Raw food for baby
Healthy Raw Vegan Baby Diet and Lifestyle Tips for a Modern Family – Healthy Blog
February 01, 2017 · Written by Foodtolive Team
Keeping your baby healthy and helping them grow into a strong and happy adult is every parent’s goal. Unfortunately, not everyone understands how important the diet is to the little ones and how much of an impact it has on the future well-being of a person. Introducing a raw vegan baby diet from the first months of your precious treasure’s life can go a long way in ensuring the child stays healthy and strong throughout its life.
Is Raw Vegan Baby Diet Dangerous
There is a lot of controversy surrounding the subject of raw and vegan diets, especially in relation to babies. Therefore, you are sure to encounter people who will try to persuade you that these choices are wrong and potentially harmful to the child. In order to withstand such an onslaught of prejudice, you must have conviction that comes from understanding the real health effects of a raw vegan diet.
Eating only raw foods can be healthy, and fulfill all of you and your baby’s daily nutritional needs. The most important benefit of this particular type of meal plan is that you get to enjoy the maximum benefits that produce has to offer.
In terms of the baby’s vegan diet, in particular, choosing to go raw is the most natural decision, as the first meals that a child should have are all comprised of fruits and veggies. These specific foods will lose most of their important nutrients when cooked, so eating them raw is actually the best of the possible choices.
Another essential thing you must understand is that NO diet is healthy if it doesn’t satisfy your nutritional needs. This means that you need to know exactly how much of every vitamin and mineral your precious growing baby needs and plan their meals accordingly. Food planning is a major part of healthy eating, so you must learn to not only count your calories but also watch out for deficiencies that often plague vegans, such as low levels of calcium, vitamin B12, and iron.
Your pediatrician must be on your side when it comes to planning a healthy raw vegan baby diet. They can help you create a well-balanced meal plan by determining your child’s real nutritional needs. Don’t forget that generalized articles on the subject offer only average dietary requirements. However, every person is unique and their personal needs may vary. You also must take into account seasonal differences in the raw produce that is available. Unfortunately, it may be impossible to sustain a 100% raw vegan diet for a baby if you live in the Northern regions, as your access to fresh fruits and vegetables is limited.
Even if you don’t require your baby doctor’s input in designing the meal plan, you must inform them about the child’s diet. This information is necessary for a medical professional in order to know what types of tests to perform, and how often. For example, a vegan baby must be closely monitored for the level of iron to prevent anemia.
A vegan diet is perfectly safe for kids, but there are some valid concerns regarding raw foods. Most important of these is the risk of contamination. It’s a very important matter, regardless of whether you choose to cook your baby’s foods or not. Products that are filled with pesticides and nitrates are really dangerous for a growing child. They also have a lower nutritional value.
Therefore, for a raw vegan baby diet to be truly safe, it must be organic. Even if you don’t buy specially certified products, you should do your food shopping at farmer’s markets and buy only from the people you trust. You should research the ways to cut the costs of organic foods in order to make this kind of diet more affordable for vegans.
As long as you make sure that the product your little one ingests is contaminant-free and their daily meal plan includes all the necessary nutrients, a raw vegan diet would be completely safe for your baby.
Preparing Healthy Raw Vegan Baby Foods
No matter what kind of baby food you make, there are some specific rules that you must follow:
- Don’t introduce any potential allergens until your baby is at least three years old. This means excluding nuts and wheat. Be careful with citrus fruits.
- Mash the foods thoroughly to prevent choking.
- Try every new food by itself for a few days to see the baby’s reaction to it.
- Clean your hands, produce, and all utensils thoroughly before you start making baby foods.
- Start introducing your baby to raw foods starting with sweet fruits.
- Never add sugar to baby foods.
A blender or a food processor is the most essential kitchen appliance for making raw vegan foods for babies. In essence, all recipes for these dishes are similar. You just mix various ingredients and process them into a smooth mass for the precious little one to eat. This allows you a lot of room for experimentation as you can make any combinations based on the fresh produce you have.
