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Nutrition For Children - Simple Guidelines

Real food.

This is the number one principal to follow when feeding our littles. Life as a parent can be overwhelming so let’s try not to over complicate this nutrition thing.
I believe the most important guideline we need to focus on and teach our children with regards to nutrition is to eat real food. Let’s eat as mother nature provides.
This parenting gig can be REALLY challenging… am I right?

So let’s keep these guidelines to a minimum. Real food and limit exposure.

What do I mean by this? There is an abundance of things available to us in our grocery stores and farmers markets that should not be entering our little’s bodies. These are chemical substances such as pesticides, food dyes, preservatives, “jacked up” sugars, artificial sweeteners and distorted fats. These substances have all been shown to negatively impact the human body. When I think about my littles, I see this as being even more detrimental to their still developing cells.

We want to be growing healthy, strong and resilient little humans. This begins with keeping their cells healthy and thriving. So limit exposure!

If we’re eating as Mother Nature provides we should be avoiding packaged foods… But I also live in the real world, there are packaged foods in my home.

The key here is reading the labels. When it comes to food additives it can be a very scary rabbit hole. There are way too many packaged foods targeted at our little’s that contain those chemicals you do not want them exposed to. These include proven neurotoxins like Aspartame as well as excitotoxins like Monosodium Glutamate (MSG). Those are two that are often recognized and avoided. But what about…

  • Natural Flavouring
  • Tartrazine
  • Artificial Butter Flavour
  • Yellow #5
  • Sucralose
  • Sodium Benzoate
  • Maltodextrin
  • Sodium Aluminum Phosphate
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup
  • Red 40
  • …..?

Some of these I hope sound awful and yet some sound not too bad… This is a problem with the food labelling industry. It is very unclear and it seems as though the governing bodies do not even have solid definitions for some of these. In the case of Natural Flavour the only requirement is that it originated from a natural plant or animal source. From there they substance can be chemically altered…

All of these things fall under a rule of “Generally regarded as safe”. WTF??? If I’m feeding something to my family I want to know for sure it is safe!

There are many studies out there on these substances. Studies that link them to negative effects on brain function, substantially reducing good gut bacteria, hyper activity in children, preventing and reducing the absorption of nutrients, cancers and more.
For the food dyes, like Tartrazine aka Yellow #4 or 5 and Red 40, in Europe foods containing these items require labelling stating “May have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children”. Scary right!!?

I believe that in all areas the key to protecting our littles is awareness.

My Advice

  1. Read all your labels
  2. Avoid anything you do not know exactly what it is
  3. Teach your kids to read labels and ask them if they sound like real foods

Unfortunately your awareness cannot stop with the packaged foods. We also want to know where our meats, grains, fruits and vegetables are coming from.

For proteins, we don’t want our littles inadvertently consuming antibiotics. Choose only good quality animal proteins. When it comes to our fruits, vegetables and grains, go with organic, local produce whenever possible. These are foods that are often heavily sprayed. If local or organic is not available or feasible, rinse and wash foods well before preparing. There are some excellent resources available about which foods have the highest potential for contamination. Check out Environmental Working Group’s Clean Fifteen and Dirty Dozen.

My Advice

  1. Get to know a local farmer - go to farmer’s markets and ask questions. You will start to get a sense of farmers in your community that you feel aligned with.
  2. Eat seasonally - it makes buying local easier and more cost effective
  3. Get your kids hands in some dirt. Grow what you can TOGETHER - herbs, vegetables, sprouts..

So that’s the just of it. Don’t over think it. Let them be little and nourish their growth with good quality foods and teachings.

I can remember a day when my son (6yo) and I were out shopping, he was offered a lollipop from a well meaning teller, he accepted. By the time we left the store he had decided he likely would not feel good after eating it. When he went to discard it he looked at me and said “Mom this can’t go in the compost right?… Because it’s not real food?” I definitely did a cartwheel and full on Mom win happy dance (in my mind).


Now, it’s not always like this. I am often trying to convince them to exchange the bright coloured fake foods with a more natural (less shiny) version we have at home. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. And that’s ok. What’s important to me is that they are thinking, they are becoming aware… But they are kids and will sometimes choose the shiny option.

You can continue to feel great about all the foods you have at home, packaged or homemade because you’ve read the labels or you know the source.


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