Mercury: Dangerous for Kids’ Health

Mercury: Dangerous for Kids’ Health

There are so many ways we try to protect our children.  We hold their hands when they cross the street, we watch them as they play on the playground, and we buckle them into their car seats.  But how careful are we about how they eat?  One way we can protect our kids is to reduce their exposure to serious known toxins.  Exposure to toxic chemicals can affect children in very serious ways, as they are still growing and developing.* One of the most common toxic exposures is to a metal called mercury.

What is Mercury?

Mercury is a heavy metal that is naturally occurring in the environment.  In fact, it is so heavy that just one quarter cup of mercury at room temperature weighs nearly one kilogram!  (Just over two tablespoons weighs one pound.)  It is a silvery color that you may have seen in thermometers.  Even though mercury occurs naturally in the environment, it can also be propagated by certain industries and causes serious environmental and health consequences.

How Is Mercury Taken In?

Mercury is pernicious in that it can be taken in in many ways.  It can be inhaled, consumed, and absorbed through the skin.  It can also cross placental barriers and be prenatally absorbed by a fetus.  It is important to begin protecting your child from mercury exposure as soon as they are conceived.

What Exposes My Kids to Mercury?

Some children are exposed to extra mercury because they or their families are associated with certain employment that uses mercury.  Ironically, the health care sector used to be a major route of exposure, through use of mercury in instruments and cleaning supplies, but fortunately this is no longer common practice.  Mercury is still used heavily in the mining industry (especially gold mining), power plants, crematoria, and the charcoal industry.  If you or your child is not exposed to these industries, then your child’s exposure to mercury is likely to be environmental: food, air, water, and soil.  Let’s look at the main routes of exposure in turn.

Mercury Exposure in Food

This is the most common way children are exposed to mercury and one of the most easily preventable.**  Mercury accumulates in the seafood food chain.  This means that top seafood predators, such as tuna fish, are highest in mercury.  By knowing what fish are highest in mercury and which are lowest, you can ensure that your child is eating fish with low levels of mercury.

Be aware that fruits and vegetables grown in mercury heavy soil or in a mercury poisoned atmosphere are also themselves high in mercury.  Today, fertilizers no longer contain mercury as they used to, so most people in developed countries do not need to worry.  However, if your produce is being grown next to a power plant, a plant that produces mercury cell batteries, a gold mine (you wish, right?), a cemetery, or a crematorium, you should be aware that the mercury levels in your produce might be high.

Some preservatives also contain mercury.  This is a good reason to try to buy things fresh and prepare your own food as much as possible.   In many foods, even foods purporting to be all natural or pure, the only additional ingredient is a preservative.

Mercury has also been detected in certain foods that are the byproducts of mercury producing practices.  The most notable one is high fructose corn syrup.***  High fructose corn syrup is found is so many foods today that it is almost ubiquitous.  Aside from the fact that it is incredibly unhealthy in general, it is also a source of toxicity.

Mercury Exposure in Soil

Kids play outside (or at least mine do – and I hope yours do, too).  But because kids are digging in the dirt, getting filthy, and putting their hands in their mouths, they are also exposed to anything the soil contains, including mercury.  Environmental mercury can accumulate in soil just from being deposited from the air.  Soil can also contain mercury from decomposing wastes, as well as from fertilizers containing mercury (which fortunately is less common today – but used to be used more).****

Other Sources of Mercury Exposure

Some mercury exposure is due to the customs of certain cultures.  If you do not participate in these cultural practices, then you do not need to worry about these things.

Significant exposure can come from certain ayurvedic medicine.  Yes I know ayurvedic medicine is supposed to be healthy, but certain medicines and practices contain mercury and it can be really dangerous.*****  Other religions like Santeria or Espritismo also involve mercury in their rituals.******

Another significant cultural exposure to mercury comes in the form of skin lightening cosmetics, creams, lotions, and other products.  In some cultures, especially Asian cultures, light skin is seen as highly desirable and there is temptation to use products to lighten skin tone.  However, many of these products contain mercury, which can be very dangerous.*******

What Harm Does Mercury Cause?

In children, mercury poisoning generally manifests in the form of acrodynia, or “pink disease.”  It is called pink diseases because children’s hands, feet, cheeks, and lips turn pink and painful.  They can also begin to lose their hair, teeth, and nails.********   Other symptoms of mercury poisoning include confused vision, hearing, and speech, and a lack of coordination.

Mercury poisoning is very serious.  Mercury kills neurons in certain parts of the brain, which makes it especially dangerous for babies in utero.  It crosses both the placental and blood brain barriers and is not efficiently excreted, so it can accumulate in the unborn baby.  These babies are born with neurological problems that resemble cerebral palsy, spasticity, and other reflex, visual, and convulsive problems.  All pregnant women, for the sake of their unborn babies, should not risk mercury exposure.

How Much Mercury is too Much?

There is no known safe level of mercury to consume.  Let me repeat that.  There is NO safe amount of mercury to consume.

In other words, any mercury is too much mercury.

To protect your children, reduce their mercury intake as much as possible.

How Can I Protect My Kids From too Much Mercury?

There are certain things you can do to reduce your children’s exposure to mercury:

  • If you feed your children fish, ensure you are feeding them low mercury fish.
  • Reduce your kids’ intake of mercury containing food additives like preservatives and high fructose corn syrup.
  • Avoid keeping mercury containing products like mercury thermometers and fluorescent light bulbs in your house.  If you do keep these items in your home, ensure they are kept safe and not in danger of breaking.  If a mercury containing item does break, safely clean up the spill, keeping your kids far away at all times.  (If you are pregnant and one of these items breaks, please leave the area immediately and do not inhale in that area.   You should contact an approved toxic spill company to clean up the toxins and test the air, as airborne mercury is highly toxic.)
  • Do not use ayurvedic or other ritualistic remedies that may contain mercury.
  • Do not expose yourself or your children to skin lightening creams, lotions, etc.

(You many notice that not vaccinating is not on this list.  There is no scientific link between the trace amounts of mercury contained in vaccines and autism.**********  In fact, elemental liquid mercury injected is less harmful than mercury in its other forms taken in through food, skin, or air exposure.***********)

Conclusion

I hope this information is useful.  I will follow up soon with more information on what fish and seafood are safest and most dangerous to consume, as well as more information about how children are exposed to mercury through seafood consumption.

*Jarosinska D, Gee D. Children’s environmental health and the precautionary principle.Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2007;210:541–6.

