Ask the Experts: The Right Milk, Succes Through Failure, Scoliosis, and Etiquette for Teens
Written by John Martinez
Choosing the Right Kind of Milk
Q: With so many options for milk and “milk alternatives” in the grocery store, I’m not sure which to buy for my family. What’s the best choice?
When it comes to food choices, most of us want to choose foods that are safe, wholesome and nutritious. When throwing items into my grocery cart, I try to include foods as close to their natural state as possible. And there’s nothing more natural than good, old-fashioned milk. Milk contains an irreplaceable package of nutrients such as calcium, protein, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium and vitamins A and D that you can’t get in any other beverage. Milk’s role in helping develop strong bones is pretty well known. But, do you know all of its benefits beyond bone health? The research around milk continues to show its role in reducing the risk of certain cancers, boosting immunity, improving high blood pressure and reducing the risk of common chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes. It’s no wonder the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans encourages us to consume 3 cups of low-fat milk and milk products each day.
Milk is not only nutritious it’s also affordable and versatile too. I like to get the most ‘bang for my buck’ and milk is one of the best nutritional buys in the grocery store. For about 25 cents per cup, milk can fit into anyone’s healthy eating plan. It’s also important that the food I buy doesn’t go to waste. I use milk when making oatmeal in the morning for a nutritional boost, pour glasses to make our meal balanced at dinner and often use it when making smoothies and soups. My 2-year-old son drinks milk with every meal and I feel good knowing he’s getting important nutrients he needs for growth and development. My husband is a football coach and with all of the strong research around chocolate milk being an optimal post-exercise recovery beverage, he often encourages his athletes to refuel with chocolate milk. I love that there are so many great ways to use milk everyday!
When you browse the dairy aisle, you’ll find a variety of options to make the best choice based on your individual needs and preferences. Although there is a range in fat levels offered, all milk contains the same unique package of nutrients. If you have a young child between the ages of 1 and 2, whole milk is a great choice. Little ones need the extra fat for healthy brain development. But if you are looking for ways to cut calories and fat from your diet, choosing reduced-fat (2%), low-fat (1%) or fat-free milk are great options. They have the same great taste, same nutrients, and the only difference is that the fat and calories have been reduced or removed.
Have you ever wondered whether there is a difference in milk labeled organic? From a nutrition perspective, there is no difference between organic and regular milk. Both offer the same important nutrients and they are both equally safe and wholesome. But, if organic production is important to you, then choose organic milk. Many people also have questions about rBST in milk, and whether or not it’s safe. All milk contains small amounts of naturally occurring hormones, including BST. rBST, a synthetic copy of this hormone, is sometimes given to cows by dairy farmers to make milk production more efficient. BST, whether natural or synthetic, does not have any impact on human health. In addition, studies have shown that milk from rBST-treated cows is identical to milk from untreated cows. Some people prefer to consume milk and milk products that were not produced with rBST. To meet their needs, many dairy farmers do not use it and label their milk as rBST free. However, you can feel confident that all milk is safe, pure and nutritious. Lastly, for those who have lactose intolerance, lactose-free milk is a great option because you still get the health benefits of milk. It’s simply regular milk where the lactose, the natural sugar found in milk, has already been broken down. With so many options to fit your lifestyle, it’s easy to make incorporate real milk into your everyday healthy eating pattern.
In many grocery stores, you are likely to see other products called milk, but in fact they’re made from plant foods like soybeans, rice or almonds. Imitation milk beverages are just that, imitations trying to replicate the real thing. In order to make these items a beverage, you have to process them heavily and add in nutrients. In my opinion, it’s better to eat these foods just as they are. For example, enjoy a handful of almonds for a nutrient packed snack and have some brown rice with your dinner, but stick to regular milk.
So, the next time you’re shopping in the dairy aisle, remember that choosing real milk is the best way to provide you and your family with the important nutrients they need, all in a tasty, versatile and affordable carton. —Ashley Rosales, R.D.
Succeeding through Failure
Q: My 10-year old son has been participating in a local soccer team. Lately, I’ve noticed that he's very hard on himself. It's gotten to the point that when he messes up, he actually cries in front of his peers. This has resulted in some teasing from his fellow teammates. What's even more concerning to me is that he's not able to deal with the little mistakes. How do I help him deal with these overwhelming emotions he's experiencing?
It is quite an adjustment for a child to go from the nurturing environment of mom and dad to the competitive world of sports. This adjustment can be difficult to watch as a parent, as there are as many disappointments as triumphs along the way.
