Moms and Dads

Family Nutrition in the New Normal According to a Doctor

To close off Nutrition Month, Modern Parenting sat down with Dr. Carissa Losantas on how families can stay healthy through nutrition in the new normal.

Nutrition plays such a vital role in keeping families healthy—especially in the new normal. With this year’s Nutrition Month theme being “New Normal na Nutrisyon, Sama-samang Gawan ng Solusyon“, doctors, experts, and healthcare workers hope to build families’ resilience against COVID-19 and other diseases.

In an interview with Dr. Carissa Losantas, she highlights the importance of exercise and eating a balanced diet. Dr. Carissa Losantas is a medical doctor who specializes in public health and lifestyle medicine. “I have been working as a public health practitioner for six years now. I pursued a career in lifestyle medicine because I am an advocate of natural health remedies. It’s a relatively new track for medical doctors as we provide the patients with in-depth management on nutrition, physical activity, sleep, substance abuse, mental health, and social relationships.”

In addition, she is currently the CEO and a medical doctor of St. Raphael Medical Clinic. They provide services such as lifestyle medicine counseling, weight loss management, nutrition counseling, telemedicine, primary medical consultation for both children and adults, minor surgeries, home medical consultation services, and diagnostic services.

Moreover, she works for a non-government organization called SIHI—short for Social Innovation in Health Initiative. Here, she helps conduct health research involving social innovations.

dr. carissa losantas

How parents can build their families’ resilience through nutrition

“Always include fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in your everyday meals,” Dr. Carissa Losantas starts. “Be very creative in integrating and adding veggies to your children’s favorite meals! An example would be adding eggplants and carrots to your regular meaty spaghetti. It would be best if you have a serving of either fruit or vegetable per meal.”

She also advises planning your meals—breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks—a week in advance. “This will help avoid sudden instances of eating fast food. Planning your meals ahead of time ensures that you are able to provide your whole family healthy food within the week.”

“As much as possible use the following methods in cooking your meals: steam, boil, stew, and broil. Food prepared this way decreases oxidative stress and inflammation in the body.”

“Next—consume fresh produce on a regular basis. These have a shelf life and are found in the market or in your backyard. Fresh food is packed with macro and micronutrients that are good for the body. This also means that you should avoid processed grains, sugar, processed meat, and harmful fat (Trans Fat, Oxidized Fat, Solid Fat).”

Processed grains include white flour, corn grits, white bread, and white rice while processed meat would be your favorite canned corned beef, luncheon meat, and hotdogs. On the other hand, harmful fat include baked pastries, packaged snacks, fried food, red meat, chicken skin, and whole-fat dairy products.

family nutrition in the new normal

Eating should be a positive experience

Dr. Carissa Losantas notes that it can be challenging for parents to feed their little ones fruits and vegetables most especially if these were introduced late. “To start them on healthy meals, parents should first and foremost know what food their children like and dislike. Do they like to eat soup? Fried chicken? Sausage? Cheese? Stews? From there, you can start adding vegetables discreetly. For example, if they like meatballs then you can add finely chopped carrots and malunggay.”

“As much as possible, eating should be a positive experience. Don’t force them to eat a certain dish because it will be more challenging to encourage them next time.”

Another tip she advises busy, working parents who have no time to cook would be to cook healthy meals during the weekend. “Place these in the refrigerator and heat them up as needed. During your trip to the market or grocery, always include bread, oatmeal, lettuce, eggs, saging na saba, sweet potato, and fruits. There will always be days when you’ll be unprepared and you have to grab a quick and healthy bite. This way, you can easily make sandwiches, cook instant oatmeal, and boil sweet potatoes or saging na saba. Having fruits at home makes for an easy and healthy snack.”

family nutrition in the new normal

Physical activity as a pillar in lifestyle medicine

On top of a healthy and balanced diet, Dr. Carissa Losantas reminds parents that it’s crucial for children, especially aged 6 to 17 years old, to have at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day.

“Simple activities such as walking around the neighborhood, running in the park, doing household chores, dancing, or allowing them to exercise with you are ways the whole family can stay active together.”

She finishes by saying that being healthy doesn’t end with consuming nutritious food and being physically active. “We should also consider one’s overall condition including his or her mental health, ability to sleep well, substance use, and social relationships. This leads us to live a healthy and prolonged life expectancy with decreased risk for diseases.”

Find more nutrition-related stories on Modern Parenting:

6 Easy Recipes To Get Kids To Eat Vegetables

How Danika Nemis and Luke Landrigan are Raising a Vegan Kid

This Juana’s Pretty Keen On Staying Green

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