'Clean Eating' is a catchphrase that has gained popularity in the last few years. Clean eating is not a bad idea, however, especially when it comes to your children.
What Is Clean Eating?
Clean eating isn't a fad or a diet, but an eating style that emphasizes the nutritional quality of the food you eat. By eating food that isn't processed, non-GMO, free of pesticides, free of hormones, and food that is ideally grown organically and eaten with minimal processing and tampering, you are eating clean food. Babies should be always given the purest foods in the first years of life. Breast milk, followed by nutritious whole foods, is a great way for anyone to start out life.
Clean eating is the healthiest, most nutritious way for you to take control of the harmful things that are in modern, processed foods. There are lots of ways to keep your baby on a clean food diet without a lot of cost or time being involved.
Why Clean Eating
Processed foods are unfortunately everywhere in the modern world, taking up grocery store shelves and getting churned out of fast food restaurants everywhere. High-calorie, high fat, salty, sugary foods make up a disturbing part of the American diet, and our children are suffering when we feed them processed foods that bloat them with empty calories and do not provide the kind of nutrition that their growing bodies need to thrive. These kinds of foods are linked closely with diabetes, cancers of all sorts, heart disease, autoimmune disease, and obesity. These kinds of low-quality, low-cost foods are linked with poor farming practices, like excessive pesticide use, and genetically modified ingredients. These kinds of things take a toll on the environment, and potentially on our bodies in the long term.
Clean eating focuses on nutrient-dense foods that are healthy for you and for your children. Whole food vegetables and fruits, grass-fed beef and hormone-free dairy, and lots of nutritious and fiber-rich seeds, nuts, and legumes make up a clean diet that is enviable from a nutrition and taste standpoint. Your baby deserves a good start with clean foods, that build healthy bones, organs, and skin, and keep weight healthy as a strong immune system keeps them feeling good as they grow.
Once again, clean eating is not a strategy for weight loss (especially in children). Though some pro-ANA sites have latched onto this type of eating as a way to stay painfully thin, that isn't the heart of the idea: in fact, it is just the opposite. It is about being more concerned with the quality of your food while eating the right things to be healthy and maintain a healthy weight.
Where To Begin
How to get your baby a clean food diet? Start here:
- When grocery shopping, move along the perimeter of the store. The freshest vegetables, meats, dairy, and whole-grain products are mostly located on the perimeters. If you pay attention to the layout of modern supermarkets, the center aisles are stuffed with a lot of processed foods that are shelf-stable for long amounts of time. The middle aisles are where you find the cookies, potato chips, squeeze cheese, candy, and all sorts of stuff that isn't very good for you. Try to buy more perishables like vegetables, fruits, grass-fed dairy, and meats. If looking online for baby food that uses clean food ingredients, try Serenity Kids for snacks and baby food made from grass-fed meats and bone broth.
- Read the labels of your foods. Try to opt for organic foods, and try not to buy anything that has chemical names that you can't pronounce. Look for added sugars and salt. There is hidden sugars and salt in almost all processed foods. By cooking for your child, you keep these kinds of variables in control.
- Cook your baby's food. By cooking and pureeing your child's food, you have control of the content of their diets. It doesn't take that much time, and can easily be done ahead of time and frozen for later in the week. Keep snacks simple, with dried fruit and nuts.