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As you know, there are HUNDREDS of diets and nutrition templates out there. And let's be honest, as new research comes out, what was considered true and real yesterday, might change today.
After being in the field for a few decades now (starting with college for Traditional Chinese Medicine in 1999) I have learnt that you can't be dogmatic about any food related principal, as it might change in the next few weeks, or months, or even years, but it will probably change. Sometimes it will have to do with new research coming out, sometimes due to change in manufacturing practices - wheat is a good example of a staple food becoming suboptimal for our health due to high demand and attempts to make production cheaper and faster - the good old supply and demand situation.
As parents we are faced with a great responsibility to nourish and nurture our children in the best way possible, to set up a healthy foundation for their bodies to not just grow, but flourish! So how do we decide what to feed our kids!!??
What template to follow that is manageable in terms of time and budget, one that will provide the most nutrients, and will not leave our children feeling isolated from the rest of the kids their age.
One thing I know for sure is that no parent woke up thinking "I will be the worst parent possible and feed my kids the junkiest foods on the planet" we all try our darenest to do well by our kids, the difference is the information we have to work with. As much as information is power, sometimes ignorance IS in fact bliss. We are constantly bombarded with scare tactics that eventually are trying to promote or sell us something, so how does one decide what's best!!!???
I have been pondering this for a while now, and here are some basic principals I chose to follow when feeding my family.
1 - Choose foods that have always been food, avoid as many artificial and processed ingredients as possible. We don't have enough long term research to see what the effects of these foods are. Some of the absolute worst offenders in my opinion are - food dyes and damaged hydrogenated fats, and refined sugars. A wonderful article by The Paleo Mom - Sarah Ballantyne - PhD on food dyes outlines some of it very well! Food Dyes: What’s the Big Deal?
I know we can not avoid treats and candy forever, but we can definitely try and choose more natural options.
2 - Choose nutrient dense options, when it comes to little humans, every bite counts, the good and the bad, and especially when facing a picky eater, you want to make sure you provide the most nutrients in the least volume, so focusing on veggies, fruit, organ meat, seafood, good fats, grass fed meat and dairy is key.
3- Support gut microbiome as much as possible with probiotic reach food, and prebiotic to feed the good bacteria. Probiotic is one the top researched subjects right now, there is always new information coming out, check out WebMD if you're curious.
Another great article is by Chis Kresser linking a healthy gut and children's behaviour : Is It the “Terrible Twos”? Or Is It a Disrupted Gut Microbiome?
4- Diverse palate, always let your kids try new foods!!!! Never assume that your kid would or wouldn't eat something, just offer the food, try to remain neural about it, and see if your kid likes it, but always always try!!! Here is a blog post I wrote about "tricky food" introduction: How to get your toddler to eat organ meat and fermented food?