Tag Archives: children’s health

Activism Green Living Healthy Living Kids & Family

How to Make a Difference in Your Child’s Health with Real Food


Do you spend time reinforcing good health habits with your child? There are a variety of messages sent to children from many sources about health. Many of these messages contain false information, so it is important to help your child understand the reasons why.

Food manufacturers, for example, label foods they sell as “healthy”, “natural“, “trans fat free”, “whole grains” or “low-fat“. Do these claims make foods healthy? Although the pressure to buy these products is always there, it’s important to realize that our children’s health begins with us. If we don’t go beyond store bought foods and educate ourselves about what will keep our children healthy during the formative, developmental years, it will have negative effects for the rest of their lives.

With that said, it’s critical for children to receive healthy, proteins, and cholesterol for brain, heart, and other body organ system health and development. So it’s up to us, the parents, to be willing to go outside of what conventional wisdom recommends for nutrition, as most conventional ideas about what is believed and taught is actually harmful for children’s health.

Making smart choices for your child’s diet really can make an enormous difference in their ability to learn and develop, ward off illness and disease, maintain energy and focus, stay physically active and keep moods balanced out.

Be interested and interactive with your child about healthy choices for health and life. Here are some suggestions:

  • Just like grownups, children need real foods with full fats and proteins for good health. Foods with fat are replete with essential nutrients our bodies need to maintain various functions. If you aren’t eating these foods already, consider the following: raw milk, grass-fed meats and poultry, eggs from pasture-raised hens, organic fruits and vegetables, raw, sprouted nuts and seeds, whole, sprouted and soaked grains, rice, and legumes. Foods that have been processed (changed or altered somehow) with preservatives, chemicals, pesticides, growth hormones, antibiotics, high-heat, or are low-fat or non-fat are all foods we should avoid consuming. Real, traditional, whole foods from nature provide the correct balance of nutrients and other essential components (like essential fatty acids, antioxidants, co-factors, and enzymes necessary for absorption, correct digestion, and good health).
  • If you are on a budget, don’t despair. You can still make some healthy changes without overspending. Removing processed foods and replacing with real foods are the main idea. Try making nutritious broths from scratch with bones, water, salt, celery, carrots, and onions. You can add a little meat to it for more sustenance and this can make several meals. Include plenty of vegetables, some sprouted bread with plenty of butter, and you will have a nutritious, economic meal. Here are some tips for saving money on organic foods.
  • Help your child to understand the connection between a healthy immune system and a healthy diet, which keeps you from becoming sick. When children eat healthy foods and have energy, focus, and feel good, they will be more motivated to make healthy choices as they grow older.
  • Provide a good variety of healthy cooked and raw foods. Also consider fermented, raw foods that are nutrient-rich such as yogurt and kefir, and lacto-fermented vegetables (see recipes at the end of Getting the Most out of Your Vegetables). Fermented foods are naturally rich in friendly bacteria and have a profoundly positive effect on both the immune and digestive systems.
  • Avoid as much as possible, refined sugars and processed foods.  Beware of  processed foods that are believed to be healthy such as pasteurized dairy, low-fat foods, cereals, crackers, tortillas, pastas, food bars, and store-bought breads (those that are not from soaked, sprouted, or fermented grains). For some good descriptions of how to tell what foods are healthy and what aren’t, read this article about knowing your foods.
  • Spend time in the kitchen with your child, helping them to learn how to make healthy, delicious foods to serve in your home. Let your child experiment and become exposed to the process of making healthy foods.
  • If traditional, whole foods are new to you, start some research about where to shop in your local area as well as on the Internet.  Learn about traditional foods for a good foundation for your child’s health. Also read Changing ingredients for a nutrient-dense diet for ideas on how to switch out unhealthy for healthy ingredients in your kitchen.
  • Shop for food with your child. Let your child be involved in going to the health food store, farmer’s market, or local farm where you buy food. The more your child becomes connected to where food comes from, the more active and interested he or she will be in eating healthy.
  • Vegetables are important, but they should be properly prepared and served with healthy fats.  Serving vegetables with butter, olive oil, or animal fats like lard and tallow is very important to ensure absorption of the nutrients in these foods. Animal fats contain fat-soluble vitamins which help with digestion of vegetables and fruits. Another great way to serve vegetables is by culturing and fermenting them.  Here’s a great article about how to make your own cultured vegetables at home from Donna Gates (Body Ecology).  Cultured vegetables not only provide more nutrients than raw or cooked vegetables, but also contain beneficial bacteria known as probiotics which support your child’s immune and digestive system.
  • Breakfast is the most important meal of the day since the body has been in a fasting state for many hours. It can be an especially challenging time to get in enough nutrients. Fats and proteins are important, but also consider vegetables as a possible component of breakfast. Be willing to think differently about breakfasts and consider preparing items like eggs from pasture-raised hens with no-nitrate bacon or sausage from naturally raised beef or pork. You can incorporate all types of vegetables as well as leftover meats into omelettes such as broccoli, spinach, bell peppers, squash, and zucchini. For some good ideas about breakfast makeovers, read this article.
  • Plant a garden with your child, whether it be a community garden, a school garden, or a garden in your own backyard.
    Teach your child about the importance of sustainable and organic foods and why organics are superior to the conventionally-grown variety.
  • Model good eating habits with your children by eating the same kinds of foods with them when you are together. Even though your child will show some rebellion about some things, he or she really will be affected by your habits, and try to emulate the things you do.
  • Become an activist in your community and encourage your child to follow along. Children learn by example and if your actions show that you care about healthy food, your children will grow to care about it as well.
  • Communicate to your child that although eating healthy is important, it’s what a person does 90 percent of the time that counts. Occasionally there will be situations where eating healthy is simply not possible – due to outings or visits with other important people in your life who may not follow your philosophy. Be reasonable about these instances, as your child will only have access to food provided to him or her by the responsible adult, or possibly older children.
  • In instances where your child will be away from home, such as school lunch or on other outings, consider sending healthy foods in a sack to encourage good eating habits while he or she is not in your care. Here are some great ideas about packing foods for lunch and other occasions, by using foods and leftovers from meals you’ve already prepared.
  • When you are planning to make changes in your child’s diet from processed to traditional foods, it may be most effective to integrate changes gradually. You can replace some items right away that are unhealthy with healthy choices you know your child will like. The more you expose your child to the healthier choices, the more he or she will come to expect eating those foods and enjoy them.
  • Don’t become discouraged if your child resists change. Be willing to rotate by offering different choices and provide encouragement and perhaps a reward like a fun outing or a break from school work or chores now and then as incentives to try new foods. If your child isn’t eating something you believe he or she should be, take a break from the food and return to it in a few weeks or a month. Above all, keep trying!

