When Can I Give My Baby Eggs?

When_Can_I_Give_My_Baby_Eggs

When_Can_I_Give_My_Baby_Eggs

I’m often asked by parents “When can I give my baby eggs?”. The old advice of waiting to introduce egg whites until babies are 1 year old has changed. But there are some important age considerations when preparing eggs for your baby. Here are all the do’s and don’ts when it comes to feeding eggs to your baby.

Eggs are an excellent first food. Yes, right from about 6 months onwards. The current advise for introducing solid foods is to offer iron-rich foods first. Then build up a repertoire of other foods, such as vegetables and fruit. Eggs are an iron-rich food. Eggs are also an excellent source of protein. So good is the protein in eggs that they are the standard that’s used to measure the quality of protein found in food.

You may be thinking “Wait, but aren’t eggs a high risk allergy food?” Yes, it’s true that eggs are a common food allergen. The latest research is suggesting that this is exactly why you should introduce them earlier rather than later. There is some evidence that waiting until 12 months or later to introduce higher allergen foods may increase the risk for an allergic reaction. Or, stated the other way around, introducing common food allergens as soon as you start introducing foods (at about 6 months) may help prevent food allergy. There isn’t sufficient evidence yet that introducing higher allergenic foods before about 6 months offers any protection. The good news is that this is an active area of research so perhaps in the next few years we’ll know more about how to prevent food allergies.

There are a few more details about eggs that you need to know to introduce them. These are steps to take to ensure food safety – to prevent food poisoning. Babies are more susceptible to food poisoning so it’s recommended to follow these guidelines.

When To Give Baby Eggs

Age Guideline Safe Examples
About 6-12 months Serve only eggs with both hard yolks and whites Hardboiled eggs, eggs in cooked foods (e.g. baking), eggs scrambled well-done, firm omelets, fried eggs over-hard, hard poached eggs.
1 – 5 years Runny yolks are okay. Avoid raw eggs and eggs with runny whites. All the examples from 6 – 12 months. And, over-easy fried eggs, sunny-side up fried eggs (with whites fully cooked), soft-boiled eggs (also known as eggs and soldiers, dippy eggs), eggs poached medium.
5 years and older Eggs with runny yolks and runny whites as well as raw eggs, prepared safely, are okay. Soft scrambled eggs, eggs poached soft, French-style omelets, sauces made with raw eggs e.g. home-made Caesar salad dressing, home-made mayonnaise.

Click here for more iron-rich first food ideas for baby.

Posted in Baby, Introducing Solid Foods Tagged with: , , ,

Chocolate Chia Pudding

chocolate-chia-pudding

chocolate-chia-pudding

All I can say is chocolate chia pudding … yum!

Healthy eating is all about eating good fuel for your body AND eating for pleasure. This delicious treat fits both categories. It’s chocolatey goodness that’s made with chia seeds. Chia seeds are rich in protein, iron and fibre. The result is a gelatinous or pudding-like consistency similar to tapioca pudding. It’s also quite low in sugar.

Feel free to play with the recipe. The richest version is made with the canned coconut milk (coconut and chocolate – awesome!). I love orange chocolate and mint chocolate so sometimes I add a drop or two of mint extract or orange blossom water.

Chocolate Chia Pudding Ingredients

3 TBSP           chia seeds

1 cup              milk (dairy, plant-based alternative, canned coconut milk is especially delicious)

1 TBSP           cocoa powder

1.5 tsp             sugar

Chocolate Chia Pudding Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a container with a lid.
  2. Stir well to thoroughly combine.
  3. Leave at room temperature for 30 minutes to allow gel to start.
  4. Refrigerate overnight.
  5. Enjoy!

