Plant-Based Nutrition and Obesity in Children

Posted by Jessica Meyers Altman on

I'm constantly asked, DO YOUR KIDS EAT THIS FOOD?! People can't believe that kids will eat beans, tofu, and a variety of veggies and fruits, and yes, without complaining!  Can children really eat these foods? Yes, and they will! My biggest hangup as a mom, was saying to myself, "I'll make that for my husband and I one night when we eat without the kids". Why?!  It was my own preconceived notion, and well, I just didn't feel like fighting.  When I went through my culinary program, I threw that logic out the window. My kids never ate soups, beans (on a regular basis), or tofu before, and guess what? Once I said, "this is what's for dinner" a miraculous thing happened.....they ate it! There are definitely things my kids like better than others. They LOVE stir fry, enchiladas, taco night, make your own pizza, and we always have a "salad bar", jars filled with already chopped veggies ready to be placed onto a salad. 

We come to a plant-based diet for a variety of reasons. Maybe you're an animal rights activist, an environmentalist, a health enthusiast, a person who is sick and trying to get well, and some of us are all of those things. Most of us make this choice as adults. Why? Because most of us have grown up in households where plant-based living is not the norm. But your kids SHOULD be taught about plant-based living. Your kids should be eating this food too! It teaches them how to live a healthy life and be compassionate to the planet. Plus, cardiovascular disease doesn't start in adulthood, it begins in childhood!

A recent study conducted through the Cleveland Clinic on obese adolescents ages 9-18 (many of which were Type 2 diabetics), compared children placed on the American Heart Disease Diet versus a low-fat plant-based diet, as advocated by Dr. Esselstyn (book: How to Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease). The study was only 4 weeks long. In just 4 weeks, researchers saw "significant improvements in nine measures: BMI, systolic blood pressure, weight, mid-arm circumference, total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and insulin, as well as two common markers of heart disease, myeloperoxidase and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein" in those children following a low-fat, whole food, plant-based diet. Those on American Heart Association diet saw drops in only 4 of these markers, weight, waist circumference, mid-arm circumference and myeloperoxidase. For more on the study, click here.

Nutrition is powerful. The standard diets advocated by the American Heart Association and American Diabetes Association don't reverse disease in the same way a low-fat, whole food, plant-based diet can. Plants are powerful. Why don't you hear more about this? There's no money in prescribing kale and broccoli.  Help share the benefits of plant-based nutrition with others. Let's help break stereotypes that plant-based people don't get enough nutrition. They get MORE nutrition. Have an answer ready to go for the 1,000th time you're asked, where do you get your protein? Your calcium? What's wrong with eating eggs and fish? You can help to educate!

Here are some recipes my kids love (all are made without oil):

Oat Waffles With Fresh Orange

Black Bean Enchiladas (use filling as a plain taco filling too, just zest it up with more cumin and some chipotle)

Craisinut Granola Bars

Stir Fry/miso marinated tofu


Until next week...happy, healthy eating! Go on out and be a plant-ambassador!

Jessica of

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