By Dr. Larry Wilson
From before birth, nutrition plays a critical role in children's health. Junk food, in the form of sugars, soft drinks, white flour products and hydrogenated vegetable oils can destroy children's health. Caffeine and hundreds of "FDA-approved" chemical additives also harm children. As a result, infections, obesity, diabetes and cancer are increasing among children. Other nutrition-related problems include ADHD, learning disorders, delayed development, depression and many cases of autism. For this article, I was honored to have help from a mother of three, my partner Megan Lorimer.
What Can Parents Do?
Most parents want to feed their children correctly, but are not well-informed or so busy and tired themselves that nutrition may fall by the wayside. Yet parents are the key to a child's nutrition.
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Many children are literally burned out. Their bodies are nutritionally deprived and filled with chemicals from convenience foods. As a result, their bodies are not functioning well. They do not need more drugs. They need to eat better quality food and rest more.
In spite of what doctors and the FDA tell us, sugar in all forms damages children's health. Sugar's empty calories actually deplete the body of vitamins and minerals. Sugars also upset calcium metabolism and the insulin mechanism, and can cause hypoglycemia and diabetes. Few would feed to their dog what many allow their children to eat. One can of soda pop may contain up to 8 teaspoons of sugar.
Children are exposed to huge amounts of toxic additives like aspartame (Equal or Nutrasweet). Aspartame accounts for over 75 percent of the adverse reactions to food additives reported to the US Food and Drug Administration. Aspartame causes over 90 adverse symptoms, according to a 1994 Department of Health and Human Services report. Many are very serious, such as anxiety attacks, memory loss, diabetes, brain tumors, seizures and death.
Other harmful chemicals include caffeine in soft drinks, MSG in soup mixes and nitrites used to preserve packaged meats. These can have horrendous side effects in many children.
Bleached white flour and hydrogenated vegetable oils found in hundreds of prepared foods are also harmful.
Plan Family Meals
Make eating and family meals an important and a pleasant task. Food is your connection with the earth, with nature, with each other and a basis for good health. Excellent nutrition is also required for the full development of a human being. Move away from the "pit stop" mentality - that eating is like filling the car with gasoline, basically a waste of time. Eating in a hurry or in a car wastes most of your food, as it is not well-digested.
Commit to preparing simple meals at home. Consider taking cooking classes if needed, perhaps even with your child. Use a crock pot for an easy, tasty meal. Place whole vegetables, chicken or other food in the pot with a little water and set it for eight hours. Food will not burn, and will be hot at dinnertime. Microwave ovens are not the best. However, using one, preferably on a limited basis, is better than not cooking at all.
Plan your family's life around family meals, not the other way around. Family meals are much appreciated by children. Make meals relaxing and enjoyable. Start by saying grace to set the mood. Studies prove this simple act can enhance the quality of the food. Light a candle or use special napkins or plates to make meals special.
Have the family sit together at the table and maintain a happy, peaceful mood. Following the meal's blessing, my friend Megan has each child in turn say the best thing that happened to them during the day. Definitely turn off the TV and radio during meals.
Discuss meal planning with children and give them healthy choices. Children like to participate in such decisions. Pre-planning the week's menus can save time and money. Also involve children in preparing meals. Many children love having their own chef's hat and apron, and love to imagine they are running a restaurant.
Find creative ways to entice children with healthy food. Make up child-friendly names for healthy concoctions like 'Danny's Delight'. Stir-fried ground turkey and shredded vegetables, topped with chile sauce on a whole wheat bun makes 'Slippery Joes', a child's favorite.
If your children like nut butter, mix some with water to make a dressing and cover vegetables with it, or cover them with spaghetti sauce if this is more appealing. Make objectionable-tasting vegetables into vegetable soup to disguise the flavor. Try new vegetables along with the children.
Read labels as much as possible. Fewer ingredients are better. A good general rule is if you cannot pronounce an ingredient or don't know what it is, don't eat it. Buy organically grown meat, dairy and produce as much as possible. These contain much less toxic pesticides, growth hormones and other harmful chemicals.
Avoid the big four: sugar, refined flour, hydrogenated oils and chemical additives. Especially avoid aspartame, (Nutrasweet or Equal). Xylitol, sorbitol, stevia and Splenda are not as harmful. Less sweeteners are better. Look for hidden sugars under names like dextrose, sucrose, maltose, corn syrup, invert sugar, fruit juices, barley malt, rice syrup, maple syrup and honey. If these are among the first three ingredients, the food is mostly sugar.
Shop at health food markets to find better quality food. Trader Joe's is less expensive on many items. Shop the outside isles of the supermarket.
Keep basic foods stocked all the time such as Foster Farms or other natural chicken and turkey, natural hamburger or lamb, vegetables, and berries or other juicy fruits. Dried fruit and juices are too sweet. If you must use fruit juices, dilute them with a lot with water.
If you cannot buy all fresh food, frozen meals are still better than most restaurant food, especially quality frozen meals.
Avoid most canned food. Canned tuna is very high in mercury. However, canned salmon and especially sardines are fine.
Avoid buying candy, cookies, donuts, ice cream and other sugary snacks as much as possible. Buy only quality food. Keep only quality snacks around the house such as carrots, celery, goat cheese and blue corn tortilla chips. Put out fresh carrots and celery with dip after school and watch them disappear.
Avoid buying fluoridated toothpaste. Fluoride is a poison. The same chemical is used in rat poison. Question the entire fluoride myth. Go to www.fluoridealert.org for more information.
