Wholesome Child : Wholesome Child full
231 230 step 7: rethink dairy ilk, yoghurt, cheese and ice- cream are all firm favourites for many children, especially the fussy eaters. Milk products have long been touted as an essential part of a child’s daily diet because they’re considered an excellent source of calcium and contain potassium, vitamin D, magnesium and protein. Dairy is not something I see most parents struggling to get their kids to eat, although of course there are exceptions. Even so, speaking about dairy in my workshops always raises lots of questions: How much dairy should my child be eating or drinking? Is low fat or full fat/whole milk best? Why is it best to choose organic milk? These days our supermarket shelves are laden with so many options, it can be tricky for parents to pick out the best quality dairy products for their children. But more and more we are learning that the closer food is to its pure, natural form the better, and dairy products are no exception. Why so much focus on dairy? It’s no wonder that calcium-rich milk has been seen as a hero for growing children. Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body, vital for the development of healthy bones and teeth in childhood. It is essential for building a healthy skeleton by the time we reach young adulthood. Along with strong bones, calcium helps muscles and nerves to work properly as well as aiding hormone and enzyme release. Rickets, a disease caused by calcium and/or vitamin D deficiency – thankfully now rare in Western societies – causes softening and even deformity of bones in babies and younger kids, as well as muscle pain and weakness. It’s easy to confuse the importance of calcium with the need for dairy in our diet. The reality is that it’s not dairy per se that is so important but rather calcium which is crucial to the health of our children. The reason we focus on dairy is that although there are many non-dairy food sources of calcium, gram for gram dairy products rank high. However, it’s growing increasingly common to see children on dairy-free diets due to food sensitivities, allergies, cultural or dietary preferences. A child following a dairy-free diet should always be supervised by a qualified health practitioner, as calcium supplementation may become necessary. Calcium-rich foods are important for: ✓ Bone health ✓ Building strong teeth ✓ Aiding in proper muscle contraction ✓ Secreting and regulating hormones ✓ Transmitting messages through the nerves (transmitting nerve impulses) ✓ Proper clotting of the blood How much dairy (or calcium) does my child require? Under 3: 11⁄2 serves per day (700mg calcium) Ages 3-8: 11⁄2-2 serves per day (1000mg calcium) Best non-dairy sources of calcium: 90g of sardines with bones = 360mg 80g salmon canned with bones = 280mg 1⁄4 cup almonds = 95mg 1 tbs of tahini = 50mg 100g tofu, raw = 135mg 1⁄2 cup of broccoli = 30mg So what’s the problem with dairy? The main issue I see in my practice with regard to dairy, is that it takes up too much space in a child’s diet. I often see young children who have five serves or more of dairy per day. A typical diet might look like this: milk and cereal for breakfast, a yoghurt for a mid-morning snack, a cheese sandwich or cheese sticks in the lunch box, a flavoured milk or ice-cream after school, pasta with cheese for dinner plus a glass of milk before bed. So often I see children who are eating too much dairy suffering from anaemia. Too much 231 Berry & Pineapple and Mango Popsicles (see recipes on page 217) Did you know? 99% of the body’s calcium is stored in the bones and teeth.