Posts tagged nutrition
In the Garden: Ginger

Expand your child’s taste buds, fight off viruses, inflammation, and unhappy tummies!

Kekoa Foods co-founder David shares his passion for all things horticultural, healing and healthy. Here he discusses some ginger he's been growing in his backyard in the northeastern US. Ginger features prominently in our product, Apples with Ginger. Read about the healing benefits of Ginger on our website at https://www.kekoafoods.com/herbs-spices/ginger-root Help us change the ways babies eat!

From Picky to Adventurous: 5 Steps for Boosting Early Childhood Nutrition
 
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Nutrition is one of the most important factors in a child’s health. About one in five children are obese in the United States, and one of the biggest culprits is empty calories and processed foods.

A lot of parents don’t know what to do. How do they get a picky eater to approach green beans? What kinds of foods should their kids be eating in the first place? How much is too much food, or too little?

The importance of early childhood nutrition

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It has been said that the health of a nation depends, in part, on early childhood nutrition. Children who don’t get the right nutrients can have permanently damaged health and futures, including predispositions to illness and disease, decreased brain function, and a lower earning potential, just to name a few.

For the first time in generations, the American life expectancy is decreasing. Many doctors and scientists are looking towards preventable causes – like nutrition and physical health – as an explanation, and a solution.

The best way to support a child’s physical and mental growth is to feed them healthy, balanced diets that include protein, vitamins, iron, healthy fats, and balanced carbohydrates. Each developing area of the brain needs different fuel to grow and create connectivity and complexity. That’s why variety is imperative!

What does a healthy diet look like?

A healthy diet for children can be summarized relatively simply:

1.    Whole foods, and

2.    Wide variety.

When we think of “kids’” foods, we imagine bland, basic things – cereal, macaroni and cheese, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, chicken nuggets, and a few pieces of broccoli. We often limit a child’s ability to develop an expansive palate because we don’t think it’s possible. But that simply isn’t true!

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In Vietnam, a common breakfast for kids is Pho – a noodle soup with rich broth, vegetables, and possibly an egg on top. In Tokyo, and child might eat soybeans, miso soup, grilled salmon, and pickled cucumbers for breakfast. Children in India dig into curries full of aromatic spices and herbs.

The possibilities are only limited by what you feed them!

We create picky eaters

Food preferences are almost always learned behaviors. We learn what to eat based on what’s modeled for us and what’s normalized in our households.

It’s common for children to dislike a new food. Evolutionarily, humans had to be cautious of new things until they knew something was safe to consume. Just because a child rejects something upon first try doesn’t mean they’re only going to enjoy a diet of white bread.

Varied palates are trained, and it starts young. Through repeated exposure and a normalized culture in home, you can boost your child’s nutrition while also preparing them to be adventurous eaters for the rest of their lives. Not to mention giving them their best chance at health and happiness in the process!

5 tips for boosting nutrition

1. Get your child involved

Take your child shopping and let them select the fruits and vegetables. Have them help you wash the vegetables. Share what you’re doing as you cook, and “deconstruct” the meal together. What goes in it? How do you know how much to add?

Children are naturally curious, and they love routine. If you invite them into the routine of cooking and invite them into the process, they’ll be more likely to engage with new, healthy foods rather than reject them on sight.

2. Don’t insult your food

Part of increasing the variety of foods your child eats involves changing the culture in your home. This includes a changed mentality. If your child doesn’t like a food and they insult it, it perpetuates the mindset that some foods are “yummy” and others are “gross.”

Instead, encourage your child to take small bites of something new. Celebrate their willingness to “taste test.” Don’t call them “picky” but “adventurous,” and find different ways they can describe a food they don’t like instead of calling it “gross.”

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3. Don’t offer dessert as a reward

Besides the fact that sugar inherently tastes good to our palates, if we learn emotional associates with “treats” and “rewards,” we’re more likely to want them and less likely to desire nutritious foods. Don’t make dessert a reward for eating vegetables. It’s harder for your child to have a positive relationship with vegetables, because they merely become a means to an end.