*Selevan SG, Kimmel CA, Mendola P, Pronczuk-Garbino J. Children’s health and the environment – a global perspective. WHO press; Geneva: 2005. Windows of susceptibility to environmental exposures in children; pp. 17–26.

*Weiss B. Vulnerability of children and the developing brain to neurotoxic hazards.Environ Health Perspect. 2000;108(Suppl 3):375–81.

**Al-Saleh IA. Health implications of mercury exposure in children. Int J Environ Healthc.2009;3:22–57

***Dufault R, LeBlanc B, Schnoll R, Cornett C, Schweitzer L, Wallinga D, et al. Mercury from chlor-alkali plants: measured concentrations in food product sugar. Environ Health.2009;8:2.

****United Nations Environment Programme-Chemicals . Global Mercury Assessment.Geneva: 2002. Available at: http://www.unep.org/gc/gc22/Document/UNEP-GC22-INF3.pdf.

*****Dargan PI, Gawarammana IB, Archer JRH, House IM, Shaw D, Wood DM. Heavy metal poisoning from ayurvedic traditional medicines: an emerging problem? Int J Environ Healthc. 2008;2:463–74.

******U.S. Environmental Protection Agency . Task force on ritualistic uses of mercury-EPA/540-R-01-005. Washington, DC: 2002.

*******Al-Saleh I, Al-Doush I. Mercury content in skin-lightening creams and potential hazards to the health of Saudi women. J Toxicol Environ Health. 1997;51:123–30.

*******Hursh JB, Clarkson TW, Miles EF, Goldsmith LA. Percutaneous absorption of mercury vapor by man. Arch Environ Health. 1989;44:120–7.

********Palmer RB, Godwin DA, McKinney PE. Transdermal kinetics of a mercurous chloride beauty cream: an in vitro human skin analysis. J Toxicol Clin Toxicol. 2000;38:701–7.

*********Bjørklund G (1995). “Mercury and Acrodynia” (PDF).Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine 10 (3 & 4): 145–146.

**********Doja A, Roberts W (2006). “Immunizations and autism: a review of the literature”. Can J Neurol Sci 33 (4): 341–6.

***********Clarkson TW, Magos L (2006). “The toxicology of mercury and its chemical compounds”. Crit Rev Toxicol 36 (8): 609–62.

Healthy Travel Snacks for Toddlers: Airplanes

Healthy Travel Snacks for Toddlers

The boys and I on the planeTraveling with toddlers can be stressful under the best of conditions.  You don’t need to add worrying about food to your to-do list.  And yet, you cannot travel with your toddler(s) without some fuel for their energetic and growing bodies and minds!  Never fear, here are some ideas for healthy travel snacks for toddlers that you can easily grab and go!

My Story

Akiva at the Airport

Akiva is 3 years old now, which is 36 months, and he has already been on 48 flights. He’s been on road trips and traveled on cars, buses, boats, and bicycles.  He’s been in taxis, on ferries, and on vans and of course has traveled on foot and in a carrier.  He’s pretty well-traveled.

Akiva is also an eater.  He’s about average when it comes to food – he is neither a child without limits (I know some of those) nor is he a picky eater for whom one mouthful is a meal (I know some of those, too).  This makes him very good for experimenting on.  My child, my (healthy travel snack) guinea pig. 🙂

Kids Need Healthy Travel Snacks

Homemade healthy cookies are our favorite airplane travel snack

Homemade healthy cookies are our favorite airplane travel snack

As adults, most of us do not snack much during the day.  Our bodies simply do not require a constant stream of fuel to keep us going.  (Of course because I am writing about snacks, now I want one!)  But children have smaller stomachs and have a lot of energy, which uses up their fuel more quickly.  They need snacks to get them through the day.

Kids are also growing and learning constantly.  Every situation is an opportunity to learn.  Going through the airport scanner is an adventure.  Riding on a bus without needing to be in a car seat is like a holiday in Rome.  But all that learning means kids’ brains are burning through their calories, which means they are going to get hungry.

And you cannot rely on airlines or airports to be able to provide healthy food.  Yes, there may be a “vegan” or “vegetarian” option, but that doesn’t mean it’s a “healthy” option!  Even vegan or vegetarian meal options can come packed with sugar and salt, not to mention lots of unnecessary oil.  Airport restaurants are no better: Airport restaurants are designed for convenience and speed, not health.  There have been times when I have had to scour a dozen airport restaurants and shops just to be able to find some plain, uncut fresh fruit.  That said, in a pinch many airports today are now featuring juice bars.  Fresh juice can be good fuel but fruit juice also packs a whopping load of sugar.  (If you are getting fresh juice for your child, try if you can to get vegetable juice.)  Better are smoothie bars (smoothies contain whole fruit, which means the fiber in fruit, which slows and steadies fruit sugar absorption, is still being consumed).

Of course the temptation is out their to ply your kids with unhealthy travel snacks.  It is so easy to justify.  “They deserve something special for this special occasion,” or, “I need to give them something delicious to distract them/keep them quiet/make them stop screaming their heads off on the plane so the United stewardess doesn’t kick me off.”

But travel is exactly the time when your kids need healthy food the most.  They need balanced nutrition to help keep their hormones and emotions well-balanced.  They need the extra energy to be able to handle all the new experiences. They need extra fluids to help keep them hydrated on airplanes.  They need foods that will calm them and enable them to sleep whenever possible to alleviate the fatigue of travel and overstimulation. They do not need added processed sugars that will give them sugar highs and lows, and energy bursts and crashes they cannot control.  They do not need salty snacks or snacks high in sodium that will dehydrate them further.  And our of courtesy for the people who own and have to clean your conveyance, they do not need really messy snacks.  (Or courtesy for yourself – when I flew United and Akiva dropped some sandwich crumbs the stewardess made me pick them up.  Of course, United Airlines is evil incarnate and should never be flown, so this probably should not come as a surprise.)

