Start 'em YOUNG! (part 2)

I've heard many parents describe their children as picky eaters who tolerate only a limited menu of, typically unhealthy, foods. While there are some kids who suffer from texture issues, for the most part children eat what they are offered.

Consider the different cultures and the kids who live within those environments. Kids in Japan typically eat vegetables, fish and seaweed; kids in India eat vegetables and lentils; in Korea, kimchi (pickled vegetables); kids in Africa eat local fruits and vegetables, cassava and millet; Middle Eastern children are raised eating local fruits and vegetables, hummus and barley; while American kids feast on sugar laden cereals, pb&j, chicken nuggets, mac n' cheese, pizza and hot dogs.

Consider this: Beggars in India show less nutritional deficiency than our American teens because, though they don't get a lot of food, the food they eat is real while our children are consuming an abundance of garbage. Among our children and adolescents, 33% are overweight and a staggering 75% are malnourished.

When it’s time to introduce solid foods, make it easy! Babies don't demand variety so you don't need to plan elaborate menus. A perfect first food is avocado. This incredibly nutritious fruit contains 20 vitamins and minerals, heart healthy fat, powerful antioxidants and has a mild and soft flavor and texture that babies love.

Apart from cereals (rice and wheat), which should not be introduced until after 12 months, there is no evidence to support a specific order for introducing new foods. The important thing to remember is to introduce only one new food every 2 - 7 days so that you can determine if your child has a reaction to it.

You could follow avocado with soft-cooked vegetables, other soft fruits, healthy starches (sweet potato/yams) and easy proteins (eggs, fish, yogurt, cottage cheese). As your child gets teeth, you could add legumes, thin sliced meat or meatballs made from ground beef, chicken, or turkey.

As the baby transitions to toddler, again keep their meals simple, nutritious and easy to digest. For babies and toddlers, I suggest limiting meals to only 2 categories and pairing them as follows (age appropriate, of course!):

  • When consuming fruit, the companion food is either a specific healthy fat (avocado, coconut milk/cream or nut butter) or fermented protein (kefir, yogurt or cottage cheese). Combining sweet fruits with avocado in a 50/50 ratio helps to maintain better blood sugar balance and discourages developing a sweet tooth.

  • When consuming starch (pasta, potato or bread), the companion food is a specific healthy fat (avocado, butter or olive oil) and cooked vegetables.

  • When consuming animal protein, the companion food is always cooked vegetables.

  • When consuming legumes (beans, peas, lentils), the companion food is whole grains (quinoa, sprouted grain toast, rice), healthy fat (butter or olive oil) and vegetable(s). Fun fact: combining legumes with whole grains creates a complete protein.

Not feeding children correctly, or yourself for that matter, must no longer be an option because when there are options available, options are usually exercised. But who first introduced these options? No human baby is born knowing all that's available to eat! They know only what their parents provide. They also notice what their parents model… so, make sure you’re eating healthy too!

Disclaimer: This information is in no way intended to diagnose or treat specific medical conditions and is not a substitute for you own personal research. It contains basic information, that is publicly available. It is not intended as individualized advice or as a substitute for professional advice of any kind. Any suggestions I make are not a substitute for you own personal research. Always consult your own licensed medical practitioner if you are in any way concerned about your health. You must satisfy yourself of the validity of the professional qualifications of any healthcare provider and, as always, do not discontinue any medications without your doctor’s consent.

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MELANIE STEWART

melanie@yumtumnutrition.com

 

Member of the NANP

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