21 March 2015

The Importance of Home Economics in 2015 #WHED2015

March 21 is designated as World Home Economics day by the International Federation of Home Economics. You may have seen home economics related hashtags on social media as the day was celebrated around the world.

For most of us, when we hear ‘Home Economics’ we think of cooking, sewing and family classes in school. But Home Economics, or Human Ecology, Family Studies, Consumer Sciences or some other name in your province or territory; has grown to meet the present day needs of consumers.

The study of home sciences has been around for over a century, and started as basic outreach programs that taught about food, textile and family sciences to rural communities. As the demand for home sciences increased, this is where we saw the beginning of and growth in home economics, the basic skills for life; because Home Economics focuses on the health of the individual, family, and the community.

Home Economics is not new, there were home economics conferences held as early as 1899 in Lake Placid, to discuss present home science needs, and the future of mental, moral, and physical health in the family.

The best examples I can think of early Home Economists in Canada are Fannie Twiss and Ruth Binnie. They both saw a need to reach rural communities in Saskatchewan, travelling over one thousand miles a month, teaching their household sciences program, which included textiles, nutrition, and also a hot lunch. The main goal was to teach children and youth to sew, and make a hot meal for dinner when they grew up.

While home economics has evolved, and its name has changed, to primarily human ecology in Canada, it still focuses on improving and empowering the wellbeing and quality of life for communities, families, and individuals.

Home economics is informed by the human ecologoical model. At the core is humans, or individuals, and the natural environment, human constructed environment, and the human behaviour environment surrounding the core. Individuals are seen through this lens, and interventions are done accordingly.

Home economics isn’t just about what is trendy. For example, instead of focusing on what the latest diet is, Home Economics is science focused, which has been an anchor throughout these health trends, that a healthy nutritional diet and balanced lifestyle helps maintain wellbeing.

In 2015, Home Economics is needed more than ever, with rapidly increasing consumer debt, individual nutrition concerns, obesity, ever changing family dynamics and roles; individuals, families and communities need information and interventions at the individual, family, community and government level that will support them and help  them grow and adapt to an ever changing  world.

12 March 2015

Homemade Baby Food - Simplified #Parenting #PHEc

By Emily Richards B.Sc., P.H.Ec.

New moms and dads can navigate aisles of prepared food when baby is ready for solids. However more parents now recognize the nutritional and economic benefits of homemade baby food.

In 2014, Health Canada, Dietitians of Canada, the Canadian Pediatric Society and the Breastfeeding Committee for Canada simplified guidelines for feeding infants and young children aged 6 to 24 months. 

Revised Recommendations for Introducing Foods to Baby

In brief, the new advice is to “Start Lumpy” and “Start with iron-rich solid foods at about 6 months of age − instead of previous recommendations of 4 months. Begin with well-cooked minced, mashed or shredded meat or meat alternatives (such as cooked, mashed beans or lentils, eggs) and iron-fortified infant cereals. After iron-rich foods, introduce vegetables, fruit, grains and milk products such as cheese and yogurt in a variety of textures. Delay introduction of cow’s milk until 9 to 12 months of age and limit intake to 750 mL/day. Avoid honey until at least one year of age.” More at: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/infant-nourisson/index-eng.php

Simple Tips for Making Baby Food

Ø Buy produce in season for best selection and price. Check Foodland Ontario for availability charts: http://www.ontario.ca/foodland/availability-guide
Ø Introduce one fruit or vegetable at a time to monitor reaction. Babies may only enjoy a few teaspoons initially, so prep time is minimal;
Ø Keep it simple − banana or hard cooked egg can be mashed with a fork;
Ø Steam, boil or microwave fruits and veggies until tender. Purée or mash to desired
consistency by adding a bit of the nutrient-rich cooking water;
Ø Avoid adding salt, sweeteners and spices. Avoid rare and processed meats such as deli meats;
Ø No need for fancy equipment. Use a blender or sieve to puree, knives to chop and fingers to shred.
Ø Use clean ice cube trays or small containers to freeze purées to keep variety on hand;
Ø Meals prepared for the rest of the family are easily adapted for baby.

Emily Richards, P.H.Ec., is a Guelph-based Professional Home Economist, cookbook author and member of the Ontario Home Economics Association.

Ontario Home Economics Association (OHEA), a self-regulated body of Professional Home Economists, promotes high professional standards among its members so that they may assist families and individuals to achieve and maintain a desirable quality of life. For further information, please contact: Ontario Home Economics Association. 1225 Meadowview Rd., RR #2 Omemee, ON   K0L 2W0    Tel/Fax: 705-799-2081    Email: info@ohea.on.ca    Website: www.ohea.on.ca

09 March 2015

Kimberley BC is the Best City to Raise a Family

In early April 2013 the Reader’s Digest released a list of the Top 42 Canadian Cities to raise a family in based on these categories: Transit, Median Age, Infant Mortality, Maternity Leave, Daycare, Cost of Food, Mom Groups, Intimate Partner Violence, Child & Youth victims of crimes, Libraries, and Park Space. Of course Kimberley was not on the list because it only looked at provincial capitals and centres with more than 80,000 people. The top five communities were: Windsor, Calgary, Guelph, Ottawa and Sherbrooke. So with all due respect to these concrete urban centres let’s take a look at why Kimberley is the best city to raise a family.

Kimberley, BC

Population: 6,652

Median Age:  46.3. This number is getting lower as young families are moving in, plus there were five kindergarten classes this school year.