Here are some other related topics to feeding your children nutritious foods:

Feed your children real food – don’t they deserve it?

Your voice can make a difference in the way children eat lunch

The 10 most unhealthy “health” foods marketed to kids: Babble’s list


This post is part of Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesdays carnival. 


Green Living Healthy Living Kids & Family

Reducing Symptoms of ADD/ADHD Through Dietary Changes


Attention Deficit Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder are on the rise. The more we learn about these disorders, the more apparent it is becoming that they affect many aspects of health.

As of 2007, approximately 9.5% or 5.4 million children 4-17 years of age have ever been diagnosed with ADHD, according to the CDC.  And those are just the reported cases.

ADD, ADHD, and the wide spectrum of related impairments and learning disorders that children deal with in modern society are widespread and disruptive to a child’s ability to learn and grow normally.

From a variety of research sources, this condition is observed to occur because of an imbalance in two or more chemical messengers of the brain – dopamine and norepinephrine. Dopamine regulates memory formation and the onset of addictive behaviors, and norepinephrine is connected to arousal and attentiveness. The main symptoms of this imbalance are lack of attention, tendency to become distracted, and exhibition of impulsive, restless, and hyperactive behavior.

According to research from Dr. Russell Barkley:

  • A classroom with 30 students will have between 1 and 3 children with ADHD
  • Boys are three times as likely as girls to develop ADD/ADHD,  and 75% of boys diagnosed with ADD/ADHD have hyperactivity
  • Emotional development can be reduced greatly in children by 30 percent
  • 1/4 of children with ADHD have serious learning disabilities including: listening skills, oral expression, reading comprehension and/or math

Cases of diagnosed  attention deficit hyperactivity disorder have increased almost 4 percent each year from 2000 to 2010 – making it the number one mental health issue for children.

Does your child fit more than one of these descriptions?

Younger children:

  • Crying inconsolably
  • Screaming
  • Poor feeding habits
  • Head banging
  • Poor or little sleep

Older children:

  • Easily distracted
  • Has trouble focusing or concentrating
  • Withdrawn behavior
  • Has difficulty with follow-through or organization
  • Poor appetite and erratic eating habits
  • Talks excessively
  • Poor motor skills/coordination
  • Dark circles or puffiness under eyes
  • Red earlobes or cheeks
  • Swollen glands
  • Uncooperative, irritable, disobedient, self-injuring, nervous
  • Negative, moody, or depressed
  • Tends to be rude or interruptive toward others
  • Is unable to finish tasks
  • Restless or in constant motion
  • Doesn’t seem to listen or pay attention when addressed

If so, you may be dealing with ADD or ADHD. These and other learning or behavior disorders all stem from the presence of unhealthy flora or bacteria in the digestive tract and immune system. Simply by making changes to your child’s diet and adding nutritional supplements as needed, you can begin to eliminate the causes of behavioral and learning disorders and notice dramatic changes in a fairly short amount of time.

