Hi guys! Hope everyone is doing well. I wanted to spend some time today talking a little about a buzz word that seems to pop up everywhere in the nutrition world: clean eating.
What exactly is “clean eating?” According to the Mayo Clinic, clean eating means eating more whole foods (foods in their natural state, like fruits and vegetables), limiting highly processed foods, and avoiding the addition of sugar, salt and fats.
Makes sense, right? Most people think that following these guidelines mean a healthier diet and lifestyle. Moreover, most parents would probably wager that sharing “clean eating” early on with their children would be beneficial in the long run.
Not so fast. A recent article from Quartz.com outlined why clean eating may not always be safe for infants and toddlers. I’ve summed up the main reasons why below:
- Clean eating often means that people try to cut out gluten. Gluten is a protein found in most wheat, rye and barley. While gluten causes digestive troubles for a few folks, most people have no trouble at all with it at all. When you remove gluten from a toddler’s diet, it can withhold critical carbohydrates that are needed for growth & development.
- Secondly, clean eating can also mean that people try to reduce or remove certain food groups from their diet, most notably dairy or grains. Dairy is the most efficient source of calcium for infants and toddlers, and may cause stunted development or bone growth issues if they don’t receive enough. Grains, as noted above, are a critical carbohydrate needed to help fuel the many growth spurts that young children go through.
- Lastly, many people may try to expose their children to “superfoods” that may not yet be appropriate for their child’s digestive system. For example, kale and beetroots are high in nitrates that can be harmful for infants, and chia seeds can cause swelling, which may result in an upset stomach in a young child.
Generally, I don’t think anyone would disagree with eating more whole foods, limiting highly processed foods and the addition of salt and sugar is the right idea. Which, as we’ve seen, is technically “clean eating.”
However, when it comes to our favorite little people, it probably makes more sense to provide a healthy, well-balanced and wide array of foods, without limiting any proteins or food groups, or featuring any superfoods without proper research.
As always, check with your pediatrician or a nutritionist to help if you have further questions. I just try to bring you the latest information and provide my own perspective :)
That’s it for me! Send me new topics or ideas for posts to Crystal@hugabugg.com!