Better Baby FoodDecember 9, 2010 Written by JP [Font too small?]
This past weekend, I sat in a cozy hotel room in Paris watching the snow fall onto a picturesque street. I snapped a photo of this lovely moment to share with you. In one hand, I held cup of espresso and in the other a copy of USA Today. In it, an article written by the famed pediatrician Dr. Alan Greene captured my attention. The thrust of the piece was to persuade parents to discontinue using white rice cereal as a starter food for their babies. Who could disagree with that? As is often the case in medicine and nutrition, there’s more to the story than meets the eye.
First things first. I should disclose that I generally agree with the recommendations put forth by integrative pediatricians such as Dr. Greene. If most parents would simply shift their health care philosophy more in line with his, I think upcoming generations would be much better off. Having said that, I don’t endorse all of what this good doctor is selling in his latest book, Feeding Baby Green. Though I must admit that it’s a clever title. (1,2,3)
One of the primary assertions in the article and book is that parents should employ a “white out”. In particular, white rice cereal should be replaced with brown rice cereal. There is an evidence-based rationale for making this recommendation. Numerous studies of late demonstrate that reducing one’s intake of white rice can substantially lower the odds of developing diabetes and stroke in adulthood. In addition, most interventions that have examined the merits of rice-based formula in infants have concluded that it’s an effective vehicle for nutrition – especially for babies who cannot tolerate dairy-based formula. (4,5,6,7,8,9)
The question that lingers in my mind is this: Why feed babies any rice at all? If you compare the nutritional labels of a conventional white rice cereal and an organic brown rice cereal, you’ll find that the nutrient composition is nearly identical.
- Gerber White Rice Cereal: Calories: 60. Protein: 1 gram. Carbohydrates: 12 grams. Fiber: 0 grams. Fat: .5 grams.
- Earth’s Best Whole Grain Rice Cereal: Calories: 50. Protein: 1 gram. Carbohydrates: 11 grams. Fiber: 0 grams. Fat: 0 grams.
In fairness, Dr. Greene also advocates making homemade baby food using a food mill or processor. In my opinion, this is a much better option. Pureed whole foods are far superior sources of macro and micronutrients than grains. A simple study of the product labels of pea and squash baby food tell the story plain and simple: They both contain fewer carbohydrates, more fiber and nutrients. It’s also important to factor in the non-nutritive elements found in low-glycemic fruits and vegetables, namely, the health promoting phytochemicals. Furthermore, the values presented on product labels are based on commercially produced baby food. Making it from scratch at home using organic fruits and vegetables can only improve on the final product and the health of any baby being fed in such a manner. (10,11,12,13)
Tags: Baby, Parenting, Rice
Posted in Children's Health, Food and Drink, Nutrition