LESSONS LEARNED FROM MY CHILDREN’S PEDIATRITIAN

I

    thank my children’s first pediatrician because he made nutrition easy for my two daughters when I needed it most. That is why I want to share the following FIVE easy steps below with wholesome foods and the whole nine yards with you. My comments are based on what I learned, references, studies and my practice in nutrition. 

Before we talk about the FIVE steps that will help to establish a healthy path for life, we can start by learning how and why nutrition affects the baby’s growth and development before birth through these three essential structures during pregnancy.

The Placenta

A unique autonomous and transient organ. It provides oxygen, and nutrients to your growing baby.  Plus, it removes waste products from your baby’s blood.

The Umbilical Cord

Connects your baby to the placenta providing the route for nourishment and oxygenated blood. It also carries deoxygenated blood and waste products from the fetus to the placenta.

The Amniotic Sac

 Is a membrane filled with amniotic fluid in which the fetus floats. The amniotic sac acts as a cushion to protect the developing fetus from physical injury.

Because these three structures are crucial, it’s mandatory to maintain them healthy with all the nutrients to support growth and development of the fetus. For example:

Folate is a B vitamin that is naturally in foods such as green leafy vegetables, citrus fruit and beans. Is recommended to protect the baby against birth defects of the spine and brain. The mother should have a good intake of this vitamin before getting pregnant. Some of the foods high in Folate are:  cantaloupe, avocado, broccoli, spinach, asparagus, lentils, beans, cauliflower.

Note: Folic Acid is a man-made synthetic Folate. This synthetic substance is found in supplements and added to fortified foods and processed food products, such as flour and breakfast cereals. For many years, folic acid was thought to be much better absorbed than naturally-occurring Folate.  That is not true.

Once your healthy baby is born you want to give them the best foods to keep them strong. It’s also true that the first foods they eat will be the path to a good start or a path that would be difficult to escape from later on their lives. It is time now to ensure they have a lifetime of health by following these easy gratifying five steps.

5 STEPS

STEPS TO HELP YOUR CHILD DEVELOP HEALTHY FOOD HABITS FOR LIFE

Step 1 – Prevent a preference for sweets. Once the baby is ready to eat baby foods, about age 6 months old:

  • Do not provide fruits and fruit juices before vegetables.

  • Do not add sweets to foods

  • Mix cereal with formula or breastmilk

 

Step 2 – Develop taste for vegetables – Age 6 months up (wait a minimum of 2-3 days before starting a new food)

  • When introducing vegetables, start with dark green vegetables first. Example: broccoli, spinach.

  • Next, add yellow vegetables. Example Squash, cauliflower.

  • Last, orange vegetables. Example: carrots, sweet potatoes.

  • Introduce fruits last so they will not find vegetables less palatable.

Step 3 – Provide variety, flavor, and color – Age: 6 months up

  • Meals should include a variety from each food group. Example: noodles and broccoli or peas and carrots, beans and rice. Also, any of these; coconut, almond milk, or almond or soy yogurt with fruit.

  • Keep the natural flavor and color of vegetables by steaming or baking at low temperatures. This will retain their nutrients. Overcooking can change color, texture, and flavor, making vegetables soggy, pale, or flavorless. Remember these are the baby’s first food experiences. If they are not given in the proper way, it is less likely the baby will not welcome vegetables later on.     

  • When boiling use the same rules as for steamed or baked vegetables.

Step 4 – Accommodate children’s preference – Age 15 months up

  • Kids like raw or crunchy vegetables more than cooked ones.

  • Cream soups should be free from lumps. (If you prefer, instead of dairy, add a potato to add thickness)

  • Let your child choose two of their favorite snacks for the week.

  • Provide foods to your child based on nutrient content, not based on your likes or dislikes. Example: a parent may not care for peanut butter, but your child may love it. I didn’t like peanut butter, so I didn’t offer this food that is high in iron and protein. I basically denied them this wholesome food based on my preference.

STEP 5 – Teaching children through participation – Age 3 years-up

  • When buying food, go with your child and share the experience

  • Talk to your child about healthy foods

  • Keep healthy snacks at home. For example:

Apples
Celery sticks
Carrots
Cucumbers
Cherry tomatoes
Cantaloupe
Grapes
Mini sweet peppers
Hummus
Water

A fruit and water is a wholesome substitute for a glass of juice from concentrated or canned fruit, which are in high fructose corn syrup and lacking the nutritional value found in fresh or frozen fruits.

Note: Avoid serving candy, cookies, fruit juices, and potato or corn chips. They are over processed foods and these snacks contain dyes, artificial flavors, and different types of sugars; including high fructose corn syrup. These artificial ingredients have been processed in a lab.  

NUTRITION FACTS OF LIFE

 

Infants can’t make food choices. It is the parent’s responsibility to do it for them.

 

Start right from the beginning to avoid poor habits.