Avocados, bananas, and apples should be always present in your home as they make the best ‘basis’ for vegan baby foods. Avocados, in particular, can be introduced starting at 3 months of age. As your baby gets older, you can get them into the habit of munching on fresh avocado slices.
Some of our favorite recipes for raw vegan baby foods are:
- ½ fresh avocado
- 2 florets broccoli
- 1 handful baby spinach leaves
- 1 cup fresh green peas
- 100 ml water (filtered)
Mix the ingredients together and serve right away. Bear in mind that raw baby foods don’t keep well. You should always make them fresh to stay on the safe side.
Orange Monkey Food
- ½ apple
- ½ carrot
- ½ banana
- ½ slice pineapple (optional)
You’ll need to process this one longer to ensure that carrots and apples are properly mashed.
Calcium Baby Juice
- 2 handfuls watercress
- 2 handfuls parsley
- 1 cup broccoli florets
- 1 pineapple
- Coconut water (as much as needed)
The coconut water and pineapple juice make the concoction delicious so your little ones will enjoy it, despite the ‘bitter greens’. A single cup of this recipe provides a baby with a sufficient amount of calcium for a day and would be perfect as a breast milk replacement for little vegans. Note that after the child is one year old, their need of calcium will increase, so you’ll have to add other sources.
Raw Vegan Baby Lifestyle Tips: How to Form Healthy Habits
One of the challenges of maintaining a vegan diet that parents rarely anticipate is peer pressure. Small children may not understand the ecological and general health benefits of being a vegan. This issue can be exacerbated by other kids who lash out at anything different, and in a nursery school setting, eating a meat-free lunch can be a good enough reason for this.
Such incidents are unfortunate, but they happen, and you must know how to combat these problems on a level a little child would be able to understand. The easiest way is to take kids out on a farm where they can see animals and explain how meat-free lifestyle helps protect them. However, these topics can sometimes be too stressful for small children, so you have to be more subtle.
The best way to go is to monitor the child’s social circles to ensure they don’t face any undue pressure until they are actually old enough to support their dietary choices. Your own position is also very important in this case. You must lead by example and starting your baby on a raw vegan diet from the first months of their life would be a good choice. This way, they would grow naturally accustomed to these eating patterns.
You should also emphasize the importance of a vegan lifestyle in every aspect of your life, starting with vegan clothing to using cosmetic products and detergents that don’t harm the environment. Regular talks with your child regarding the importance of caring for the planet would help make them more aware of the benefits this lifestyle has. This should be a sufficient support for any arguments they might get into with other kids when they get older.
Whatever you do, never forget that your child is a tiny individual whose freedom of will you must respect. If they want to experiment with cooked foods or meat when they get older, you have to let them. At this point, it’s your ability to guide your child to make healthy dietary decisions that would determine whether they would stick to the raw vegan diet of their early days.
Benefits of a Raw Food Diet for Pregnancy, Babies, and Kids
Raw food diets have blossomed in recent years due to their nutritional benefits. A raw food diet isn’t a magical “cure-all, ” but it can help prevent certain health issues like diabetes and heart disease. Adding more fruits and veggies to your diet has been proven to boost your metabolism, increase energy, and support your immune system. Switching over to a raw diet entirely, though, can drastically improve your health.
But how can a raw food diet help during pregnancy? And how does it help children and babies?
The Types of Raw Food Diets
There are different types of raw diets: raw vegan, raw vegetarian, and raw omnivore. Each comes with its own health benefits and risks, but only the raw vegan diet is recommended for pregnant women due to the potential risk for salmonella.
Raw vegetarian and raw omnivore diets are still adequate diets on their own, but in this article, we will focus on the raw vegan diet since it generally has a lower risk for pregnant women, babies, and children.
How A Raw Vegan Diet Aids Growing Children
Probably the most significant benefit of feeding your children raw, organic fruits and veggies is that many of them are packed with fiber. Fiber not only helps your digestive tract but can also help lower cholesterol and maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
A raw food diet also offers a great way to prevent malnutrition. Even if you feed your child three meals a day, they still can suffer from malnutrition. Adding raw fruits, veggies, nuts, and seeds into their diet will stave off any nutritional deficits. Educate your children on the vitamins in each nut, seed, fruit, and veggie to ensure they understand why it is important to have a balanced diet.
