They seriously have got it all wrong in the mainstream system when it comes to proper nutrition for children.
Like, I knew that the food system is messed up and they promote feeding children low-fat dairy products and such but I never really saw first hand what type of foods are actually being served or being encouraged to serve in day cares.
It doesn’t take much to shock me when hearing or reading things about conventional dietary wisdom but the other day, I was shocked.
I was offered a job where I substitute a friend’s daycare program when she goes on a vacation. In order to be able to care of the children in her home daycare, I have to take online courses and become certified. As I was looking through the classes that I needed to take, I decided to go with the hardest and longest course first, which ironically was the “Health, Safety and Nutrition Course.”
“Oh boy,” I thought to myself. “This should be interesting.”
Let me tell you, it is certainly most interesting and I am actually really thankful I have the opportunity to see first hand what is being encouraged for our children to eat.
One word to describe my feelings about it? Horrified.
I started the module in the course with the goal being,
You will identify the need and understand guidelines related to proper nutrition for all children.
I took a deep breath, and began.
The first thing they began preaching about was the MyPlate Food Groups. Basically MyPlate is like a revised food pyramid. They had it all wrong with the food pyramid and now they have it really wrong with the MyPlate. Below is the examples of what they believe should be in each food group.
What do you see wrong with this?
First off, I’m kind of anal when it comes to spelling errors and I really don’t like that they misspelled desserts. Like, how can I take you seriously when not only do you encourage the wrong foods for growing children but you can’t even spell on a course that I am supposed to get certified off of.
But never mind that. Let’s get back to the food…
I’ll label all the foods that I think are wrong with this. Do you agree with me?:
- breakfast cereals (completely devoid of any nutrients and highly processed)
- crackers (also devoid of nutrients and probably has tons of preservatives, additives, GMOs.. you know, the whole riga-ma-role)
- tomato juice (what kid wants to drink tomato juice????)
- fruit juice that qualifies as a fruit (which most likely is loaded with additional sugars and pasteurized so basically there are no benefits from drinking it)
- milk based deserts (I never knew there was such thing as a milk based desert? But desserts? I know of those. I don’t know if I would encourage desserts as part of a main food group for children, especially the kind that is most likely full of GMOs and other completely unnecessary ingredients).
- processed soy products (can anyone say GMO????)
Unfortunately, what I see really wrong, is there is no mention of fats in the diet. Our brains are made up of over 60% saturated fat. Can you imagine what would happen if we starved our growing children’s brains of the most critical nutrient they need??
I found this quote from Live Simply’s article, Is Your Child’s Brain Starving?:
Recently it has been discovered that the Omega-3 fats are necessary for the complete development of the human brain during pregnancy and the first two years of life. The Omega-3 fat and its derivative, DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), is so essential to a child’s development that if a mother and infant are deficient in it, the child’s nervous system and immune system may never fully develop, and it can cause a lifetime of unexplained emotional, learning, and immune system disorders. (source)
As you can see, fat is crucial. Good fat is what I credit for Andrew’s amazing memory and speaking skills. If you take one thing away from this article is make sure you don’t. skimp. on. the. fat. period.
The second part of the module was learning to prepare and meal plan for children
Here is what a sample menu meal plan looked like:
Did you almost keel over with shock too!?
Most of these foods are highly processed, full of GMOs, preservatives, additives and fake fats. Children need quality ingredients that are nutrient-dense. Nutrient-dense basically means the foods contain high amounts of natural nutrients– no synthetic or fortified vitamins and minerals. And since when was corn a vegetable (it’s a grain, folks)??
Children need wholesome, full fat ingredients to nourish their growing brains and these foods actually taste good so children are most apt to eat them. After looking at the sample meal plan I realized it’s no wonder kids are so dang picky! The actual “food” has no taste and the snacks they are given are full of fake sugars, fats and alter their tastes buds.
Fortunately it is really easy to substitute this meal plan with real food ingredients.You can use the substitutions in the graphic below to help guide you in your day-to-day with your children if they are not in school or if you can have some sort of influence on how the meal plans are created.
Check out this graphic to see how you can switch over the highly processed junk foods to foods that actually contain the vital nutrients for children to thrive.
Please keep in mind, as always, foods that are of quality like organic and pasture-raised are the best options. I understand not everyone can afford these options.
This is why I think the most important thing to remember when looking at these meal plans and assessing how you can change them is substituting them with REAL food ingredients that are in their most natural, whole form.
Below I’ve included my favorite resources to help you when it comes to proper nutrition that your children will thrive on. From recipes and articles, to ebooks to hard copy books, I am sure you will find something that you will benefit from.
Resources for Feeding Children Nutrient-Dense, Wholesome Foods
- Improving Snacks at Daycare
- Is Your Child’s Diet Nutrient Dense? 5 Important Nutrients Children Need
- School Lunches: Meal Planning
- School Lunches: Healthy Recipes to Switch it Up
- Simple Back to Meal School Plans
- Soaked Oats, Nuts & Pumpkin Bars
- Sour Gummy Stars
- Soaked Granola
- 60+ Nutrient-dense Recipes Every Kid Will Love
- Zucchini Muffins
- Blueberry Almond Crumb Muffins (grain-free)
- Homemade No-Bake Granola Bars
- Soaked Quinoa Muffins
- How to Make Water Kefir
- Sprouted Flour Cheesy Crackers
- Homemade Pomegranate Soda
- Probiotic-Infused Lemon Jello
- Homemade Fruit & Veggie Gummy Snacks
- Easy, Toddler Friendly Recipes
- Need to Kick the Soda Habit? Try Kombucha!
- Spiced Banana Chips
- Real Food Snacks
- Cheesy Quinoa Crackers
- Sweet Potato Chips