(Also, a musical interlude because I can’t help myself) 

Healthy Travel Snacks for Toddlers When You Fly

There are lots of healthy and delicious snack options, even when you consider that flying has lots of requirements: You don’t want anything too heavy because you have to carry it, or too big because it will take up too much room you need for carrying other things (like diapers and iPad backup batteries).  You also don’t want anything too fragile that will be crushed into an inedible mush or will make a big mess.  And of course you can’t bring anything liquid above a certain size if you’re traveling in America.  With all those parameters in mind, consider these snack ideas:

  • Muffins – Muffins can be savory or sweet.  I often make savory muffins loaded up with fresh veggies like carrots or zucchini.  You can also add toppings/fillings to savory muffins – Vegemite, hummus, and tahini are our favorites.  Sweet muffins can be used as a yummy treat to distract kids without needing to give them a sugar rush.  I load mine up with fruit juice pulp – the extra fiber helps slow down sugar absorption and releases energy more smoothly, which is exactly what kids need!  You can also bulk up sweet muffins by spreading them with natural 100% peanut butter.  Muffins also hold their shape pretty well, even if they get a bit bumped around.
  • Oatmeal – If you need a good morning snack, oatmeal travels very well.  Snack sized servings should pass through security just fine (although I have never had a problem with food for my “baby”).  I make steel-cut oatmeal and load it up with chia and flax/linseeds, fresh and dried fruit, coconut oil, and make it creamy using rice milk.  Non-dairy oatmeal travels really well and with all the fruit in it, it tastes so great my kids never care if it’s hot or not.  (Some airlines will be happy to warm it for you though if you ask.)
  • Fresh Veggies & Dips – Fresh vegetables and dips are a great snack combination for kids.  Try cutting up celery, capsicum/bell pepper, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber, and carrots.  Kids can snack on these on their own or dipped in something like hummus, tahini, babaganoush, beetroot dip, or red pepper dip.  If you’re in America, though, you will have to bring just a small enough portion to be able to get through security.
  • Peanut Butter and… Anything! – Maybe it’s wrong of me, but I do bring peanut butter when I travel.  It’s a nutritious food with healthy fats and proteins that give kids good fuel.  It’s great as a dip or as a spread.  Of course you can make the traditional peanut butter sandwich or spread peanut butter on two crackers and slap them together.  But you can also spread peanut butter on all sorts of things.  Use peanut butter to fill celery logs (you can stick raisins in to give it some sweetness), or slice apples thinly and make peanut butter apple “sandwiches.”
  • Fresh Fruit – Fresh fruit is sweet, juicy, and nutritious.  Choose a travel-friendly fruit like apples or oranges as opposed to bananas, which squish easily.  You can also cut up fruits like apples, pears, and peaches and put them in a disposable or reusable plastic container.
  • Crackers – I make my own vegan gluten free crackers from vegetable pulp, but you can also buy some really healthy crackers as well.  Crackers give kids the chance to crunch on something and are easily eaten by them on their own, freeing you to tend to younger kids or just to relax a bit.  Veggie pulp crackers give kids extra fiber to help keep their digestive tracts running smoothly and conventional crackers made of grains and/or seeds give kids needed carbohydrates.
  • Cookies – I pack lots of healthy homemade cookies for a treat when we travel.  In our house, cookies are a special pre-naptime treat, so when the cookies come out my kids usually settle in for a rest right away.  I have a couple different kinds of cookies I make, one with oatmeal and fruit and the other with oats, whole wheat flour, fruit, and carrots.  Either way, I know my kids can have cookies guilt-free, with whole fruits and no added processed sugar.
  • Dried Fruit – Dried fruit is my secret weapon.  My kids think of dried fruit as candy, which a lot of it is.  Dates are sweeter than most candies you can buy and tamarind is more deliciously sour than sour candy. Drying fruit concentrates its sugar and flavors.  When my kids are crying out of control on the plane, dried fruit inevitably quiets them down.  It also keeps them chewing hard during takeoff and landing, when they need to chew to equalize the pressure in their ears.

Happy Travels!

I hope these snack ideas make it feel easier for you to travel by air with your toddler.  Healthy travel snacks don’t have to be hard to make or find, they don’t have to be complicated, and they can be toddler friendly.

Breastfeeding: How to Eat Healthy

Breastfeeding: How to Eat Healthy

It was not so long ago that I had newborns in the house.  After all, my littlest one is not yet a year an a half and my oldest is not even three yet!  So I know the rush to do everything that needs to be done – the housework, cooking, cleaning, laundry, and of course looking after a demanding new baby!  Add to that the stress of sleep deprivation and interrupted sleep cycles and you have a recipe for disaster.   I am so glad I prepared meals and stocked my freezers well in advance of having babies (my husband jokes that we’re only allowed to eat out of the freezers after a baby comes).   If I hadn’t had the foresight to do that, goodness only know what I would have been eating!

I think a lot of new mums are in the same situation.  You’re so harried and busy caring for your house and family that it’s hard to care for yourself.  I remember a time when a shower felt like a luxury!  So it is extremely tempting to resort to convenience foods or to just grab whatever packaged food comes to hand that you can shove in your mouth in a spare moment between changing leaky nappies/diapers and rocking a colicky baby.

Here are some helpful ideas for way to eat healthy during that crucial and formative first six months of breastfeeding when life is hectic and sleep is short:

Prepare Before Baby

The best piece of advice I can give is to prepare lots and lots of meals in advance.  You can package some of them in bigger family-size containers for nights when you’re too worn out to make dinner, but make sure to package the majority of them in single-serving takeout containers so you can have them for yourself.  Be generous with portions.  Remember, breastfeeding can make you really hungry!  In the morning take one out to thaw and heat it up for lunch.  It’s amazing how refreshed a healthy, homemade meal will make you feel!

Stock up on Healthy Snacks

Not all snacks are created equal.  Find some healthy snacks that are energy and nutrient-dense so you can get the fuel you need in a short period of time.  Almonds are a favorite – they are so good for your milk and they will give you the healthy fats and proteins you need to produce thick, rich milk.  Healthy oatmeal cookies (recipe coming soon) are also good for milk production (add brewers’ yeast, wheat germ, and flax seeds/linseeds to turn regular oatmeal cookies into “lactation cookies” – although I have no idea if these really work!).  Other healthy snacks include healthy crackers like quinoa crackers, fresh and dried fruit, fruit leather (as long as no sugar is added), or crunchy freeze dried fruits and vegetables.

Drink Smoothies

Smoothies are so easy to make!  Just throw a bunch of ingredients in a blender and off you go.  Turn ordinary smoothies into a complete meal by adding whey or yogurt, nut butter, or even oats.  Boost the nutrient profile by tossing in seeds like chia seeds (high in omega 3s, which you will want to regain your memory after sleep deprivation and children steal it from you) and flax seeds/linseeds (good for boosting milk production).  Smoothies are great because you can put them in a travel cup and drink them as you go about your day.  You’ll discover you can even drink them while you nurse your baby!  They’re really filling and so easy.