 

Respect children’s appetite and needs. Do not force your child to eat more than he or she wants, or needs.

 

Create and provide ways to make food appetizing.

 

Limit access to candy, sodas and concentrated sweets.

 

Each day’s food choices may benefit or harm the child’s health slightly. Over time they can add up to mayor rewards or problems.

 

Careless nutrition can contribute to temporary and even chronic illness.

 

Set a good example.

 

Be smart in making food choices.

 

Do not bribe children with food or force them to eat something they dislike.

Mom, your love and support is essential in this journey. Keep up the good job.

There’s so much talk about fat but still such little understanding about these very same cells that can wreak havoc on our health. This post was written as a humble attempt to understand one of the most talked about cells out there, adipose (fat) cells, and shed some light onto the many myths and misunderstandings that surround them.

Do fat cells differ between lean and overweight people?

Yes, and a significant study in 2008 showed evidence that there are two contributing factors that make up what we consider to be fat mass (adipose tissue):

  1. The number of fat cells an individual has

  2. The volume or size of each fat cell. It’s important to keep in mind that adipose (fat) cells differ from each other in type, location and behavior.

The quantity of fat cells we have and how “full” each cell is determines how heavy or thin we are. Often compared to little grocery bags, each adult has a set number of bags. These bags may be full to the brim or just slightly full, expressing the weight we carry.

Overweight people compared to leaner individuals have both a greater number of cells, as well as, fuller larger cells. Once the number of bags are set, gaining or losing weight is a matter of changing the volume within each bag, not how many bags you have.

{Interestingly, the only way to reduce the number of fat cells is through liposuction by which the cells are literally extracted from the body. If and when the individual gains weight again, the newly formed fat droplets will migrate and find shelter in other fat cells located in other areas (since the cells where they would normally go to have been removed). For example, liposuction in the thigh area will decrease the size of the person’s thighs but months after surgery, fat will start showing up in new parts of the body such as the back of the arms and/or stomach where they normally wouldn’t go to prior to surgery. This is irrelevant as far as children are concerned but it does give us a better insight on how adipose cells work.}

How does having a higher number of fat cells affect a person?

It’s been shown that individuals who have a higher cell number struggle more with weight-loss than individuals with a lower number.

This also highlights how important it is to take the time to understand the complexity of nutrition rather than to simplify and overlook significant details. Blaming overweight or obese individuals for lack of self-control and discipline when chemically speaking it’s more difficult to do so, robs us of understanding, and as a result, efficiently treating obesity. That’s not to say discipline and emotional eating don’t play a role in obesity, but that there’s a lot more to ‘deciding’ to be heavy.

When are adipose cells formed?

Historically, experts believed that the number of adipose cells were formed within the first year or two, however, recent studies indicate adipose cells are formed throughout childhood and adolescence. While these findings are important, the research is still far from being complete. What is certain is that instilling healthy habits at an early age can make a huge impact on achieving good health in the child’s future.

Do overweight children become heavy or obese adults?

There is a 70 to 80% chance an obese child or adolescent will suffer from obesity as an adult. As we age, the accumulation of unhealthy lifestyle choices and other factors such as hormonal changes and less activity increases our adipose tissue consistently and cumulatively.

The earlier added accumulation and extra formation of fat cells  will make it that much harder for the child to be a healthy weight as an adult. Sometimes it’s easy to dismiss childhood chubbiness as a phase they will inevitably grow out of. We might have to move away from this mindset to one that is more proactive considering these recent findings.

It’s not all doom and gloom. The fact is that there is a lot we can do. Not to mention that succeeding in health is actually fun and involves eating delicious, colorful foods. Understanding the slightly boring details is the worst part, I promise!! With that said, Part 2 will cover the fun stuff and how to make unhealthy weight a thing of the past.

References

Cold War Bomb Testing is Solving Biology’s Biggest Mysteries 
A PBS article written by Carrie Arnold, Published: Dec 11, 2013

Dynamics of Fat Cell Turnover in Humans
Kirsty L. Spalding, Erik Arner, Pål O. Westermark, Samuel Bernard, Bruce A. Buchholz, Olaf Bergmann, Lennart Blomqvist, Johan Hoffstedt, Erik Näslund, Tom Britton, Hernan Concha, Moustapha Hassan, Mikael Rydén, Jonas Frisén & Peter Arner
Nature.  June 5, 2008.

Fats and Cholesterol in the Diet
Sherry Henley, Instructional Specialist, Scottie Misner, Associate Nutrition Specialist
The University of Arizona. August 1999.

Fat cell number is set in childhood and stays constant in adulthood
Ed Yong, popular science writer
ScienceBlogs. May 4, 2008

Tracking of body mass index in children in relation to overweight in adulthood.
Guo SS, Chumlea WC.
Am J Clin Nutr. 199 Jul;70(1): 145S-8S. via Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.