Check out more delicious, healthy chocolate recipes:

Posted in Cravings, Kids' Snacks, Recipes, Snacks

Don’t Serve the Same Food Two Days in a Row

same-food-two-days-in-a-row

same-food-two-days-in-a-row

Sometimes the simplest strategies in life can be the most effective. This certainly is the case with the successful strategy to help picky toddlers and preschoolers try new foods that I’m sharing with you today. So, what is this strategy? It’s: don’t serve the same food two days in a row. Let me explain…

As many parents of toddlers and preschoolers will tell you, 2 – 5 year olds like to eat the same foods every day. The technical term for this is a ‘food jag’. If it was up to them, they’d love to have exactly the same breakfast every day, exactly the same lunch every day, exactly the same snacks every day, and exactly the same dinner every day. We don’t know why this is so. But it is developmentally normal.

I see many well-intentioned parents happily give their kids the foods that they ask for – especially when they are healthy choices. But there are two problems with allowing kids to “choose what’s on the menu”:

  • It can lead to unbalanced diets. Kids this age don’t understand that they need to eat a balanced diet. So they can’t take that into account when choosing what they want to eat. They simply want what they want.
  • It can contribute to kids getting stuck in picky eating.

At this age when kids happily eat the same foods, we, the responsible adults, need to take the long-view. We need to encourage kids to be open to trying new foods. A way to do this without any battle or force-feeding, is to not give your child the same food at the same meal or snack two days in a row. This doesn’t mean that you need a 14 day, rotating, gourmet menu. It can be as simple as alternating between toast and oatmeal at breakfast. And, it can be as simple as rotating amongst apple slices, strawberries, and an orange at snack time.

If you’re just starting your baby on solid foods, awesome, you’re in the best position! Make this a rule from the very beginning. You’ll help prevent picky eating as your baby grows in to a toddler and preschooler.

What about if you’ve already got a picky toddler or preschooler on your hands who is firmly entrenched in the habit of having the same food every single day?. Here’s what to do (this also works for school-age kids too):

  • Step #1: Write out a list of every food that your child will eat. Organize your list by food group.
  • Step #2: Pick one meal or snack. Create a plan for next week where, at that particular meal or snack, you rotate amongst the foods your child does like. For example, say your child likes cucumber slices and raw baby carrots. But for packed lunch at daycare you always pack raw baby carrots. This week, for your child’s packed lunch at daycare, you pack raw baby carrots on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. On Tuesday and Thursday, you pack cucumber slices. Do this for 2 – 3 weeks for your child to become accustomed to the change.
  • Step #3: Move on to a different meal or snack. Or, move on to another component of your child’s packed lunch. For example, say your child likes both no-nut butter sandwiches and cheese sandwiches. But for packed daycare lunch, you always pack no-nut butter sandwiches. On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, pack a no-nut butter sandwich. On Tuesday and Thursday, pack a cheese sandwich. Continue this for 2 – 3 weeks.
  • Step #4 and Beyond: Repeat this process until your child is seeing a rotation of different foods for each component of their meals and snacks. At any time after step #3, introduce new foods instead of just rotating amongst their current favourites.
Posted in Picky Eating

2017 Food Trends I Love

2017-Food-Trends-I-Love

2017-Food-Trends-I-Love

It’s a new year and so it’s time for my annual post on 2017 food trends I love. I really am lucky that my work is my passion. I honestly don’t know if I’m working or ‘off the clock’ when I’m reading food magazines, browsing food blogs, shopping at farmers markets and grocery stores, and watching cooking shows. Regardless of whether I’m working or spending leisure time, being immersed in the nutrition and food-geek world, I see many, many a food trend. Lots of which make me cringe and I can’t wait until they pass. But others get me excited. Here’s the 2017 food trends I love. Enjoy!

Hot Produce: Fennel, Radish, Persimmons, Watermelon, Dragon Fruit

Now I don’t know if any of these trends will be strong enough to knock kale out of the King of Produce spot that it’s held on to for the last many years. But perhaps they’ll be strong enough to move Brussels Sprouts and cauliflower out of the spotlight (not that there’s anything wrong with Brussels sprouts and cauliflower).

I include these veggies and fruit trends on the list of food trends that I love because I hope that their trendiness will inspire you to break out of eating the same few veggies and fruit and try new things. And, overall, eat more veggies and fruit. Each vegetable and each fruit has a slightly different nutrient profile. Meaning that each one has a unique blend of vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants, phytochemicals, fibre, fruit, and more that’s good for us that science hasn’t yet discovered. Every fruit and every vegetable is a healthy choice. And, the more variety you get, the better.

