I had the absolute pleasure of interviewing naturopathic doctor and celebrity nutritionist, Dr. Kellyann Petrucci about healthy eating for kids. She is the author of Dr. Kellyann’s Bone Broth Diet and Paleo Cookbook for Dummies. Check her out at drkellyann.com!
She has amazing knowledge of nutrition and functional medicine. Plus, her and I share the same passion for healthy kids. It is the REASON and WHY that we both do what we do.
In our interview, we chat about meal planning strategies, best foods for babies, and she was even so kind enough to say such sweet things about Mama Bear Naturals baby and toddler food products.
Check it out!
Why do you think bone broth should be in the diet of babies and children?
Bone broth supplies young children with gelatin, which helps to build a healthy gut, and it loads them with anti-inflammatory nutrients like glycine, glucosamine, and chondroitin. It’s also a good source of minerals like magnesium, and it’s rich in the building blocks of collagen—the “glue” that helps build strong skin, bones, and connective tissue.
One caution, however: Home-made bone broth may contain levels of certain nutrients, such as iron and vitamin A, that are too high for infants. So if you’re going to feed broth to a baby or young toddler, I suggest buying a broth that’s especially designed for them.
2. What would be your top recommendations for foods for babies and children? Also, why are these foods best for children? What benefits would foods like wild-caught salmon, grass-fed butter, egg yolks, and grass-fed liver provide for children?
My biggest recommendation is to focus on quality pastured proteins, fresh vegetables, and healthy fats (which are so crucial for early development). I recommend pastured and wild-caught proteins because they come from healthy animals eating a natural diet—and that translates into greater nutritional value.
What are the top nutrients for growing children?
I tend to think less in terms of individual nutrients and more in terms of nutrient-dense foods. For instance, pastured beef contains crucial nutrients like iron, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). Fresh vegetables contain a host of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that work hand-in-hand. Pastured eggs are loaded with choline, B vitamins, vitamin D, and minerals. Clarified butter is rich in vitamins A, D, E, and K. Pastured liver, of course, is a powerhouse of nutrients. When children get foods like these, you’re supplying them with all of the nutrients they need in the correct proportions.
Looking at www.mama-bear-naturals.com, do you see any benefits to these foods compared to the current baby foods on the market?
Absolutely. I love the emphasis on high-quality proteins, organic vegetables, and healthy fats like coconut. And I love that these foods are free from additives, artificial flavors, and artificial colors. This is the pure, beautiful food that children should be eating.
In your practice, what impact have you seen in regards to gut health and childhood development?
Kids with sick guts are more likely to have illnesses, behavior problems, sleep issues, learning problems, and obesity. Healing their gut can dramatically improve their physical and their emotional health, as well as their academic performance.
What are your top tips for cooking healthy meals for busy families?
I’m a huge fan of batch cooking. Once every week or two, I schedule an afternoon in the kitchen and cook like crazy. I’ll boil a dozen eggs, brown several pounds of hamburger, and maybe roast one or two chickens and freeze the meat. In addition, I’ll wash veggies for salads and freeze packets of veggies and fruits so I can grab them fast to make protein shakes.
And that’s another tip: Make shakes, not just for breakfast but sometimes for lunch or dinner. All you need is a high-quality pastured protein, a little bit of fat (I like to add some avocado or some coconut milk), some berries and greens, and maybe a little monk fruit or stevia. It’s quick, easy, and nutritious, and the cleanup is a breeze.
Do you have any recommendations for how to get kids to eat liver?
One trick is to grind it up, mix it with ground beef and spices, and make burgers out of it. What kid doesn’t like a burger? Add a little bit of liver at first, and up it gradually to see how much you can get away with.
For those that don’t want to drink bone broth, what are other ways that they can incorporate it into their diet, especially for picky eaters?
Simple! You can sneak it into soups, stews, and chili, or cook veggies in it.
What are your top snack recommendations for kids on the go?
I’m big on coconut chips, dark chocolate, blueberries, high-quality beef jerky, and non-grain trail mixes like my Tropical Trail Mix.
What are the top 3 switches families should make to get their kids onto a healthier diet?
First, start cooking again! Simply switching from processed foods to home-cooked foods will have a dramatic impact on your kids’ diets. And get your children involved in cooking, because kids who become confident cooks won’t be dependent on junk food for the rest of their lives.
Second, limit or completely eliminate sugar, grains, highly processed seed oils, foods with artificial colors and flavors, and soy “Frankenfoods.” All of these put your kids at risk for serious health problems including obesity and diabetes.
Third, make sure your kids get plenty of high-quality protein AND plenty of good fats like coconut, coconut oil, coconut milk, avocados, avocado oil, fatty fish, olives, olive oil, ghee, and nuts. The worst thing “experts” ever did was to demonize healthy fats, which are absolutely crucial to staying slim and healthy.
What are families biggest struggles in eating a real food diet, and what are your recommendations?
I know that one struggle is money. When that’s an issue, I tell people to look for the least expensive high-quality proteins—for instance, pastured eggs, pastured chicken legs (save the bones for broth!), and hamburger from pastured cows. Also, shopping at farmer’s markets or big-box stores is a great way to get organic fruits and vegetables at a lower price. You can also save money by buying less-polluted fruits and veggies in non-organic versions. The Environmental Working Group’s “dirty dozen” and “clean fifteen” lists can help you make the best choices.
Also, getting kids to like healthy foods can be a challenge if they’re used to junk food. The good news is that while they may kick and scream at first, most of them eventually learn to appreciate the taste of good food and stop craving the junk. Many parents find that the “two bites” rule works well—that is, requiring a child to eat two bites of a new healthy food at first. Of course, your best bet is to introduce children early on to healthy foods—like your Mama Bear Naturals meals—so they appreciate good food from the start!