Wholesome Child : Wholesome Child full
139 138 Can kids eat eggs every day? Along with amino acids, eggs provide vitamin A (important for healthy eyes, bones and teeth), vitamin D (also supports healthy bones and teeth), choline (important for brain function and heart health) and selenium (important for thyroid function). While it’s true that egg yolks contain cholesterol, studies have found that they have little significant impact on cholesterol levels. And since eggs also contain nutrients that may help lower the risk for heart disease, including protein, vitamins B12 and D, riboflavin and folate, it is safe to let your child eat an egg every day as long as they show no sensitivity to eggs (eggs are one of the top five allergens). Eggs are an easy dinner or breakfast option, but if they are becoming an everyday fallback meal, aim for 2-4 times weekly to ensure variation in your child's diet. My rule of thumb for my own kids is to serve an omelette, scrambled, fried eggs or frittata 2-3 times each week, not counting the eggs they may be consuming in other foods like pancakes, muffins or biscuits. Chicken and eggs: organic vs free-range When I speak to parents, there is always great confusion as to the healthiest chicken and eggs to buy for their families. Many families have moved away from caged eggs due to the public awareness about the cruelty in which the chickens are raised. However, they still are unclear as to why one should pay extra for organic. Organic chicken is much more expensive than free-range chicken (sometimes nearly double the price), and organic eggs often cost more too. So is it worth spending the extra money? Without a doubt, YES. Even though organic and free-range birds are both given fresh air, sunshine and space to grow (although for some free-range chickens this can amount to a maximum of two hours outside per day) this is where the similarities end (see table below). Consider this... Many chicken brands say they are free from unnatural additives or processes, however in Australia unless they are certified by Australian Certified Organic (ACO) or Free Range Egg and Poultry Australia (FREPA) this cannot be guaranteed. Don’t be fooled by labels that say ‘farm raised’, ‘all natural’ or ‘no added hormones or antibiotics’. Look for the certifying body in your region to ensure best quality. FishFishisanessentialpartofahealthyandbalanced diet. Aside from providing protein, it is the best source of omega-3s in the diet – real brain food and essential for heart health and eyesight too. (See Step 6 for more benefits of omega-3s). Fish is also rich in important vitamins and minerals such as vitamin D, iodine and selenium. It has less overall fat than other animal proteins and is low in cholesterol. I recommend wasting no time in offering a wide variety of wild-caught, low-mercury fish to babies as soon as they are eating solids. However, in my practice I often see parents introducing canned tuna fish as the first fish. In my Introducing Solids workshop, I highlight the fact that although canned tuna is a good source of protein, it does not contain the high amount of omega-3s that you’ll find in canned salmon or sardines, and there is also the concern of mercury. Try to offer fresh or fatty fish over canned tuna, but if buying tuna, canned skipjack is the best option as it's lowest in mercury. (There is more information on introducing solids and fish recipes for babies at www.wholesomechild. com.au). There are so many wonderful ways to serve fish to children – grilled, steamed, homemade into fish fingers, rissoles, fish patties or fish cakes, mixed with pasta sauce or in a curry. Consider this... I once created a menu planner for a daycare who were serving the children three serves of fish weekly – a selling point for parents until it turned out they were using basa (catfish), which is not recommended for consumption more than once a week due to its mercury content. The chef included it because it was so affordable. He was not aware of the mercury content – a good reminder to always ask what fish is being used. Fish: wild vs farmed The potential dangers of eating farmed fish are often raised by parents. So is wild-caught better than farmed? Yes, it is. The problem with farmed fish is in the way they are reared – not sustainable and also the feed often contains chicken feathers, GM ingredients, meat offcuts and in the case of salmon, astaxanthin, a synthetic colouring agent. Farmed fish may also contain higher amounts of contaminants like polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) due to their feed. Because of overcrowding and inhumane practices there is often a need for antibiotics use in farmed fish. Chemicals like copper may be added to the nets to prevent fish escaping. Pesticides are also used to treat sea lice. However, wild fish have their drawbacks too as the mercury, PCB and dioxin levels remain unknown. So which fish are best for young children? Wherever possible purchase wild or organic-farmed fish, such as salmon, if available (these have been farmed in a sustainable manner and the feed is free from GMOs, chicken feathers and meat offcuts). Researchers have found that both farmed and wild salmon are high in omega- 3s compared to shrimp, tuna and other fish, and they are generally very low in mercury. 139 step 4: boost protein Free range is certainly more humane than caged, but it is often questionable as to how much time chickens spend outdoors during daylight hours. The latest Australian guidelines state that farmers can label their eggs ‘free range’ as long as they run no more than 10,000 hens per hectare. However, the CSIRO guidelines recommend for the free-range label to be allocated to farmers who run no more than 1500 hens per hectare. Download Choice.com.au’s free CluckAR app to find out whether the brand of eggs you’re about to purchase is truly free range. Chicken meal in non-organic chickens can vary from vegetarian to containing fishmeal, and many contain GM material from corn. All chickens, unless certified organic, can be treated with antibiotics if they are unwell or, in some cases, if they are underweight. Free-range chickens can be treated with therapeutic antibiotics under veterinary direction and sold with the use of coccidiostats (a chemical agent added to animal feed). Chickens are intensively raised to be ready for consumption in as little as 32 days. Organic chickens and their eggs contain higher omega-3 essential fatty acid levels, minerals and vitamins such as beta-carotene because of greater access to forage for their natural diet and the organic feed they are supplemented with is more nutritionally balanced. Organic chicken is more expensive because it costs more to ensure there’s no exposure to ‘quick-fix’ chemicals and to ensure higher Animal Welfare standards. Organic birds are raised without the use of antibiotics, hormones or coccidiostats in their feed. Their food is also guaranteed free of chemicals, herbicides and fertilisers. Organic chickens are slower to reach maturity with a recommended age of 60 days, which also adds to the heftier price tag. FREE RANGE ORGANIC CHICKEN: FREE RANGE VS ORGANIC guidelines for buying fish FIVE TOP FISH FOR CHILDREN 1. Wild-caught or organic salmon 2. Sardines 3. Flathead 4. Wild caught snapper 5. Wild caught barramundi FIVE FISH TO AVOID 1. Flake 2. Basa 3. Bluefin tuna 4. Swordfish 5. Orange roughy (perch) * For an extended list of fish, go to www.wholesomechild.com.au HOW MUCH FISH SHOULD MY CHILD EAT PER WEEK? • For children 1-6: 2-3 serves (75g or the size of your child's palm and fingers) • For children over 6: 2-3 serves (100g per serve or the size of your child's palm and fingers) Note: I do not advise high-mercury fish in any amount for children.