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Feed them Fat! Rethinking How we Introduce Food to Our Babies and Children

Feed them Fat! Rethinking How we Introduce Food to Our Babies and Children
© Sherry Rothwell www.wholefoodsfamily.com

This article is in process as I take the wisdom of our ancestors’ natural timing in feeding our infants, and combine it with traditional food wisdom, along with the science of understanding how our baby’s digestive tracts mature and the successive increase in enzyme development as it occurs. In addition, I have factored in that a high fibre diet is not great for young children (irritating to the gut), and instead emphasize easy to digest full fat foods as it seems nature has intended for them. These are my conclusions, not only from the perspective of historical evidence, but also by acknowledging and following the instinctual food longings of our children and being witness to the digestive distress of a low fat, high fiber diet on my own children and in the diets of the children in my community.

Mother’s milk is over 50% fat, with most of it being saturated animal fat (breast milk is a form of saturated animal fat for we are mammals too)! I am starting to wonder how much of a shock it must be for our babies to go from 50% of their calories being animal sources fats into a low fat toddlerhood, virtually overnight (when breast milk is no longer a source of food or no longer the primary source of food). Surely their nutritional needs do not change overnight! With our cultures fear of fat and obsession with eating artificially reconstituted dairy products (skim milk and it’s 1% and 2% counterparts), it is hardly a stretch to assume that many of our children are chronically deficient in saturated fat.

According to Mary Enig PhD (fat expert and author), fats remain the #1 nutrient when it comes to toddlerhood, just as it was in infancy. She suggests that natural dietary fats should provide approximately 50-55% of the calories in a child’s diet from birth to the age of two years!

Is it any wonder why many children are slow to like their vegetables! Is it possible that our children stay in the picky eating phase for so long, because they are still waiting to be provided with the saturated fats we thought we should limit, because of our culture’s fear of animal fats?

Healthy saturated fats and cholesterol provide the nourishment needed for growth, brain development and for the myelin sheath which surrounds nerve fibres.

Natural sources of animal fats include:
breast milk
raw goat, sheep, cow milk
whipping cream
butter
ghee
yogurt
grass fed meat
organ meats
egg yolks

Animal fats also provide the fat soluble vitamins A & D which are co factors for protein assimilation, normal growth and hormone production. Where do our kids get concentrated sources of these fat soluble nutrients other than from nutrient dense, fat rich animal foods? According to Enig, young children`s enzyme systems are not mature enough to readily convert beta carotene to Vit. A.  Naturally sourced vitamin D is exclusively produced for us by our animal friends too (by eating them or through supplements made from the oil on their skin). While it is true that we can produce our own Vit.D, we do not live the way our ancestors did. We spend most of our time indoors and they spent most of their time outdoors and often year round. Especially if we live in the northern climates where it is difficult to get outside, we must consider consciously taking the time to obtaining a source of Vit.D for ourselves and our children. You may commit to spending time outdoors each day, no matter what the weather is like, or you may choose to supplement with Vit.D. Better yet, supplement with Cod Liver Oil. Not only is it both a source of Vit D and Vit.A, but also a source of essential fats.

How then should we begin feeding our children?

Assuming your toddler  eats the average 1500 calories per day, then from a practical perspective give him or her 6 tbsp of fat per day from butter, egg yolk, meat fat, coconut oil, whole raw dairy, olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds.

And if you are just starting to feed your baby solid foods (or you want to start over because your toddler or young child is digestively distressed) here is some uncommon advice about starting baby’s on solid foods. The start time is not as important as the progression. Remember the uniqueness of your child and adjust accordingly.

PHASE 1:
Exclusively breastfeed until 9-12 months. Mother must eat a nutrient rich diet herself.

PHASE 2:
Prior to age 1 the following foods should serve as the primary source of fatty animal foods:
breast milk
egg yolks
butter/ghee
yogurt
kefir
liver
plain chicken or beef broth (no added seasonings)

Also, if your baby has digestive distress give him/her just the juice of fermented veggies beginning with a 1/8  to a  ¼ of a teaspoon, and increase incrementally to normalize digestion.

