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What WIC specialist learns at work applies to home

Danyel Brewer sees herself as a role model for her daughter, Kayleigh, 2, when it comes to nutrition. (John Hickey/Buffalo News)

By Scott Scanlon – Refresh Editor

Danyel Brewer got on-the-job training when it came to raising her daughter, Kayleigh, 2.

Brewer, a registered dietitian and certified lactation counselor in the Women Infant Children (WIC) office in Niagara Falls, is the subject of today’s What are you eating? column in WNY Refresh.

“It was very nice working with WIC because I was prepared and I knew what to expect” after Kayleigh was born, Brewer told me. “We breastfed for 18 months. This girl is so smart and healthy. I think it’s all from the breastfeeding.”

What foods does Brewer recommend moms eat when they’re breastfeeding?

“Load up on fruits and vegetables,” she said. “It’s basically the things that everybody knows but doesn’t always want to do. I just tell them, ‘When you’re hungry, if you have a favorite food, then go for it, but only once or twice a week. The rest of the time, sneak in an apples or grapes, something like that.”

Brewer, a Pendleton native who lives in North Tonawanda with her husband, Rich, and their daughter, is the latest healthy eater who has talked to me about not depriving herself of some of the foods she loves.

“I eat chocolate every single day,” she said. “I don’t feel bad about it because I eat well the rest of the time. I allow myself my one little piece of chocolate a day and it satisfies my cravings. I don’t feel bad about spoiling my daughter here and there, because I know most days of the week she’s a super eater.

Here are some other excerpts from our interview:

What do you and your daughter enjoy eating together most?

She’s really into chickpeas for some reason. That’s pretty cool. We grew a garden this year and we have these little cherry tomatoes. She likes that because she’ll pick them and eat them. I don’t think we really have a favorite food.

What are the staples of your diet?

This year, I was involved in getting a farm share, one of the CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture arrangements, in which farmers provide food all growing season for a set price up front). All summer, I loaded up on vegetables. Vegetables for me are hard to get in because of the preparation they require, so having the CSA for me has increased my intake. Lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains – I never buy any white breads – wheat pasta. Low-fat milk and yogurt.

With the CSA, did you have any vegetables this year that you never had before?

Yes, a lot. Beets. Bok choy. I made a vegetable soup with that, which I’ve been living off of this past week, with the potatoes and the carrots and onions that they give us. I don’t know what it is, I’m just loving that right now.

What are your daughter’s favorite foods?

She’s into cereal right now. I don’t buy the sugary stuff. The most sugary I get is frosted shredded wheat. Mostly just Chex or Multi-grain Cheerios. Those are good. Kix are always a fallback.

She’s not into casserole-type meals. She likes her food separate, so I just chop up cucumbers or bell peppers and have some dips for her. Peanut butter and jelly.

What would a fun family dinner be?

I like to make homemade pizza. We get the wheat dough from Wegmans and then I load it up with vegetables. I feel better about it that way because then you can control the cheese, the saturated fat. By doing it at home, you can also load it up with more veggies. Sometimes I use low-fat cheese and sometimes I don’t. I don’t really use too much of the low-fat because then you’re getting more additives, so for certain things, I do go full fat. Then I just don’t use as much.

I try to be natural, use less processed foods. The fewer ingredients and the less processed, the better.

So chocolate is your greatest temptation. What are the foods your daughter can’t resist?

Unfortunately, she was born into a sweet tooth family, both sides, so anything sweet, cookies, ice cream, she wants it. She’s a kid. It’s part of our society. I’m not going to tell her no, she can’t have it. I’m just going to tell her it’s occasional, not an everyday thing.

I’ll take her out for ice cream, too, on a hot summer day, but I don’t feel bad about it. Everything in moderation is good.


Twitter: @bnrefresh

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About The Refresh Buffalo Blog

Scott Scanlon

Scott Scanlon

Scott Scanlon is an award-winning reporter and editor who has covered various topics in his quarter-century as a journalist in South Florida, Syracuse and Buffalo. He is aiming to pass along what he is learning these days about health, fitness, nutrition and family life.

@BNRefresh |