Blossoming Health with Nanny Bee
By Linda Pecone
At the rates kids grow, what we feed them matters greatly to their physical, mental, and emotional health. What to feed children can be a point of frustration for a lot of parents. It’s also one of the most hotly debated issues among moms. One of the best suggestions I can offer you as a nutritionist is to develop your own food guidelines. Get to know the science, and what works and what does not. And most of all, all things in moderation.
I think we can all agree that basic foods like healthy proteins and green veggies are important staples for the little ones, but the issue of child nutrition is hardly a clear cut one anymore. With our children’s busy lives these days most kids just aren’t
home at meal times much. This rapidly paced lifestyle makes it easier to justify quick food, even if it is devoid of nutrients. Is it any wonder that obesity and Type 2 diabetes rates are skyrocketing in kids and appearing at younger ages than ever before?
Sometimes we get so busy with life that it’s just too easy to forget just how important our kids’ nutrition is. There is a lot of science out there that conflicts with our lifestyles too. We know fruits and veggies, and healthy proteins are important, but do we drink milk or do we not? Should we drink fruit juice? How much sugar is too much sugar? It can make your head spin. Building your child’s diet around a few core food groups is a great place to start.
Start with asking yourself, is this a food, or a food-like/non-food substance. Any food that can sit on a shelf and not decompose for a year is likely not fit for consumption. This knocks out all the fast food, microwaveable food, food bars, and most drinks besides water. So what is left? Plenty!
Healthy proteins are absolutely vital for all of us, especially kids as they are still forming bones and muscles. Kids need real, untreated, chemical-free sources of protein. Grass-fed and properly raised meats are the best, if you are vegan try beans and lentils.
It’s important to get more veggies in than fruit (no, potatoes in the form of fries do not count). Veggies and fruits reduce risk of almost every disease, but be careful with too much fruit as it can be high in fructose. One of the best fruits to allow your children full access to are berries. They are the most nutritious and contain the least amount of fructose of all the fruits. Buy them fresh in the summer months and frozen when they are not available.
Healthy fats are also very important to a child’s growth, and that includes saturated fat. A lack of necessary dietary fats, can cause reduction in the myelin sheath that coat kids’ brain cells. The consequence of this can be uncontrolled or rapid fire impulses in the brain, otherwise known as ADD or ADHD. Great sources of dietary fat include coconut, avocados, olives/olive oil, butter/ghee, eggs, nuts and seeds.
I won’t make a judgment on dairy, but it’s not all it’s cracked up to be in my opinion. This is where your judgment for your child must come into play. Dairy is a staple in many children’s diets at the recommendation of their doctors, however statistics show that kids who go without dairy by choice or by allergy still receive adequate calcium and other nutrients. If dairy is the main source of dietary fat for your child it’s important to gradually replace it with a healthier source, removing all dairy can do more harm than good.
If you are making the shift to healthier diet for your child, you must first make up your mind that it’s right for your family and let your child see your confidence about it. Take it slow and in steps, one bite at a time. Kids are adaptable, it may take baby steps, but you can get there. Stay calm, don’t push, just stay the course. Learning to eat healthy is more about empowering them to understand and choose healthy options. Make your new lifestyle a continuous teaching moment. Don’t underestimate them. Talk to your kids about why some foods are healthy and some aren’t and let them make their own healthy choices sometimes.
If all else fails, try the Undercover Veggie method. This method is by far the easiest way to encourage your kids to eat healthy food. Try creating snacks that look and taste delicious but also contain hidden healthy bits. Smoothies are a great way to get in lots of veggies, fruit and protein. Try this recipe, be creative with your ingredients, its crispy and delicious and kids like it:
(makes approx. 18)
1 medium carrot, grated
2 medium zucchini, grated
1 small sweet potato, grated
1 15.25 oz can of corn kernels, drained
a small handful of basil leaves, finely chopped
zest of 1 lemon
1 cup plain flour
olive oil, to fry in
Place the carrot, zucchini, sweet potato, corn, basil, lemon zest, flour and eggs into a large mixing bowl. Mix until thoroughly combined. Heat a non stick frypan to low – medium heat and drizzle in a little olive oil. Take heaped tablespoons of the mixture and place into the frypan. Cook for 3-5 minutes or until golden, flip each fritter and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Place the cooked fritters onto a plate lined with paper towels. Serve with applesauce.
Linda Pecone, along with her husband, is a long time resident of Lyons Colorado. She has a degree in nutrition, and is a certified herbalist. She enjoys creating healthful recipes for families and pets. She is also the owner of The Lyons Little Yellow Wellness House on Second Avenue.