Whether the subject is religion, education, politics, or even eating — when you swim against the current, you’d better be strong, confident, and resilient. Parents who work to feed their children nutritious foods know this well.
The Sea Change
Around the world and throughout time, the choice of what to eat has been made by adults combining the foods harvested in the region, along with an understanding of what food combinations best served the health needs of the people in that area and created pleasant tastes. Children were not consulted in this matter, as of course, they would not yet know what is best for their bodies. Rather, they were given to eat what the adults ate—the adults knowing what was best and taking the time to prepare it.
It is only in the last 75 years or so that food, for the majority in the States, has become a matter of what was easiest to serve and most entertaining—regardless of the affect on the body—and that children as young as two or three years old were asked at the drive-through window, What do you want to eat?
The change in approach has been so complete that now people who invest the time and money to buy local, organic foods, to prepare home cooked meals, and who refuse to eat processed factory foods are considered extreme. In the case of parents who do this for their children, they are called “strict”, “strange”, or even “mean” when working to protect their children from factory foods and toxins! Further, other adults will often sabotage the parents’ efforts with their children by offering—or sneaking –“treats” to the kids when parents aren’t watching.
When children see the other kids at school and in the neighborhood eating foods that glow in the dark, sparkle, and pop, it is only natural that they will be curious about them, and in many cases, devour them when parents aren’t around.
In that environment, parents swimming against the “food current” and working to keep their children healthy can use all the support they can get.
Some Helpful Ideas
In Utero and Breast milk: Mothers set the stage for their children’s tastes in utero and when breastfeeding. Of course the baby’s nourishment is directly affected by the healthy choices a mother makes before it is born, and it develops taste preferences and the ability to digest different foods from the micronutrients that are transferred in the breast milk.
Beginning on Solids: When beginning children on solid foods, there is no need whatsoever for them to have added sugars, oils, salts, or flavors. Sugary fruit juices (this includes juice without “added sugar”) and fruits in syrup are not an ideal choice, and are discouraged in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
Baby food in the States—along with adult food—has become a circus of flavors and colors that are not only unnecessary, but according to TCM doctor Bob Flaws, also leads to many of the chronic ear/nose/throat infections we see in infants and children.
Simple, organic puréed grains and root vegetables first, followed by other vegetables, legumes and meats and/or other protein, and a small amount of seasonal fruit sets the stage for healthy choices for a lifetime.
Young Children and Teens: Constant learning and involvement helps children understand why parents are giving them foods different from what they see all around them.
- Have them shop with you, choose different colored fruits and vegetables, have them help cook, and discuss the nutrient properties of the foods—make it fun!
- Tell them that you know what you’re doing is different, and that it is because you love and respect them that you are working to provide the best for them. They can learn to be proud rather than ashamed of their difference.
- Read books about nutrition together with kids. But what books? There are many, and today we’ll introduce a new one called Is Your Hair Made of Donuts?, from nutrition speaker and writer, Joy Feldman.
Is Your Hair Made of Donuts?
Joy Feldman, author of award-winning Joyful Cooking in the Pursuit of Good Health, now turns her focus to helping children—and the parents working so hard to feed them properly.
In her book, Is Your Hair Made of Donuts?, she presents in a colorful and engaging way how literally we are what we eat! She does a wonderful job of capturing children’s attention with a subject they would often otherwise find boring. Further, she helps them see that though they are not surrounded by other children eating the way they do, they are not alone or weird—they are intelligently building strength and health.
For parents who could use a little support in helping their children appreciate nutritious foods—and who wouldn’t?—Is Your Hair Made of Donuts? is a fun read and creates memorable impressions on those growing minds!
Is Your Hair Made of Donuts? (ISBN: 978-0-615-55515-7, Category: Children’s Picture Book, 40 pages, 18 full color illustrations, $8.95, Distributed by Pathways) will be released on March 1, 2012 in conjunction with National Nutrition Month. Is Your Hair Made of Donuts? will also be available in an eBook edition.
Joy is available to read to young children at schools, libraries, and events throughout the region.
Contact Nancy Thomas, 401-447-8182.
For more info on Joy Feldman’s book, which is available for pre-order and for her nutrition information, visit www.joyfeldman.com
Allie Chee is a certified Traditional Chinese Medicine Nutritionist
Copyright (2011) Allie Chee
About Allie Chee
Allie is a certified TCM Nutritionist and author of New Mother: Using a Doula, Midwife, Postpartum Doula, Maid, Cook, or Nanny to Support Healing, Bonding, and Growth