Feeding Children

Some Topics

  • Correct Food Choices

    There are many complicated issues influencing proper food selection. The most reliable rule is that people should eat plant foods that have been in common use for centuries. Vegetables and fruits provide good nutrition and have additional benefits. Non-nutrient chemicals in plants can add unexpected benefits when included in the diet. These non-nutrient substances are now referred to as phytochemicals which means plant chemicals

    Many of the fruits and vegetables included in the Alpha Nutrition Program are all the award-winning, protective foods. However, there also are negative phytochemicals. Phytochemical-containing foods such as soya beans have mixed positive and negative properties. The benefits of some foods are opposed by the negative effects of not-so nice phytochemicals. A well-informed nutritional programmer will have to work with a balance sheet comparing benefits and problems.

    The first goal is to identify a simple set of best foods for your child. Another goal is to eat more natural food and less packaged or processed foods. A return to simpler, natural foods has important biological advantages. We all seem to work better when we have a simple, regular food supply with no surprises. The food allergy literature identifies cow's milk proteins, gluten and egg white as three of the most allergenic foods; the top three are typically followed by nuts, soy, citrus, corn, and then a scattering of other foods. We have found that the best-tolerated and most nourishing foods are cooked vegetables and rice. Rice is a staple grain with a lower incidence of problems overall; it is widely available, inexpensive and easy to cook.

    The program food lists started with low-risk food lists from the allergy literature and then progressed by keeping score of food reactions as several thousand patients reintroduced foods and kept track of their food reactions. A critical path emerged with a list of foods offering the best nutrition and the least risk of problems. This list eventually evolved into a standard plan of food introduction, the Alpha Nutrition Program.

    Food selection is based on criteria:

    Fewer Adverse Reactions
    Nutritional value
    Acceptable, Available, Affordable
    Other health benefits

    The Alpha Nutrition Program is a natural-food-eating plan. Under ideal circumstances, we would all be eating organically grown vegetables and fruits from our own gardens or neighborhood market gardens. Our intention is to simulate eating from the garden by buying and preparing fresh or frozen vegetables, fruit, poultry, meat and fish, according to our own preferences and tolerances. Most of the desirable foods are purchased in garden and farmers' markets, natural food and organic produce stores, and regular supermarkets.

    You will guide your children toward eating more vegetables. Increased vegetable intake is a key to your success and the most important dietary recommendation emerging from scientific studies. Research has shown that there are numerous substances in vegetables and fruits that protect against common diseases. The non-digestible fibers in plants are highly desirable.

    Often, the pigments in plants are protective. The orange pigment, beta-carotene, and the red pigment, lycopene, are examples of protective "phytochemicals". Lycopene is protective against prostate cancer and has antioxidant properties superior to beta-carotene. Cooked tomatoes offer more absorbable lycopene than raw tomatoes and may release more cholecystokinin from the digestive tract, which turns off appetite. The purple bioflavinoids, for example, in red grapes have cardiovascular protective effects (it is better to drink grape juice than wine).

    Vegetables and fruits foods should account for 60% or more of daily calories. If you mix four vegetables from different botanical families, carrots, peas, broccoli, squash, for example, with rice, you tend to get complete nutrient sets with the exception of vitamin B12 and vitamin D. Vitamin D is not available in plant foods but is made in your skin from sunlight. If your skin is not exposed to sun, you need to provide vitamin D as a supplement.