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Category: Children’s Health
Today, one in eleven children struggle with asthma, and one in four are affected by allergies. The incidence of allergy has increased significantly over the past two decades, and allergy to peanuts has more than quadrupled from 1997 to 2010. Approximately 30 million children – more than 1/3 of our kids – are affected by one of these four new childhood epidemics. This is not something we can just accept.
I’ve had a lot of fun starting solid foods with my little one this year. She’s responded very well to healthy whole foods like sweet potato, acorn squash, broccoli, avocado, eggs, salmon and coconut oil. But I’ve noticed that when she goes on playdates with the other kids, she’s exposed to a lot of finger food like Cheerios, Goldfish and Puffs
It’s so easy to break open a bag of goldfish, pretzels or fruit snacks for your kids. The companies producing these products make it simple with individual servings, fun character themes and cute little shapes. But, guess what? These cute little snacks are full of chemicals and are made in laboratories. The list of ingredients is long and confusing, full of strange chemicals and carcinogens. With the onset of childhood obesity and developmental issues, it makes me wonder how these foods are affecting our children.
We all want the best for our children – for their health, happiness and future. One of the best ways to support their growth and their future is through instilling good eating habits and providing them with a nutritious diet. None of this is easy with our busy schedules and our culture of processed food, unhealthy school lunches, and restaurant “kid menus” full of trans-fats and sugar.
After 25 years practicing pediatrics, and caring for thousands of children, I’ve noticed some patterns that offer me a deeper vision of health. I’d like to share some of those invaluable lessons with parents.
I grew up in a home without Tylenol, Motrin, or even aspirin in the medicine cabinet. My mother, a holistic health coach, never gave her kids fever-reducing medications when we were sick, and instead relied upon treatments that ranged from spoon-feeding us daikon-radish tea to placing warm onions over our ears.
Mom maintained that fevers serve an important function in the body’s immune response–and thus they should not be suppressed. At the time, conventional medical wisdom held that there was no downside to administering Advil or Tylenol as soon as the thermometer’s reading went about 98.6 degrees, so our pediatrician probably thought my mother was a crazy sadist.
Letting your baby taste some food for the first time is such a special moment. To see the reaction on their cute little faces as they try to figure out what just happened is pure entertainment! I remember watching my own boy grabbing his pear and sweet potato sticks and chewing away on it with his bare gums.
So then comes the question too – what should I feed my baby?
In this context it’s important to mention that the WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding until 5-6 months and supplemental breastfeeding (nursing as well as other foods) until 23 months.
A report released by the National Cancer Institute showed a 9.4% increase in childhood cancer between 1992 and 2007. And today, cancer is now the leading cause of death by disease in kids under the age of fifteen.
Correlation is not causation, but the escalating rates of conditions like cancer, diabetes and food allergies have a lot of parents paying attention to what is in their food. Some cancer doctors even call it the “doorknob syndrome.” A patient is diagnosed with cancer, spends hours in the office being walked through procedure options, then as they turn to go, with a hand on the doorknob, turn back into the office and ask, “Is there anything I could be doing differently with my diet?”
It’s Food Allergy Awareness Week this week. In the early years of this work, when we first began speaking about food allergies, people used to look at you like you were making it up. How could a child be allergic to food? And since when? As kids, we ate PB&Js and had cartons of milk for lunch at school. They weren’t loaded weapons on a lunchroom table. What’s changed? And why has it changed so fast?