The dark shadow of the food trend is that people can get caught up in eating one particular food. Or, get worked up if their child doesn’t like one particular vegetable or fruit. But there’s nothing to get worked up about. Our bodies are amazing. We don’t need any one particular food in order to be healthy. We can meet our nutrition needs by eating a wide variety of foods. In fact, the wider the variety, the better. So use the food trend for good – as inspiration to try new foods. Or, to try new recipes for vegetables and fruit that are already familiar to you.

Looking for recipe inspiration? Check out my recipe ideas on Pinterest. So far, I have healthy recipe ideas for fennel and healthy recipe ideas for dragon fruit. Radish, persimmon, and watermelon will be coming later this year so stay tuned.

Ugly Produce

While I’m on the topic of vegetables and fruit, there’s another trend that has been gaining steam – ugly produce. This one is a win-win-win in my eyes – it encourages eating veggies and fruit (a nutrition win), encourages less food waste (environment win) and creates a new market for farmers (economic win). So what’s ‘ugly’ produce? It’s produce that is perfectly nutritious, but just doesn’t look perfect – in other words it’s ‘ugly’. For the last few generations who have done their grocery shopping at major grocery chains, the only produce that they’ve been exposed to are perfect-looking specimens. The hidden side of this fact is that a huge proportion of perfectly good vegetables and fruit are thrown out just because they don’t look perfect. But no more! Now, some major grocery chains are starting to carry ‘ugly’ produce. Farmers markets and farm-gate sales have long been where ugly produce is revered.

Buying ugly produce does require you to shift your perspective. You need to no longer judge a book by its cover (or a carrot by how straight it is). You need to be more tuned in to what’s in season, how food smells, how heavy it is, and firm/soft it is, to determine whether something is ‘good’ or not. But once you gain these new skills, it’s super easy. And, considering the win-win-win of ugly produce, you’ll likely see just how beautiful it really is. As they say, true beauty lies beneath the surface.

No Food Waste

How about a food trend that is good for the environment and saves you money? Sound too good to be true? Well that’s just what the ‘no food waste’ trend offers.

I’ve heard estimates that 40% of all food in North America is thrown in the garbage. What a huge negative environmental impact! We know that fresh water and agriculture land is under stress. Now think that almost half of what’s being grown is going to waste. It’s a tragedy.

The good news is that taking steps to solve this problem is really easy. And, it’ll save you money. One part of the solution is what I’ve described above – buying ugly produce. No longer demanding that every single piece of your produce be the equivalent of a supermodel.

The next part of the solution will save you money – buying less that you’ll throw away. This means meal planning. I’ve talked about the benefits of meal planning before. But another benefit is that you’ll buy less food that will go bad and end up in your green bin.

Got the first two solutions under your belt and now you’re ready to up your ‘no food waste’ game? The last solution also could technically fit under the meal planning title. It’s applying the nose-to-tail philosophy from meat eating to produce. In other words, including more creative recipes that use parts of the veggies/fruit that we usually throw away. Keep your eyes tuned because I’ll be sharing some recipes that I’ve been working on.

No Alcohol

Many people get a lot of pleasure out of their weekly glass of wine or an occasional cocktail. But the reality is that alcohol does have significant calories in it. Any calories that you drink, your body doesn’t recognize, and so you still eat the same number of calories as if you hadn’t drank anything. This can contribute to creeping weight gain over time. We also know that alcohol lowers inhibitions and so while sober you may not have ordered the extra large, fully loaded nachos, after a few drinks, you’re happily elbow-deep in a platter.

It is for these reasons that I love the ‘no alcohol’ trend. The trend includes people who choose to not drink any more. And, people choosing to take a temporary break from alcohol (e.g. dry January).

