My name is Lisa Tsakos, Registered Holistic Nutritional Consultant, corporate speaker and author. This blog provides professional advice from a nutrition and weight loss expert (me!) about corporate and family health. Here you'll find recipes and articles that address work-related challenges like eating on-the-go and maximizing your productivity with the right foods. You'll also find out about how you can help your children develop strong immune systems and healthy bodies. As a nutrition instructor, I often found myself thinking, "When I have kids, this is how I will feed them." With two toddlers, I have the opportunity to practice what I have been preaching and to try out my theories. So far, they seem to be working! Follow me on my journey and also on Twitter @NuVitalityHW.

31 Mar 2012

An anti-inflammatory diet for kids: The basics

If you could go back in time, right back to the beginning of your life to build your immune system with the ingredients and defenses that would protect you throughout your lifetime, wouldn't you? Most of us are backtracking, trying to heal the damage that's been done from years of poor eating habits and inflammation, some of it caused by foods that we thought were healthy!

As a parent, you have an opportunity to get your kids off to a healthy start in life with an anti-inflammatory diet - a diet that provides the healthy building blocks needed by a developing body and mind.

The goals of the diet are:
  • to protect immunity by avoiding ingredients that cause inflammation and an allergic response
  • to protect the gut by minimizing exposure to gluten, sugar and additives known to damage the intestinal lining
  • to provide healthy intestinal flora  
  • to protect the developing brain by providing nutrients known to support learning and cognition, and by avoiding substances known to affect brain development, including gluten and artificial additives
If you are expecting or have a child under 6 months, now is the perfect time to familiarize yourself with these basic guidelines. 

6 months to 1 year (besides breast milk and/or organic formula):
  • Gradual introduction of non-allergenic foods (mostly organic vegetables, fruit, and non-glutinous grains) on a rotational basis
  • Avoidance of sugar and all common allergens (including cow's products, nuts, tomatoes, wheat, etc.)
  • Strict avoidance of artificial colours, flavours, and any other artificial additives

Up to 2 years of age:

  • Continued limitation of sugar and avoidance of gluten and artificial additives
  • Introduction of goat's milk


  • Omega-3 fatty acids DHA, 1,000 mg daily
  • Vitamin D, 1,000 IU daily or more
  • Probiotics (e.g., Natogen by Genestra)

A word on allergies:
Ever since reading Doris Rapp's book, "Is This Your Child", and especially after having my own kids, I'm always watching out for signs of allergies. My kids were fed based on the anti-inflammatory diet guidelines above, and today they show absolutely no signs of allergies or sensitivities to any natural foods. Perhaps it's just luck, but then I see a toddler with dark red circles around her eyes sucking back a Yop and am grateful for my diligence and stick-to-it-iveness when it comes to diet.  

It's best to introduce one new food at a time, and always early in the day. An allergic reaction can sometimes take hours (even days) to manifest. Some reactions to watch out for include:

Physical reactions: 
  • red or black circles around or under the eyes
  • red cheeks 
  • nose rubbing
  • red and/or itchy ears 
  • eye wrinkes
  • mottled tongue
  • itchy anus

Behavioural reactions:
  • aggression
  • temper tantrums
  • lack of alertness 
  • slurring words

You will be surprised by the types of foods that cause reactions - even foods that are considered healthy. Both my kids got red cheeks when they ate tomatoes (even organic ones) and also when they were exposed to strawberries (yup, organic strawberries too). To monitor any changes, tomatoes and strawberries were introduced in very small amounts every couple of months. Olivia had reactions right up until age 2, Ben until 1.5. Today, the only reactions they experience occur from artificial ingredients, in particular, red 40, and little Ben can get a bout of eczema when he eats too many cookies or other foods with added sugar. 

We all want to make our kids happy and to give them foods and snacks we know they'll enjoy. Temptations abound and they sure taste good. Since we can only 'control' what they eat for the first two or three years of their lives, let's make them the healthiest. Thirty years from now when they're vital and healthy, they'll thank you for it! 

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