This is a 3-topic series focused on nutrition for toddlers, in particular dealing with picky eaters or children who cannot eat certain foods. I’m glad to know a friend, Natalia Stasenko, a registered dietitian, whose passion is pediatric nutrition and shares nutrition tips on her website, online classes and of course, with all of us here in this series!
More on Natalia, RD – Natalia has a Master of Science in Nutrition Education from Columbia University. She founded her private practice Tribeca Nutrition and online nutrition class for parents of babies and young children at Feeding Bytes.
For further information on her latest online course on feeding toddlers, do check out this link.
My Child Can’t Eat That!
This final topic of the Toddler Nutrition series is an extension from last week, focusing on what a child cannot eat simply because they shouldn’t! If you missed the first two parts on How Much to Eat and What to Eat, do click on the links and catch up!
MarcieMom: Thanks Natalia, let’s zoom right in to What are the top 5 foods that you think under no circumstance a child should be given, or as infrequent as once a month?
Natalia: It is hard to ban certain foods from a child’s diet, especially as they become more independent in obtaining their food when they grow up. To avoid vilifying certain foods, that may only increase their appeal in children’s eyes, I prefer to focus on staying away from certain ingredients and buy or make a better version of children’s favorites most
of the time. My top 5 food additives to avoid are artificial dyes, artificial sweeteners, sodium nitrate, certain preservatives (BHA and BHT) and trans fats. The good news is that by preparing most of the food at home and reading food labels a family can easily cut on their consumption of these foods.
I also believe in watching sugar in kids’ diets because too many sugary foods not only leave less space in small tummies for more nutritious foods but also create real health risks in the future. American Heart Association recommends only 4-5 teaspoons of added sugar per day for children, while most children get 3-4 times the amount. To calculate the amount of sugar in a serving of food, divide the number of grams of sugar on the label into 4, it will give you the number of teaspoons of sugar the food contains.
MarcieMom: I’m giving my child supplements – she eats a balanced meal but I think 1. Probiotics, 2. Omega-3 and 3.Multi-vitamins (in doses below 100% of daily requirement) could strengthen her immune system. Is that the right thinking/approach or should I throw these out of the window?
Natalia:When it comes to supplements, it helps to remember that it is a very loosely regulated market. FDA controls (somewhat) their safety, not efficacy. In our class we talk about consumer organizations that test and review supplements and I use their input in my work and personal life all the time. I see a lot of multivitamins of supermarket shelves that are mostly sugar and food coloring, missing the nutrients children are most likely to fall short on. So I think it is important to work with a dietitian to choose the supplements your child may truly need.
For example, many toddlers do not get enough iron in their diets and at the same time it is missing from most multivitamins. The good news is that there are specific additive and allergen-free comprehensive multivitamin formulas I recommend to parents of picky toddlers but they are not typically sitting on the eye level in supermarket shelves and some may only be purchased online.
Back to your question: providing your child with multivitamins, probiotics and DHA may be a good strategy to help close the potential nutrient gaps if your child does not eat many fruit and vegetables, eats no fermented foods and oily fish. But we know that nutrients are best absorbed when they come in the whole package, in foods. So I would still focus on exposing children to the nutritious foods that they are still learning to like, which I feel
you are already doing wonderfully!
Thank you so much Natalia for being with us and sharing so much tips for the past 3 weeks. I’m most happy to see that parents who sign up for your online course for toddlers will really get their money worth with your practical approach to improving nutrition!