Dairy Power: Happy National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day!

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Cheese...Grilled Cheese!  My son, Evan, enjoying his grilled

cheese sandwich to honor this "cheesy" holiday.

Happy National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day!  And many sources tell me that we should celebrate this the whole month of April. I am convinced they have a day for everything now. Seriously! Well, this day is very apropos for me because I just spoke at the 2011 Texas Dietetic Association Food & Nutrition Exhibition in Houston this past weekend on a dairy topic – lactose intolerance. In my talk, I spoke about how to enjoy 3 servings of low-fat dairy while also managing your lactose intolerance. But the part I believed was the most important part of the presentation was the implications of avoiding dairy.  And as a pediatric dietitian, I am mostly concerned about the impact avoidance has on growing children. [Children with a milk allergy (very different; is a reaction to the protein in milk vs the carbohydrate in lactose intolerance),  do need to avoid milk and all milk products - but also must be consulted by a Registered Dietitian so they can get the nutrients normally obtained in milk.]  My past posts in honor of National Nutrition Month’s Eat with Color theme focused much on produce that cover 2 food groups - fruits and vegetables. Well, we have other food groups that are vital for good health and dairy is one of them.

When you have a moment, re-visit my blog post entitled, “Ditching Dairy? CAUTION!” More than just calcium and vitamin D, there are at least 9 essential nutrients that are found in dairy products and with the new 2010 Dietary Guidelines out, we know that diary supplies 3 of the 4 nutrients of concern: calcium, vitamin D and potassium (the 4th one is fiber).  Did you know that dairy also contains bioactive compounds that help with blood pressure control, cholesterol reduction and anti-clotting in the blood?  There have also been a lot of studies on how low-fat dairy can help with managing your weight. 

So, go! Grill up that grilled cheese sandwich and celebrate National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day/Month and at the same time, maximize your nutrition.  Grill it with ham, onions, spinach or serve it with chunky tomato soup.  The choice is yours.  If your like my almost 4 year old son Evan, he prefers the good 'ole traditional recipe (see photo).  Eating Well's website has a lot of choices if you want to try a new version!  My colleague, Dr. Sandra Frank, RD, has some creative grilled cheese sandwich choices on her latest blog post as well.

Disclaimer: My presentation last week and this week in Albuquerque was funded by the National Dairy Council, but that was after I contacted them initially for printed literature that I could provide the pediatricians I support that had been taking children off dairy and providing only a calcium supplement as an inadequate replacement. When they heard that these issues are coming up in the field, they wanted me to share my story. However, I am not a spokesperson for the National Dairy Council. I speak on my own clinical nutrition knowledge. As a dietitian, I believe that each food group provides essential nutrients for optimal health and dairy is one of them.

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