What’s a non-drinker to do? More and more restaurants are now including interesting, low sugar, alcohol-free drinks on their lists. Love it! As a non-drinker myself, I really appreciate this. Whether you’re choosing to not drink for a while, or you’re the designated driver, you’re no longer relegated to choosing between plain water or a sugar-laden (or artificial sugar-laden) pop. Kombucha is showing up in more and more grocery stores and on-tap at restaurants and pubs. I’m also seeing an explosion of low sugar, no artificial-sugar, sparkling waters/pops.

Overall, this ‘no alcohol’ trend is one that I’m hoping has staying power.

Posted in Cooking, Meals for Kids, Vegetables and fruit Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,

What Do You Like About Your Body Today?

what-do-you-like-about-your-body

what-do-you-like-about-your-body

I’ve had similar conversations this past week with a number of the women starting my 40 Days to a Happy Healthy You weight loss program. Whenever I find myself having the same conversation over and over again with people in the program, I know that it’s a topic that I need to share with you too. So what’s this particular conversation about? It’s regarding the daily ‘what I like about my body’ practice that’s a part of the weight loss program. They find it really hard. They hate it.

Clients tell me that what they were worried about before starting the program was giving up their favourite foods or being forced to eat foods they hated. They’re super happy to discover that the weight loss program doesn’t require them to do this – i.e. they can still lose weight without giving up favourite foods or being forced to eat things that they hate. But they find it really difficult to come up with one thing that they like about their bodies every day.

And that sad fact is a complete eye opener. It’s amazing to see how this simple, daily practice can have such a profound effect on participants.

Their first big ah-ha moment is seeing how tough it is to do. Their second big a-ha moment is to realize how much they only experienced their bodies as objects to be looked at – not as a part of themselves whose purpose is to DO things. You see, they automatically think that each day they need to come up with something that they like the LOOK of on their body – like having a great hair day or their shapely calves. When I point out that they don’t need to choose one thing about how their body LOOKS but can include things that their body can DO, they see how they’ve missed such a huge thing. “Right, I can be grateful that my body can DO things, d’oh”.

Most of us don’t think about our bodies as part of us. As the part of us that allows us to DO things – like how our eyes allow us to see the beautiful snow dusted mountains in the distance, or go for a walk with our dog, or hug our grandchildren. Most of us solely think about our bodies in terms of how far they are from a societal beauty ideal.

Back in my PhD-level feminism class, we talked about how unfair it was that women in our society had this expectation for their bodies to solely be objects whose purpose was to create pleasure for the (male) viewer. We wished it could be more even between men and women. Now, 15 years later, it’s a classic case of beware of what you wish for. Yes, things have gotten more equal between men and women. Unfortunately, the pressure on women to look like some unrealistic beauty ideal hasn’t let up. The pressure has increased for men to look like an unrealistic ideal.

Now don’t get me wrong. This doesn’t mean that I think it’s bad to want to look good. Hey, I like a good blowout and a pair of heels as much as the next woman. But I want to both look good AND feel good -strong, healthy. While I love to get dolled up for a night out, I feel my absolutely most beautiful when I’m “in the zone” on a technically difficult trail run, or when I’m glowing after a yoga class, or when I’m bundled up in warm layers and my rain boots after a surf. Why? Because I am experiencing the joy of what my body can DO.

Do you know what you should eat but can’t seem to do it? Long-term healthy habits need to come from a place of valuing your self, valuing your body. If hating your body is fueling your behaviour, that behaviour isn’t going to stick. Include a daily ‘what I like about my body’ practice. It’s a radical, rebellious act that your body will love. And, when you’re ready to really create change, check out my 40 Days to a Happy Healthy You weight loss program to start 2017 with a new you.

 

 

Posted in Weight Loss

This Common Habit Increases Kids’ Risk for Iron Deficiency

Common-Habit-Increases-Kids-Iron-Deficiency

Common-Habit-Increases-Kids-Iron-Deficiency

A recent study reinforced something that as a child nutrition dietitian, I’ve known through working with thousands of families over the years in Vancouver, Victoria, and beyond. The study found that giving kids frequent snacks is associated with lower iron levels. In other words, it increases the risk for kids’ iron deficiency.

