Off the back of the recently released iBook, Bubba Yum Yum; The Paelo Way, I thought is was timely that I wrote a piece about the Paleo Diet and potential implications when applying this to babies and toddlers. When it comes to feeding young children, Dietitians support the Ministry of Health's Food and Nutrition Guidelines, which are based on robust scientific evidence. Very few studies have been published to examine the effects of the Paleo diet and none have examined the effects on children, let alone toddlers and babies.
While the Paleo diet does promote increased fruit and vegetable consumption, a focus on whole foods and a reduction in refined sugars, processed foods and sugar sweetened beverages, there are some key shortcomings - with the exclusion of legumes, dairy and whole grains, children are at potential risk of not meeting their daily fibre and calcium needs, unless they are able to ensure they get enough of these valuable nutrients from other dietary sources. Lack of calcium during childhood, when children are growing and building their bones, puts them at greater risk of osteoporosis in later life.
Recent research also now reports that banning certain foods in an effort to promote 'health', results in children having an increased intake of high fat, high sugar and/or high salt foods. It's important that our children have a healthy relationship with food - where foods are not banned or shamed!
Let's bring back the concepts of balance and moderation. It's time we started re-focusing on diets which promote fruit and vegetables, lean meats and protein alternatives (including legumes), wholegrains and dairy (and its alternatives) and less refined sugar. Its not rocket science, it's what's written in the Food and Nutrition Guidelines.
Dietitians NZ supports the stance of our colleagues at the Dietitians Association of Australia. Parents need to trust qualified medical professionals and turn to Registered Dietitians for nutrition advice.
For those who would like more information, my interview on the Paul Henry Show can be found here: Paleo diet for babies and toddlers