A raw food diet is great for physical health, but it can also improve mental health. Poor eating habits can cause inflammation throughout the body, including the brain. This can lead to stress, anxiety, and depression. Having your little ones go on a raw food diet early on in life can help lower the risk of developing these mental disorders later down the road.
Many people use food to regulate their mood. Food with high sugar content, such as ice cream or cookies, can become addictive. Instead of processing their negative emotions or working through them, your child may seek to self-soothe by eating to make themselves feel better. This will make them partially dependent on these unhealthy foods, so turning to healthy alternatives will help your child in the long run as well.
Raw Foods and Pregnancy
Eating raw fruits and veggies can help aid in the development and growth of your baby. The most important vitamins you need for your baby to develop healthily are DHA, iodine, calcium, iron, folic acid, and vitamin D. Some worry that being on a raw vegan diet while pregnant is too risky, but there are plenty of natural, raw, pregnancy-safe foods that have these vitamins.
- Seaweed or sea vegetables (rich in iodine and vitamin D)
- Spinach, kale, and other leafy greens (rich in calcium and iron)
- Walnuts (rich in DHA)
- Asparagus (rich in folic acid)
Some raw fruits and veggies need to be consumed in moderation while pregnant. If you find it challenging to balance out your raw diet while pregnant, organic supplements can help as well.
A balanced, healthy diet can boost your energy, improve your sleep, and reduce the risk of falling ill. When done correctly, a raw vegan diet will provide you with all the proper nutrients you need while pregnant. Having high energy and sleeping well while pregnant can help guarantee your baby develops properly, so a raw food diet is incredibly beneficial.
Can Babies Eat a Raw Diet?
Feeding your child a raw diet from a young age can be incredibly beneficial for their development. Raw food diets give babies the proper tools to develop healthily and happily.
When you cook raw fruits and veggies, they lose a lot of the enzymes that aid in digestion. Feeding your children raw fruits and veggies will ensure they receive those enzymes and have better digestive health.
It is easier for our bodies to absorb nutrients when our food is unprocessed and uncooked. Feeding your baby a raw diet will make it easier for their body to continue to absorb these types of nutrients efficiently throughout their entire lifetime.
One of the only problems with feeding a baby a raw food diet is having to put more time into prepping. Having to prepare all of your baby food instead of buying premade products is time-consuming, but the nutritional benefits will always outweigh any inconveniences.
Preventing Disease and Boosting the Immune System
Choosing a raw diet may also prevent certain diseases such as type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes can develop when consuming an excess amount of sugar or when generally overeating. With a consistent raw food diet, there’s absolutely nothing to worry about.
Eating raw foods can also prevent heart disease, one of the biggest killers in the world. Heart disease is primarily caused by the fatty build-up in our arteries. All three types of raw food diets significantly reduce your fat intake but especially raw vegan diets.
Pregnant women and children who eat foods high in fat are 25% more likely to develop these types of diseases.
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Children of a raw foodist
The popularity of the raw food diet today is beyond doubt. Festivals and conferences are held, there are many books and Internet blogs on this topic. Nevertheless, only the most ardent adherents of this nutrition system decide to experiment with the nutrition of their own child, and in vain.
The benefits of a raw food diet in children's diets
Scientific studies on the safety of a raw food diet for children have never been conducted. There is no scientific evidence of benefit or harm. However, there are opinions of mothers who have decided to raise their children on a raw food diet. Here's what they say:
- Raw food children are not familiar with colds. More precisely, these diseases pass in a mild form of ailments, for a maximum of one or two days, after which the body independently defeats the infection.
- Raw children do not have food allergies and have a healthy gastrointestinal tract. However, you must follow the standard rules. The surface of fruits and vegetables must be thoroughly washed. Do not mix a large number of different foods in one meal. These conditions guarantee the absence of digestive disorders.