There are studies that link participation in organized sports with being higher achievers in school, increasing the likelihood of attending college. There are many valuable lessons to be learned from participation in organized sports. Children who successfully navigate this experience learn to handle emotional disappointments, bounce back from losses, and mentally prepare themselves for the next opportunity to compete. These are life skills that have been linked to achieving success as adults as well. However, keep in mind that children learn these lessons over time. They can’t be rushed. Children need support, encouragement and especially patience to be able to learn and grow into healthy adults.
I noticed that when I see children in my practice who are devastated whenever they make a mistake, many of them seem to have merged who they are with what they did and think, “I made a mistake, so I am a bad person.” As a result, making a mistake is particularly painful for them. This perception is often inadvertently perpetuated by well-meaning adults in the language we use and phrases such as “be a good boy and clean up your toys.” Remind your children that even good people make mistakes – it’s all part of learning.
You can help your child learn to handle disappointment by reminding him that we all learn by trial and error – that it’s OK to make a mistake. In fact, it’s expected! Share with him stories of your own struggles and failures as a child and what you learned from making mistakes.
Your child may also be concerned about disappointing you. Again, be mindful of the language we use as a parent – it speaks volumes. For instance, “Good job playing soccer today, but it’s too bad you missed that goal” has an underlying message of “it wasn’t good enough.” Along with the courage to try, children need the courage to fail and try again.
Regarding the teasing by his teammates – perhaps the coach could talk to all of the players about the importance of supporting each other, which is what being on a team is all about.
Your son shows great character already by being open with his feelings, even at the risk of being teased, having the courage to show up to the next game to try again and wanting to do things well. With support and patience from you, his coach and his teammates he is well on his way to learning some wonderful life lessons, which will serve him well as he grows and matures. —Susan Kelsey
Susan Kelsey is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist based in Orange County, Calif. For more information about Susan or to find a therapist please visit CounselingCalifornia.com.
Etiquette Education for your Teen
Q: My teenage son does not understand why knowing basic business etiquette skills should matter in today’s high-tech world. What can I do to wake him up to its importance for college and his future career?
As a college and career strategist, I tell students business etiquette is not about doilies, drinking tea, or cotillions. Instead, I stress business etiquette is about knowing how to make a good first impression, being careful about personal appearance, and having good communications skills. No matter how brilliant you are, a lack of business and social skills can hold you back from academic, social, and career opportunities.
Don't show your future boss or college dean your nervous habits, show them your maturity and poise.
Many teens do not realize there are proper ways to sit, stand, and walk when they are in public, otherwise known as deportment, body language, or poise. Teens are typically unaware of their nervous habits, like tapping pencils, fidgeting and twitching, which do not convey confidence and make other people uncomfortable. Make teens aware of their nervous habits and urge them to suppress the need to fidget.
When meeting someone for the first time, stand up and take notice of the person to demonstrate respect.
Good posture commands respect, even for a teenager. Standing up straight can attract people because it implies confidence. Have your teenager look in a full-length mirror to see if the image they project while standing shows that they are at ease in any situation.
Off and away is how to carry your cell phone when meeting someone with power over your future.
With the widespread use of hand held electronic devices teens are often seen walking with their heads held down as they text to friends. Ask your teen to put away their devices and pay attention to everything and everyone around them when they walk. Walking with purposeful steps and with confidence is a very simple way of commanding respect from others.
Clothes & makeup can make a statement about your attitude or work ethic, even if it is unintentional.
Stress to your teen that they only get one chance at a first impression so they should do their best to present themselves in the best possible light every time. They need to always be thinking about what their appearance says about them and present their best selves. Tattoos, body piercings, heavy make-up, baggy pants, tight or revealing clothing have no place at upscale university events or in today’s workforce.
A real smile, face to face, beats an emoticon every day of the week.
As teens transition from high-school to college to the workforce they will soon realize that slang is not a language; people do not speak in sound bites or write with emoticons, and cursing is never acceptable. Good communication skills require eye contact, paying attention, listening, and really thinking about what others are saying. Look people right in the eye and make a genuine connection with a smile that speaks volumes about your confidence.
Now, more than ever, students should realize they will no longer just be applying for college or for a job after graduation—they will be competing for them. Knowing good manners and basic business etiquette can give students the winning edge in an increasingly competitive college admissions process or job market. —Elizabeth Venturini, MBA
Elizabeth Venturini, MBA, is a college career strategist who helps OC and LA students gain admittance to select colleges, create a favorable career path, and learn the social skills they need to truly succeed after college. For more info go to: www.Scholasticus.net.