Why are we concerned about kids’ iron levels? Because iron is necessary for having good energy, overall growth, but perhaps most importantly, it’s necessary for little ones’ growing brains. Without adequate iron, kids won’t live up to their full cognitive capacity.

It’s very, very common for parents to give kids frequent snacks. Families record a food diary when I work with them. In reviewing their food diaries, more often than not, we realize that they’re feeding their kids just about every hour. No wonder the far is full of crumbs and you have food stashed in every purse and jacket pocket!

So how does this habit contribute to kids’ lower iron levels? In two ways:

  1. Snacks usually consist of foods that we deem “snack foods”. They’re things like fruit, granola bars and cookies. These are all low in iron.
  2. Because kids are in the habit of snacking all day long, they don’t have an appetite to eat at lunch and dinner – the times when iron-rich foods are usually served.

Now this doesn’t mean that kids only need to eat 3 meals a day. They have big energy needs (to keep those busy bodies moving and growing), small tummies, and short attention spans. So it’s unlikely that kids will meet their nutrition needs by eating just 3 meals a day. I recommend that kids be offered opportunities to eat 5-6 times a day. There is no one pattern that families have to follow. But a common pattern that achieves this is:

  • Breakfast
  • Morning snack
  • Lunch
  • Afternoon snack
  • Dinner
  • Bedtime snack

To avoid constant snacking, look ahead at your family’s schedule. Plan for when you’ll offer these 5 – 6 opportunities to eat. Plan for the opportunities to eat to be at least 1 hour apart from each other so that your child has a chance to digest what they’ve just eaten and build an appetite again. Aim to have your meals and snacks at about the same times each day.

For healthy snack ideas for kids, click here to get your copy of 101 Snack Ideas: (Real Food That Even Picky Kids Will Eat)

Posted in Kids' Snacks, Meals for Kids, Parenting, Picky Eating, Preschooler (3 - 5 years), Toddler (1 - 3 years) Tagged with:

Subtle (Not Sneaky) Tip for Getting Extremely Picky Kids to Try New Foods

Subtle-Not-Sneaky-Tip-for-Getting-Extremely-Picky-Kids-Try-New-Foods

Subtle-Not-Sneaky-Tip-for-Getting-Extremely-Picky-Kids-Try-New-Foods

Previously I’ve written about using share plates as a successful strategy for helping picky eaters to try new foods on their own. Today I’m sharing how to take it up a notch if you’ve been using the share plate strategy already. You can also use what I’m sharing today as your starting point. Either way, I’ve seen this be a successful way to getting picky kids to try new foods.

Almost always, when I visit families for an in-home consultation, I observe that a parent plates the food on each family member’s plate and then brings the plates to the table. I recommend serving meals in a different way. Instead of individually plating food in the kitchen, I recommend serving food on share plates that you place in the middle of the table. This is also called serving food “family style”.

Toddlers and preschoolers, also known as the picky eater or fussy eating years, are at a developmental stage when they want to do things for themselves. It’s what I call the “me do it” stage. They are also at a developmental stage where they are wary of food. Considering these normal stages of child development, you can see why kids this age hate it when their plates arrive in front of them with food already on it. They didn’t get to choose the food themselves and the food is arriving out of nowhere – how suspicious.

Instead of trying to work against kids’ normal developmental stage, the share plate technique uses children’s developmental stage to your advantage. Kids get to closely inspect the food on the share plate and choose, for themselves, what specific pieces end up on their plate. This level of empowerment certainly is worth washing a few extra dishes (especially if you have a dishwasher).

To take this strategy to the next level, I recommend not just having the share plate sitting in the middle of the table. Pass the plate around the table and allow each person to choose what they want from the plate. Yes, smaller children will need help holding and serving themselves from the share plate. But they can still participate. This strategy is particularly helpful for highly picky kids, particularly those who have anxiety about a food even being on their plate. This strategy also is good for kids who completely ignore the food on the share plate when it’s sitting in the middle of the table. This passing of the plate can be a simple, and non-threatening, way for them to interact with each food that you’re serving. You’re also silently expressing to them both how much they are included in the family as well as your faith that one day they’ll choose to eat each food. Talk about empowering messages!

