10 Reasons Why a Plant-Based Diet is Best for Kids
If you could give your children a gift that would last their entire life and could be passed down to their children, would you do it?
Of course you would! I'm here to tell you that gift exists and it's yours to share.
As a nurse I've had the privilege of sharing in the most intimate parts of a person's life--from the joy of a precious new baby to the suffering the sick and dying.
Most profound to me is the excessive amount of unnecessary amount of pain, disability and death that comes with years of poor lifestyle choices.
I'm not blaming the victims.
They didn't know things could have been different.
But we know now.
That’s why I’ve made it my mission to help you raise your children to grow up happy and healthy and avoid the typical American path to chronic disease.
Maybe you've thought you're doomed to get diabetes or high cholesterol because that's what your parents had. You may have heard it's your genes that will seal your's and your children's fate.
What they don't tell you is, when chronic diseases are passed down from parent to child, genetics actually play a small role.
Diet and lifestyle habits are the biggest factor and are ALSO passed down from parent to child.
If you feed your child the Standard American Diet, please don't be surprised when she is diagnosed with a Standard American Chronic Disease by middle age (or earlier) and becomes dependent on Standard American Prescription Drugs.
Don't despair.You have so much more control than you think.
As a parent, you have the opportunity to influence your child's health outcomes 20, 30 even 40 years from now by the habits you teach her now.
If your child adopts a plant-based diet now (even imperfectly) she'll continue to enjoy health benefits in her adult years.
It doesn't stop there. One day she'll pass their healthy habits to her own children, and so on.
You're improving the lives of your family's future generations.
Have you been hearing about the plant-based movement and you'd like to find out more?
Are you a plant-based mom but unsure if it's safe or healthy to feed your your baby, or teen this way?
Do you have a child who you worry about because they eat too much junk food or have a problem with weight or acne?
Does your family's health history include heart disease, cancer, or diabetes?
These are some great reasons to investigate a plant-based lifestyle.
When we look at the entire lifespan from birth to old age, childhood is a short, yet crucial, part of of it.
Studies show that the habits we learn in childhood will last throughout our lifetime unless we make a conscious effort to change (and we know how hard it that can be).
Wouldn't you love to give your children the gift of healthy habits that will go on with them and their families long after you're gone?
Below are my Top 10 reasons to feed your kids more plants:
1. Disease Prevention
Decreased risk for heart disease, stroke type 2 diabetes, obesity, autoimmune diseases, colon cancer and many other types of cancer.
Science has shown cholesterol, saturated fat and animal protein including dairy fish, chicken and eggs, contribute to all of the above.
The Blue Zones studies also demonstrate that different cultures around the world who live on a mostly plant-based diet have very little of the chronic diseases that plague Americans.
A healthy diet in childhood can prevent years of suffering later in life.
2. Better Digestion
Cure constipation forever!
Constipation in toddlers and children is nearly an epidemic in the US.
I know this because I talk to parents about it every day in the pediatric clinic where I work.
Terrible tummy aches. Anal fissures.Rectal bleeding.Painful BMs.
Yet in most cases, it's simple to fix naturally.
3. A Healthy Weight
Look better. Feel better. Increased confidence and self esteem.
American children are the heaviest children worldwide and getting heavier.
A plant based diet makes it easier to get to a healthy weight even without adding any extra exercise.
Not that physical activity isn't absolutely recommended, but it is not required to get to a healthy weight.
4. Later Puberty
American girls now have their first period earlier than ever.
The average age to start is twelve.
Naturally occurring hormones from dairy may also contribute to an early puberty.
Diets rich in whole plant foods are associated with later puberty, and later puberty is associated with decreased risk for prostate and breast cancer in adulthood.
5. A Clean Palate-Less Cravings for Salt and Sugar
Infants are born with a preference for sweet. Hence, breast milk is sweet. Other than our love of sweet, our taste preferences are learned.
Children are not born with a love for mac-n-cheese, chicken nuggets and hotdogs any more than a child born in Australia is born with an appetite for Vegemite, a child in Korea is born with a taste for Kimchee or a child in India is born with a taste for curry.
Taste preferences are learned from an early age.
This is great news!
This means you actually influence your child's taste preferences.
It might not prevent him from ever liking Cheetos and Coca Cola (although, it just might).
But it will help prevent a craving for junk and develop his love for fruits and veggies.
6. No Need for Portion Control
Kids can eat as much as they want when they are eating the right foods.
Minimally-processed whole plant foods have less calories per serving, so we can eat more of them to get full.
But know this, even if your teen needs to lose weight, she doesn't need to count calories or strictly manage portions.
It's not complicated.
If you have a child that needs to gain weight, don't fret.
Calorie and nutrient dense plant-based recipes are abundant.
7. Plants are Nutrient-Rich
Plants have fiber.
Animal products don't.
Plants have phytochemicals which work in synergy with each other to promote health.
Animal products don't.
Plants increase good gut bacteria called probiotics and boost gut health.
Animal products don't.
Plant fats and oils promote health.
Animal fats promote disease.
Plant protein decreases inflammation.
Animal protein increases inflammation.
It's easy to get enough protein on a plant-based diet. No need to combine certain types of food.
That's old school thinking, and it has been disproven.
A variety of grains, legumes, and vegetables can provide all of the essential amino acids our bodies require. It was once thought that various plant foods had to be eaten together to get their full protein value, otherwise known as protein combining or protein complementing. We now know that intentional combining is not necessary to obtain all of the essential amino acids.
Americans eat excessive amounts of animal protein which is harmful to kidneys, blood vessels, and increases risk for certain cancers.
8. Kaiser Permanente Recommends a Plant-Based Diet
Please check out their free booklet on the whys and hows of transitioning to a plant-based diet.
Contrary to popular belief, a plant based diet is actually less expensive than the Standard American Diet.
What is expensive are foods that are highly processed with long lists of ingredients.10.
10. It Feels Good to Know You're Giving Your Kids the Best
As a group, mamas already feel too much guilt (usually self-inflicted and undeserved) about how we raise our children.
This is one thing you can feel awesome about.
If your children grow up with plant-slanted habits (we're not talking perfection here) they will enjoy better health, better quality of life, and less suffering than most of their peers.
And how do you think they're going feed their families?
That's right. Just like you taught them.
Your sweet grandchildren one day will live longer and healthier thanks to you. Good job mama!
Scroll down and grab your free instant download of PLANT-BASED NUTRITION CHECKLIST to help you feel confident you're providing your little one the best nutrition.
I encourage you to make changes with your family gently.
Be positive and encouraging, and listen to your kids, even if you don't agree.
Try one of these for a snack today:
Sliced apples and peanut butter.Hummus and carrot sticks.
Banana-chocolate-peanut butter smoothie, or whatever plantilicious snack you all love.
And don't forget to make some for yourself too, and enjoy it together. Have fun!
Join the Facebook Group Passionate Plant-Based Mamas and connect with other like-minded mamas.
Please share this article and help spread the word!
HeidiReferences:1. Craig WJ, Mangels AR. Position of the American Dietetic Association: vegetarian diets. JAM Diet Assoc. 2009;109:1266-12822.
The Physicians' Committee for Responsible Medicine: The Protein Myth