Sports and Scoliosis: Get the Facts
Q: My daughter came home after a sport physical and told me that they said she has scoliosis and needs to be seen by a doctor. I am horrified. What should I do?
First and foremost, do not panic. Your daughter will be okay; she will still be able to participate in her sporting activities. The school needs for a doctor to clear your daughter for her sports activity to limit their legal liability should your daughter be injured while playing a school sport. The more important part of the answer to your question is that you have an understanding of the condition of scoliosis in your daughter. Will it improve or get worse? Will it require treatment? What type of treatment, if any, will be necessary for your daughter? Many parents are confused by the conflicting information about scoliosis on the Internet and from the different doctors they consult. Often times, this leads to the child receiving unnecessary treatments, some of which may be damaging both physically and mentally to the child. It is imperative that you know this information before you bring your daughter to consult with a physician, so you can make an informed decision about your daughter’s healthcare.
So, what is scoliosis? It is a lateral curvature or a sideways bend in a region of the spine that has an angle of greater than 10 degrees. If there is no known physical cause for scoliosis, such as boney malformations seen on an X-ray, it will be termed as idiopathic. Idiopathic means to arise spontaneously from an obscure or unknown cause. If this type of scoliosis occurs in a child, such as in your daughter’s case, it is called Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis. Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis is a mild condition that is usually self-limiting and may even fix itself without treatment. A five-year study of children diagnosis with Adolescent Scoliosis who did not receive treatment for the condition was performed (Sourcacos, et al 1998). The study showed that only 14.7% of the scoliosis cases progressed and only did so at an average rate of less than 1 degree per year. It also showed that spontaneous improvement of at least 5 degrees occurred in 27.4% of children, with 9.5% showing complete resolution of the lateral curve.
This is important information to know, as many doctors unwittingly scare parents into unnecessary appointments, X-rays and treatments to check or halt the progression of scoliosis. It is important to have the scoliosis initially evaluated and if indicated by a physical examination, to have an X-ray performed to check for congenital abnormalities and to determine the exact degrees of the curvature. If X-rays indicate a significant lateral curvature, then infrequent, regular X-rays may be needed to check on the progression. It is also important to note that the doctor must examine your child’s feet to check for uneven hyperpronation, which may cause a functional lateral curvature of the spine that may easily be corrected with shoe arch inserts, also known as orthotics.
If a scoliosis is going to progress, it will do so no matter what treatments are performed. Never allow a doctor to brace your child’s spine, as braces will do nothing to halt the progression of the scoliosis. In fact, bracing goes against all conventional wisdom as it decreases movement. Decreasing movement will adversely affect joints and muscle dynamics leading to joint injuries, spasms and maybe even accelerating the rate of scoliotic progression. Bracing also causes immense psychological stress on children, especially during the teenage years when they are searching for a social identity and peer acceptance.
If a scoliotic curve reaches 50 degrees, surgery may be recommended. However, surgery should only be performed if there are severe musculoskeletal or cardiovascular complications. Some young dancers and athletes undergo surgery to allow them to continue a high level of participation in their sport; this is a decision that should not be taken lightly. Surgery to correct scoliosis is immensely complicated and should only be performed by the top orthopedic doctors that specialize in scoliotic surgeries.
Since the high majority of Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis cases barely progress and are self-limiting (stop the cessation of skeletal growth that occurs at an average age of 17-years-old) parents should keep their child active to promote joint motion; special exercises for scoliosis are not necessary as they do not show significant positive effects. If a child with scoliosis is not already playing a sport, it is best to enroll the child in a balanced whole body sport activity, such as dance, martial arts, or even yoga classes. Being active in a sport is one of the best recommendations a doctor may make in regards to a child with scoliosis. It is also recommended for the child to obtain chiropractic treatments. Chiropractic treatments will induce motion to the specific joints that are affected by the scoliosis and alleviate the occasional aches and pains that are associated with scoliosis and increased physical activities or sports.
—Jack R. Giangiulio, D.C.
Jack R. Giangiulio, D.C. is a chiropractor considered to be one of the leading authorities in the field of dance injury and youth sports. He is published in Parenting OC Magazine, Dance Teacher Magazine, Dance Spirit Magazine and Dynamic Chiropractic. Besides being a consultant and lecturer to numerous dance companies, college dance departments and summer intensive programs, Dr. Giangiulio has also taught graduate and undergraduate university courses in motor control, kinesiology, chiropractic science, physiological therapeutics and physical rehabilitation. For more information about Dr. Giangiulio and his practice in Newport Beach, CA, go to www.danceinjurydoctor.com.