We know nutrition is a big factor in our child's health and strong immune system, so how do we know if they're getting what they need? We seem to rely on the growth chart as our only evidence, when really it comes down to much more than that. Anyone can show growth because that's what a child does naturally...grow. But, is that growth coming from food that fuels the body? Or from "food stuffs", things that will certainly put your child on the scale, but doesn't necessarily FORTIFY and NOURISH the body's systems.
We want to make sure that our kids are being fueled properly to function their bodies for work, performance, and health.
Of course, we never want to put a baby or child on a "diet", just switch to real food, which is ideally what we want anyway. While doing this, especially if they've largely been fed a "food stuffs" diet, you might see the appearance of a possible stagnation, slower bumps up on the growth chart, or even a drop. Keep in mind that the steady growth up was induced by non-nourishing, high calorie, processed foods sure to cause growth. Encouraging real foods will re-establish a healthy momentum on the growth charts as well. Let's take a whole-body look at what's normal and what's not.
1. The Skinny on Baby Fat
All children grow and develop at their own pace, but pay attention to their movement. If coordination or ability doesn't seem to be quite on par or if there is delayed motility, it might be good to examine the structure of the body. Baby fat is healthy, natural and normal for a good strong healthy baby. However, don't let that concept interfere with knowing WHEN it's normal and when it's not. Excess baby fat that isn't muscle could be causing delays in movement. Baby fat tends to diminish quite substantially once they start getting up and walking. If your child is still quite roly poly oly after learning to walk, it might be a good time to assess their true nutritional needs and how much snacking with non quality snacks they are doing. Also, if they are not as coordinated or able, it might indicate higher fat vs. muscle build.
2. Energy Levels
Pay attention to foods and activity levels, not energy levels, that's an entirely different thing. Kids are naturally energetic, and often if they haven't had enough muscle,body, and mind activities they will have energy to burn. This looks like running around, bouncing off the walls.
Pay attention to the KINDS of activities they doing.
Directed activities with purpose? Are there minds engaged in an effort? Or do they have trouble focusing?
Running around in aimless circles vs. coordinated acrobatic strong movements like cartwheels and somersaults?
Are they engaged in jumping and enjoying building their skills, or is it screaming, wild chaos as they jump?
Are they moving from activity to activity, but engaging in each activity for good bits of time or are they wondering aimlessly dabbling as they go?
Are their movements coordinated to walk, run, skip, hop, etc.?
Lack of coordination may signal that they are not getting the proper fuel to coordinate brain/muscle/nerve ideas to each other. Nourishment can always change to give a child the best shot.
3. Eating the same one and only thing.
It's normal for kids to eat the same thing for days on end. Human digestive systems are very simple especially in children they're very simple because they haven't had the chance to mature and even as adults we shouldn't be as complicated as we do with our eating patterns. Consider that babies had one food breast milk or formula and they never complained that they wanted a different taste. Their phenolics are developing, their enzymes are developing. Always have a variety of options, but understand that their palate is not complex and not their digestive system either. Building bodies like simple digestion. At any time, you can have bioenergetic nutritional testing done, without pokes, to see if your child could benefit from better nutrition planning.
4. Picky Eaters
Kids are naturally picky that's OK it's part of what is teaching them about autonomy and independent thought exerting control. Again, they have simple digestive systems, and like one thing at a time, or one thing all meal. This does not mean to stop offering variety, it just creates an acceptance for where they are at.
Also, they have intense senses. Everything is noticeable to them, smells, textures, and tastes. Some kids have texture sensitivities, others are taste-averse. Try whole real foods in a variety of ways to overcome some of these issues.
Kids can also be identifying foods that don't make them feel well, without even realizing it. This is "normal" for them, they don't know that EVERYONE doesn't feel tummy pains after eating eggs for example. Pay attention to what they are rejecting, see if you can adjust it, or see if it's the same KIND of food and that maybe it's an intolerance.
If you're really concerned, ask me or your wellness practitioner to help you assess proper nourishment in your child.
5. Eat What's On Your Plate!
You will have to determine what values you are going to create in your family about food and nourishment. In my opinion, forcing them to eat what wasn't chosen isn't beneficial to anyone and sets up an unnecessary fight. Help them learn how to select how much they are hungry for so they can reduce waste. Encouraging new foods however, forces the knowledge that there is going to be some waste after trial and error. I believe keeping a positive approach to food being fun and useful to your body rather than waging a tearful war works more in everyone's favor in the long run.