- In adolescence, raw foodists do not suffer from skin problems associated with hormonal changes in the body.
The transition to a raw food diet in childhood
The easiest transition to a raw food diet is the so-called “transition from birth”. This means that the child has never tried thermally processed food, and the mother, who feeds him with breast milk, adheres to a raw food diet. At the same time, it is important to observe the principle: “Everything that a mother eats ends up in her milk.” That is, she should eat those foods that she plans to feed the baby when the time comes. This is done so that the child's body, when introducing complementary foods, is not shocked by new products. Breastfeeding, even with such a diet, should be continued for as long as possible, combined with the introduction of raw food.
A child who has already tried processed food can also be switched to a raw food diet. In this situation, not only the physiological, but also the psychological aspect is important. The most gentle option would be a gradual transition to a new power system. Important principles must be followed:
- Both parents must adhere to a raw food diet. The model of adult behavior must be unconditional. If both parents talk about the benefits of carrots, but one of them eats chocolate, this can cause unwanted questions. Small children copy adults in everything, it is necessary to show the correct eating behavior. And this behavior should be unchanged. It will be difficult for a child to understand why yesterday it was impossible and harmful, but today is a holiday, which means it is possible.
- isolation of the family. The more the family is embedded in society, the more difficult it is to instill the principles of a raw food diet in a child. Arguments about health benefits will be broken about the first colorful New Year's gift in kindergarten or about grandma's pies.
A phased transition will ensure the psychological comfort of the child. First you need to give up "chemistry", then from meat and fish, then from "yesterday", multi-component, fried and boiled food. Last but not least, you should give up dairy products and any thermally processed food. New dishes that are offered to a child should not be inferior to boiled food in their appearance, because it is no secret to anyone that children love not only tasty, but also beautifully served food. The gradual transition will provide confidence that the child will not harbor cravings for junk food in his soul, will not connect these dietary restrictions with the screams and abuse of parents. If a child really asks for something from the forbidden, as an exception, you can allow him, but you need to understand how he came up with it, where he saw who suggested it, and therefore what situations should be avoided.
A raw food diet for a child
You don't have to wait for the first teeth to introduce complementary foods to your child, because there is no need to start with solid vegetables or fruits. To start complementary foods, diluted freshly squeezed juices, mashed fresh vegetables or fruits, and live oatmeal jelly from them are quite suitable. It is worth starting with small portions, at the tip of a teaspoon, gradually increasing. With a lack of body weight, you can make live porridge: mix wheat, buckwheat, rye or sesame seeds in a blender with water. These products should be introduced while maintaining breastfeeding of a raw-food mother. This is a prerequisite, otherwise the child will not have enough nutrients in the food. It is very easy to determine when to start complementary foods. As soon as the child begins to show food interest, reach for food, it's time for him to offer complementary foods.
With age, the menu of a raw food child should more and more approach the menu of an adult, but with minor amendments. The essential components of a child's system are:
- Small amounts of omega-3 fatty acids found in linseed, hemp or olive oil.
- Med. Recommended only for children over two years old and in small quantities.
- Sea salt rich in minerals.
- Seaweed containing protein and minerals.
- Fruit. Preference should be given to seasonal fruits characteristic of the territory of residence. They contain vitamins, minerals, and some (like avocados) even fats.
- Nuts and seeds containing carbohydrates and fats, and also fully covering the protein needs of children.
For drinking, children are given pure water, almond or flaxseed milk, diluted freshly squeezed juices.
A raw food diet is only safe for children if the food is provided in a rich variety and in large quantities. Food should be fresh, organic, preferably grown in the area where the child lives.
What raw foodists feed their children and what doctors think about such a diet
There are a huge number of national cuisines in the world - almost all of them are based on local resources. Poor Japanese fishermen ate fish flavored with rice, which poor Japanese peasants grew in flood fields. The poor Vikings dried, dried and salted fish, they didn’t just have vegetables - and wheat didn’t grow very much, as a result, fish, fish and once again fish became a hallmark of Scandinavian cuisine. The list is endless, how many countries, so many different ways of cooking, with their own tastes, spices and original products.