Infant Mortality: 4.9 per 1000 live births in the East Kootenay’s. According to Statistics Canada, this is on par with Canada, but just slightly higher than the BC rate of 4.2.

Daycare: There are several great daycare facilities in Kimberley, from First Steps and Second Steps daycare, to Pre-K programs at the Independent School & Gymnastics, to aftercare programs offered at schools, plus several at home providers.

Education: There are two elementary schools, one middle school, one high school, and a not-for-profit school (grades K-9). There are great teachers and support workers at each of the schools.  The College of the Rockies has a satellite campus providing continuing education courses. Plus there are transition programs from Pre-K/Daycare into Kindergarten such as Ready, Set, Learn.

Mom Groups: For such a small community there are a lot of mom support groups. My favourite is Strong Start that offers free supper to families with children under five on Wednesday’s. There are other programs called Baby Goose, Bellies to Babies, Alphabet Soup, Nobody’s Perfect Parenting and Roots of Empathy. Go to cbal.org/Kimberley to learn more about these groups.

Transit: There may not be a scheduled BC Transit service, but there is an affordable door to door bus service. There are also plenty of friendly neighbours who could give you a ride. My neighbour has always been able to find lifts up to the ski hill and around town when their car was unavailable.

Cost of Food: Compared to larger urban centres the overall price of a food basket is more expensive. But pay attention to the flyers, there are some great deals in there. Also, if you have a child under the age of five you qualify for the monthly Salvation Army Good Food Basket that has about a value of $40 in groceries but only costs $10.

Crime: Every community has crime; it would be a lie to say a community is crime free. But in all seriousness, it is more likely that my neighbour’s three-year old son breaks in to play with toys than any other kind of crime. Kimberley has a great RCMP detachment that provides weekly updates.

Park Space: All of Kimberley is a park. There are a couple of designated park spaces for play structures. But when you consider the Rails to Trails, the Lions Trails, the Marysville Falls and the Kimberley Nature Park; there are many outdoor locations for hiking, biking, swimming, running, walking and playing!

Libraries: There is one public library for every 6,652nd person in Kimberley.  In Toronto the ratio is one public library to every 26,684th person.  Windsor is one to 21,089. Ottawa is one to 25,982. Guelph is one to 28,219. And in Calgary there is one for every 60,945th person.

Hospital: Kimberley does not have a hospital, but the East Kootenay Regional Hospital is only a quick 20 minutes away and received a rating of ‘B’ on CBC’s Rate My Hospital. There is a Health Centre, which I have learned can stabilize severe peanut allergy reactions.

Family Doctors: When my family moved here we were able to get a family doctor on our first visit to the clinic despite still having out of province medical cards. This is completely different from experiences we had in different cities where we relied on walk-in clinics.

Health: In the January 2013 Health Profile of the East Kootenay’s it found that there is a higher perceived quality of health, and mental health than the average of BC. The perceived life stress is lower than the average of BC. This is probably correlated to the active outdoor lifestyle and the laid back personality.

Kimberley is the best city in Canada to raise a family, but let’s keep it our little secret.


This was originally published in GO Kimberley, Summer 2013

02 March 2015

#KimberleyBC Anti-Bullying at the Kimberley Independent School

Pretty neat to see my daughters school be recognized for their anti-bullying efforts! I have always preferred the positive approach, that is what to do, instead of the negative, what not to do.

01 March 2015

Sports #Psychology and Sports Trauma #EMDR #CBT

Shortly after my 17th birthday, I participated in a friendly, yet competitive, basketball tournament. I was going up for an offensive rebound, and when I landed on the ground I felt a sharp pain in my left calf. I collapsed to the ground, grabbing the swelling in my leg. Later when I was meeting with doctors, I heard the phrases “torn muscle,” “missed the nerve,” “lucky to walk again.” Those words rang through my head as I was on crutches and in a walking boot for just over two months, and then as I underwent intense physiotherapy for four more months.

To this day, I am not as aggressive around the hoop as I used to be. Albeit, some of it may have to do with that I’m not as fit as I used to be, but there still is that lingering fear, and reminders when I play in similar venues.

Sports Psychology is a recent field and is devoted to helping athletes gain a mental edge that helps improve or enhance their athletic performance. Sports Trauma is even newer. The understanding that a traumatic experience in sporting, such as the one I had, or bigger ‘T’ traumas such as permanent physical damage, or smaller ‘t’ traumas like giving possession away and costing your team the game; impacts performance and comfort.

There are two psychotherapies that are beneficial in treating a traumatic experience, and can be applied to a traumatic sporting experience. The first is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Trauma (CBT for Trauma), and the second is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy.

CBT for Trauma focuses on understanding thoughts, emotions, body feelings, and actions. Challenging negative and unhelpful thoughts, and reframing those thoughts into positive helpful ones. Relaxation exercises are used to help lower the stress and arousal system baselines in the body. All this is done to prepare for gradual exposure to the traumatic experience through narration. Outcome is awareness of trauma triggers and being able to manage them.

EMDR Therapy focuses on the traumatic experience, the distress it causes presently, negative cognitions, and body sensations associated with the traumatic event. Through bilateral stimulation, whether visual, auditory or physical, processing occurs until the feelings of distress are neutral. Reframing and reprocessing occurs with a positive cognition. Outcome is a decrease in present stress from the trauma triggers.

As is noted in Sports Psychology and is true for treating Sports Trauma, engaging in it does not mean that one will become an elite athlete, rather that participating in sports will become a more positive experience with fewer unwanted triggers.