Campaigning A Wholefood Diet for Kids
Raising kids on a wholefood diet isn't always easy. Living in an era where convenience foods are everywhere and many of us live in a time poor scenario; where preparing homemade food is just one more thing on the list of many to do.
In this blog I want to encourage you all to take a look at what we are filling this next generation up with and simple ways to bring back the nourishment that every child deserves.
We love platter parties at our house for dinner - Olives, Broccoli, Sauerkraut and Chicken pieces. Simple, filling and nourishing...
So I wanted to do a bit of research for this one and so stood outside my local Countdown and New World and asked the people who had kids or looked in the age bracket of having kids what a typical day in the diet of their child looked like. So...I've listed for you the most common responses from 120 people.
Breakfast: 2 weetbix with milk, toast and jam/peanut butter
Morning tea: A couple of biscuits, small pack of chips and/or a piece of fruit
Lunch: White bread sandwich with ham and cheese or marmite, pot of flavoured yoghurt, muesli bar, biscuits
Afternoon Tea: Fruit, biscuits, muesli bars
Dinner: Macaroni and cheese, Fish and chips, Meat and vegetables (corn, peas, carrot), spaghetti bologanise.
Looking at this from a macro nutrient point of view we can see that it is based around carbohydrates. Children need carbohydrates but basing every meal on carbs is a quick way to jump on the blood sugar roller-coaster. If you are like most parents I encounter you walk around with a bag of snacks and your child typically asks for food every 1-2hours. This is because snacking on popcorn, crackers, raisins and fruit will not fill your child up. To give them long lasting stable energy; just like adults you need to incorporate quality fats and protein.
If we look at the results given from my 'research' it is easy to see how quickly lacking in vital micronutrients this diet is. Some that jump out are selenium, essential fatty acids, zinc, magnesium, anti-oxidants to name a few. These are an absolute must for health and happiness!
Dr Natasha Campbell writes in her book Gut and Psychology Syndrome about an experiment that was done in a food laboratory. They compared the nutritional value of some brands of cereal and the boxes they were packaged in. The analysis results showed that the box itself, made of wood pulp had more nutritional value than the cereal it held.
Now SERIOUSLY what do you say to that?
Its time to find some time, to take the time to prepare or at least source food for this next generation that is real food and is going to allow them a full and healthy life; not one that is riddled with sickness and frustration.
Here are a few tips that will hopefully be helpful for you and your family:
If you are entering the world of parenthood or have youngsters you are in a good position to help them make healthy choices from the get go. The foods that you provide your child in the early years set up their taste preferences for later down the track. I also know that it is harder to change from processed foods back to wholefoods when a child has developed a 'taste' for this food. It is beyond the scope of this article but a huge point to make here is the food we eat determines the makeup of the bacteria in the gut and an emerging body of research suggests that our food cravings may actually be significantly shaped by the bacteria that we have inside our gut. So make it easy for your kids to want the right things....nourish those beneficial gut bacteria with real food.
Children are so interested in everything and want to be involved in all aspects of life. As much as this can be a mission at times incorporating them into the food prep from a young age teaches them the value of preparing foods from scratch, provokes conversation, it is a great way to spend quality time together and enables them to feel pride in the task they have completed. It is as simple as cutting up the carrots in my 5 years old case or separating the leafs of the cabbage in my 2 1/2 year old's case.
So the age of the toddler can be extremely joyful and extremely challenging. I know from having two children myself that the will power and stubborness can be a force to be reckoned with. I also know that that a child will never starve them self and by being inconsistent with how I deal with fussiness will not do anyone any favours. Children love consistency. Punishing or making an issue does not bring any joy in the stress department. Keep Calm and Carry on with eating your meal and saying something like "Thats ok, clearly your not hungry now so I'll put your food aside and when you decide your hungry; that bowl of food will be waiting for you". In my experience it is surprising how quickly the child realizes your not mucking around and usually their hungry tummies get the better of them or they realize in the next hour its not awesome to eat their meal cold.
If you child experiences any of the following symptoms or issues it is imperative for their health and well being long term that you take a good look at the diet and address the underlying gut health issues. These are just a few of the common symptoms of Gut imbalance that Dr Vincent Pedre the medical director of Pedre Integrative Health has noted:
digestive issues like excess gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation
skin issues like eczema
mood disorders like ADHD, ADD
Do the kids feel like they miss out at all...absolutely not! There is a host of websites and cookbooks now dedicated to providing delicious wholefood recipes that even the greatest skeptic will enjoy.
No child when they grow up is ever going to say to there parent 'Oh how I wish you had feed me more processed junk when I was younger, I wish I didn't have the healthy body that I do because you took the time and effort to nourish me'. For the short term stand a child might make, following a wholefood diet will bring a host of benefits in the long run.
I'll tell you now, we don't have a family doctor, we never have because I feel using a 'Food is Medicine' philosophy helps prevent illness. Don't get me wrong; doctors have there perfect place when needed and eating great food isn't going to save your child falling off the playground or from the common cold but I want to give you faith and encouragement that realigning your children with a wholefood diet is a guaranteed way to better health.
Ann Wigmore sums it up "The food you eat can be the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison".
This blog is meant to be thought provoking and by no means do I have it all right. I want to share the knowledge that study and working with a range of clients has given me for ultimately the better health and well-being of all. You are welcome to contact me if there is anything you wish to discuss further.