But, apart from purely national food, there is a huge number of international food systems and diets that are in no way tied to resources. Some of these systems are based on religious beliefs, some are purely ethical, and some are trying to figure out the healthiest way to eat. Most diets, often experimental, emerged in the twentieth century, the century of the industrial revolution, as a response to the abundance of refined food and the huge number of diseases associated with it.
Actually, one of the systems that emerged as a reaction to "industrial" food, consisting of frozen and canned foods, white bread, chocolates, chips, hamburgers and other "fast food", is a raw food diet. It includes several main currents: it is a vegetarian raw food diet, a monotrophic raw food diet and the so-called paleo raw food diet. In fact, raw foodists want to return humanity to its roots, recommending eating exclusively raw, not thermally processed food, that is, what our distant ancestors ate, who had not yet discovered fire for themselves. How useful this can be, what it actually involves and what dangers it poses, we asked our experts - a dietitian and a psychologist.
Irina Katin-Yartseva, clinical psychologist, specialist in parent-child relations, child pathopsychology
The first and probably the most important question: is a raw food diet an eating disorder?
A raw food diet is a type of orthorexia, an obsessive desire for a healthy diet. The ICD (International Classification of Diseases) does not include orthorexia, but many practicing psychologists consider it an eating disorder similar to anorexia nervosa. In the behavioral picture of a person suffering from orthorexia, there is an obsessive anxiety about food, a feeling of guilt, and the perception of food as a danger, characteristic of anorexia nervosa.
Do you think paying more attention to what we eat is normal?
The human population is characterized by great behavioral diversity. This is a profitable evolutionary strategy. In 80% of mentally healthy people, one or another separate "abnormal" symptoms are observed. These symptoms differ in the degree of manifestation. A person who is attentive to his health, preferring tasty and healthy food is quite normal. But when nutrition issues, without any objective reason, occupy a disproportionately great importance in a person’s life, then we can talk about obsessions, painful fixation on the topic of nutrition.
Most of the convinced raw foodists try to switch their families, especially children, to the raw food diet. How can his "otherness" affect the child?
Many non-specialists consider vegans, raw foodists and adherents of other unusual and unusual diets, roughly speaking, psychos. How traumatic can this be for raw foodists, their families, and especially children? Children of raw foodists may indeed be at risk of social exclusion. But this is connected not only with the raw food diet as such. Children are very sensitive to the family environment, and if it is filled with strong anxiety, then they themselves live in anxiety. This does not contribute to either timely development or good contact with peers.
I came across a lot of interesting things on the forums of raw foodists. For example, a constant and inescapable feeling of guilt for diet violations and breakdowns is one’s own and even relatives. Moderators (or just experienced raw foodists) strongly support such a critical attitude towards themselves. Raw foodists with children especially get it: even a slight violation of the diet from the series “mother gave our son porridge, just once” causes a wave of disapproval. The most interesting thing is that people go to all this voluntarily.
What would you like to say about this as a clinical psychologist? Can something not declared be the real reason for going into a raw food diet? For example, some kind of non-nutritional guilt?
The soil on which orthorexia appears is a tendency to mental obsessions (in other words, a tendency to get hung up on something), severe anxiety, guilt, aggression. In combination with violations of early development, child-parent relationships, this gives an eating disorder. Naturally, any trouble is reflected not only in the relationship of a person with himself, but also with others. The cycle of guilt and punishment is played out both with one's own body and with other people, especially those close to them, since relatives and friends of people with early developmental disorders are often perceived as an extension of themselves.
Angelica Duval, nutritionist, sports nutritionist, phytotherapist
In your opinion, is the raw food diet (classic, vegetarian) a food system that does not harm human health? How can a raw food diet be useful?
As a practicing dietitian, I can confidently say that a raw food diet is an effective nutritional system for the treatment of many diseases, but in order to form a complete balanced diet, you need to have an enormous amount of knowledge. A raw food diet treats diseases of the heart and blood vessels, kidneys, and restores bowel function. But building a balanced raw food diet should not be based on guesswork, but on scientific facts. Given our ecology, lifestyle and food quality, a raw food diet can only be a temporary health-improving diet.
