If you have a child in elementary school, you likely cannot send them to school with any nut containing food. And, as I’m sure you know, nuts are a great source of fat and they’re portable and compact. It’s so easy to just grab a handful of nuts and go!
But what’s the big deal about fat anyway? And do we even need to worry about feeding it to our kids? Firstly, we need fat to survive, but not the processed, toxic types that are in so much of what we eat today. The good stuff. I’m talking avocado, chia seeds, salmon, coconut oil, hemp seed oil, butter……
If we dial it back to our ancestors’ hunter-gatherer days, we will discover that we are actually programmed to put on fat. Back then, we needed it…desperately, and probably wouldn’t have survived without it. All throughout history, as a species, the big challenge in life was to find calories, so our bodies are biologically adapted to this! We seek calorie sources- specifically fats and sugars. If we taste something fatty or sweet we get an immediate signal from our brain saying- “Yes, I want more of that.”
Soooo, where does that leave us today? Why do we even need Fat?
It can be hard to get adequate (and healthy) forms of fat into your kids but it’s necessary to the development of their brains, eyes, and nervous system. It provides an energy source, it helps to transport the fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K), it provides two essential fatty acids that the body can’t make and IT TASTES SOOOOO GOOD! In addition, balanced hormones rely on appropriate levels of fat in the diet therefore it’s vital that your kids are getting the right amounts of the right kinds!
Let’s start with the bad….
So – what is a bad fat? Any manufactured fat and Trans fat. Trans fats undergo a process that heats the oil and adds hydrogen to them to produce a thick “oil”; the main purpose is to prolong shelf life. It’s everywhere in processed food. AND MUST BE AVOIDED AT ALL TIMES.
You’re probably wondering why? For a whole host of reasons but basically, it has absolutely no positive benefit to the human body in any way, yet it has been proven to harm the body in a variety of ways. It’s literally as bad and unhealthy as it gets, and this fact may be the only thing unanimously agreed upon by everyone in the nutrition field.
Common sources of trans fat include:
– Fried foods.
– Fast food.
– Typical snack foods (chips, cookies, etc.).
– Various pastries.
To make sure you’re avoiding trans fats, read labels. Don’t give your kids foods that have the words “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” on the ingredients list. In order to avoid feeding your kids trans fats, the best thing you can do is eliminate processed foods from their diet.
And now for the good fat…YAY!
For a long time we thought all solid fat, aka saturated fat, was just as bad. New and better research has shown that solid fats such as coconut oil and organic butter has many benefits.
Fats are made up of Long Chain Fatty Acids (LCFA) and Medium Chain Fatty Acids (MCFA). LCFA are found in soybean and other processed oils. It’s difficult for your body to digest and is stored in your fat cells. This is bad. MCFA are smaller, easier to digest and is immediately metabolized in your liver, thus becoming energy instead of being stored in your fat cells. Coconut oil is a MCFA. Butter is a MCFA.
And other good fats?
Nut oils such as almond, walnut, and avocado. Nuts and avocados, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds (high in omega 3), olive oil. Animal fats (in moderation), fish. Good fats have lots of benefits for your kids’ body, so let them enjoy various sources of fat but ensure they come from whole, unprocessed sources.
3 Sources Of Healthy Fats For Your Kids
1. Butter / Coconut oil
Yes, butter. Not Margarine.
How to get it in:
- Add butter to everything you feed your kids. Pasta, oatmeal, scrambled eggs, etc.
- Cook with coconut oil.
- Make smoothies with coconut milk.
- Add coconut chips to their yogurt. These are our favourite brand of coconut chips!
Avocadoes have long been promoted as a good source of fat…and that continues to be true.
How to get it in:
- Avocado pressed on toasted bread
- In smoothies – adds a wonderful smooth texture without altering the flavour
- Chocolate Avocado Pudding
3. Sunflower Seeds/Pumpkin Seeds
How to get it in:
- Make your own trailmix with pretzels, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, coconut chips and a few dark chocolate chips.
Recipe: Chocolate Avocado Pudding
Photo credit: lovingthebike.com
- 3 large avocados, soft and ripe
- 1/4 cup organic, high-quality cacao powder
- 3 to 6 Tbsp. coconut milk
- 1-2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2-4 Tbsp. raw honey or maple syrup
- Add all ingredients to the food processor and blend until smooth.
- Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving.