5 Foods To Avoid Introducing to Children

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There are many foods out there that are marketed to parents and children. Companies produce fancy packaging, loud commercials with happy kids, and buzz words for parents like:

“part of this nutritious breakfast”

“part of a balanced meal”

“18 vitamins and minerals included”

“healthy whole grains”

We are HUGE consumers here in the U.S. and we fall for much of this marketing. Foods are even packaged to appear healthier, by using colors that consumers view as a healthy color…like earthy greens and browns.

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It’s all marketing.

Here is a piece I wrote all about the marketing of food in our culture.

Many of these processed convenience foods have added vitamins and minerals. However, these vitamins are synthetic forms and therefore are not assimilated and utilized well in the body. Real vitamins and minerals come in real food (meats, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and healthy fats) and do not need to be synthesized or added to food.

Synthetic Vitamins:

  • Vitamin A: Acetate and Palmitate
  • Vitamin B1 (Thiamine): Thiamine Mononitrate, Thiamine Hydrochloride
  • Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): Riboflavin
  • Pantothenic Acid: Calcium D-Pantothenate
  • Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine): Pyridoxine Hydrochloride
  • Vitamin B12: Cobalamin
  • PABA (Para-aminobenzoic Acid): Aminobenzoic Acid
  • Folic Acid: Pteroylglutamic Acid
  • Choline: Choline Chloride, Choline Bitartrate
  • Biotin: d-Biotin
  • Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid): Ascorbic Acid
  • Vitamin D: Irradiated Ergosteral, Calciferol
  • Vitamin E: dl-alpha tocopherol, dl-alpha tocopherol acetate or succinate

List taken from: The Global Healing Center

 

Most processed foods in general will keep your child’s blood sugar spiking and plummeting. Your child craves more sweets and sugary foods, and never feels satiated. In the primal community this is known as being “sugar adapted”. Yes, children do need carbohydrates for energy. I’m not suggesting a low-carbohydrate diet for children. There is a huge misconception that people who follow the primal lifestyle eat low-carb. That just isn’t the case. Most children consume massive amounts of processed carbohydrates on a daily basis, and this is considered the cultural norm. Therefore anything less than that is automatically viewed as low carb. It starts with parents being told by medical authorities that they should start their baby on nutrient void rice cereal to fill them up. Next it leads to drinkable sugar laden yogurts marketed to babies, then cute little plastic toddler cups filled with finger sized crackers and cookies, then it leads to big bowls of sugary cereals. Removing these processed foods from a child’s diet and offering real food to children does not make you a bad, rigid, or depriving parent. You may feel like a fish out of water at times, but you are making the right decision for the health of your children, both now and in the future. Children can get adequate nutrients from a real food diet of meats, vegetables, fruits, and small amounts of refined sugar-free treats made with natural sweeteners. Yes it might not be as convenient as we are use to in a rush rush culture, however, the future health of our children depends upon us making changes in the right direction.

 Pictured:  Burgers On A Stick with dipping sauce!

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What are MY top 5 suggestions of foods to avoid giving to children?


1. Cereal

Any and all cereal. Rice cereal for babies, cold cereals, quick oats, etc… Here is a blog post I wrote about cereal. In a nutshell: Cereal is made with grains (usually with added sugar and food dyes), and grains are broken down into the body as sugar. Yes, you do need carbohydrates in your diet, but there are more nutrient rich sources that will not leave your child’s blood sugar to spike and plummet. Eating a bowl of cereal makes the child’s pancreas work extra hard in order to process it all. It also fills them up with little nutrients or healthy fats. I also wrote a Primal Feeding Guide for Babies and Toddlers which explains why rice cereal is not a good first choice of foods for infants.

*low nutrients

*synthetic vitamins added

*anti-nutrients that can affect digestion

*high sugar

*low in quality fat and protein

 

 2. Kid marketed crackers and cookies like those little golden fish crackers, and little bear cracker cookies, etc.

Just like the cereal above, these small toddler marketed crackers and cookies might look exciting and fun, as well as easy and quick. Kids may love the taste of them. However… for all the same reasons mentioned above regarding cereal, these crackers are full of artificial ingredients, synthetic vitamins, food dyes, high amounts of sugar, and are very low in quality nutrient-dense fats and proteins that children need to feel satiated, happy, and stable. Again, this gets children sugar adapted and reaching for processed carbs vs real food. Did I say avoid all carbohydrates for children? Absolutely not. Here is a post I wrote all about healthy snack ideas for children.

*low nutrients

*synthetic vitamins added

*low in quality fat and protein

*high sugar

 

3. Most commercial yogurts:

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Commercial yogurts contain as much sugar as a bowl of ice cream or other sugary desserts. One 8-ounce serving of low-fat or fat free sweetened yogurt can contain as much as 47 grams of sugars. This amount of sugar is equivalent to almost 12 teaspoons of sugar. People think because it’s yogurt, it must be healthy. Most yogurts should really be treated as a dessert rather than a nourishing snack or meal. It is difficult to find yogurt that does not have some or all of the fat removed from it. Fats are nutrient dense sources of energy for growing brains. However, yogurt manufacturers are still removing fat from yogurt, and adding sugar and food dye. If you are going to give your child yogurt, the best option is raw (unpasteurized), unsweetened, full fat yogurt. Plain yogurt does not contain any added sugar, but still contains naturally occurring milk sugars called lactose. An 8-ounce serving of plain yogurt still contains approximately 12 grams of sugar. This amount of sugar is equivalent to 3 teaspoons of sugar. Homemade plain yogurt that has fermented for 24 hours, does not contain sugar. The lactose is digested by beneficial bacteria, bringing the amount of sugar down to nothing. Raw yogurt has beneficial enzymes and probiotics to help with digestion, and can help colonize the gut with good bacteria. It can be sweetened with a little fruit or drizzle of raw honey.

*very high sugar

*food dye

*low in quality fat unless full fat

 

4. Kid Marketed “Energy” bars:

 

These “power” or “energy” bars marketed at kids contain a long list of ingredients that can be harmful on the gut, and contain a high amount of refined sugar. many contain as much sugar as candy bars, even organic ones. Please note… not everything that is labeled “organic” is necessarily good for your body. An organic pop tart is still a pop tart. It still contains high carb, low healthy fat, low protein. We want our kids to power up with nutrient rich healthy fats and proteins!

Here is an example of ingredients from a popular brand of energy bars targeted at kids:

INGREDIENTS: Organic Oat Blend (Organic Rolled Oats, Organic Oat Flour, Organic Oat Fiber), Organic Tapioca Syrup, Organic Cane Syrup, Organic Chocolate Chips (Organic Dried Cane Syrup, Organic Unsweetened Chocolate, Organic Cocoa Butter, Organic Soy Lecithin, Organic Vanilla Extract), Organic Fruit Paste Blend (Organic Date Paste, Organic Fig Paste, Organic Raisin Paste), Organic Cocoa, Organic Soy Butter (Organic Roasted Soybeans, Organic Soybean Oil, Salt), Organic Chocolate (Organic Dried Cane Syrup, Organic Unsweetened Chocolate, Organic Cocoa Butter, Organic Soy Lecithin, Organic Vanilla Extract), Natural Flavors, Organic Milled Flaxseed, Organic Sunflower Oil, Sea Salt, Baking Soda. VITAMINS & MINERALS: Calcium Carbonate, Dicalcium Phosphate, Ascorbic Acid (Vit. C), Ferric Orthophosphate (Iron), Zinc Oxide, Niacinamide (Vit. B3), Beta Carotene (Vit. A), Thiamine Mononitrate (Vit. B1), Riboflavin (Vit. B2), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vit. B6), Folic Acid (Vit. B9), Cyanocobalamin (Vit. B12). ALLERGEN STATEMENT: CONTAINS SOY AND TRACES OF DAIRY. MAY CONTAIN PEANUTS, WHEAT, AND TREE NUTS.

As you can see the bar contains mainly grains and sugar (both cane syrup and fruit sugar), soy, processed oils and synthetic vitamins and minerals.

If your child is participating in sports and needs extra boosts of carbohydrates, try making homemade energy bites or balls. You simply process nuts with dates, shredded coconut, and coconut oil. Here is my recipe for Blood Orange Coconut Balls.

