Every day I meet children in my clinic and a big part of what I do is finding out about their diet, and their food preferences and aversions. Not only can this help me to identify the best homeopathic remedy for the child, but also to identify possibly triggers for their health complaint.
I find that I am repeating the same information several times each week, so I thought it might be useful to write an article which I hope parents will find of value.
So here is my list of the top foods you shouldn’t give your child (or eat yourself). There may be some surprises.
I know that those television adverts are telling you to swap your child’s fizzy drink for a sugar-free versions, but I cannot emphasise enough, that sugar-free products are BAD NEWS. Sugar substitutes are man-made chemicals which bear no resemblance to real food. Your body doesn’t know how to process them and there has been considerable research showing that regular consumption of sugar-free products INCREASES weight over time. I have treated a vast number of people whose mysterious aches and pains disappeared when they binned the Diet drinks. By the way, most chewing gum contains artificial sweeteners too.
2. Anything marketed as low fat
We NEED fat. The low fat diet fad has stuck firmly in our subconscious minds, with fat considered to be BAD, but it really isn’t. Your brain needs fat to function (as the joke goes, the only people who suit a low-fat diet are models and politicans as they don’t need to use their brains anyway). Children need (healthy) fat to grow. And inevitably, low fat foods will be packed full of sugar.
3. Anything containing High Fructose Corn Syrup
Less of a problem here than in the US, but on the increase, there are significant links with childhood obesity and diabetes. Look out for Glucose-Fructose Syrup, or Fructose-Glucose Syrup or Isoglucose on the label and steer clear. A bit like artificial sweeteners, it is a long way from sugar.
4. Food containing trans-fats
Another manufactured additive, it will usually be labelled as partially-hydrogenated oils or fats. There is a significant link with heart disease. The foods you are most likely to find this in are most margarines and spreads (butter from organically reared, grass-fed cows is a much healthier option), mass produced cakes, pastries and savoury snacks.
5. Most forms of soya
This may come as a surprise, soya having been brilliantly marketed as a health food for years. But soya has a dampening effect on the endocrine system, and can affect thyroid function. It is often derived from genetically modified crops too and soya plantations are responsible for deforestation of vast tracts of the Amazon. It is in LOADS of foods, including everyday milk chocolate, most ready meals, vegetarian ‘meat’ alternatives, snacks and even in bread. Avoid soya milk (oat, almond, hemp or coconut are far better alternatives, but check they are unsweetened) and yoghurt. There are a couple of forms of fermented soya such as miso and natto which have considerable health benefits.
6. Fizzy drinks
I truly believe we are setting our children up for an epidemic of osteoporosis due to their consumption of fizzy drinks. These leach calcium, phosphorus and magnesium from the bones and regular consumption is BAD NEWS! I’m a big fan of water, perhaps flavoured with a bit of real, natural fruit juice if your child really won’t drink water.
7. Too much milk and other cow dairy
Perhaps another surprise, but considering that humans are the only species that drinks the milk of another animal, perhaps not. Intolerance to cow’s milk is the most common that I see, which isn’t surprising when you consider the conditions in which most dairy cattle are kept and the food that they are fed (a long way from natural grass as nature intended). If your child has enlarged tonsils or a history of ear problems, eczema, or frequent stomach aches, trying eliminating cow milk from their diet for a month and see what happens. Most people tolerate goat’s milk more easily or try almond, oat, hemp or coconut substitutes.
And don’t worry about the lack of calcium; green leafy vegetables, eggs, hummous, tinned sardines and other fish contain a much more easily absorbed form of calcium than milk.
I would happily destroy the breakfast cereal aisle of every supermarket in the the land. I think it is criminal that children are encouraged to begin their day with a bowl of highly sugary cereal and then expected to concentrate at school and behave well. Sugar wrecks the blood sugar balance, puts immense pressure on the immune system and of course, makes us fat and prone to conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis etc etc. I’m feeling particularly evangelical as I enter week three of a total sugar detox (with two minor cheat days so far). The effects are immense; I have tonnes more energy, my sleep is 100% better; my achey joints no longer ache; my belly bloat has disappeared and my clothes are miles more comfortable. The other day five people told me how well I was looking!
The bad news is that fruit is sugar, so combine it with some protein (nut butter on a sliced apple for example, or a banana omelette, and try nut butter on toast or eggs as a healthy breakfast.
See how your child responds to elimination of these foods (and try it yourself). Chances are you will all feel a whole load healthier.