Posts Tagged ‘Healthy Child’

Nutritional Intelligence

I’m at the age in life where I have friends having babies and the conversation around what they feed them comes up a lot. Apparently when they started reading what’s in the baby food jars they can’t believe the ‘stuff’ included so they have been making food themselves.

I came across a new book called Feeding Baby Green, by one of the country’s pre-eminent pediatricians, Dr. Alan Greene. His book posits a unique, forward-thinking 34-month guide to train your baby’s palate to appreciate the more complex flavors of healthy, unprocessed foods and I thought it would be an interesting read for those interested. Excerpt from Healthy Child Healthy World below:

Every parent is keen to find a way to engender healthy eating habits in their child. “Parents today have an unprecedented awareness and eagerness about the necessity of providing safe, wholesome, nutritious foods for their children”, says Dr. Greene. And yet today’s parents are burdened by economic constraints and severely limited time. The book reports that 80% of parents are unable to feed their children healthy foods because they are inconvenient, unavailable in their communities, or their children don’t like the taste.

What is the connection between what a pregnant woman eats and what her baby experiences? Dr. Greene explains that babies actually have a food life in utero, and the habits they establish in the first years after birth can have a lasting influence on their attitudes to food.

He refutes the claim by some  that it is impossible to get kids to eat healthy foods because they simply don’t like the taste. Dr. Greene believes that babies’ taste-buds can become easily programmed for the extra-sugar, extra-salt, extra starch that is every present in processed and take-out food. But if they are exposed to the “rainbow of flavors”, as he calls it, they can establish a preference for fruits and vegetables early on. This is his core thesis – something he calls “nutritional intelligence”.

“Baby food”, Dr. Greene reminds us, is a myth. Commercial baby food was an invention of 20th century food corporations, enforcing the theory that babies need meals separate from the fruits, vegetables and seasonings the rest of the family consume. Pointed and pervasive advertising convinced mothers that good baby food was scientific, uniform, twice boiled, and sold in jars.

Dr. Greene lays out a clear yet flexible how-to program, incorporating many techniques and angles, all of which is tailored to the baby’s current development stage. The time frames are general enough to work for most families, and allow enough wiggle room for customization.

Many of Feeding Baby Green‘s suggestions are both revolutionary and fundamental – breaking new molds yet also revisiting older traditions. He writes about engaging all of the baby’s senses when learning about food and eating. Flavor, aroma, touch, sights, sounds and language, these are all tools that help you make food a joyous experience. He also counsels on proper amounts, the right variety, and varying repetition with novelty.

Throughout the book, Dr. Greene offers a host of tempting recipes to make for baby at home: Bombay Vegetable Stew, Chickpeas and Tomatoes Provence, Baba Ganoush! There’s very little puree of this or cream of that. These recipes are meant for the culinary delight of the whole family.

Dr. Greene infuses Feeding Baby Green with a connection to the earth, to our food source, and to the truism that we are what we eat. He believes firmly that what is good for the planet is good for your family. As a Board Member of Healthy Child Healthy World, his outlook and practice are always consistent with the advice we offer parents. Much of his book is devoted to educating parents on the dangers of GMO crops, pesticides in agriculture, chemical additives in our food, and prevention of allergies and asthma. Dr. Greene is also a renowned advocate for organic foods, believing they not only keep us healthier but ensure our environment receives protection and nourishment as well.

And throughout, he draws on his wisdom as a practicing pediatrician, his first hand experience as a father of four children, and his family’s journey through his beloved wife’s battle with cancer. (She won!!!) Taking on this endeavor seems less daunting because Dr. Greene’s meticulous guide reassures the reader that they’ve got a friend in the kitchen with them.

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Keeping Kids Toys Safe

Given we are entering a season where we have lots of family gatherings, parties with friends and events where gifts are exchanged, I thought this article from Healthy Child Healthy World on how to keep toys safe was really interesting. Here’s the article’s tips for a healthy toy box:

1. Go au natural.  Look for toys made of natural materials like solid woods (with no finish or a non-toxic finish) and organic textiles (cotton, wool, felt, etc).
2. Simplify.  Buying fewer toys is much better for the planet (and your pocketbook!
3. Re-purpose.  Can something you already have be used as a toy? An empty box or set of stainless steel bowls can provide hours of happy play.
4. Look for items that will last.  High quality toys may cost a bit more, but they will last much longer and can be handed down to younger children. Likewise, you’re more apt to get money back out of them if you decide to sell.
5. Read labels.  What’s this toy made of? Where does it come from? Get to know a toy before you buy it.
6. Look for local.  Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by buying local. If you’re looking at global supplies, opt for European, Canadian or Japanese imports as other countries may have lax toy regulations.
7. Opt for open-ended toys.  Look for items that encourage creativity and are capable of being used for many different types of play. Wooden blocks, colorful scarves, smooth stones, and even cardboard boxes can be the foundation for innumerable creative adventures.
8. Avoid cheap jewelry and kids’ cosmetics.  Both of these types of dress-up products are high-risk. Cheap jewelry often has high lead levels and kids’ cosmetics can have any number of questionable chemicals.
9. Purge plastics.  Okay, this is near impossible these days, but make your best effort. If you do buy plastic, look for safer plastics like those labeled #1, 2, 4, or 5 in the chasing arrows symbol usually found on the bottom of the product. Not labeled? Call the manufacturer.
10. Text for Healthy Toys.  HealthyToys.org is a database to help you find safer toys. You can even access it from your mobile phone. Just text key words and you’ll receive information immediately regarding any testing that’s been done.
11. Print a pocket guide.  Download the Healthy Toys Pocket Shopping Guide so you always have tips and safer toy recommendations on hand.
12. Sign-up for recall alerts.  The Consumer Product Safety Commission posts recalls online, as does the website recalls.gov. If a toy you own is recalled, take it away immediately and follow the company’s instructions on how to get a safe replacement.

Mom on a mission!

I’m not a mom yet but I have a huge amount of respect and admiration for women who listen to their own hearts about what’s good for their families and don’t accept status quo (see my post about labels). I follow a group called HEALTHY CHILD HEALTHY WORLD as the site provides a gold mine of information and perspective on living toxin free. As I am part of their Facebook group I saw a link pop up today which allows you to nominate any woman you know who is making a difference with the environment  for their family and friends. The program is called Mom on a Mission and I encourage you to take a read at what these women are doing in their communities. The award started in 2009 so you have plenty of time to make a difference in 2010!

I know so many women making a difference but I wanted to share one small story that is dear to my heart – I have a friend who came to me as she wants to change over the toxic cleaning products in her house to Shaklee Get Clean products. Her reason? Her cat, who is a true member of the family, has been licking the inside of the bathtub and the hardwood floors and she was worried about what the chemicals are doing to the 10lb cat. We sat down on Monday and walked through the Get Clean kit and the steps she can take to rid her home of the ‘traditional’ cleaners she’s been using. While she’s making this change for her cat, I can’t wait to hear how she and her boyfriend feel once they stop using such harsh chemicals in their environment. I’m proud of her that she’s taking the initiative to listen to her family (yes, as a cat person I consider any cat and especially our cat Georgia to be 100% part of the family!) and make decisions based on what’s best for them.