What are the causes of ADD/ADHD?

Although there are certainly some genetic and environmental factors involved,  one of the main culprits of ADD, ADHD, and related disorders are food allergens such as gluten (found in wheat, rye, and barley). Other sources of allergens include casein (from dairy – cow, goat, sheep, and human milk), corn, soy, sugar and artificial sweeteners, excitotoxins (from MSG, artificial colors/chemicals, and other related substances), yeast, and nuts. Continued exposure to the protein found in wheat irritates the digestive tract and penetrates the intestinal lining, allowing toxins to enter the bloodstream and create symptoms.

According to Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride, children with disorders such as ADD and ADHD lack an important enzyme, dipeptidyl peptidase IV,  which makes it possible to digest the proteins gluten and casein.  When undigested food penetrates the lining of the small intestine, these substances are allowed to freely enter the bloodstream. Proteins from these foods become substances with structures resembling opiates. These opiates penetrate the blood-brain barrier, causing a block to receptor sites in the brain, and have a similar effect on the body as drugs such as heroin and morphine. The body reacts to these as foreign invaders with an immune response, creating allergic-like symptoms such as irritability, lack of focus, hyperactivity, fatigue, aggression, impaired speech/motor coordination, and learning disorders.

Many allergic reactions come from highly-processed forms of food, so eliminating these from your child’s diet is important. Expensive testing to determine whether your child has allergies is one possibility, but according to Dr. McBride, most allergy testing is not worth the time or money spent. Elimination of suspect foods and then waiting to observe results is therefore the best way to determine what the problem is.

When your child experiences health issues as a result of food, mal-absorption and nutritional deficiencies are likely to occur. Dietary changes and nutritional supplementation can help children recover from deficiencies and heal.

Some processed foods and ingredients which contribute to ADD/ADHD symptoms include (but are not limited to):

  • breads and grains
  • crackers
  • chips
  • desserts
  • candy
  • sugar
  • artificial sweeteners
  • food dyes
  • preservatives
  • MSG – including hydrolyzed vegetable and soy proteins
  • packaged or bottled gravies, salad dressings, dips, mayonnaise, marinades
  • soy Worcestershire sauces
  • processed meats such as ham, turkey, bacon, roast beef, chicken, salami, sausage, etc.
  • “seasonings”
  • canned soups, sauces,
  • dry milk and whey powder
  • carageenan
  • malted barely and barley flour
  • fish sauce
  • hydrogenated and artificial oils – including vegetable oils like canola, soy, and cottonseed
  • caffeine

See MSG Truth for a list of foods to avoid.

Additional reading about food additives and other chemicals in our food supply: The Unhealthy Truth, Robyn O’Brien

For more information about food additives/preservatives, see the Truth in Labeling web site.

Because many children experience health issues as a result of food intolerances and allergic reactions, nutritional deficiencies are likely to occur.  Once the cause of the problem is removed through elimination of allergens, food additives, and chemicals, the body can begin to heal the damage.  Dietary changes and the right kinds of nutritional supplementation can help children recover from deficiencies and heal.

Foods and nutritional supplements which can dramatically affect ADD/ADHD disorders:

