Updated Wed., 5/9 – When it comes to feeding your kids in preparation for a lifestyle of health and happiness, it can get not only confusing in choosing the right types of foods, but it can be frustrating as well. As a nutrition counselor working with many children for many types of conditions and concerns, as well as a mother of three, I have found a very distinctive and, in my opinion, easy way to feed these precious little ones. After all, they are our future. If we fail to feed them right, as well as instill good values at an early age, what future does our world have?
So, the following information will hopefully instill health values in your children at an early age, as well as allow them to live a fulfilling, sick-free, optimal life. It is important to understand that if you can get your children to learn a healthy lifestyle before the age of 9, that research shows it will stick for a lifetime. If your children are past 9 years of age, it is still possible to make changes, it just may take more time and patience.
The first step is understanding the basics. It seems like the “rules” on food, health and nutrition are always changing. The truth is, at the root level, it has actually stayed the same since the beginning of time. If we could stick to foods as close to nature as possible, we would be set. The trouble comes in when we start to over cook, over process, add pesticides, chemicals, or even change the entire seed, as in genetically modified foods. Your body doesn’t recognize foods that aren’t directly from nature. When it doesn’t recognize a substance, it ends up stored in a fat cell as a toxin. The body is smart. If it doesn’t recognize something as usable, it will tuck it away in an area where it could retrieve it if needed. Toxins are almost always stored in fat cells because of their ability to dissolve into fat (they are fat soluble). The more toxins you have, the more plump your fat cells become.
If you or your children are having trouble with weight, step one is to do a proper detoxification to eliminate these toxins and get the liver filtering properly again. If you didn’t know it, your liver is your chief fat burning organ, and if it’s clogged up with junk, it will not function properly, and your weight will either plateau or continue to climb. Just any old over-the-counter cleanse or detox could actually be detrimental to the other elimination organs if not used properly. I highly advise working with a trained practitioner.
The healthiest basics for kids are as follows.
1. Fat first! These kids need LOTS of fat for proper nervous system and brain development. Try to steer your conditioned brain away from the “eat fat=get fat” information that has been lurking out there for many years. We can see a serious cognitive decline in children from the start of the low fat/fat free era until now. There are many specialists who correlate this with the decrease in dietary fat.
Obviously there is some fat that is extremely unhealthy to the body. These are trans fats such as partially hydrogenated oils. As long as you stay very far away from these fats, and include plenty of good fats, such as coconut oil, extra virgin olive oils, fats from grass fed organic animal meats and fish, and organic butter, your children’s bodies will continue to grow healthier and healthier. Consider supplementing a high DHA product. Talk to your Natural Health Practitioner for an optimal product or inquire at firstname.lastname@example.org. This not only keeps your children calm, focused, and happy all day, but it also gives the brain the exact type of fat it needs to properly develop.
2. Veggies! Raw is the most nutrient dense form, but if you are transitioning your children into eating more, just give them whatever form they like the best. One of our kids’ favorite ways to eat their spinach is in their eggs. We blend up spinach and eggs in the blender until the eggs turn green, and scramble. The kids call it green eggs, and think its a blast. Another trick is to cut up all of your veggies into grab size pieces, and put it into something we call our veggie bin. Every time the kids get hungry, out comes the bin, and in go the little hands. If you don’t get it cut up ahead of time, the kids get hungry, and mom and dad tend to grab something convenient and devoid of nutrient value, like crackers or chips. You can also make veggies more fun by including yummy healthy dips like hummus or guacamole, or allowing your children to make faces on their plates before eating them, or allowing them to help make fun juiced veggie concoctions.
3. Protein! Protein is a must for growing children at every meal. From it comes the building blocks for all cellular processes. Work at incorporating complete proteins such as those from grass fed organic beef, venison, eggs, chicken, lamb, pork and fish. Incomplete proteins can be used once in a while, but should not take the place of the complete proteins. The incomplete proteins include nuts, nut butters, cheeses and legumes or beans.
Now our list of things to avoid.
1. The number one sensitivity I see in my practice is to gluten. Gluten is the protein portion of certain grains. It is found in barley, spelt, wheat, rye and oats, and any products made from those grains. These proteins have become so processed that the body starts to treat them as toxins.
Wheat is the most common gluten grain causing concern in the human body. Wheat used to actually be healthy for us. It was harvested in a way that allowed the wheat berry to stay fully intact. Because these methods are more expensive and take more time, they are not used anymore. The wheat berry is allowed to crack or break open, and all of the nutrients inside are left to rot. This rancid wheat is now used to make bread, crackers, pasta, and anything made with wheat. Start checking your labels, you’ll find wheat in everything from soy sauce to licorice. The number one cause of issues in the body is rancidity. And in my opinion, wheat is the number one source of this rancidity. If you cut back on (or even better eliminate) wheat, your entire family’s health picture may change drastically in a short period of time. As a general rule, all grains should be used sparingly.
2. Dairy is a very close second on the list of most problem causing foods. Now I realize you probably grew up learning that drinking your milk will insure strong bones and teeth, and that if you didn’t drink it, you would be calcium deficient in some way. News flash-pasteurized milk is not only useless to your body, it is detrimental. Back in the day, when we did things right and drank milk directly from a clean, grass fed cow with plenty of room to roam; it was full of nutrients. We are instead drinking milk from corn fed cows (cows were not meant to eat corn) that have been shoved full of hormones and antibiotics and sleep in their own waste. We then take that nutrient deficient hormone and medication laden “milk” and heat it to an extremely high temperature to kill off any bacteria. The heat process denatures the protein and renders the calcium unusable to the body. If there are any nutrients left in it, they are the ones that have been added synthetically either to the cow or directly to the milk. The liver realizes it needs to filter it and remove what waste it can, although if the liver is already clogged full of other toxins by now, it is extremely sluggish. It does what it can, but when it realizes it can’t handle it all on its own, it calls in the other elimination organs, and in the case of dairy, the lungs and sinuses are almost always the first to be called.
If we were able to eliminate pasteurized milk in our country, I strongly believe the incidence of childhood ear infections would nearly disappear. Asthma would decline instead of continue to rise, and chronic sinus infections and allergies would soon be a thing of the past. Look instead for unsweetened almond, rice, or coconut milks. Butter, raw cheeses, and plain yogurts still have their enzymes and live cultures intact, so these are okay as long as you or your child is not suffering from allergies, asthma, colds or any other sickness.
3. Processed foods containing preservatives and synthetic vitamins, and those sprayed with pesticides, fungicides and herbicides. Keeping it basic, if it comes in a box, bag, can, or other package and it can last on a shelf for years, its not food in the truest sense of the word. These types of foods are the ones your body will store in the fat cells for a lifetime if a proper detoxification is not done. Once stored there, they will cause many bodily processes to malfunction and function sub-optimally. Can you see why some children are bouncing off the walls and some are so sluggish they can hardly keep their head off their desk? These chemicals will cause different reactions in different children, but every reaction caused is one in the wrong direction.
4. Sugar. This is certainly one of the largest anti-nutrient components in the Standard American Diet. I say anti-nutrient because you have to expend your nutrients just to break sugar down. It steals from your bones, muscles, organs, glands and blood vessels just to be digested. It then causes inflammation. We now know that inflammation is the underlying cause of all diseases. It is not fat that makes us fat, it’s sugar.
All in all, if you can choose foods as close to nature as possible, such as organic produce and meats that have been humanely raised and fed, your reward will be a happy, healthy, long living family. Remember too that getting the kids involved in the preparing or cooking process, will greatly enhance their affinity for the finished product. (Even though it might be a little more to clean up afterward.)
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