By: Ana Reisdorf, MS, RD
Ana Reisdorf, MS, RDAna Reisdorf, MS, RD is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and freelance writer with 13-years of experience in the field of nutrition and dietetics. She is the author of three books, including theAnti-Inflammatory Diet One PotCookbook. Through her writing she demonstrates her passion for helping people achieve ideal health and make transformational changes in their lives
Feeding toddlers is no easy feat. As they learn to like and greatly dislike certain foods, it can become increasingly difficult to provide them with proper nutrition. As the list of “no” foods begins to grow, it can be hard to stick to a healthy menu for your little one. Add in a food allergy, and it can feel impossible. However, the benefits of supplying these young brains and bodies with nutritiously dense foods are many.
Plant-based diets are not only hot topics among adults, but have become a popular choice among parents for their children too. Seasonal allergies and milk allergies in babies are extremely common, so a plant-based diet can be particularly advantageous. Here, we discuss why you may want to consider switching to a plant based diet for your children and the benefits of doing so.
Why Switch to A Plant-Based Diet
There are many reasons to switch to a plant-based diet and start your kids on a plant-based diet from the moment they first consume food. Kids with a lactose intolerance or allergies to animal products such as milk and eggs will particularly benefit from a plant-based diet, but you may find a plant-based diet the right choice for even your children without allergies.
To Promote a Healthy Lifestyle
One of the main reasons people switch to a plant-based diet and choose it for their children is for the health benefits. Research has shown that children who are raised on plant-based diets have reduced risk of disease later in life. Plus, plant-based diets are typically much higher in fiber, antioxidants, and other key nutrients. Additionally, incorporating plant-based products into your child’s diet can potentially keep them safe from harmful hormones and antibiotics often found in animal products.
To Protect the Environment
A plant-based diet is the environmentally friendly choice. For eco-conscious families, it’s important to prioritize consuming foods and beverages that have a low ecological footprint, which means they require minimal of the earth’s non-renewable resources to be produced and emit low levels of greenhouse gases.
The dairy industry, in particular, is one of the leading contributors of greenhouse gas emissions, one of the biggest factors in climate change. Whole plants, on the other hand, undergo a minimal production process that is far less taxing on the environment.
To Support Kids with Allergies
While some families consume a plant-based diet by choice, there are serious medical reasons to choose a plant-based diet as well. Many parents have to make diet changes to support kids with allergies if they notice signs of lactose in intolerance in their kids.
One of the more common allergies in infants, although still only affecting 2-3% of all babies, is an allergy to the protein in cow’s milk. When infants are allergic to cow’s milk, they can experience severe symptoms including vomiting, wheezing, trouble breathing, irritability and more. Toddler seasonal allergies are common as well and they include allergy symptoms to eggs, fish, soybeans, wheat, and peanuts. By adopting a plant-based diet, you can immediately eliminate two of the biggest threats to kids with allergies or a food sensitivity: milk and eggs.
The Benefits of A Plant Based Diet
Early on in life, all a child needs to survive is their mother’s breast milk. Once infants reach six months old, they can begin to consume solid, albeit cooked and mashed, foods, the firsts of which should be fruits and vegetables. As children grow, the foods they consume should expand, but that doesn’t mean they ever need to transition to anything beyond a plant-based diet. In fact, they can get everything they need and benefit greatly from a plant-based diet.
Reduced Risk of Disease
Plant-based diets limit consumption of foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol, which can lead to heart disease. In effect, plant-based diets lower the risk of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes later in life among other unfavorable conditions.
Plant based diets also limit consumption of dairy products, which results in fewer allergies, acne, and digestive issues. Additionally, people who are raised on plant-based diets are shown to have an easier time maintaining a healthy weight.
Plant-based diets tend to be higher in fiber, complex carbohydrates, vitamins C and E, and other beneficial phytochemicals.
When making the choice to feed your child a plant-based diet, it’s important to note that animal products shouldn’t be replaced with excess carbohydrates and sugar. In all cases, whole foods that are unrefined or unprocessed, without additives or preservatives are the healthiest option for your child. This can be difficult with picky toddlers, but is doable.