 5. “Whole Grain” breads:

 

The breads today are not the breads of our ancestors. Our earliest ancestors did not eat bread. Approximately 10-12 thousand years ago (note that we’ve been around for over 200,000 years in our human form) grains were introduced into our diet. Many traditional cultures did not have bread as such a huge portion of every meal. They did not eat sandwiches daily. They also knew how to properly prepare breads (soak, sprout, and ferment) so that the body can digest and assimilate nutrients from it. The issue related to bread consumption is not only just the buzz word “gluten” that we hear. Yes, gluten is a huge offender to many people. Probably more than we can begin to realize. However, there are many other components to bread that can also have an affect on our health. Breads that are not properly prepared contain phytates and lectins, also known as anti-nutrients that can bind to minerals and render them unavailable to our bodies. These anti-nutrients also contribute to inflammation and leaky gut. Leaky gut can lead to allergies and autoimmune conditions. There are proteins found in bread other than gluten that may also have a profound affect on many people. Just like cereal, cookies, and crackers, eating bread as a staple keeps children sugar adapted, and not feeling satiated.

So what can I give my child in place of bread?

Some suggestions: Applegate Farms (GF, dairy free, soy free, and humanely raised) deli meat roll-ups, bun-less Applegate Farms grassfed hotdogs usually cut up with toothpicks and dipping sauces, bunless burgers or lettuce for the bun. Almond or sun butter used as a dip for apples or carrots rather than on bread. On the occasions my children do have bread, I make sure it is the Sprouted grain kind. However, sprouted or not it is still digested in the body and broken down to sugar. Therefore, eating several slices a day would still have a profound affect on the sugar handling of a child.

*anti-nutrients

*low in quality fats and proteins

*high in sugar

*pro-inflammatory

In a nutshell… carbohydrate rich processed foods tend to be high in sugar and low in nutrients. It might not be easy to cut these foods out and replace them with real nourishing foods, but try in steps.

What are some tips to getting your children to enjoy real food?

 

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*Involve them in the process of cooking. If your child helped prepare the meal, they are more likely to enjoy eating it.

*Children love to eat things on platters with toothpicks.

*Children love to forage for food! Take them apple picking and berry picking. We also love to collect fiddlehead ferns in the Spring.

*Explain to them the reasons behind your decisions.

*Lead by example. If those processed foods are not an option, they will start to enjoy real food more.

 

About Kathryn:

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Kathryn Kos is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP)  through The Nutritional Therapy Association, and a Certified Lactation Educator/Counselor through The University of San Diego. Her undergraduate degree is in Movement Science from Westfield State College. Her Master’s degree is in Rehabilitation Counseling from Springfield College. She specialize in healing digestion, balancing blood sugar, balancing hormones, and autoimmune conditions. 

 

 

I am speaking at Paleo FX! Get your tickets here to see my talk!

 

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* Please note: This is a personal blog.  All data and information provided on this site is for informational/educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitution for professional medical advice.

 

 

 

 

 

Juice for Kids?

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Juice and kids seem to go hand in hand in our culture. Preschool snacks are accompanied by juice. Picnics and playgroups include juice. Many families include orange juice with breakfast. Children drink juice pouches with their lunch everyday. So we buy organic, or juices that say 100% pure juice in hopes of filling our kids with nutrients and vitamins. So what is so wrong with juice? Why do I personally try to avoid giving it to my children? There are many reasons and I will try to cover them all in this post. Juice is a hot topic I am passionate about because even some of the most health conscious people I know still believe juice is okay to give children. Why not? It has vitamin C and “100% fruit” in it. Some even choose the organic juice with water. It is culturally ingrained that you have orange juice for breakfast and apple juice with lunch. Let me explain the reasons why I feel store bought juice is not necessary and can cause more harm than good.

Reason 1: fructose aka sugar: The biggest reason I feel one should avoid giving children juice is the sugar without fiber…but don’t they need sugar? Children do not need nearly as much sugar as there is in one cup of juice. One cup of apple juice has approx 22-30 grams of sugar in it. That is more than the recommended sugar for an adult to consume in an entire day-in one cup of apple juice. Here is the other thing-there is no fiber to help slow the sugar into the system. When you remove fiber, what is left is sugar. This wreaks havoc on the pancreas and an overworked pancreas leads to insulin resistence. The blood sugar spikes and plummets that accompany this are not fun to deal with, especially with toddlers. According to Mark Sisson from Mark’s Daily Apple: “Drinking pure juice has an effect that is really no different from chowing a candy bar or slamming a soda” Read more HERE. I looked up a couple of juices marketed as “healthy” and the sugar content. One small container of Odwalla orange juice has 35 grams of sugar in it-that is like 3 days worth of sugar (or more) for a child in one beverage. This is in one serving-many kids drink 2-3 servings per day. Bolthouse Farms 100% pomegranite juice has 31 grams of sugar. In Bolthouse Farms “daily greens” juice, the first ingredient is pear juice.

Paleo Diet Lifestyle listed 10 reasons why we should limit fructose consumption:

  1. “Fructose can only be metabolized by the liver and can’t be used for energy by your body’s cells. It’s therefore not only completely useless for the body, but is also a toxin in high enough amount because the job of the liver is to get rid of it, mainly by transforming it into fat and sending that fat to our fat cells.”
  2. “Excess fructose damages the liver and leads to insulin resistance in the liver as well as fatty liver disease. In fact, fructose has the same effects on the liver as alcohol (ethanol), which is already well known as a liver toxin.”
  3. “Fructose reacts with proteins and polyunsaturated fats in our bodies 7 times more than glucose. This reaction creates AGEs (Advanced glycation end-products), which are compounds that create oxidative damage in our cells and ultimately lead or contribute to inflammation and a host of chronic diseases.”
  4. “Fructose increases uric acid production, which, in excess, can cause gout, kidney stones and precipitate or aggravate hypertension.”
  5. “While most of your body’s cells can’t use fructose as a source of energy, the bacteria in your gut can and excess fructose can create gut flora imbalances, promote bacterial overgrowth and promote the growth of pathogenic bacteria.”
  6. “In part because of the damage done to the liver, chronic excess fructose causes dyslipidemia, which means that your blood lipid markers tend to shift towards numbers that indicate a risk for heart disease”.
  7. “Fructose rapidly causes leptin resistance. Leptin is an hormone that controls appetite and metabolism to maintain a normal weight. Leptin resistant people tend to gain fat and become obese really easily.”
  8. “Excess fructose alone can cause all the problems associated with the metabolic syndrome (diabetes, obesity, heart disease, …).”
  9. “Cancer cells thrive and proliferate very well with fructose as their energy source.”
  10. “Excess fructose also affects brain functioning, especially as it relates to appetite regulation. It has also been shown to impair memory in rats.” Read more here Paleo Diet Lifestyle

Reason 2: no nutrients!  What about Vitamin C? Did you know that most of the vitamins in commercial juices are destroyed during pasteurization and factory processing? So the “100%” vitamin C is usually synthetic vitamin C added to the processed juice. There are tons of other real nutrient dense sources of vitamin C including: peppers, broccoli, kale and other dark greens, oranges, strawberries, herbs, kiwi, guava and papaya. If you eat the whole fruit you are getting fiber to help with slowing the sugar into the system. If you eat vegetables sources you are getting even less sugar with your vitamins. Think local and fresh!

Reason 3: factory produced/usually old: The bottle of Tropicana that says 100% orange juice/not from concentrate etc…is not fresh like you think it is. According to THIS and THIS the orange juice is stored sometimes for over a year.

According to Food Renegade:

“Making OJ should be pretty simple. Pick oranges. Squeeze them. Put the juice in a carton and voilà! But actually, there is an important stage in between that is an open secret in the OJ industry. After the oranges are squeezed, the juice is stored in giant holding tanks and, critically, the oxygen is removed from them. That essentially allows the liquid to keep (for up to a year) without spoiling– but that liquid that we think of as orange juice tastes nothing like the Tropicana OJ that comes out of the carton. (source). In fact, it’s quite flavorless. So, the industry uses “flavor packs” to re-flavor the de-oxygenated orange juice: When the juice is stripped of oxygen it is also stripped of flavor providing chemicals. Juice companies therefore hire flavor and fragrance companies, the same ones that formulate perfumes for Dior and Calvin Klein, to engineer flavor packs to add back to the juice to make it taste fresh. Flavor packs aren’t listed as an ingredient on the label because technically they are derived from orange essence and oil. Yet those in the industry will tell you that the flavor packs, whether made for reconstituted or pasteurized orange juice, resemble nothing found in nature. The packs added to juice earmarked for the North American market tend to contain high amounts of ethyl butyrate, a chemical in the fragrance of fresh squeezed orange juice that, juice companies have discovered, Americans favor. Mexicans and Brazilians have a different palate. Flavor packs fabricated for juice geared to these markets therefore highlight different chemicals, the decanals say, or terpene compounds such as valencine. The formulas vary to give a brand’s trademark taste. If you’re discerning you may have noticed Minute Maid has a candy like orange flavor. That’s largely due to the flavor pack Coca-Cola has chosen for it. Some companies have even been known to request a flavor pack that mimics the taste of a popular competitor, creating a “hall of mirrors” of flavor packs. Despite the multiple interpretations of a freshly squeezed orange on the market, most flavor packs have a shared source of inspiration: a Florida Valencia orange in spring. (source) –Food Renegade

 

So what about juicing at home with a juicer?

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Juicing at home is quite different for several reasons. You can juice both vegetables and fruits, lowering the amount of fructose in the beverage. You are juicing fresh produce that has not been processed (heat treated, factory treated, pasteurized) so the vitamins are still intact (as long as you are consuming right after juicing and not storing). I would suggest organic produce as many juicers do not require removing the skins. You do not want chemicals and pesticides in the juice. Many children are picky when it comes to eating veggies, and juicing mostly veggies with a little bit of fruit to sweeten it can help them get those nutrients quickly. Therefore, I think it can be beneficial, especially when you add superfoods like kale, parsley, etc. We juice at home on occasion, especially after traveling and eating less than desirable foods. However, keep in mind the fructose load on the body when juicing fruits-you are still removing the fiber.

 

Here are what some of the paleo experts are saying regarding juicing at home:

“When you juice at home, don’t make a large batch. Juice breaks down pretty quickly. To maximize nutrition (and taste), be sure to make it fresh daily.” Read more: Mark’s Daily Apple

According to Paleo Plan: “The juice we make at home can be from local, organic, unadulterated fruits and vegetables that don’t have any weird chemicals or extra sugars added to them. Even when store bought juices don’t have added sugar, they’re still loaded with it.  For instance, your 16 ounce Acai Naked juice (no sugar added) has about 48 grams of sugar in one bottle.  That’s more than a 12 oz can of Coke (39 grams).  Even the “veggie” Naked juice has 36 grams.  (By the way, that 16 ounce Acai Machine Naked drink contains 320 calories if you drink the whole thing.) Fresh, homemade juice is full of nutrients and enzymes that packaged juices just don’t contain.That’s why they have to ADD vitamins and other nutrients to the juices (check out your Naked juice label here for proof).  Manufacturers are required to pasteurize (heat) juices, including Naked and other similar brands.  That means you lose a lot of the beneficial enzymatic properties of the juice, and many of the other vitamins are diminished, as well.  So besides the fact that the juice is definitely NOT fresh, it’s also blasted with heat, not to mention irradiated a lot of the time if it’s not organic.”-Paleo Plan

 

All in all, I believe kids are perfectly happy quenching their thirst with water. It’s just that other beverages are always available, and they will most likely reach for the sugary options if they are available. Why not spend the money on nutrient dense whole foods that will fill them up and not mess with their blood sugar? If you feel it will be too difficult to wean your child off of juice, slowly start watering it down with more water and less juice. Eventually you can make the switch.Remember, our body is made up of mostly water, not juice milk or soda. These beverages were never necessary. We can get much more of those nutrients from our food. If you still can’t wrap your mind around the idea that children are fine drinking just water,  almond milk and coconut milk are options, just be aware many brands have cane sugar and other additives in them!

 

 

 

* Please note: This is a personal blog. I am not a Doctor or a dietitian. All data and information provided on this site is for informational/educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitution for professional medical advice.