Find Easy Foods

Keep a stock of easy foods on hand for when you have just a few minutes to prepare a meal for yourself.  Buy dry beans, soak them overnight, and boil them, then store them in the fridge.  They’ll keep for a few days and they make for a really nutritious and filling meal or snack.   Also, stock up on frozen vegetables.  Check that the only ingredient is the vegetables to avoid extra salt and sugar you don’t need.  Lots of veggies are available this way now, even in pre-made mixes.  For instance, you can get frozen stir-fry mix.  Toss it frozen straight into a hot pan and you’ll have a whole meal in a few minutes.   I am also a big fan of eggs (as I don’t eat meat) – they’re a pretty whole food and very nutrient dense, but they are also really quick and easy to prepare in a variety of ways.  Try baking an egg in the center of an avocado for some extra healthy fats.

Buy Some New Kitchen Gadgets

Certain kitchen gadgets are worth every penny.  My top three for a nursing mom would be: blender, rice cooker, and bread machine.  Blenders are amazing for making smoothies and pureed soups, but are also crucial if you want to make your own baby food.  When my husband came home with my first rice cooker, I looked at him as if he was crazy.  “Why do I need that?!  I always make it on the stove – it’s easy.”  Folks, with a rice cooker it’s easier.  Just put in rice and water, push the button, and walk away.  We’ve been using the same el-cheapo version from K-Mart for years and it’s still turning out great rice night after night.  Finally, the bread machine… if my husband was a salesman, he would probably sell bread machines.  Ours is a Breville and it’s been around for a good 12 years now.  I’ve even dropped it from a pretty high height and it’s still going strong.  A bread machine allows you to make healthy, fresh bread with the push of a button.  Think how nice it would be to take two minutes to put in some ingredients and out comes hot bread 3 hours later!  You can even put it on a timer and have it ready first thing in the morning for breakfast.  (Bonus: soup maker.  We call this the “wife replacer.”  Toss in all your soup ingredients, push a button and walk away.)  (Bonus for wealthy people: Thermomix.  This is one gadget that I have tried and used but not been particularly impressed by.  To me, the instructions take just as long to figure out as it would to prepare the food conventionally.  But for healthy quick meals it probably can’t be beat – if you can figure out the instructions!)

Resort to the Tried & True

There’s nothing wrong with resorting to tried and true classics!  Unsweetened muesli is packed with lots of good nutrition.  Try a bowl of plain yogurt with fruit (for the love of health, don’t choose one full of sugar!).  Or have a sandwich.  Fill it with veggies and spread the hummus and tahina on thick.

I hope you find these tips and tricks helpful.  I wish when I had my first baby I knew what I know now!

Breastfeeding Helps Keep Baby Healthy

Breastfeeding Helps Keep Baby Healthy

I know, I know, not every woman is capable of breastfeeding every baby.  Still, if you are physically capable of doing so, breastfeeding is one major documented way to help keep your baby healthy.  In fact, a recent study shows that breastfeeding is an effective way to reduce your child’s chance of hospitalizations.

We all want to keep our babies healthy.  Most of us would do anything for them (even subsist on 3 hours of sleep, thanks, kid)!  Keeping our kids safe, healthy, and out of the doctor’s office (or hospital) is a top priority for any parent.

An article in the most recent issue of the Journal of Pediatrics shows the relationship between exclusive breastfeeding and positive health outcomes for babies. Because over 500,000 babies were included in the study, researchers were able to control for factors like socioeconomic status, method of birth, or even age of mother. Breastfed babies were healthier than their formula-fed or mixed-fed counterparts.  Babies who were exclusively breastfed had their first hospital visit later, stayed a shorter amount of time, and were 10% less likely to need to go to the hospital at all.

One interesting detail of the study is that babies in this study were only sorted for exclusive breastfeeding at 6-8 weeks.  Another article in the same issue of the Journal of Pediatrics states that optimal exclusive breastfeeding is between 4-17 weeks, while the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months.  However, even with just one third of the exclusive breastfeeding recommended by the WHO, babies in this study showed positive health outcomes.  This just goes to show that even if you cannot exclusively breastfeed your baby for the full six months recommended by the WHO, you should still go as long as you can, in order to give your child the best health advantage possible.

The health benefits experienced by breastfed babies were not limited just to their infancy.  In the first 6 months of life, formula-fed and mix-fed infants had a higher incidence of common childhood illnesses.  However, they also had a higher incidence of health issues as they matured.  Children who were not exclusively breastfed were more likely to show up in the hospital with all manner of health problems, including: “gastrointestinal, respiratory, and urinary tract infections, otitis media, fever, asthma, diabetes, and dental caries.”  Those are a lot of different and fairly common, yet dangerous, childhood illnesses – and you can reduce your baby’s risk of developing them by exclusively breastfeeding your baby.

This is not to say that breastfeeding is an easy task.  It is challenging (I know from experience, having breastfed my two kids for over a year each) and sometimes painful.  But the benefits of breastfeeding far outweigh the saggy boobs and slight discomfort.  Not only is breastfeeding the optimal time to bond with your baby, but it is also a good way to help them get a healthier start in life.

Baby Paleo Diet Cookbook Unhealthy and On Hold

Baby Paleo Diet Cookbook Unhealthy and On Hold

Publication of a paleo diet cookbook for babies has been put on hold after experts expressed concern over the health of babies put on the diet.  I have expressed concern over the paleo diet before.  Yes, some aspects of the paleo diet are healthy for kids, but there are lots of reasons why the paleo diet is unhealthy for kids (lots and lots).  Now scientists are warning that the new paleo diet cookbook includes dietary advice that could lead to the death of a baby.

Some of the central tenets of the paleo diet are the avoidance of processed foods, dairy, pulses, and legumes.  However, preventing babies from consuming these could be very dangerous for their health.  The new cookbook, slated to be published by Pan Macmillan and endorsed by celebrity chef Pete Evans, is called “Bubba Yum Yum: The Paleo Way” and includes dangerous dietary restrictions for babies and toddlers.

One of the recipes in the book in particular has garnered significant concern.  The “DIY baby milk formula” is based on chicken liver.  The book claims it “mimics the nutrient profile of breast milk,” is “the next best thing” to breast milk and is a “wonderful alternative” to breast milk.  Of course chicken liver in no way compares to breast milk, as it is full of proteins and fats foreign to human breast milk.  Experts have expressed concerns over the nutrient profile, which does not mimic breast milk at all – in fact, it contains dangerously high levels of vitamin A and insufficient amounts of other essential nutrients.