Posted in Meals for Kids, Parenting, Picky Eating, Preschooler (3 - 5 years), Toddler (1 - 3 years)

Remove this Sentence to Keep Away Your Self-Saboteur

keep away your diet self-saboteur

keep away your diet self-saboteur
Okay, fair warning. It’s rant time. I’ve got something stuck in my craw again and I’m throwing off my sunshine & rainbows positivity hat and going deep.

There’s a sentence that I hear people say when they’re talking about food. People say it all the time. But just because people say it frequently, it doesn’t mean that it’s true.

So, what’s this phrase that has me all hot and bothered?

“I can’t have that.”

Unless you have a serious food allergy and will go in to analphyactic shock, you can eat a food. But you may choose not to eat it.

If you’re vegan, you choose not to eat animal products because of your ethics. If you are Jewish, you may choose to eat kosher because of your faith. If you have food sensitivities, you choose to avoid eating those foods because you are choosing to avoid the symptoms that they cause. If you are on a diet/cleanse/meal plan that doesn’t allow certain foods, you are choosing to follow that diet/cleanse/meal plan.

Why am I going on and on about something that just seems like minor semantics? Because the way we think about food, also called our relationship with food, can either help us be healthy or it can work against us. Changing “can’t” into “choose” is one path to creating a healthy relationship with food.

There are two reasons why saying “I can’t have that” works against you:

  1. We’re all rebels. Making something taboo, off limits, a ‘can’t-have’ naturally drives us towards it. There’s nothing to make you want to eat ice cream more than to say that you’ll never eat it again. Saying, “no thank you, I don’t choose to have ice cream today” doesn’t trigger your inner self-saboteur in the same way.
  2. Be active in your life. “I choose” is active language. It’s empowering – you’ve made a choice. It re-confirms a commitment that you’ve made. In contrast, “I can’t” is victim language. Something is being done to you. As an adult, you have the power to choose what you eat and when you eat it. Don’t give away your power. You can turn to experts to give you advice on what to eat, but the ultimate choice, responsibility, power, remains with you. Foster this power. Each time you say “I choose _______” you are reinforcing your power.

With your newly opened eyes (and ears), read the two responses in the following scenario. Even better, read them aloud. Can you hear the difference? Can you feel the difference?

Scenario:
Someone offers you a tray of cookies.

You respond:
“No thank you. I’m choosing to eat less sugar.”

versus

“I’d love a cookie but I can’t have one.”

Keep away your diet self-saboteur – remove “I can’t” from your lexicon.

Posted in Weight Loss Tagged with:

Picky Eater Success Tip: When to Serve Challenging Foods

roasted-veg2

Maybe you’ve heard the statistic. It takes kids between 10 – 30 times of trying a new food before they like it. But did you also know that a study found that parents typically gave up offering a food after 5 times? Yes, they didn’t even make the minimum 10 times and certainly were nowhere near the 30 times.

I use the term “challenging food” to refer to a food that your child has either:

  1. Never seen before. This includes new recipes/dishes/ preparations of a food they’ve known previously. For example, if your child is familiar with raw and steamed carrots but has never seen roasted carrots before, roasted carrots would be considered a challenging food.
  2. Seen many (many) times but has never tried.

A mistake that I see parents make all the time is to only offer challenging foods at dinner. Offering challenging foods only at dinner is a mistake for several reasons. First, is the purely practical reason that if you’re working your way up to 10 – 30 presentations of a food and you’re only serving challenging foods at dinner, it’s going to take years before you reach those 30 times. No wonder parents in the research study gave up after 5 times. It seems like you’ve been trying to get your child to eat that food forever.

The second reason is that this contributes to kids’ bad behaviour at dinner. Kids are smart. They figure out pretty quickly that they can get their favourite foods at breakfast, lunch, and snacks. But, that they’ll be presented with scary stuff at dinner. So, they try every trick in their books to get out of eating at dinner. They misbehave. They announce that they aren’t hungry (and then whine about being hungry 20 minutes later). They complain that they’re too tired to eat. In other words, anything that they can brainstorm that will push your buttons and get them out of facing the challenging foods on their plate.

