Top 5 Food Myths that Confuse Parents
Myth # 1: “That’s OK if you don’t want to eat the other things on your plate, but you must finish your chicken!”
We hear about the importance of macronutrients but we don’t really hear too much about the micro-nutrients which are as important to our kids’ health as the macro-nutrients. Maybe the reason behind it is the word ‘micro’ that implies that something is of little importance.
Let’s define both.
Macro-nutrients are the largest food groups required by humans that provide energy in the form of calories. There are three macronutrients – carbohydrates (sugar), lipids (fats), and proteins.
Micro-nutrients are chemical elements or substances required in trace amounts for the normal growth and development of living organisms. Vitamins and minerals would be examples of micronutrients.
Vitamins and minerals are extremely important to our kids’ growing bodies as they transport and carry nutrients around the body.
Let me give you an example. Most kids today lack magnesium (mineral) in their diets which is extremely important for strong bones, a steady heart rhythm, an effective immune system and optimal muscle and nerve function.
Other nutrients kids lack are calcium (yes even if they drink milk), essential fatty acids, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E and zinc. All these have to be present in every meal, not just occasionally!
Proteins are indeed very important to our kids (the body makes enzymes and antibodies with them), and kids do need more protein than adults. BUT, the quality of protein is important!
People are led to believe that the only good sources of protein are animal foods such as dairy, meat, fish, eggs, etc. These animal foods are called concentrated proteins because they are concentrated with one type of nutrient (protein) over other things.
Think about this, for breakfast kids usually get cereal with milk, for lunch chicken nuggets and for dinner beef or fish. This is way too much-concentrated protein for their tiny bodies!
Did you know that cucumber and lettuce also have protein in it? It is true that the amount of protein in a plant would be less than an animal, but it is there. Most of us are overloaded with protein, as a result, our bodies release a hormone called IGF-1 (growth hormone) which causes premature ageing and illness in our bodies.
Don’t be afraid of protein deficiency! It is very unlikely and rare so there is no reason to pump kids with animal foods in every meal!
This is especially important to keep in mind if you have a picky eater who refuses to eat animal protein. Instead of pressuring them to eat, offer more of what they do eat and see what happens.
What’s a good alternative?
ADD MORE VEGGIES TO THE MEAL
Serve meals without animal protein
Keep animal meals to 3 times a week maximum
Myth # 2: Eat your sandwich first and only after you’ll get the candy
I admit I used to tell this to my kids as well 🙂
Kids today eat way too many carbs!
White bread, cookies, white rice, white pasta, potato, and so on.
20 minutes after eating this kind of food their body converts it into sugar, which is so bad for our kids!
Kids do need carbs because they are so much more active than us, however, what we have to understand is that this kind of eating creates blood sugar swings in their body which overburden the pancreas.
In other words, by feeding them white, simple carbs we set our children for diabetes! This is especially important for people where diabetes runs in the family. Illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes and even cancer develop over the years. They don’t happen in a week!
Excess sugar is stored in kids’ bodies as fat, and this is how we get obese children, by feeding them too many simple carbs.
What’s a good alternative?
Ditch the white sugar completely
Instead feed them whole grains such as whole brown rice, sweet potato, wild rice, etc.
There is a reason why grains were created whole, make sure you feed your kids food the way it was intended to be consumed in nature.
Myth # 3: Vegetables are toppings and fruits are snacks
Before we get into this section, I’d like you to make a mind shift here – Vegetables are not toppings and extras, they are essential and must be present at every meal.
Teach your kids to eat a variety of vegetables at every meal and keep introducing it to them as much as possible.
Never give up!
Sometimes I hear moms say things like: “my kids don’t like vegetables” or “my kids don’t eat that” most of the time right in front of their kids.
Mom creates a self-fulfilling prophecy where kids won’t eat veggies because mom constantly says I don’t like them!
Allow them to explore, try new things, cut them themselves, smell, touch, play with veggies.
Be creative, they will thank you for this later in life!
In my household, my husband and I make a huge deal out of vegetables and our kids LOVE veggies only because we (parents) adore them so much. We bring weird veggies home and allow kids to play with them and later when we cook them, they are curious just to try how they taste. I am not saying my kids like all vegetables, but how would you know if you don’t try?
The same holds for fruits, teach them that fruit is not a snack, fruit is a food!
Instead of giving them a cookie or a waffle give them an apple or a banana. Some of you must be thinking that you’ve tried it all and nothing works. Here is what you should do, stop buying bad foods altogether!
Once these foods are not present in the home, it doesn’t leave too many options. Show them by example how you eat a fruit or veggie when you feel like snacking, and eventually, they will follow you. Just don’t give up!
What to feed kids instead
Make salad the main dish! You can add beans and croutons to it to bulk it up, but teach kids that salad is not a side dish, but rather the main dish!
Make it a rule: Offer vegetables at EVERY meal, even if it’s a single cucumber.
Myth # 4: Products fortified with vitamins must be healthy!
We talked earlier about the importance of minerals and vitamins and food companies know this very well. They know most people are not educated about food and so processed food fortified with vitamins and minerals would be a great choice.
Well, that is simply not true.
Think about the way minerals and vitamins were created in nature? Whole, a part of other vitamins and minerals which work synergistically in the body. When a vitamin or mineral is isolated synthetically, they are stripped off of any life force and become either useless or harmful to the body. So now that you know better, don’t fall for these marketing schemes.
What to feed kids instead
Give up processed foods completely.
Make it a habit to feed your children natural, whole, clean foods as much as possible.
You don’t have to give up convenience foods completely, just make sure they get them once a week tops! My kids get sweets only on Saturday, you can imagine how much they look forward to the weekend!
Myth # 5: Food that is made up of whole wheat must be healthy
Today’s wheat and wheat from a hundred years ago are two completely different things!
Over the years wheat was highly processed, hybridized and genetically modified, and as a result, we have health issues such as celiac disease (gluten intolerance) and new emerging allergies that we didn’t encounter 100 years ago.
I recommend you read the book Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis who has done a phenomenal job at researching the origins of wheat and how it acts in our bodies. The most important thing this book proves (and this is implied in the book’s name) is the fact that people who consume wheat (even if its whole wheat) have difficulty losing weight. A great read!
Some clients think they are doing an excellent choice by choosing 100% whole wheat loaves of bread and cereals, although they are much better than white bread, it is not the best choice!
What to feed kids instead
If there are no gluten intolerances, I would incorporate ancient sprouted grains such as Spelt, Kamut and Rye.
Here is a link to a great article with pictures of loaves of bread that I buy for my family (I usually buy my bread at a health food store)
I hope these top 5 Food Myths will help you stay focused on your goal as a parent, just remember every bite must be loaded with the most nutrition but the least amount of toxins!
p.s. feel free to share this with moms who need to know this stuff!
p.p.s. I would love to hear from you in the comments below 🙂