  • Grass-fed meats and poultry (without hormones or antibiotics, or fed from GMO sources) -  higher in Omega 3s, CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), minerals, and Vitamins A, D, E, and K2
  • Bone broths - these home-made stocks contain a number of important minerals, gelatin, and other vital elements to heal the body and digestive  tract, and are easy to absorb
  • Eggs from pasture-raised chickens, ducks, etc. - higher in Omega 3s, CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), minerals, and Vitamins A, D, E, and K2
  • Safe-sourced seafood - high in minerals such as zinc, iron, selenium, phosphorus, and Vitamins A and D
  • Organ meats - from pasture raised animals and birds, great sources of zinc, iron, and B Vitamins, which many children who have behavior issues are greatly deficient in.  One way to get your child to eat liver is to cut up into very small pieces and freeze them. You can hide these “liver pills” in other foods or give in pieces, one at a time if your child is old enough to swallow, with water. If your child won’t eat liver in any preparation, I recommend dessicated liver tablets. See sources.
  • Raw dairy products (for those children who are not sensitive to dairy) – milk, butter, cheese, sour cream, yogurt, kefir, buttermilk. Those who are sensitive to dairy can usually consume home-made yogurt and kefir from healthy cows on pasture – preferably raw. Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride recommends holding off on dairy if there is a sensitivity while consuming bone broths and cultured vegetable juices. Over time, cultured dairy foods can gradually be added into the diet, and later on, raw milk.
  • Healthy saturated and mono-unsaturated fats like butter, extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil, lard, & tallow, chicken and duck fat from healthy animals and fowl or other birds who have access to sunshine and free movement on pasture
  • Fermented cod liver oil and skate oil (for those who don’t test well for fermented cod liver oil) – see sources
  • Home-made cultured and fermented foods – for severe symptoms, it may be best to stay away from fermented dairy and grains at first. Stick to cultured vegetables and fresh-pressed juices made at home. Gradually add back in real, raw cultured dairy foods as the body heals.
  • Fulvic acid – which is a liquid and contains trace minerals we may be lacking, and has a high absorption rate and chelating of heavy metals from the body. Fulvic acid is a product of bacteria in soil. Recommended by Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride from Gut and Psychology Syndrome.
  • Magnesium oil – applied topically, this oil is a highly-absorbable way to provide magnesium to the body through the skin
  • Epsom salt baths – soaking in a bath of epsom salts is another great way to confer mineral benefits to your body through the skin. I recommend Remarkable Redwood Remedies.

Foods to eliminate to avoid ADD/ADHD symptoms:

  • Foods containing gluten (including wheat, rye, barley)
  • Foods containing casein
  • Other grains
  • Processed and packaged foods which may contain dyes, preservatives, excitotoxins (MSG and other related substances)
  • Commercially-raised meats, poultry, eggs, and dairy which come from animals fed corn, grain, soy and other toxic substances, and are likely to contain antibiotics, hormones, and pesticide or other undesirable residues
  • Dairy products if your child is sensitive to casein.  After the gut has healed, try raw dairy products from cows on pasture.

When the digestive tract has been healed, some children can  begin to add certain foods back into their diets such as raw dairy products and properly prepared grains – soaked, sprouted, soured, or fermented.  Returning to grains and especially gluten should be done on an individual basis, as not all children’s bodies can tolerate them. But remember that returning to processed foods, grains and pasteurized dairy products can cause a recurrence of symptoms.  Some ADD/ADHD children who are in the process of healing their digestive tracts can consume dairy as long as it is unprocessed and un-heat treated (pasteurized), but each child is different and may require some experimentation.

Remember that nutrients from real foods from healthy sources and quality supplements (when needed and in an absorbable format) support your child’s physical and mental state for optimal health. They support your child’s body in all the activities they do each and every day, and help the body to be able to detox from other sources of toxins you may not have control over. 

Processed foods with additives, chemicals, sugar and that lack real nutrients. They deplete your child’s store of nutrients and prevent the body from functioning normally and being able to handle activity, stress, and daily tasks. Artificial ingredients increase levels of hyperactivity because the depletion of nutrients sends children’s bodies into overdrive, as they try to compensate for the loss of important building and foundation blocks they need to be healthy.

If you are looking for a great way to incorporate multiple, nutrient-dense foods in a great-tasting, easy-to-make meal for your child - make a smoothie!  Use whole, raw milk, yogurt, or kefir with fruit, and other ingredients such as gently melted coconut oil, raw honey, raw egg yolks, cod liver oil, etc. Experiment with different combinations and find out what your family prefers.

Some people may not tolerate egg yolks at first if their digestive tracts are compromised, so try the smoothie without the egg yolks if any issue arises with nausea or digestion. Try again in a few weeks as the digestive tract heals by adding the yolk back in.

For more information on healing your child’s digestive tract, ADD, ADHD, and other learning and behavior disorders, read Dr. Nastasha Campbell McBride’s Gut and Psychology Syndrome.

The Feingold Association has a wealth of references and information about how dietary changes dramatically affect behavior and related health issues.

Go grain-free and still eat delicious, healthy meals – why going grain-free can be a delicious and healthy choice for those with health issues and allergies

9 reasons to make bone broth - an easy-to-make, nourishing food for your child or anyone else in your family who may be dealing with gut and digestive issues

Dental crowding, cavities, and health problems – what’s the connection? Find out why many tooth decay and dental issues can be related to your diet much more than you think

This post is part of Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesdays carnival. Please visit her site and see the other posts linked there.