PHASE 3:
Continue to emphasize these foods while adding the following at 1 year:
-chicken, turkey, lamb, beef, seafood, raw milk,
-incorporate seasoned beef and chicken broth into grain dishes, soups and stews

PHASE 4:
Introduce stewed fruit.

PHASE 5:
Then graduate to sweet root vegetables

Introduce fermented vegetables.

Cautiously Introduce: Raw veggies such as tomatoes and cucumbers should be served with generous avocado, olive oil or cream to help absorb the nutrients. (Think of Italian foods- tomato, cream and olive oil- the fats help buffer the acidity.)

Cautiously Introduce: Nightshade and cruciferous (because of the goitrogens and gas producing factor) veggies should be introduced with caution; they should be very well cooked and served with ample saturated fat.

PHASE 6:
Legumes should also be prepared by soaking and fermentation and served with generous amounts of saturated fat/oil (think of Mexican food such as guacamole or refried beans!)

PHASE 7:
After the age of 1 but ideally at around 36 months (because they are often the most likely to be the culprit in digestive distress) you can introduce grains, nuts and seeds.

Remember that the production of digestive enzymes only gradually increases as babies grow.  The last enzymes to be fully functional are the ones that break down carbohydrates, which can take up to 36 months.

Begin with non-glutinous grains (buckwheat, quinoa, millet, rice, amaranth) and always serve pre-digested through lactic acid fermentation. Combine with butter, ghee, coconut oil or egg yolk for optimal absorbability of nutrients.

Gradually you can add soaked and fermented glutinous grains, but you may want to wait until your child is past 36 months.

Once your toddler can hold finger food, introduce “crispy nuts”, ones that have been soaked and dehydrated with the addition of unrefined salt and butter/ghee/ coconut oil. Especially ensure that peanuts are soaked and dehydrated, cooked or roasted to eliminate aflatoxin, a dangerous mould.

Citrus and other commonly allergic foods should be introduced last and with caution.

Make sure that when feeding your child sweet treats, that you load them with good balancing fats for nourishment, stability and calmness- to keep them from bouncing off the walls!

Ideally all treats for children and adults would be made with butter or coconut oil and served with whipped cream, or cream cheese to slow down the rate of sugar absorption (and to make them more nutrient dense!). When raw milk is not available, emphasize coconut milk in your baking. Hot drinks such as hot chocolate can be nutritionally enhanced by some coconut oil melted in…..don’t forget the whipping cream and a bit of cinnamon (also slows sugar absorption) on top!

Emphasise warming spices and warm, cooked soft, easy to digest foods, to make it easier for your children to absorb and assimilate the nutrition. Add fermented foods or the juice from fermented foods as early as possible to get baby used to the sour flavour. In addition, while other raw foods are beneficial, emphasize fruits and green smoothies, but not raw vegetables, nuts, seeds or grains which need to be pre-digested for optimal nourishment. I am not saying never or ever, but please be aware that looking at our children’s stool and noticing that there is an absence of undigested food or symptoms, is more indicative of the benefits of a diet, than any pre determined dietary dogma. No sense feeding your child food that is assumed to have more nutrition, yet it irritates their gut, reduces their digestive fire and gives them a tummy ache.

In addition, when we try to get them to eat foods that are not particularly suited to them, we subsequently reduce how much they will eat altogether and unknowingly reduce their nutrition by holding onto our own commonly held and limiting viewpoints. It has been said we are not what we eat, but rather what we can digest and absorb. Use both logic and intuition when choosing when and what to feed your children while acknowledging and following your child’s instinctual food longings too.

References:
http://thebabybond.com/BEYONDBREASTMILK.html
http://www.naturalnews.com/027418_babies_food_iron.html
Digestion: Inner Pathway to Health, David W. Rowland

http://www.westonaprice.org/childrens-health/315-foods-to-tantalize-toddlers-and-preschoolers.html
http://www.gaps.me/preview/?page_id=34

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What is Phytic Acid?

Trouble digesting grains? Read this article to discover a few clues about why you may not be tolerating grain in its modern context…it is not all about gluten.

http://www.nourishingdays.com/?p=2722