So, what’s the alternative? Use any meal or snack as an opportunity to present a challenging food. Breakfast, lunch, morning snack, afternoon snack, and bedtime snack are all fantastic opportunities to present a challenging food. Mix it up from day-to-day. One day at afternoon snack, serve some of the challenging food leftovers from dinner the night before. The next day, serve a new fruit at breakfast. One day, pack in your child’s lunch a couple of pieces of the raw veggies that you’re packing for your own lunch.

A couple of key tips to making this strategy work:

  • Always include familiar foods at the meal or snack. Remember: it’s unlikely that your child will eat the challenging food today. So, be sure that there are familiar foods from the other food groups that they can eat to satisfy their hunger and meet their nutrition needs.
  • Provide a small serving of the challenging food. I’m talking one baby carrot in their packed lunch. This limits the amount of food waste when they don’t eat it. And, a small serving is much less intimidating than a large serving. When your child does try, and like, the challenging food, as they say in showbiz, always leave them wanting something more. In other words, when your child does eat the challenging food, you can repeat that food soon and provide a larger serving.
Posted in Kids' Snacks, Meals for Kids, Parenting, Picky Eating, Preschooler (3 - 5 years), Toddler (1 - 3 years)

Choose Food for What IS in It

bananas

Choosing food for what isn’t in it has been the gateway to a whole lot of ridiculous food trends. I’m old enough to remember when everyone was talking about avoiding eating cholesterol. Like weeds, up sprung “cholesterol-free” labels on all sorts of foods in the grocery store. Highly processed foods like cookies, crackers, sugary breakfast cereals all had “cholesterol-free” emblazoned across them. People heard that cholesterol meant heart attacks so choosing low-cholesterol foods must be healthy choices. Right? Boy were people wrong. These foods were just as unhealthy as they were before they were marked with “cholesterol-free”. What’s worse, is that many people were happily scarfing down huge portions of these foods because they were cholesterol-free.

An example of this type of thinking/ behaviour: before, I might have had a couple of handfuls of potato chips but now I can eat an entire large bag because they’re cholesterol-free.

It sounds ridiculous when I break it down this way but it was happening. A lot. A particularly amusing label that I remember was bananas sporting “cholesterol-free” stickers. Why is this amusing? Because cholesterol is a fat made by some animals. That’s why it’s found in red meat…and us. Bananas, are a fruit (not an animal). They never did contain cholesterol. Bananas hadn’t changed. But here they were now labeled “cholesterol-free” and people were flocking to them.

I’m seeing this now with the gluten-free trend. “Gluten-free” is announced across all sorts of foods. Many of which never contained any gluten in the first place (thus, like bananas and cholesterol). These foods range from healthy choices to unhealthy choices. People are choosing them because “gluten-free” now equals “healthy” in many people’s minds. But the presence or absence of gluten has nothing to do with it. A chocolate cupcake isn’t a healthy choice suddenly because it’s gluten-free. It’s still a treat to be enjoyed once in a while – not by the dozen.

I’m not commenting on whether eating cholesterol was healthy or unhealthy. Nor whether people should eat or avoid gluten. That’s completely beside that point. What I want to draw your attention to is that when you choose foods for what isn’t in them, you leave yourself at risk for falling for these marketing traps.

Instead I want you to turn it completely upside down. Choose food for what IS in it. Your body needs to be nourished. You need to fuel it with good food and all the vitamins, minerals, fibre, antioxidants, energy and other nutrients that it needs. Make most of what you eat be foods close to the way that Mother Nature made them (i.e. minimally processed) where all the good stuff hasn’t been removed through processing. Sometimes enjoy foods that you eat solely for pleasure.

Respect food for what it can offer. Respect your body and feed it well. Yes, in a world where we’re almost constantly told to hate our bodies, this act of choosing to nourish yourself can feel like a small act of rebellion. And so, I say it again:

Choose food for what IS in it. You’re worth it.

Posted in Healthy Habits, Weight Loss

test title

test test test

Thank you for signing up!