Disease-Proof Your Child: Book Review

 

A month or two ago I finished reading the book, Disease-Proof Your Child by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, who is a family physician and specializes in nutrition based treatments(especially for obesity and chronic disease.). Like all the other health/diet/nutrition books I’ve read in the past, I really liked some things, and some things I just kinda go, “eh, I’m not so sure about that.” But I’m glad I do that. I’m glad I don’t take everything I read as the 100% truth, even if they are written by doctors and scientists. The only thing I’ve read and believe to be completely true and base everything else I read off that document is the Word of Wisdom which is found in Doctrine and Covenants section 89 (in the Book of Mormon). Fantastic stuff! And it’s from God who knows everything so you know it’s true. Anyway, back to this book. I typed up some notes as I read the book and then from that I narrowed it down to my favorites which you can read below. The sentences in bold are key things I really like.

I really liked what he had to say on picky eaters and how you can go about helping your kids and family to eat right, which summed up is basically to only keep healthy foods in your house. If you’re going to have a treat, then go out and have a treat but don’t bring it home. Okay, here you go:

Reforming the picky eater:

“Children are not responsible for their poor food choices- their parents are. Excluding those children with chronic illnesses or severe emotional disorders, a nutritionally poor diet is predominantly the result of misinformed parents and incorrect dietary choices.” pg. 115-116

“When a family first brings their chronically ill child in to see me, I insist that the entire family come– both parents and all siblings — so that we can devise a new eating plan for the entire family. The focus is never solely on the ill child. For the ill child to recover, the crucial first step is for the entire family to make a recovery from their less than optimal diet style.” pg 117

“When the Petersons insisted, “josh won’t eat fruits or vegetables,” I explained to them that all children would eat healthfully if shipwrecked. True hunger is difficult to deny. If faced with limited options, they will gleefully eat whatever food is available, without intellectual gymnastics to get them to.

It is not necessary to coax them to eat or to eat healthfully. In fact, battling about food with your child is counterproductive. The trick is to adhere to this one most important rule: only permit healthy food in your home. Children will eat whatever is available. They will not starve themselves to death; they adapt easily and learn relatively quickly to like the food that is offered”

Food Preferences Are Formed By One’s Food Environment:

“Researchers studying children’s food choices have found that the earlier in life the food is introduced, the more likely it will be favored. Parents have been shown to give up too easily when offering healthy food to their children. Keep offering the same food, even if your child rejects it. With persistence, it is likely they will eventually try it and even like it. One study showed that about 75 percent of parents gave up after five tries, while the research showed it took eight to fifteen times for children to accept a new food as familiar. Positive reinforcement, praise, and demonstration of family taste preference (showing your child how much you like it over an over) works better than forcing the child to eat it, and is better than bribing the child. Once the child does give it a shot, tasting the food again and again encourages an eventual favorable taste response.

Taste is a learned phenomenon – both children and adults like the foods they were raised on the best. What is most compelling is that a study shows that even the foods that mothers eat while pregnant and nursing affect what their toddlers will prefer…..Scientific investigations illustrate that children most often take on the eating habits of their parents. Research also indicates that adults who consume lots of fruits and vegetables are those who consumed lots of these foods during childhood.

What has been shown not to work is for parents to eat one way and force their children to eat a different way. In fact, parents who force dietary restraint on their children while they themselves eat unrestrainedly were shown to have an adverse effect that fostered the development of body fat on their children.

…Because toddlers have small stomachs and may choose to eat less at mealtimes, they should have access to snacks. Unfortunately, the most common snacks for toddlers are cookies, crackers, chips, milk and fruit drinks(not juice). A snack can and should be real food like fruit, vegetables, bean and nut dips, wholesome soups, and raw nuts.” pg 119

Don’t Coerce Children to Eat:

When there is a true physiologic need for calories and when they are truly hungry, they will eat. You may be able to determine what they eat by what is offered or available in your home environment, but you have almost no ability to force your children to consume more food than their own internal drives them they need. It is especially difficult to get a baby or toddler to overeat. Most young ones will push food away when they are not hungry. By bribing, coaxing, tempting and teaching our little ones to constantly stuff down a few more bites, they are learning to ignore their body’s correct hunger and satiation signals. Over time, and with the help of ‘fake food’ made with artificial flavors and concentrated sweeteners, it’s very common for children to become chronic overeaters.

We are designed to consume a diet rich in natural plant fibers and micronutrients. This fiber (bulk) causes stretch receptors in the digestive tract to register that we have consumed enough food. When we eat processed food, which is high in calories and has little fiber, the body’s natural satiation mechanism is fooled and we overeat. Appetite can also be driven by taste. The artificially high stimulation of taste with concentrated sweeteners and artificial flavors can make humans eating machines without constraints.” pg 120-121

“…when we are exposed to processed foods, the body’s natural signals to stop eating are disturbed.” pg 124

“..the unnaturally high level of sugar, salt and artificially heightened flavors in processed(fake) foods will lessen or deaden he sensitivity of the taste buds to more subtle flavors, making natural foods taste flat.” pg 128

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