Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Raising a Vegetarian - Vitamins & Supplements

To a carnivore like myself, the thought of raising a vegetarian child seemed completely absurd.  I love nothing more than a fat steak, cooked medium-rare to perfection.  However, God gave me a son who would not touch chicken to save his life.  I used to get really out-of-sorts about my sons eating habits.  But after doing some research and learning about the nutritional needs of children, I'm over it.  It's still amusing to see the look of shock on the faces of friends and family when they learn about what my son will not eat.  My goal here is to provide some encouragement to other moms of picky eaters.  It's not the end of the world if your child doesn't eat like other children - it just means you have to be creative :o)

Even though I'm 'over it', like I said before, it is still my job as his mom to make sure my child gets the nutrients he needs.  The first thing I did was figure out what healthy foods my son DOES like.  Next, I looked at what was missing so I could fill in the nutritional gaps.  Surprisingly enough, my son is getting all the daily protein he needs from milk, nuts, yogurt and pudding (click here to find out how much protein children need at different ages).  However, I noticed that he is still lacking variety in fruits and vegetables.  Here's where I had to get creative and have him try new things.  Our two lifesavers are V8 Fusion juice and organic fruit strips (Archer Farms brand from Target).  To my surprise, he has developed a love for pancakes.  It's an added plus that he loves my pumpkin pancakes - he's getting lots of good nutrients from the pumpkin puree.

If you like to cook, I recommend Jessica Seinfeld's book, "Deceptively Delicious".  My daughter had no idea that there were beans and squash in her cheese quesadillas!

Since I don't want my son to lack key vitamins and nutrients, I decided to give him supplements (I give them to my daughter, as well).  I realize that naturalists prefer that people get their nutrients from actual food.  When my son decides to eat a larger variety of foods, I'll cut back on the supplements.  But for now, I just want to get those nutrients in his growing body!  And, there are lots of organic choices out there for those wanting to be as natural and chemical-free as possible.

Here are some of the supplements that we use - and they have been taste-approved by both of my kids!

Hero Nutritional's Yummi Bears Gummy Vitamins - Wholefood Fruits & Veggies

Surprisingly, I chose the Great Value (generic) brand children's multi-vitamin from Wal-Mart.  It was the only kid's multi-vitamin there that had all of the key vitamins & minerals I was looking for: B12, Iron (many vegetarians run the risk of having an iron deficiency), Magnesium and Zinc (interestingly enough, a lack of magnesium and zinc can cause a child to have ADHD symptoms - read more here). 

Even though my son's palate has not expanded much over the past year, I feel that he is making progress.  Over the past month since he has turned 4, I've noticed that he eats a great volume than he did before.  Meal times have not been as much of a battle and often he has finished his plate without me having to constantly remind him to keep eating.  He likes his vitamins and looks forward to taking them and I've noticed a positive difference in his behavior (which could also be due to better sleeping habits).

I welcome your thoughts, encouragement and advice.

Here are some articles that I found helpful:
Vegetarian Diets for Children
The Vegetarian Site
Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine

1 comment:

Adventures of a Rushing Wife said...

I'm glad to hear that he is eating better!