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Five Ways to Control Portion Size for the Healthiest Breakfast Possible
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What is the #1 thing you can do to nourish yourself for the day, but not overeat? Two words: portion control.

It is an established fact that we consume far too much as a nation. As individuals we hardly have a concept of what constitutes an appropriate serving size anymore. There are some visual cues that can be engaged to train our kids’ eyes and tummies to right-size our hunger and expectations.

Whether you are mom trying to maintain her weight or dad trying to lose a few or a kid trying to grow, do you know what each should be eating to hit that goal? Each body has different needs so there is no single right answer. It is a really great exercise to use an app or tracker to input each individual’s typical day and obtain your own barometer. No matter what you do, you will see that everything hinges on that #1 thing called portion control.

It is critical to start the day with a breakfast full of the right amount of protein, fibre and fuel.

Top five ways to control breakfast portions:

  1. Consume foods that are pre-measured. Greek yogurt snack packs under 150 calories, 2 Weetabix biscuits, one small banana…anything that has fewer than 3 or 4 ingredients and that limits your consumption.
  2. Research conducted at Cornell University consistently shows that we are affected positively and negatively by serving dish or container size. Tall slim glasses for smoothies rather than large and short and smaller bowls and plates help us feel fuller with smaller, more appropriate amounts.
  3. If you are a juice drinker reduce the amount to the ridiculous. This single mistake can set off your blood sugar and actually make you more hungry all day since your body processes it as pure sugar (even the 100% juice versions) Scour yard sales for tiny 1950’s style juice glasses if you are having juice. That 10-12 ounce glass is for water.
  4. Place small bowls out for cereal or empty cereal boxes into decorative jars and use a measuring cup to scoop a sensible ½ cup amount. Use teaspoons or smaller spoons to eat cereal to prevent soup spoon shovelling.
  5. Pour milk or cream into your mug before you fill with coffee (if you are using sugar, measure level teaspoons and know that your limit is 6 tsp from all sources including juice and cereal)

For a speedy, delicious way to make breakfast portions fun, consider making breakfast popsicles. The goodness is measured in for you and the out the door fun of mornings can go a lot more smoothly.


Breakfast Popsicle

You don’t need to have traditional popsicle molds for these breakfast lifesavers, tiny paper cups on a cookie sheet will do. Consider using a plastic spoon as a stick so it can be eaten as muesli if it melts.

Makes 2-4 servings
Takes: 5 minutes plus freezing time

You’ll Need:

  • 1 ½ cup 3% plain yogurt
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 Tbsp hemp seeds
  • 4 Weetabix biscuits
  • 1½ cups frozen blueberries
  • 1 handful baby spinach
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 small orange, slice thickly and slice a spot for the spoon to slide through.

Prep and Cook:

Pour into a blender and blend until smooth. Use a spatula to smooth into popsicle molds or paper cups. Top with more plain yogurt to fill to the top and top with an orange slice.  Slide the spoon through and freeze overnight.

Theresa Albert is a Food Communications Expert, Brand Spokesperson, Author (Cook Once a Week, Eat Well Every Day and Ace Your Health: 52 Ways to Stack Your Deck), Speaker, Toronto-Area Nutritionist, Columnist for the international Metro Newspaper and The Huffington Post and regular contributor to both lifestyle and news media. Find her at
Comments | Tagged under breakfast, healthy
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What Parents Need to Know about the New Nasal Spray Flu Vaccine
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We all know by now that getting the flu shot is an absolute must. Up to 20% of all Canadians get the flu each and every year—and the flu can be very serious for kids, particularly those under age five. Children have the highest rates of influenza and associated complications, and they’re contagious for a longer period of time.

But ask any parent what comes to mind when they think of the flu shot, and chances are good they can painfully recall at best a frightened and squirming child, and at the worst, a screaming, wailing terrified child. Those tearstained little faces break our hearts every fall.

So it’s with pleasure and relief that we can now say those days are done. The flu vaccine is now available as a nasal spray—instead of only an injectable—at flu providers across Ontario. (And in limited quantities from public health clinics and physicians elsewhere. Check with your flu shot provider about availability, or search here.)

This spray has been available before, but this is the first year it’s widely available. We had some questions, so we reached out to Dr. Dina M. Kulik, Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto’s Department of Pediatrics, Staff Physician at The Hospital for Sick Children, and a savvy mom of three boys.

Who Can Get the Nasal Spray?
Bad news for those of us who loathe needles—Dr. Dina informs us that the spray is only available for kids. Kids ages 2–17 are eligible to receive it. Kids who are ineligible for the spray include those under two years of age, those with severe asthma, diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, weakened immune systems, anaphylaxis to eggs or previous flu vaccines, or anyone taking ongoing ASA therapy.

What’s It Like?
Let’s be real: when someone says ‘nose’, we think ‘runny’. So when we imagined someone spraying medicine into our kiddo’s noses, we wondered about it dripping out. Would our tykes hop down from the nurse’s chair, wiggle their noses, and knock out half the medicine? Dr. Dina assured us that even if a bit of spray drips or leaks, most will get in there and the vaccine will still be effective. Phew.
Dr. Dina says that, ‘It does feel a bit funny to have some liquid sprayed in the nose, but I haven’t heard from my patients that it smells or tastes funny. Most think it’s hilarious.’ That’s a relief.

What Else is New?
But, it gets better. The nasal spray is actually formulated to protect our kids from more strains of the flu than ever before. The nasal spray flu vaccine will help offer broader protection against four flu viruses—the added protection comes against an additional B-strain of the flu virus, which affects children and youth more frequently than adults.

Our Final Verdict
With Dr. Dina’s words in mind, we took our own kiddos to get the spray last week. Last year, we had to hold them down. This year: a world of difference. The whole experience was pain-free for all, and we didn’t even have to play our trump card: bribing them with chocolate.

Dr. Dina Kulik

About Dr. Dina
Dr. Dina Kulik is a mother and Paediatrician in Toronto and is one of Canada’s leading child health media experts, providing child health information to parents and the public through television, radio and print media and via her thriving blog Above all, Dina’s greatest joy is her family and being the mom of three active, happy boys. Follow Dr. Dina on Twitter at @DrDinaKulik

Comments | Tagged under kids, health, flu, vaccine
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