A Plant-Based Option for Kids with Allergies
For toddlers specifically, cow’s milk can feel like the most difficult food to replace when switching to a plant-based diet or to combat allergies. After all, cow’s milk is a good source of healthy proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals that children need to grow. Key National Health and Nutrition Organizations suggest fortified soy milk as a nutritionally equivalent and acceptable alternative to cow’s milk, however many children with allergies to cow’s milk also react to soy milk, in which case something ELSE is necessary. Else Plant Based Complete Nutrition for Toddlers is a clean label, dairy-free replacement, endorsed by leading pediatric experts and nutritionists that parents can feel good about.
How Else Supports A Healthy Lifestyle
Else is not only an alternative for kids with seasonal allergies or for kids who have yet to outgrow a milk allergy, but a healthy option for everyone. In fact, it contains all of the important vitamins present in cow’s milk and many many more. Here are just a few of the nutrients your child will get from Else’s nutrition drink for toddlers:
- Vitamin E – Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant, a powerful nutrient that protects your child from cellular damage.
- Vitamin B6 – Vitamin B6 helps the body use and store the energy it absorbs from protein and carbohydrates. It also helps your child form hemoglobin, the part of your child’s red blood cells that carries oxygen to all parts of her body.
- Vitamin B12 – Vitamin B12 helps your child’s brain and nervous system developm. It also plays a key role in preventing a type of anemia called megaloblastic anemia, which causes children to feel tired and weak.
- Magnesium – Magnesium does a little bit of everything in the body. It helps regulate muscle and nerve function, maintains proper blood sugar levels, helps to make proteins, bone, and DNA, and even promotes ideal blood pressure levels.
- Vitamin C – Another micronutrient that doubles as an antioxidant, vitamin C helps keep your child’s immune system strong.
- Folate – Folate is integral to blood cell production and healthy brain development for your growing toddler.
- Zinc – Zinc helps your child’s immune system, promotes healthy metabolism function, helps your child recover from wounds, and even plays a role in your child’s sense of taste and smell.
- Iron – Your child’s body uses iron to foster growth and development in the blood, bones, muscles, and important brain chemicals. It is particularly important to ensure your child gets enough iron when consuming a plant-based diet.
Additionally, Else is 100% organic, vegan, free from GMOs, and contains only natural, familiar, and simple ingredients that are easy to recognize. It provides the peace of mind from knowing that you're giving your child the purest, cleanest, complete nutrition nature intended to promote healthy growth & development.
How Else Supports The Environment
Else’s production methods are designed to make the smallest ecological footprint possible. The sustainable process also uses whole plant ingredients instead of breaking them down to their building blocks with artificial processing methods. When ingredients are used in such a way and then consumed the phytonutrients, fiber, vitamins and minerals are more abundant and demonstrate increased health benefits. The whole plant ingredients the formula is made with are: tapioca, buckwheat, and almonds. While almonds do need a lot of water to grow, almonds have a carbon footprint 10 times smaller than that of the dairy milk industry.
How Else Supports Kids with Allergies
Else’s plant-based Complete Nutrition for Toddlers is non-dairy and soy-free so it is safe for kids with milk and dairy allergies. The formula is made with almonds and buckwheat, which provide a range of health benefits, however these nuts are potential allergens. If you are concerned your child may have a nut allergy, speak with your pediatrician before feeding your toddler Else.
At the end of the day, only you can decide what is right for your child. Once you have gathered all the information, talk to your pediatrician and discuss the benefits and potential impact of a plant-based diet or not for your child.
If you do choose a plant-based diet for your child, choose Else. Else was founded on providing clean, science-backed, plant-based nutrition for families, and will continue to do so so you can ensure your children grow and develop with the high quality plant-based options they need.
The content and advice provided in this article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical diagnosis, treatment, advice for specific medical conditions. Always consult a pediatrician to understand the individual needs of your child.