Exclusive breastfeeding is the ideal for healthy babies, but not all mothers can manage it.  Some women are unable to breastfeed and some babies have trouble with it, too.  Whatever the reason, if a baby is unable to breastfeed, World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines make it pretty clear that expressed breast milk is “the next best thing” to breast milk.  Infant formulas, although not the perfect food for babies, have been tried and tested for a long time, so we know that you can raise a happy, healthy baby by feeding them exclusively on infant formula.  They are scientifically created to have as close as possible to the right balance of nutrients a baby needs.  The paleo “baby bone broth” formula, on the other hand, will leave babies consuming dangerously high levels of vitamin A, while not consuming enough of many other vitamins and minerals.

The dangers to a baby who consumes this kind of diet exclusively are very real.  In an interview with The Australian Women’s Weekly magazine, the president of the Public Health Association of Australia warned:

There’s a very real possibility that a baby may die if this book goes ahead. … Especially if [the DIY formula] was the only food a parent was feeding their infant, it’s a very real risk. And the baby’s growth and development could be impaired.

The cookbook also advocates other diet dangers for babies, including feeding babies undercooked eggs and adding extra salt to their diet, which babies do not need.  The Australian federal Health Ministry has been taking a very close look at the cookbook, as the “department is concerned about the inadequate nutritional values of some of the foods, in particular for infants, and is investigating further.”

Of course, scientists have been expressing concerns about the health values of the paleo diet overall.  This diet is, theoretically, based on an ancient hunter-gatherer diet, but there are lots of issues with it, scientifically.  Ancient hunter-gatherers lived a very different lifestyle from the one we live today.  We drive cars, have sedentary jobs, and buy our food in a grocery store, none of which would have been even remote options for our ancient ancestors.  Ancient hunter-gatherers would also have binge eaten due to scarcity of food and lack of refrigeration.  Some meat may have been dehydrated or smoked, but in a typical hunter-gatherer society, any animal caught would have been eaten in its entirety by the group, right away.  Hunter-gatherers may have gorged themselves but then not found any more food for another few days.  Yet this is clearly not a healthy way to live.

Humans have changed physically, too, since the paleolithic days.  We eat a much wider variety of foods today.  The majority of hunter-gatherer societies subsisted on just a few different foods, as that was all that was locally available.  However, since the invention of agriculture, humans have been able to cultivate dozens of different food crops at one time, in addition to the production of animals for meat and milk, and have adapted accordingly.   Even domesticated dogs have physically adapted to a diet including grains, and so have humans. Avoiding giving a child any dairy can also place them at higher risk of developing an allergy to it in the future. Pulses are a much healthier protein alternative to animal fats and proteins, which humans do not digest well and which are linked to a lot of diseases ranging from heart disease to osteoporosis.

Speaking of animal fats and proteins, the paleo diet places a heavy emphasis on fish and meat.  However, the meats we purchase today are typically much higher in fat content than wild meats – wild meat fat content is about 2%, while grain-fed commercially produced meat contains about 20% fat.  The paleo diet does recommend wild or grass-fed meat, but these meats are very expensive, so I would be surprised if no adherents cut corners on that little detail.  But I digress – the problem is that the majority of hunter-gatherer societies consumed very little meat at all, which is why humans are poorly adapted to meat consumption. “Meat was a celebration [because] you had to expend a lot of energy on the hunt,” says Professor Hayes of the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, and not every hunt was successful, making meat very scarce.  Any meat caught would have been shared with the entire tribe, as well, so individuals may not even have gotten a very large quantity of meat per person.

Certainly, hunter-gatherers would not have been feeding babies a formula made of chicken liver.  That would never have entered their minds.  All babies were fed breast milk – if not, they would die.  There simply was no formula.  If a mother could not breastfeed her baby, another mother in the group would suckle it along with her own baby.  Breast milk was the only option and there was no alternative. I suppose that if parents on the paleo diet want to force their kids to be on this diet as well, the most accurate way to do so would be to find a wet nurse if you are unable to breastfeed.

The reality is that if parents want to raise healthy kids, the paleo diet is not the way to do it.  It is simply not a nutritionally ideal diet for babies and children.  In fact, it could even be making them unhealthy or, in the case of the chicken liver infant formula, actually risking their lives.  By all means, take the good things from the paleo diet – avoid processed foods, cut out sugar – but keep the good things that are not paleo, too, like grains and pulses.  This is the way to inspire healthy kids.

Avoiding Peanut Allergies by Feeding Infants Peanuts

Avoiding Peanut Allergies by Feeding Infants Peanuts

If you're making a sandwich, be sure to pick the healthiest whole-grain bread you can find - choose one your kids enjoy. Today there are seemingly infinite options.  Then pick a healthy filling.  100% pure organic nut butter is great. Make sure the peanut butter you're using has only one ingredient: peanuts! Kids do not need salt, sugar, or oil added to their peanut butter. If your kids are allergic to peanuts, try almond butter. If they're allergic to nuts, consider a filling like coconut butter. Or, if you have Aussie kids like I do, Vegemite!

Isn’t it funny how sometimes you just know something intuitively and it seems so obvious… but then a scientific study comes out proving it and everyone around you is surprised.  That’s how the recent news about peanut allergies seemed to me.  I just assumed everyone knew that the best way of avoiding allergies in kids was to expose them to allergens from a young age.  But now there is science to back this up – and it is news to many people.

Bamba Israeli Peanut Snack

I have been to Israel several times and they have the BEST snacks.  The classic ultra-Israeli snack is called Bamba (bahm-ba, not bam-ba like it’s a female version of a famous Disney deer).  Bamba is like a puffed Cheeto but made with peanut butter instead of cheese.  It is delicious and, although I wouldn’t call it a health food, it is nowhere near as unhealthy as Cheetos.  (Bamba contain only 4 ingredients: Peanuts (50%), Corn, Palm Oil, and Salt.)  Israeli parents feed their babies Bamba as a matter of course.  They really are the quintessential Israeli food and they are easy for little hands to grab.  The corn base melts in the mouth if sucked on, so even toothless little ones can consume them.

(For a comic and somewhat unrelated aside, take some time out to have a laugh at this BuzzFeed video of Americans trying Israeli snacks… Okay, they are almost all really unhealthy, but they are so incredibly creative, not to mention evil in their deliciousness. Don’t feed most of these to your kids haha!)

In spite of – and in actual fact because of – high consumption of peanut snacks by Israeli infants, Israel’s babies have ten times less incidence of peanut allergy than their western counterparts.

That’s right.  TEN TIMES LESS.

