By, Justine Lorelle LoMonaco.
It’s hard out there for a parent who wants to feed their baby healthy food. With the abundance of choices and a confusing dictionary’s worth of jargon, it can be easy to lose sight of what is the best thing to put on their plate.
Case in point: clean eating. The term has been around for over a decade, but despite growing popularity in recent years (you probably see it every time you scroll through Pinterest recipes), many people are still mixed on its actual definition.
Generally, most agree that it’s based on whole foods in their least-processed state. It’s simple, wholesome, and real—as close as you get in nature. Here are five rules to follow to help your child be a clean-eating machine.
1. Skip processing as much as possible.
Foods that wouldn’t be defined as “clean” are typically processed in some way. Processing usually involves the addition of chemicals, refined sugar or flour, artificial sweeteners, artificial colors or flavors, and/or preservatives. Even if processing is minimal, as with many store-bought baby foods, the companies who produce them typically take whole foods and add in chemicals to preserve, remove pulp or skin, and oftentimes sweeten the final product. That produce isn’t sounding so clean anymore, is it?
2. Avoid added sugar.
A good rule of thumb to follow is that whole foods contain no added sugar—and your baby’s food should follow that rule closely. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 advises consuming less that 10 percent of
calories per day from added sugars to avoid unnecessary weight gain over time.
3. Pass on salt.
Moderate salt use is safe to flavor your food, but your tiny human doesn’t need it—their palates can be trained to love the natural flavor of the food they’re eating. Homemade meals typically have significantly less salt than processed foods.
4. Choose whole food fats.
Nuts, seeds, and avocados are excellent sources of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats with beneficial nutrients. Processed oils contain trans fats, which are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and bad blood cholesterol. Want to make a better choice? Choose a fat that originally grew out of the ground.
5. Start with whole fruits and veggies.
Packaged produce have often experienced some kind of process to add sugar and remove fiber, and that processing can also remove other key nutrients. By starting with the whole fruit or vegetable, you’re more likely to give your baby the healthier choice. That’s why Raised Real’s meals always start with whole ingredients, flash-frozen to lock in their peak nutrition and never processed with additional sugar, salt, preservatives or other additives. Now that’s clean we can get behind.