The main argument of raw foodists is that only raw foods (mostly of plant origin) retain their maximum nutritional value. What can you say about this - do all thermally processed foods lose useful substances during the cooking process and how critical is this?
During heat treatment, some vitamins are destroyed, minerals pass into an inorganic form and can accumulate in the body in the form of deposits of salts and stones in the abdominal organs and in the urinary system. To maintain the body's systems in a healthy state, 40–50% of fresh foods (fruits, vegetables, greens) should be present in the diet. But by eating only raw foods, due to the roughness of the food and the lack of the habit of chewing food thoroughly, many are at risk of experiencing digestive disorders. You should not thermally process vegetables for more than 25 minutes, greens generally cannot be cooked for more than 5 minutes, since they contain a huge amount of minerals. Living in the middle lane, it is difficult to imagine that in the cold winter you constantly eat only fresh vegetable salads, given the fact that many of the products that form the basis of a balanced raw food diet are not found at all in the winter season or they are very expensive .
Many non-specialists consider the raw food diet to be something like an eating disorder. What do you think about this?
Any type of nutrition should be considered carefully! You can’t just go and stop eating meat or stop cooking food. The body is not a machine where you instantly change the mode of operation at the touch of a button. Our entire body adapts to the chosen diet for many years. Abruptly going into a raw food diet, you will definitely encounter beriberi and exhaustion. The body is simply used to getting certain substances from food. An example with smoking is suitable here: when a person smokes for many years, his body stops producing nicotine and there is a complete dependence on nicotine at the physical level. With a raw food diet, the situation is about the same: the body is used to getting many substances from meat, sour-milk products and other products, and if you refuse them, your body will not be able to learn how to create these substances on its own in one day. Many, sometimes without even understanding all the nuances, rush into this system, and this is really wrong and even dangerous to health.
Can the food consumed in a raw food diet contain everything the body needs?
For example, the so-called paleo-raw foodists criticize the vegetarian raw food diet, claiming that the body needs food of animal origin. Everything can tell a story. In ancient times, people never ate meat in such a volume - once a week, not more often. But they ate a lot of grain products, legumes. In a full-fledged raw food diet, there are not only bananas and apples with cucumbers, but also vegetable unrefined oils, properly prepared soaked nuts, wild rice proteins, hemp, as well as products such as turnips, Jerusalem artichoke, pumpkin, flax, spelt, pearl barley, wild plants, products wild bees - all of them are able to provide the right amount of elements necessary for health. The question is to assemble them into a complete system that meets the needs of the body.
Is it permissible to make a child a raw foodist from birth? Why? Will the child have enough nutrients for growth and development?
Children's raw food diet is a dangerous system, there are too many pitfalls. To begin with, these children need to be breastfed for up to three years. You can build their diet only with the help of very competent specialists! But even in this case, not everything is so simple. Firstly, if you do not live in a remote village on your own organic products, you doom him to illness! Sooner or later, he will end up in a society where there are classmates, students, friends, colleagues, and all of them will certainly create conditions in order to try one or another low-quality, "chemical" food. This will be a blow to all organs of the digestive system - simply because such a person does not produce the necessary enzymes in the proper amount to process animal proteins or cooked food. Secondly, there is too little research on the topic of children's raw food diet, therefore, experts in this area are self-taught, which does not guarantee you the preservation of the health of your child. Thirdly, being a raw foodist living in a metropolis is simply impossible: it is very expensive, and besides, you cannot control the quality of the food you buy, which can result in poisoning.
Raw foodists' forums are full of stories about how cereals and other unhealthy food "mucus" the child's body and the child begins, according to raw foodists, to become actively ill. Do you think there is any connection between these two phenomena?
I think there is. There is food that causes the formation of mucus on the walls of the gastrointestinal tract, and it is an excellent environment for the development of pathogenic bacteria. Such products include milk porridge, refined sugar and products containing it, products made from white flour, and a large amount of meat in the diet.