A 2008 study looked at over 5000 children in the UK and over 5000 in Israel.  It revealed that 1.85% of the UK children had peanut allergies, as compared with just 0.17% in the Israeli children.  Israeli children are not necessarily eating massive peanut butter sandwiches every single day, either.  Between the ages of 8 to 14 months, the average Israeli infant ate just 7.1 grams of peanut protein per month, spread out over 8 occasions.  (One small 25 gram bag of Bamba contains 17.5 grams of protein!  So parents may just be giving a couple of Bamba as a special treat.) In the UK, however, babies in this age range averaged 0 grams of peanut protein.

Introducing peanuts to your babies before the age of one lowers their risk of developing a peanut allergy by 81%.

To me, knowing so many Israeli and western parents, I just thought this observation was par for the course.  But with the incidence of peanut allergies in the western world having doubled in the past ten years, to 3% of children in Western countries, it is a serious concern.  It is a good thing, then, that a recent study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine sharing the results of a randomized trial of peanut consumption in infants at risk for peanut allergy.

This trial specifically targeted babies between the ages of 4 and 11 months who were at high risk for peanut allergy, as they already had eczema and/or egg allergy.  The children were separated further into groups for those who already showed sensitivity to peanuts and those who did not have a positive reaction to a skin prick test.

The results?  Of the kids who did not have a positive skin-prick test at the outset, those who were not fed peanuts had a 13.7% incidence of peanut allergies while those who had consumed peanut products had only a 1.9% rate.  Of kids who presented with a positive reaction to the peanut skin prick test, 35.3% of those who did not consume peanut products had an allergy at 60 months of age, while only 10.6% of those who did eat peanuts had actually developed an allergy to them.

These results are eye-opening to say the least.  The kids tested were all in high risk categories (most kids are not at such a high risk of developing peanut allergies) and even in those high-risk situations, kids who ate peanut products from infancy dramatically reduced their chances of developing an allergy.

Researchers were careful to note that there was no significant difference between the groups when it came to the number of adverse events.  This means, in other words, that feeding at risk kids peanuts did not increase their chance of having an allergic reaction.  Kids who were not fed peanuts were just as likely to have an allergic reaction during the ~50 months of the study as kids who did eat peanut products.

Of course, exclusive breastfeeding until the age of 6 months is still recommended, but once solids are introduced, peanut products should be among them.

Introduce allergens carefully and with awareness.  Don’t start feeding your at-risk baby spoonfuls of peanut butter, but perhaps mix a very, very small amount in with some mashed banana and observe.  If you do have a reason to think your baby may be allergic to a specific food, see an allergist as soon as possible.  If you are very worried, consider administering initial doses of potential allergens in a safe place, where intervention is available in the event of an adverse event occurring.  But even if your child has a high likelihood of developing an allergy, it is possible to decrease their chances of developing it.  As this study shows, even at-risk kids can be given potential allergens at a very young age and have the possibility of overcoming their natural inclination to develop an allergy!

In addition to giving my kids the occasional Bamba when they were babies (and peanut butter itself when they got older), I also exposed them to other common allergens at a young age.  While I do not give my kids milk to drink or much dairy, I did begin giving them a bit of plain organic yogurt at a very young age to help avoid dairy allergies.  I also gave them other common allergens like eggs (scrambled), soy (in the form of organic non-GMO tofu), and wheat (bread).  To date, neither of my kids has displayed any notable food allergies (although we have had possible indications of allergies to pesticides).

Please share your thoughts below!

Teaching Good Nutrition Begins in Infancy

Teaching Good Nutrition Begins in Infancy

We hear the mantra that the very beginning of life is when babies learn the most as the reason why we should focus on their education from the very beginning.  But we all know from personal experience that nobody actually remembers being a baby.  It’s hard to associate a period of our own lives that nobody can even remember with being the most ideal time for learning.  Yet, even nutrition needs to be taught from the earliest stages, even in infancy, before your child even reaches the age of one!

Late last year yet another study was released that confirms this once again.  What babies were fed in infancy directly correlated to what they consumed later in life, at age six.  Babies who were fed unhealthy foods in infancy grew into children who were more than twice as likely to consume unhealthy foods as children – and of course, many other studies confirm that behaviors cemented in childhood are carried through into adulthood.  In essence, what you choose to feed your baby directly impacts how they will choose to eat during the rest of their lives.

Did you know that over 30% of 6-year-olds consume fruit less than once daily?  Nearly 20% of 6-year-olds consume vegetables less than once daily.  (Personally, I do not even know what these kids could possibly be eating, since fruits and vegetables are virtually all my kids eat!)  Even the US government recommends a minimum five servings a day of fruits and vegetables, so these kids are definitely not meeting nutritional guidelines, not even nutritional guidelines I find sorely lacking.

This study, done by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), found that kids who were fed less than one serving of fruits and vegetables per day in infancy were more than twice as likely to eat less than one serving per day of fruits and vegetables when they were six years old.  No wonder the AAP is getting desperate to get kids to eat their fruits and veggies in any way possible!

Starting babies out eating fruits and vegetables is the easiest thing in the world.  Babies are a captive audience when it comes to food.  They only experience as much variety as you provide them with and their taste buds are uncorrupted by flavors like sugar and salt.  All babies naturally gravitate toward sweet flavors (actually, I think most people do), which makes it even easier to give them fruits and vegetables as kids.  I fed my babies a wide variety of sweet foods when I started them on solids: stewed fruits like apples and pears, mashed soft fruits like bananas (especially delicious mixed with some mashed avocado) and ripe peach flesh, and steamed sweet vegetables like purple and orange sweet potatoes or carrots.

My kids generally had one to two servings of oatmeal (cooked using expressed breast milk for added nutrition), one serving of a sweet fruit or vegetable, and one serving of a savory vegetable (such as pureed spinach or peas) per meal.  I would also mix savory and sweet vegetables together (such as peas and carrots or spinach and butternut squash/pumpkin) and might even add fruit (pears with peas and carrots, for instance).  For ideas, look no further than your local grocery store – what fruit and vegetables combinations are being sold in prepackaged baby foods?  Those foods are tried and tested, so you know the flavors go together well.

I always made all my own baby food, which is easier than it sounds.  I often made extra of whatever I was preparing for dinner and simply set it aside and pureed it.  Other times, I would specifically cook up a batch for the baby but I would freeze the majority of it in quarter-cup ice cube trays.  That way it took maximum a half an hour of time per week to make separate food for the baby.  Of course, you could just buy baby food! Today the range of organic baby food free of added sugar, salt, and preservatives is growing.

