The season of gift giving is upon us and no one enjoys being on the receiving end of presents more than children. It’s a magical time for any child who is expecting gift-wrapped surprises beneath the Christmas tree.
Whether or not this holiday season involves giving presents to children of your own or those of your extended family or friends, there is one gift for children that is not seasonal: plant-based nutrition. Kids who get an early start at developing a taste for mostly plant-based foods are given the gift of a healthy nutritional habit that can last a lifetime.
Contrast that with children who are introduced to ultra-processed foods lacking in essential nutrients while delivering excessive fat, salt and sugar. Burgers, hotdogs, French fries, frozen pizza, packaged macaroni and cheese, pre-packaged soups, donuts, potato chips and the list goes endlessly on and on. The point is that this unhealthy, non-food is addictive, especially to kids who do not know any better.
Adults do know better. Evidence of the unhealthiness of ultra-processed foods is a given. It’s not like it was in the past, when fast-food chains began to appear and were aggressively marketed. Back then, these so-called “foods” weren’t questioned by many people.
Reasonably priced buckets of deep-fried chicken and 19-cent burgers were appealingly convenient ways to take a break from making home-cooked meals. Over the years, these non-foods would achieve global success in sales and as a factor in increasing the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other health conditions.
Unfortunately, a sizeable population of children worldwide have been affected by this marketed dietary disaster, which brings this blog back to the focus on the gift of health provided by whole food, mostly from plant-based sources. Fast-food kids or primarily plant-based kids? The choice for children should be clear.
Knowing where to start if you are just beginning to focus on this lifestyle choice for the children in your life can be daunting, especially in regard to ensuring that no important nutrients are lacking when going plant-based the vegan way. Fortunately, there is a lot of online research and great information in books, magazines, newspapers, both online and in print.
As one of the many useful online resources, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit organization that is “dedicated to saving and improving human and animal lives through plant-based diets and ethical and effective scientific research.” It provide resourceful guidelines about plant-based diets for young people of all ages: infants, children, and teens.
A simple start that many parents can easily embrace is to have freshly cut, raw vegetables on hand in the refrigerator for nutritious snacks. Using high-quality olive oil as a dip adds healthy fat to vegetables that can include broccoli, carrots, cucumber, celery, bell pepper and snow peas. Some are an acquired taste when eaten raw, so grilling or roasting them may make them more palatable for kids. The purpose is to instill a taste for nutritious snacks.
As an adjunct to introducing youngsters to a primarily plant-based food intake, AIM offers kids supplemental nutrition in the form of tasty food powders such as BarleyLife Xtra Apple-Cherry and BarleyLife Xtra Pineapple (new limited-time flavor).
The Garden Trio allows young people to dip into vegetable richness year-round. Then there’s the chocolaty temptation of CoCoa LeafGreens, a nutrient-dense-powder combination of five leafy greens, three sources of cocoa and broccoli sprouts.
To include plant-based protein in a child’s diet, make tasty shakes with the addition of ProPeas pea protein. You can also squeeze the contents of a capsule of AIMega into the mix to add plant-sourced omega-3 and 6 essential fatty acids from organic seed oils.
Having the AIM SportShaker Cup on hand for mixing nutritious AIM drinks can be an interactive learning experience for young children in equating the fun of shaking things up for tasty rewards—a plant-based aim.