Similarly, it’s tempting to express affection through treats. This also creates an associate between our love and sugar. Instead, use praise, attention, or special experiences to express your abundant love. Leave food out of it – we have enough obstacles to overcome as it is!

4. Find creative ways to incorporate vegetables

Even most adults don’t want to eat plain pieces of broccoli, and there are so many more interesting ways to consume vegetables. Add them to sauces, creamy curries, soups, with grains, and more. Shredding them is a great way to add vegetables to meatloaf or other baked items.

Enhance the flavor of your vegetables by adding spices or herbs, or incorporating them into meals rather than consuming them alone. The more interesting the vegetable, the more likely they’ll appeal to your little one.

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5. Start them young!

The sooner your child’s palate can explore a wide range of flavors, the better! Pregnancy is also a great place to start – when your child is born, they’re more familiar with foods their mother consumed.

Remember, a great way to boost your child’s nutrition is to feed them healthy, varied foods. And the best way to get them to eat it is to raise adventurous, bold eaters!

From our home to yours,
David and Danny, fathers and founders, Kekoa Foods

 
 
Your Child’s Brain Health and the First 1,000 Days
 

Can you relate to the dreaded battle at mealtime?: Child vs. Adult.

In this corner, weighing in at 30 pounds, hailing from the womb, Child! (crowd goes wild)

In that corner, weighing in at undisclosed, hailing from The Wrong Side of the Bed, Adult! (crowd murmurs and smiles placatingly)

OK, maybe it’s not a full on boxing match.

But broccoli is flying instead of fists.

As much as you might want to give in and avoid the impending tantrum or mess (that you will have to clean), it’s critical you persist in encouraging your child to eat healthy foods.

Science shows that their life going forward depends on it.

Nutrition and the first 1,000 days

The first 1,000 days of your child’s life – from conception to about two years old – has a profound impact on their growth, development, health, and their ability to learn and thrive into adulthood.

It sounds like a stretch, but there’s a lot of research backing up this critical period in your child’s development, and nutrition is the single greatest influence.

When a child receives good nutrition, they have a stronger immune system and are less likely to contract diseases, perform better in school, have stronger emotional health, optimize their capacity to learn, and even have a higher earning potential.

Who wouldn’t want that for their little one?

What is “good nutrition”?

The reason nutrition is so impactful is because of food’s influence on brain development. During the first 1,000 days, the brain is creating new cells, establishing connections, and rapidly increasing in complexity.

Each brain region requires a different nutritional cocktail, and those needs change over time, but some of the basics remain the same: protein, fatty acids, iron, zinc, and vitamins A and B.

To achieve these nutritional building blocks, children need varied diets of whole foods, including those sometimes-dreaded vegetables.

The challenges of malnutrition

“Malnutrition” is often thought of as a lack of food, but it can also mean an unbalanced diet. “Under-nutrition” and “over-nutrition” are two common problems that face children in households without properly balanced meals, and both lead to reduced brain development.

When a child consumes cheap, more filling foods on a regular basis, the damage can be irreversible, including a predisposition to infection, disease, and obesity.

The statistics are real. In a study of children under three, children in food-insecure households (families without consistent access to healthy foods) were 90% more likely to have fair or poor health as compared to good or great, 31% more likely to spend time in the hospital, and 76% more likely to have problems with language, cognitive, and behavioral development.

It doesn’t have to be daunting

As a new parent, it can seem overwhelming to add “nutrition” to an already-full list of things to do. But healthy eating doesn’t have to be daunting. In fact, it can be enjoyable.

Consider your food exploration a new adventure within your family. From easy recipes to new baby foods on the market that emphasize a balanced diet for your little one, see what you can uncover. Challenge your little one to try new foods and spices they may never have sampled.

And, if you have the opportunity, get them started young! As a family, you can rewrite the story of your nutrition, making health a given in your household.

In the process, you will be ensuring your child has the best opportunity at the future you hope they’ll have. And it all starts with those vegetables going from their plates to their mouths.

For tips on early childhood nutrition, see our article: From Pick to Adventurous: 5 Steps for Boosting Early Childhood Nutrition

From our home to yours,
David and Danny, fathers and founders, Kekoa Foods