close. What? There’s a World Breastfeeding Week? Well, yes there is. It’s coordinated by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) and began about 15 years ago.

WABA’s core partners are the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine (ABM), International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN), International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA), La Leche League International (LLLI), and Wellstart International.

This year, in addition to encouraging women to breastfeed, WABA focussed on raising awareness of the links between breastfeeding and Sustainable Development Goals along the following themes:
1)Nutrition/food security
2)Health, well0being and survival
3)Environment and climate change
4)Work productivity, empowerment, social protection, and
5)Sustainable partnerships and rule of law

That sounds lofty and idealistic, but in the US, there’s a huge gap between our lofty breastfeeding goals and our actual practice. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends feeding babies nothing but breast milk for the first 6 months of life. When moms arrive at the hospital to give birth, the majority say they are planning to follow this guideline. Three months later, 43.3% are exclusively breastfeeding and 29.3% are supplementing with formula. By 6 months according to the CDC, the percentage of exclusively breastfed babies has dropped to 21.9% and 35.4% of nursing mothers have supplemented with formula.*

Rates of Rates of breastfeeding declined in the US between 1911 and 1972 when only 22% of women initiated breastfeeding. While the rates have increased since 1972, they remain low in spite of the known health benefits to both infant and mother. So it seems that our tortured relationship with healthy food in this country literally begins at birth and for many of the same reasons adults cite as impediments to healthy habits – convenience, lack of social support, confusing messages from the medical community, and advertising that reassures us a product is healthy (the closest to breast milk).

When it comes to convenience, I feel like we often think of things in a topsy turvy manner. What could be more convenient than always having milk ready and at the right temperature when a baby gets hungry? It becomes inconvenient when women feel they must go back to work quickly to support their families or believe that they’ll get behind in their careers if they take off a few years to raise children. While this is sometimes the reality, other times it isn’t, but the belief has become so ingrained that we rarely challenge it.

We don’t always run the numbers to see if our jobs really cost more than they bring in, especially if we have more than one child in day care. We appear to forget that added trips to the doctor for either baby or mother who has missed out on the health benefits of breastfeeding take time out of our schedule.

Nor is there much social support for breastfeeding in public places in many communities in the US. You may have seen the recent video of a man telling a breastfeeding mother in Target how disgusting she is. This type of experience has been reported by 25% of breastfeeding moms.

This seems kinda crazy to me considering the number of reality TV stars who run around with half of their boobs showing all the time. Is it the addition of a baby that makes seeing a breast disgusting? I guess that could make sense. Babies are kinda gross sometimes.

Almost 20% of US babies receive supplementary formula within the first two days following birth. That means it’s often being fed while mom and baby are still in the hospital. When you combine this with the formula samples and ads that are often sent home with the mothers, it can appear like a medical endorsement of formula. Studies show that leaving the hospital with formula samples reduces the duration of breastfeeding.

While it’s easy to brush all of this off as insignificant as long as our life expectancy remains the same, the rise in chronic diseases is making our lengthy lives of lower quality. Perhaps someday soon, we’ll recognize that quality can be as valuable as quantity. We’ll see that we don’t have to rush to accumulate, achieve, or hit some arbitrary target to bring value to our lives, our communities, and the world.

In the meantime, I wish you the courage and perseverance to give yourself and your children the best nutritional support available even when it’s not as easy, convenient or well-supported as you believe it should be.

monkey hand

*Based on most recent CDC statistics available (2012)

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”