Studies like this one show just how important it is to start educating your kids about nutrition from the very beginning.  Their first lessons start when they first start solids!

Reusable Pouches: Great for Cheap, Healthy Snacking!

Reusable Pouches: Great for Cheap, Healthy Snacking!

Recently I bought my kids (or possibly myself) a new present.  Reusable pouches!

Pouches of pureed fruit, vegetables, and yogurt abound in the stores now.  They are so much better than the traditional jars of baby food or cups of applesauce because they create no mess, they are easy to just toss in a purse or bag on the go, and they don’t require a spoon.  The biggest problems I have with the store-bought ones are that they are quite expensive and I can’t control the ingredients.  The fact that they create a lot of garbage into our landfills also bothers me.

Little Green Pouch with ways to fill it

Reusable pouches accomplish the same benefits but without any of those pesky downsides.  The only difficult thing for some mums to consider is the added amount of time they add to your day.  After all, you have to create something to fill them with, fill them, and wash them.  But really, I don’t think this creates all that much extra work.  If you buy ones that are dishwasher safe (like the Little Green Pouch I bought) they won’t really create extra work for you.  And you can always fill them with something easy like extra smoothie.  Really, tossing an extra banana and handful of strawberries in your blender in the morning won’t take you more than a few seconds.  Plus, filling the pouches (if you get the right kind, like the Little Green Pouch) is really easy.  Fill them with a spoon, a funnel, or a small pitcher. Whatever is easiest for you.  The best part is that if you have extra you can fill the pouches and then store them in the freezer until you need them.

Little Green Pouch full and empty, with the yogurt and pureed fruit I put inside

Yesterday I tried them out for the first time.  Firstly, they are very easy to fill.  I filled some using a spoon so I could make a mix of homemade plain yogurt and pureed fruit.  My mom filled some with just pureed fruit by pouring it in from the glass jars I use to store extra smoothie.

Akiva drinking from his Little Green Pouch

I rarely buy the pre-made pouches in the store, so my toddler already recognizes them as a special treat.  So when I offered him one for the first time, I’m pretty sure he would have eaten it no matter what it contained, so excited he was.   In fact, I couldn’t stop him from sucking on it even long enough to tell me if he liked it.  I guess that’s a good review!  (When he was done, he asked if he could eat his brother’s!)

In the process of filling the Little Green Pouch

I’ve also tried washing one in the dishwasher and it came out perfectly clean.  They will last better and longer with hand washing, but I am a sucker for convenience and doing dishes is at the top of my list of things I’d rather avoid doing.

The Little Green Pouch

I also filled some with pureed fruit and popped them in the freezer, where they are happily awaiting future use.

I give the Little Green Pouch a big thumbs up and I’m looking forward to using them all the time!

Packing a Healthy Lunch (for a trip to the zoo!)

Packing a Healthy Lunch (for a trip to the zoo!)

We’re going to the zoo today!  My parents are visiting, so there will be 3 generations going to see the animals.  I can’t wait!  Our kids love seeing the animals and at our local zoo they are really well cared for.

But what to pack for lunch? Of course the kids will have breakfast before they go, but then they need morning snack, lunch, and afternoon snack. (And probably another snack or two in there! My kids are good eaters.) We’re planning on doing a beach day later this week, too, so I’ll be packing a couple of meals for big outings this week. What to pack?

The most important thing is, of course, for it to be healthy! But I also want a few treats thrown in to make this zoo day with the grandparents even more fun (and also to have on hand in case I need to bribe them to behave or quiet them down – parenting tactics I’ll admit to using!).  So I need a good balance between healthy and tasty.

The first order of business is lunch. For my main course for the kids, I’ll turn to the trusty sandwich. Sandwiches are quite possibly the best on-the-go meal for kids (although banana-oat pancakes come in a close second!).  For my boys I’ve selected a whole grain black Russian bread.  I’ll admit it’s not homemade, but some day I will master the art of making it at home and I’ll tell you all about it!  I’ve decided on peanut butter sandwiches using 100% pure organic peanut butter.  I don’t want to use jam or jelly, as they are almost always full of sugar.  When I figure out a way to make one sugar-free, I’ll post that, too! Until then, my boys don’t mind a plain peanut butter sandwich, especially when it’s on black bread.  My toddler calls it “chocolate bread,” bless his heart!

If you're making a sandwich, be sure to pick the healthiest whole-grain bread you can find - choose one your kids enjoy. Today there are seemingly infinite options.  Then pick a healthy filling.  100% pure organic nut butter is great. Make sure the peanut butter you're using has only one ingredient: peanuts! Kids do not need salt, sugar, or oil added to their peanut butter. If your kids are allergic to peanuts, try almond butter. If they're allergic to nuts, consider a filling like coconut butter. Or, if you have Aussie kids like I do, Vegemite!

If you’re making a sandwich, be sure to pick the healthiest whole-grain bread you can find – choose one your kids enjoy. Today there are seemingly infinite options. Then pick a healthy filling. 100% pure organic nut butter is great. Make sure the peanut butter you’re using has only one ingredient: peanuts! Kids do not need salt, sugar, or oil added to their peanut butter. If your kids are allergic to peanuts, try almond butter. If they’re allergic to nuts, consider a filling like coconut butter. Or, if you have Aussie kids like I do, Vegemite!

With the sandwich out of the way, I had to consider a side dish and some snacks. Of course, fruit!  I keep a couple of apple slicer/corers handy so there’s always a (clean) one around when I’m looking for it.  Apples and pears can be sliced into easy-to-hold slices and with a sprinkle of lemon juice won’t brown. Apples are hard enough they won’t smush even in a ziplock bag, but softer fruits like pears need to go in a box or snack cup.  We use Munchkin Snack Catchers, Snack Cups, which, at just $6 for two of them, are worth far more to me than I paid for them.  I find them perfect for small, bite-sized fruits and veggies like berries or grape tomatoes.  Or for grapes. This weekend, I happened to get my hands on some gorgeous grapes, so dark they look almost black.  Just think of all the antioxidants they contain! And, best of all, my kids love them. Today’s snack is definitely going to be grapes.