6. What about snacking?
That depends on your idea of "snack". The truth of the matter is that kids typically need more smaller meals throughout the day as their metabolism and energy usage is quite high. To believe they can wait 4 hours, or even 3 hours in between meals is folly. Where the problem lies, however, is that "snack" typically means "snack food" like processed, packaged treats, crackers, and goodies, instead of the small portioned mini meal it should be. Take a look and really examine what your idea of a "snack " is. Good things to snack on in between meals is raw veg, raw cut fruits, nut or seed butters.
7. What about sugar intake?
I had a cousin who didn't give their child ANY refined sugar until well after the age of 2, and some commented on the pure "craziness" of this. I disagree. When a child is developing their FULL use of their taste buds, there is no reason to add sugar at this time. Adding sugar too early and in abundance can coat the rest of the taste buds, causing the child to only crave the one sugar they taste...sweets! It's the perfect time to keep their diet healthy as they don't even yet have to be aware of the "foodstuffs" that make up a traditional American diet.
8. Our ideas of healthy eating are not the same
Some people think meat is healthy, others do not. Some believe eating eggs are healthy, others do not. Some agree with SOME sugar, others do not. Some believe granola bars are ok, or sugared cereals because they're "normal".
This is a great time to learn what healthy nourishment of the body is and learn the functions of foods so that you can instill good concepts in your kids. With following food functions, it doesn't allow ONLY healthy food, it allows "foodstuffs" in balance according to the function of the body.
9. Kid Foods You Think Are Healthy But Aren't
Learning functions of foods allows one to eat all tasty things, even if unhealthy, as long as it's in balance to the function. It is however, still important that you realize if it truly IS a healthy food or not. It can be surprising that some of the foods kids eat EVERY DAY are actually not healthy real foods. Here are some:
*Cheese flavored crackers with/without peanut butter - they are Congestor function, which kids eat too much of in general. Plus, the cheese is usually a bitter salty imitation of real cheese.
*Fruit Snacks - usually no fruit and lots of sugar. Even the healthy ones? Flavored from fruit concentrates usually but still WAYY too much sugar. Healthy option? Puree and dehydrate your own fruit leather. Better yet...fresh fruit.
* Granola bars - unless well thought out, most are glorified candy bars.
* Cereals - unless it's a whole grain, flax granola, type cereal grain and NOT sugared varieties, it's not healthy. Try oatmeal or make your own granola with dried fruit, nuts, and honey
* Yogurt go sticks - most yogurts provide a completely unhealthy level of sugar. We eat yogurt to support good bacteria in the gut, not to feed bad bacteria
It sure is not easy in a conventional eating society, I understand that. But it is absolutely imperative for health, true growth, and strong disease fighting immune systems to pay attention to fueling our bodies with real food, meant to nourish.
* Go to our Food Functions course to start them young, or change even your ideas.
* Go to and engage in Saturday markets and farmer's markets. Have fun eating what you buy right from the market
* Grow or visit a garden together and eat fresh from the garden.
* Don't take a child who won't understand to the grocery store...you are asking for difficulty there!
* Show them where real food comes from.
* Have fun making versions of the goody treats they see all on your own, healthier!
Want to learn more about taking charge of your health and learn Food Functions, too? Join the list and get 4 FREE resources to help you! This link will get you to free tips, free tools like our Food FX chart and tally chart. https://mailchi.mp/drfoodie.live/students-of-drfoodie-subscriptions
Amanda Plevell, PhD, CNHP is a Natural Medicine Practitioner, researching Cellular Biochemistry, and the effects that food, disease, experiences, emotions, and beliefs play into the programming of the cells, along with the resulting health expression. She is the founder of the Natural Source Companies including community WellClinics, Health Rocks Cafe online education hangout and, as a Personal and Business Transformation Expert, The Success Conditioning Academy. Author of over 28 natural health and self development books, her bestselling books include such titles as "The Genesis Code", "UnBound: Kicking Anxiety From Your Bucket List", "The Energy of Divorce", "The Real Heal", "Clean Your Plate", and "Beyond the Plate". When she's not serving at her Minnesota-based practice, she spends her time homeschooling her children along with her husband, growing food, and making garden medicines.
For appts: http://wellclinicnaturalhealth.janeapp.com/
** For educational purposes only, not as a substitute for diagnosis, treatment, or cure or proper medical attention. read our full common sense Disclaimer here.