Teaching Children About Nutrition
Explain to your children why nutrition matters. Share books, articles or videos with them. Discuss with them why we choose to eat healthy food so they can make good food choices.
Set a good example for your children. It will help your health as well.
Refer to healthy food as 'muscle food' and the rest as junk food. Teach children to always finish muscle food first.
When shopping, have children look into other shopper's grocery carts, and then at the person pushing the cart. The nutrition connection is often obvious.
Be your children's nutrition guardian, not another friend who tempts them or wins them over with junk food
Avoid letting your children eat what they wish, because you feel guilty for working all day or not giving them what they want.
Limit television viewing, as it exposes your children to hundreds of junk food commercials that mislead them.
Friends, School and Parties
Controlling your children's eating when they are with friends is difficult. Children do not like to feel different or strange because they cannot eat certain foods.
The best approach is to help your children make good food decisions. Ask your child to pay attention to how he or she feels immediately after eating junk food and a few hours later. This can help him or her see the connection between food and health.
Use whatever will help motivate your child to eat better. Your child may want to have better skin, grow taller or be strong and better at sports. Some children may want to get sick less often, have more energy or get better grades in school. Quality food can help all of these.
Your children should influence their friends when it comes to nutrition, not the other way around. If you notice your child comes back with junk food from certain friends, talk briefly to both children about why these foods are not healthful. They may taste good in the mouth, but the stomach does not like them at all, as they contain harmful chemicals and lack nutrition.
Seek out other parents who feel the same way you do and exchange ideas, recipes, books and experiences.
Pack healthy school lunches. Make sandwiches with lettuce, tomato and whole-grain bread. Preferably avoid wheat or spelt bread. Some stores sell an excellent rice and millet bread. A thermos of vegetable beef soup is also excellent. Avoid Lunchables and most packaged convenience foods. Many may look like food, when indeed they are not.
Beware of trail mix and granola bars that are mostly sugar. Include a bag of carrots and celery. Blue corn tortilla chips are also excellent. Send along an extra bag if your child trades with the other children.
Stay away from high-sugar drinks, especially soda pop. Others to avoid are Gatorade and other sugary juices. Milk is not a great food for many children. However, it is far superior to soda pop. Goat milk is better. You may include a small bottle of spring water or only 100% juice. All juice, however, is too sweet for most children, so limit juices. Herbal teas or water with lemon are also excellent drinks.
Speak up to school authorities that you object to the sale of junk food in schools, and to parents bringing junk food treats into the classrooms for parties. Progressive school districts in Chicago, Philadelphia, New York and elsewhere have banned junk food from their cafeterias with delightful results. Recently, the Appleton, Wisconsin high school decided to replace all junk food with healthier choices. The principal's annual report showed vast improvements in behavior and grades. Make it happen in your school district, too.
Do your best to avoid fast food restaurants. If you must go, Burger King and Taco Bell are among the best. Help children make good choices at these places, avoiding the greasy nuggets and French fries. These are often soaked in carcinogenic refined vegetable oil.
Ethnic restaurants often make food from scratch. Buffets allow you to see what you eat before you choose.
If Your Child Gets Sick
Avoid giving Tylenol or other drugs to lower fevers below 104° F. Fever is beneficial and the body's natural mechanism to kill germs. It also encourages children to slow down.
Have your child rest lying down and eating very lightly when ill. Most illness is self-limiting and does not require drug treatment. Avoid rewarding children for being sick with too much attention.
Apply harmless natural remedies immediately. A very simple and effective treatment is foot massage, which feels good, too. Rub the whole foot, bottom, top and sides including the toes, five to ten minutes on each foot. Even without reflexology training, this can relax a child, stop a headache and much more.
For colds and other infections, use herbs such as echinacea. Vitamin A is also excellent. Up to 100,000 iu per day for up to two to three weeks is safe for children over 10. Below age 10, use 50,000 iu per day for up to three weeks.
Vitamin C will sometimes work. Zinc lozenges with Echinacea are very good. Low-dose colloidal silver will kill most infections with many fewer side effects than antibiotics. Arabesque is an excellent brand. For prevention, give your child a 10,000 iu vitamin A capsule every few days.
When you need professional guidance, consider a well-informed nutritionally-oriented doctor or chiropractor.
Become aware of the adverse effects of drugs before giving them to children. Many doctors do not know the side effects of drugs they prescribe. Side effects can be worse than the illness. Look up adverse effects in the Physicians Desk Reference. On the internet, one can go to www.PDRhealth.com.
Vaccinations can be quite harmful. At least read about both sides of the vaccine story before deciding whether or not to vaccinate your child. I do not recommend it at all!
If you would like a hair test, please contact Joy Feldman
Dossey, L., The Power of Prayer
Fallon, S., Nourishing Traditions
McEntire, P., Mommy, I'm Hungry
Smith, L., Feed Kids Right
Tubbs, J., If You Can't Pronounce It, Don't Eat It. A Basic Guide to Healthier Eating
Eating white sugar has affected the health of millions around the world. Dr Nancy Appleton, author of Lick the Sugar Habit has documented research findings concerning its effects on the body. Here are some examples:
Sugar can suppress
the immune system.
Sugar upsets the mineral
relationships in the body.
Sugar can cause
hyper-activity, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, and crankiness in children.
Sugar can produce a significant rise in triglycerides.
Sugar contributes to the reduction in defense against bacterial infection (infectious diseases).
Sugar causes a loss of tissue elasticity and function, the more sugar you eat the more elasticity and function you loose.
Sugar reduces high /density lipoproteins.
Sugar leads to chromium deficiency.