Midnight black grapes

Now, I just have to fill out the rest of my snacking repertoire! In case the kids are extra hungry at lunch, I added some cheese omelet.  Omelets travel well and are delicious cold. They can also be cut into easy sizes for kids to hold and munch on.   Because we’re vegetarian and I don’t really like nuts (a taste I am slowly trying to acquire) we do tend to eat quite a lot of eggs as a main protein. I also put in some French toast, made with homemade raisin bread. That’s a treat! Instead of sweetening it as some people do, my mom adds a drop of pure vanilla essence, which has the effect of making it taste sweeter without actually being sweetened.  The raisins also add an element of sweetness.  For more special treats (and backup bribery), I also included some whole wheat sesame rings, 100% pure fruit leather, and a mozzarella stick.  Our kids get very little dairy but they love it, so for each of them half a cheese stick would be a fantastic treat.

A healthy kids' lunch for our trip to the zoo

Voila! A healthy lunch with lots of healthy snacks for eating all day long.  My kids will have plenty of energy and will be happy as can be. Now, I’m off to the zoo!

Juicing for Kids: How to Get Your Kids to Drink Green Juice

Juicing for Kids: How to Get Your Kids to Drink Green Juice

As I’ve been discussing, while commercial fruit juices are really not the best for your kids’ health, juice itself can be hugely beneficial.  The trick is to buy a good juicer and then make juices packed with healthy vitamins, nutrients, minerals, and enzymes fresh for your kids.  The best juices contain nutrient-rich veggies, especially dark leafy greens.  But how to get your child to drink juice with greens in them when even a small amount of greens change the color of your child’s entire drink?

Fortunately, there are a number of ways to tackle this problem.  To my mind, there are five main strategies to getting your kids to drink green juice: habituation, stealth, participation, copycat, and reverse psychology.  Use the strategy (or strategies) that you think will work best for your child.

Habituation

Habituation is, you guessed it, making green juice a habit.  This means educating your kids from early on that green equals good, and by ‘good’ I mean ‘tasty!’  The best time to start is from the very beginning.  Start in pregnancy and you’ll set your child up for a lifetime of juicing.  Babies in mum’s third trimester can taste what she’s eating via amniotic fluid they swallow.  Studies show that babies whose mothers drank carrot juice in their third trimester showed a marked preference for it when they were given it to drink themselves.*

Babies can begin having juice from 6 months of age up, although juice should supplement, rather than replace, their normal food consumption.  Babies don’t have any preconceptions about what is good and bad, so they won’t look at green juice and think “gross!” like many adults will.  So if you start your baby on green juice and continue giving it to them as they grow up, your child will have strong positive associations with drinking green juice.

Habituation can work with older kids, too, especially when paired with some of the other techniques below.  Introduce them to the Beginner’s Green Juice in yesterday’s post and if they’re brave enough to try it, they’ll quickly discover they won’t even taste the greens in it.  That recipe is all sweetness – the greens just give it a bit of color and a small nutritional boost.  The major benefits of it are getting kids over their fear of drinking a juice that looks so totally green.  Get them used to drinking that and you can slowly introduce more greens, as well as other veggies, into their juices without them batting an eye.

Stealth

Gerber Sip & Smile Spill-proof CupsOkay, I know some parents will probably slam me for this tactic, but it can definitely work for some kids!  Stealth means slipping green juice in without your kids noticing.  The best way to do this is to use a cup your child can’t see through.  For young kids, this is perfect.  Most young kids are accustomed to (or at least willing to) drink from a sippy cup of sorts.  If so, choose an opaque sippy cup (like the Gerber Sip & Smile Spill-proof Cups shown in the picture at right, or the Playtex Sipster Cup) and fill it with Beginner’s Green Juice – then watch how your child doesn’t notice you haven’t just given them delicious plain fruit juice!  With each passing week, try increasing the percentage of green in the juice ever so slightly and see if your child notices. Eventually you should be able to switch to a regular sippy cup and show them that this is the juice they’ve been drinking all along.

Participation

This is the very best strategy to use if you have older kids (babies won’t get much out of it, but toddlers might). Kids love to help out in the kitchen and are much more likely to eat something they’ve grown or made themselves.  It’s simple: Get them to help make the juice!  Have them choose a combination of fruits and veggies and let them be creative.

You’re the boss in your home and rules are good for kids, so you might want to come up with some useful rules to encourage your kids to drink healthy juice or to avoid wastage. Here are some ideas:

  • You must drink the juice you make
  • You must include at least one green element (e.g., a couple stalks of celery, a cucumber, or a handful or two of greens)
  • Each member of the family will make juice for the whole family for breakfast on a rotating roster
  • If you have a masticating or cold press juicer and not much time, designate one morning a week (such as Sunday morning) to do the juicing for the whole week.  (Masticating juicers produce juice that contains more nutrients and enzymes, for much longer, so you can really juice once a week.) Make a few different kinds of juice, put them in bottles, and have them all week long.

By getting your kids involved in helping out and giving them control, they’ll find it a fun family activity, they can exercise some creativity, and you can get them to drink fresh, healthy fruit and vegetable juice.

Copycat

The essence of this strategy is basically to lead by example.  My kids are like puppies sometimes – if they see an adult eating something, they immediately want some (“Right now!” as my toddler says).  If you have a child like this, you can get them to start drinking green juice simply by drinking it yourself!  Our kids will drink all sorts of juices, drink whole fruit smoothies, and eat salads and dark leafy greens with gusto, simply because they see us consuming these things all the timeon a regular basis.  How frequently do your kids see you drinking green juice??

Reverse Psychology

A lot of my friends have babies and toddlers who are just the opposite of our kids.  Rather than copying their parents, they want to do the exact opposite.  If mommy and daddy are eating it, these kids turn up their noses at it.  If that’s the case, you can employ the opposite strategy – “refuse” to drink it and hopefully your kids will take the bait (of course, you can and should drink green juice when they’re not looking! It’s good for adults, too!).

Another trick I find works with my toddler when he’s refusing to eat something is simply to take it away.  I take it away and tell him he’s not allowed to have it.  As soon as it’s gone he wants it again.  And he’ll gobble it up!  Of course I don’t actually want to take it away – if I’m giving it to him, that means it’s healthy and tasty – but sometimes toddlers get it into their heads that they want whatever they can’t have.  But wait, aren’t we all like that sometimes?

Conclusion

I hope you’ve found these strategies enlightening and I hope they will help you persuade your kids to start drinking green juice!  Please leave a comment and let us all know how you got your kids to start drinking green juice.  If you’ve used one of these strategies, do let us know if it worked and why!

*Mennella JA, Jagnow CP, Beauchamp GK. Prenatal and Postnatal Flavor Learning by Human Infants. Pediatrics 2001;107(6):E88.