5 Reasons to Feed Your Kids Real Food
We are constantly sold junk for our kids- Cereal, snack bars and of course sweet
s and crisps. We are told to give our kids treats filled with low nutrition ingredients and are more harmful than good- so why are they still labeled as treats?
Real foods are;
- nutrient dense and available foods
Food that you know is from nature rather than formulated in a lab- even it is derived from natural sources our bodies will not recognise it. Lets give our children back their intuition about when they are hungry, how much they want to eat and what they want to eat. (Also check out my kids lunch box roundup)
1. Kids need the very best. They are developing brain cells, bones, skin cells, immune cells. their bodies are starved for nutrition- especially those children who are either constantly moving or overweight. They depend on us to feed them- our choices directly impact their choices- we need to be responsible for what they put in their mouths.
2. From weaning through to really crucial teenage years our kids need to learn how to make food choices based on what their body needs so when they go off into the world and buy their own food they know what to do! Start with breastfeeding- eat real whole foods yourself so that your breast-milk is fortified with nutrition. It is so easy to reach for the quick fixes (i’ve been there) but choose foods high in healthy fats (butter, nuts, coconut oil, flax oil, avocado oil, olive oil) and protein (soaked nuts and seeds, grass fed/pasture raised meats and eggs). Ensure you consume fermented foods to pass on immunity and breast-milk if packed full of healthy bacteria). If you need to supplement with formula, try making your own. Store bought formula contains very little accessible nutrition for kids and only a very small percentage of what breast milk contains. Making your own can be easy. Otherwise check out your local breast milk banks- many breastfeeding mums are happy to share to help other mums out. It is what we have been doing as a species (that’s where nurse maids came from!) for centuries.
3. When weaning onto food this is a crucial time for babies to develop their digestive system. When born their gut lining is very open weave as breast-milk is quickly absorbed and natural so no need to filter it (formula can really interfere with this- even if it is only a single feed- and create inflammation in the digestive system). As their gut lining starts to close up (around 6 months) to stop large food particles from getting directly into the blood stream babies need to learn the first steps to eating. They need to learn to pick up food and get it into their mouth, move it around their mouth and most importantly chew. Spoon feeding (especially nutrient poor and potentially irritating on the digestive system baby rice) babies bypasses these important steps to help the digestive lining close up and also stops saliva being produced and peristalsis (the movement of the food through the digestive system to come out the other end) is affected too. Feeding a baby real food (pears, broccoli, carrot, mango etc) and following some of the baby led weaning principles really helps babies to learn important skills for life. (see 5 Nutrients to Heal and Strengthen your Digestive System)
4. Feeding children a diet rich in healthy fats, protein and nutrient dense carbohydrates is crucial to their moods and energy levels. Balancing blood sugar levels and therefore hormone levels becomes very important in their growth spurts and brain development. It also helps regulate their body shape, muscle strength and development and of course cogitative skills and brain development. Eggs are natures perfect package and if consuming pasture raised hens allowed to roam and feed on their natural diet- eggs contain almost everything needed for growth and development. Coconuts are very similar. Fermented foods (see 5 Reasons to Make Kefir and Brew Kombucha) also become essential in their digestive repair and immune strength to prepare them for various childhood illnesses essential for their long term health and immunity. Coughs and colds are normal and essential to this development too. Real Food containing all the minerals and vitamins necessary for energy production and immune strength are vital to immune strength. Making sure children eat a variety of (natural) colour on each plate is an easy way for them to get rich and vibrant food into their day.
5. Sugar is inflammatory and leeching to the body (see 5 Reasons Refined Sugar is Damaging to Your Body) if it doesn’t contain other vital nutrients such as magnesium, zinc and B vitamins. Try to keep sugar to a minimum so as to educate their palate with other flavours. Children enjoy sour and bitter flavours (seeing children eat whole lemons and olives proves that!) Allow them to develop their sense of taste and smell from an early age to encourage them to try new foods an not just crave sugar and salt (what most processed foods contain to become more addictive)
The best thing to get kids on board with new things is to model the behaviour yourself. I always say- if a child sees you eating something they are far more likely to try it themselves. Time and patience is key with children. Encourage them to continue to try foods even if they say they don’t like them- how do they know if they have not tried them?. Try to keep their minds open to foods and watch how you introduce it- ‘no you wont like it’ or saying to others in front of your child ‘Susie doesn’t like xyz no matter how hard I try’ that idea becomes reinforced in their minds and they repeat it!
Keep trying and little steps will make big gains!