Poor nutrition, lack of rest and other types of stress are major factors in children's weight problems. Excessive refined carbohydrates in the diet is the single most important reason many children gain excessive weight. These foods are correctly called 'empty calories' because they have been stripped of almost all their vitamins and minerals. They severely upset body chemistry and contribute to chronic yeast infections, food cravings and glandular disturbances. Also, deficiencies caused by eating these foods cause more toxic metals and some harmful chemicals to be absorbed in greater amounts. These in turn are also harmful and may contribute to weight gain.
Young children in particular should have a fast metabolic rate, or what we call fast oxidation. Fast oxidizers easily gain weight on diets high in carbohydrates. Their bodies need good quality fats or oils with each meal. They include eggs, meats, nuts, nut butters, goat milk or goat cheese, olive and coconut oil. They will not tend to gain weight on these foods if they avoid most starches and sweets. If fast oxidizing children do not eat enough of these fats and oils, they will have very strong cravings for sugars and starches. This is an important cause of weight gain in fast oxidizers.
However, today we see fewer and fewer fast oxidizers. Most children become mineral-depleted by age 5 or 6 and their metabolism slows down at a young age. Children with a sluggish metabolic rate, whom we call slow oxidizers, generally have low blood sugar due to weak adrenal glands. They are drawn to sugars in particular to temporarily raise their blood sugar levels and give them extra energy. However, this is a short-term boost that leads to more cravings several hours later. Eating sweet foods, including fruit and especially fruit juices, upsets the insulin mechanism and often increases sweet and starch cravings. It can also cause weight gain in many children. Sweet fruits like dates, figs, raisins and other dried fruits are especially high in sugars.
Slow oxidizers are also considered yin in Chinese medicine. This means expanded and cold. They are made much worse by eating sugary yin food of any kind, including fruit juices and other sweets.
Foods sweetened with fruit juices are slightly better for children than those made with refined sugar, but not much. Help your children to avoid all sweetened foods.
Sugar is hidden in most prepared foods and may be labeled corn syrup, dextrose, glucose, fructose, maltose, rice syrup, maple syrup, fruit juice or honey.
Refined starches include white flour, also called wheat flour found in flour tortillas, pastas, breading and almost all baked goods. Only whole wheat flour is unrefined. Besides being very deficient in vitamins and minerals, white flour is usually bleached with toxic chlorine.
Refined vegetable oils to avoid include commercial sunflower, safflower, peanut, corn, soy, canola and sesame oil. Hydrogenated oils found in margarine, commercial peanut butters and in many baked goods are even worse. Oils used to make French fries and other deep-fried foods are also harmful, having been heated to high temperatures for long periods of time. The best oils are olive oil, butter and coconut oil.
For breakfast, instead of sugared cereals, donuts or soda pop, feed children eggs, butter, goat milk, goat yogurt, whole-grain cereals, nuts and nut butters. Natural chicken or turkey sausage and turkey bacon are also fine.
For lunches, instead of soda and pastries, have meat sandwiches on whole-grain breads, chefs salads, meat soups, cooked vegetables, nuts and seeds.
For supper, have less bread, pasta, fruit, ice cream and potatoes. Always have a protein, some high-quality fat or oil and cooked vegetables.
Instead of soda pop and other sweet drinks, try lemon in water, non-caffeinated teas or very diluted fruit juices. Most juices provide much more sugar than is best for children.
Read labels and prepare foods fresh to minimize children's intake of toxic chemical additives. Some of these chemicals are stimulants that increase the appetite. Others are toxic to the thyroid and adrenal glands and lead to excessive weight gain. Others cause water weight retention. Estrogen-like substances found in pesticides and in most dairy products may also contribute to fat accumulation.
Some believe the answer to eating sugar is to substitute non-caloric artificial sweeteners. We do not recommend these as they are often toxic and keep the sweet cravings alive. Studies show that people who drink diet sodas and other diet foods gain just as much weight, perhaps because they believe they have an excuse to eat more if they also consume diet foods.
If one must use an artificial sweetener, we recommend xylitol or sorbitol. Please avoid saccharin, Splenda or aspartame (Nutrasweet or Equal). Aspartame in particular can contribute to symptoms ranging from depression and seizures to possibly death.
Many minerals and vitamins are involved in one's weight. Manganese, zinc and especially chromium are needed for the insulin mechanism and proper sugar metabolism. Most children are born deficient in these minerals because their mothers were deficient. Imbalances only become worse if children's diets are low in protein and vital minerals.
Calcium, magnesium, copper, vanadium, selenium, molybdenum and other nutrients are all needed for proper glandular activity. B-complex vitamins as well as all the others are also vital for the metabolism of sugars and other foods.
Vegetables are the other main source of minerals. They should be cooked for the best mineral utilization. They can be made into tasty vegetable stews and vegetable soups for children who do not like to eat vegetables by themselves.
Since most of the world's soil is deficient in minerals, supplements are needed. Switching to sea salt adds minerals to the diet. Excellent supplements that can safely be used by most children are kelp, or dulse if the child objects to the taste of kelp. These are rich sources of trace minerals. Kelp also contains substances that bind toxic metals and help remove radiation from the body. Introduce kelp slowly to allow children to get used to the taste.
Weight gain is a common symptom of food allergies. The most common allergic foods include wheat and cow's milk products. These are hybrids that have been greatly altered so they are much less healthful than the original product 100 years ago. We recommend all children avoid these foods, although some butter is fine.
Many substitutes are available. Organic cow's milk products are a little better. Goat milk or almond milk are excellent choices. We do not recommend soy milk because soy contains thyroid inhibitors and enzyme inhibitors. Often it is also sweetened, which is not helpful. Spelt is too close to wheat and is best avoided. Other whole grains in moderation are fine for most children.
Correcting children's diets can be done with patience and persistence. Parents will need to experiment, explain the benefits to children such as having more energy, better skin or getting better grades in school. Parents also need to set a good example and avoid tempting children and rewarding children with sweets and junk food. One must take the time to prepare meals at home and persist in the effort.
No one is perfect and one cannot control a child's diet when away from home. However, one can teach children to make good food decisions wherever they are. Avoid embarrassing or forcing children to eat a certain way, as this usually causes resentment and more problems. Making it fun and including children in the process of shopping, meal planning and food preparation are most helpful.
Excessive weight gain can be due to lack of exercise or lack of sleep. This may be due to spending too much time with computers and television. It may also be due to fatigue, so that one does not want to exercise. Some just need more rest, while others require a complete nutritional program to restore energy.
Many children have complex deficiencies, toxic conditions and severe metabolic imbalances. Simply eating well and taking a multivitamin will not correct these imbalances. Many children benefit greatly from a scientifically-designed nutrition program aimed at correcting deeper nutritional imbalances.
Several years of taking supplements and eating correctly may be required. However, the rewards are great, including better school performance, beautiful skin, improved athletic ability, fewer colds and much more.
Children often require fewer supplements than adults. These can be ground up, mixed with food or blended in a drink if one does not swallow pills. Most children respond quickly and do extremely well on nutritional balancing programs.