Every good parent desires the absolute best for their children and that should include giving them the best head start in creating healthy nutritional habits. However, according to a Gallup poll, less than half of Americans incorporate organic food into their diet. There are many benefits in switching your child’s diet to an organic one and if the thought of cleaning out your pantry all at once seems overwhelming, there are some easy switches you can make the next time you go to the grocery that won’t be so hard on your pocketbook. First, let’s take a look at just a few of the incredible benefits organic food can have for your kids.
1. Less exposure to pesticides
It is well known that conventional foods are often made with pesticides that can really harm your growing child. Children have immune systems that are still developing and the American Academy of Pediatrics have issued warnings about the health implications for children who are fed food grown with pesticides. Organic foods are the smart choice for children because they have much lower amounts of pesticides than conventional foods. Due to the environment, no food is completely free of toxins, but it is important to limit what children are exposed to. One of the best ways to do that is choose what they eat wisely.
2. Lowers the risk of many diseases
Making sure your children get a diet full of organic fruits and vegetables will lower their risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and even help to protect against certain cancers. If your child doesn’t particularly enjoy the taste of vegetables or is a picky eater, try blending some fruit with spinach, kale or carrots along with some organic milk for a refreshing smoothie. Sometimes getting kids to eat their vegetables just takes a little creativity but the reward is well worth the extra effort!
3. Helps to improve behavior
While nothing specific can be pointed to as the cause of ADHD, there are studies that show removing food additives from a child’s diet can help improve some of the behaviors and symptoms associated with ADHD. Food additives can be found in everything from cereal and chips to processed snacks and juice. Next time you are in the grocery store, take a look at the nutrition labels. Stay away from ingredients such as Red-40, Blue No. 1, Blue No. 2 and Sodium Benzoate. These ingredients serve no nutritional purpose and are only added to foods to give it a certain color or to act as a preservative.
So perhaps after reading just a couple of the reasons above, you want to switch over to natural and organic foods but aren’t sure where to begin?
If you are looking for a way to ease into an organic diet for your family, following the Environmental Working Group’s annual “Dirty Dozen” list is a great way to know which foods to switch first. Each year it publishes a list of the fruits and vegetables that have the highest amount of pesticide residual. Just by switching out your regular grapes and strawberries for organic ones, you are already moving in the right direction.
After checking out the “Dirty Dozen”, then trying switching to organic milk and dairy products, which will eliminate artificial hormones and antibiotics from your family’s diet. Another easy switch is swapping out your conventional condiments for organic condiments. Many children love ketchup and it is often a staple in households with young kids but conventional ketchup is actually loaded with processed tomatoes. One of the most expensive swaps is switching meats, but this change will also help to eliminate more harmful antibiotics and artificial hormones. Help your budget by checking stores for sales and stocking up on meat when prices are right.
Don’t feel like you have to swap out your entire pantry overnight! Begin by gradually making small changes. By doing this and teaching them while they are young to choose the best foods, you will be setting your children up for a lifetime of the best nutritional habits!
Frost, Shelley. “How to Start Eating Organic Food.” Livestrong. 15 December 2015. Accessed 20 July 2017.
Gardner, Amanda. “9 Food Additives that May Affect ADHD”. Health. Accessed 20 July 2017.
Green, Alan and Anna Lappe. “Why Organic is the Right Choice for Parents”. Time. 23 June 2014. Accessed 20 July 2017.
Naprawa, Amanda. “Do Children Need Organic Food?” Berkeley Wellness. 06 September 2016. Accessed 20 July 2017.
Rifkin, Rebecca. “Forty-five Percent of Americans Seek Out Organic Food.” Gallup. 7 August 2014. Accessed 20 July 2017.
“Why is it Important to Eat Fruit?” United States Department of Agriculture. Accessed 20 July 2017.