SD WIC Fun Facts: January 2023
A Monthly Message to Superhero Caregivers from your Sidekicks at SD WIC
Wellness Wisdom: Activities for Building Happy, Healthy Families
Food For Your Mood
As we are well into the winter months and the amount of sunlight continues to decrease, our mental health tends to be impacted. But did you know our food choices can play an important role on our mental health?
The relationship between what we eat and our mental health is complex. Certain foods and their nutrients help our brain make chemicals that impact our mood and focus. A healthy, well-balanced diet can help us think clearly and feel more alert. Talk about food for thought!
Micronutrients are required to organize many chemical messengers in the brain, also known as neurotransmitters. These chemical messengers also known as happy hormones include:
- serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin, and endorphins.
These 4 neurotransmitters help regulate our mood. The chemical messengers are necessary for balancing the intensity of signals between neurons in the brain and the rest of the body. Low serotonin levels, in particular, have been linked with neurological disorders, anxiety, and depression.
To improve your mood, one of the best things in terms of eating is to consume a nutrient-dense diet on a regular basis.
What types of micronutrients are in a nutrient-dense diet? The answer….many! Here are just a few:
- Essential B vitamins are important for the synthesis of those 4 neurotransmitters we just talked about.
- Choline is also a unique nutrient because it is not classified as a vitamin or a mineral but is required for the production of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is involved in both a person’s mood and memory.
- Other micronutrients such as folate, zinc, magnesium, iron, selenium, and vitamin D have been shown to have protective effects against mood swings, depression, anxiety, and irritability.
Many studies have shown that people with depression or other mood disorders often do not have enough in one or more of these micronutrients listed above.
How do we get these important micronutrients? The answer…a colorful plate of whole foods. Some great brain-boosting foods a person can eat include:
- Fish, such as salmon, trout, and sardines. Fatty fish contain an abundance of omega-3 fatty acids, which benefit brain function.
- Walnuts are also an excellent source of protein and healthy fats that improve brain function.
- Dark chocolate is also a brain-boosting food because of its antioxidant effects. Dark chocolate contains cocoa, also known as cacao. Cacao contains flavonoids. Flavonoids are a type of antioxidant that is especially important for brain health in protection against oxidative stress.
- Fruits and vegetables such as oranges, kiwi, strawberries, bell peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage, and many more all contain vitamin C. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant that has protective effects on our brains.
- Foods high in protein are also linked to positive mood. Protein consumption has been linked to higher dopamine and norepinephrine levels. Both are brain chemicals that play a significant role in our mood and concentration. Examples of high protein foods include eggs, chicken, tofu, and beans.
Food and mood are connected in an amazing and complex way. So just remember, the foods you eat can make or break your productivity, mental state, and overall physical health. A healthful diet, in combination with staying active, will support a healthy and happy mind.
Breastfed From the Start: Helpful Tips for Mastering Breastfeeding
Preparing for Daycare & Tips for a Successful Transition Back to Work
Your breastfeeding journey doesn’t have to end once your child starts daycare. There are many things you can do to prepare. Here are some great questions to ask your child’s daycare provider:
- Does this daycare support breastfeeding moms?
- How do you ask for breast milk to be labeled?
- How do staff warm milk?
- How are bottles and nipples cleaned?
- What is the time limit for disposing of unused milk?
- Can you store frozen breast milk at the daycare?
- What is the backup plan if, for some reason, there is not enough milk for my baby?
- Is there a breastfeeding area on the premises so that I can feed my baby in person?
These are all great questions to better understand your child’s daycare feeding procedures and policies.
Planning ahead for your return to work can also help ease the stress of the transition. Have all of your equipment ready to go each morning. Make sure to pack your supplies and be prepared for pumping when you return to work:
- Pump (Ask WIC about our three pump options!)
- Pumping materials
- Coolers or containers for transport and storage
- Bottle labels
Planning ahead also means talking to your supervisor during your pregnancy to prepare for maternity leave. Use this South Dakota Employer Breastfeeding Accommodation Form (PDF | Word). The form is designed to help employers and employees talk and plan for breastfeeding needs when returning from maternity leave
Finally, it is also important to slowly start introducing bottle feeding to your baby. Check out the paced bottled feeding method as a great way to offer the bottle that gives baby more control of the feeding pace, similar to breastfeeding. Make sure not to wait until the week before you go back to work to try this method of feeding. Get the baby used to the breast milk from a bottle every few days and allow them to transition over.
Don’t be afraid to talk to your local WIC staff and ask questions about daycare and returning to work.
Delicious & Nutritious Recipes: Simple, Kid Approved Dishes to Try at Home
Creamy Banana Walnut Oatmeal
Ingredients: (3 WIC)
- 2 packets regular instant oatmeal (WIC)
- 1 cup fat-free or low-fat milk (WIC)
- 3/4 cup ripe bananas (WIC)
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped walnuts
- Wash prep area, your hands, and banana.
- In a small microwavable bowl, pour in packets of instant original oatmeal.
- Stir in milk.
- Microwave on high for 1 to 2 minutes.
- Peel and slice banana, place in a bowl, and mash until smooth with a fork, and set aside.
- Place prepared oatmeal in two serving dishes. Top each bowl with half of the mashed banana. Stir to combine.
- Sprinkle with walnuts. Enjoy!
This post was last updated on March 3rd, 2023 at 11:28 AM
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