Fruits vs. Veggies: Are They “Nutritionally Equivalent?”

As I was researching the topic of how to encourage kids to eat more vegetables, I kept running across statements that fruits and vegetables were basically interchangeable, like this one from child feeding expert Ellyn Satter’s site.

Fruits and vegetables carry the same nutrients, so a child can be well-nourished on either.”

I’m currently reading Ellyn Satter’s book “Child of Mine,” about feeding children, and finding it full of good insight. I like her philosophy, and I’m not trying to call her out by checking the validity of her statement. Many many great nutritionists offer a similar reassurance to parents who worry about their child’s aversion to vegetables. Dietician Jill Castle did in her comment on my veggie post. (I love her blog, by the way – full of good feeding advice – and she’s working on a book!) Any good child feeding expert will tell parents to, above all, not worry too much about whether their child eats vegetables or even fruits for that matter. Don’t worry, because there is only so much you can do (which I outlined in my post), but beyond that, you can’t force a child to eat anything. Having any emotional investment in that idea will almost certainly backfire. So telling parents that fruits are basically as good as vegetables helps them relax at the dinner table, which is a good thing.

But, being the nutrition nerd that I am, I wondered about this purported “nutritional equivalence” of fruits and vegetables and wanted to look at the numbers myself. Continue reading

Why Is Breast Milk So Low in Iron?

When I started feeling concerned about BabyC’s iron status (Does My Baby Get Enough Iron?), I did what most worried, sleep-deprived mamas do – a Google search.  What I found were pages and pages of forums and blog posts full of comments from breastfeeding mothers who couldn’t fathom that their baby wasn’t getting everything she needed from breast milk.  Feed an iron-fortified cereal or give my baby iron drops?  Why?  Isn’t breast milk the perfect food for my baby?  I found many mothers fiercely defending breast milk and accordingly delaying the introduction of complementary foods and shunning the use of any fortified foods or supplements.  I felt compelled to write about this, because I think that in some circles the enthusiasm for breastfeeding has swung a little too far outside of what is actually best and natural for babies. Continue reading

5 Practical Ways to Increase Iron in Your Baby’s Diet

I mentioned in my last post (Does My Baby Get Enough Iron?) that I have been worrying about my 9-month-old’s iron nutrition.  Iron deficiency can cause lasting delays and deficits in cognitive and behavioral development, and I don’t want to go there.

First, let’s consider if your baby is actually at risk for iron deficiency, because why fret about something that isn’t a problem?  You have enough to worry about.

Continue reading