In my opinion, the most confusing parts of nutrition today are fat and carbs. These are the last two parts of our Real Food series. First, we will deal with fats. There is so much confusion, even in the nutrition world, about what to do with fat. Low fat? High fat? Oils? Butter? How much fat should kids eat? And the questions go on and on and on…

I’m not the most conventional dietitian. If you haven’t noticed yet, this post may seal the deal because I love fat.  I also love for kids’ developing brains to have fat!  And guess what, I actually lost weight when I increased my fat intake! No joke, but that’s another blog.

If you have questions like: Won’t fat make me fat? Will saturated fat clog my arteries? Is saturated fat okay for my kids? I hear you and I understand those are real questions. But, those are the questions we’re trained to ask by the public health message about fat which is just flat out wrong.

The idea that saturated fat from foods causes heart disease or that to lose weight we just have to control our fat intake isn’t only false, but most would agree that it doesn’t work. Did you know over 70% of people who have heart attacks have normal cholesterol levels? It’s true. Here and here and here are some links to resources about the fat myth questions if you need help trusting me on this one. Moving on…

What fats should we eat?

1. Butter (pastured/grassfed if possible. Dr. Mercola agrees)

2. Coconut oil (cool video)

3. Avocado

4. Olive oil **

**Olive oil is a fabulous fat, but it breaks down when heated. Use olive oil as salad dressing or on cold foods, but do not saute or roast vegetables in olive oil. Please. Don’t do it. Oxidation of olive oil can happen at 300 degrees and higher.

What fats should we avoid?

canola, vegetable, soybean, cottonseed, corn or any other “seed” oil

– any hydrogenated fats, margarine, butter spreads or sprays

– heated olive oil

These fats increase inflammation in the body, increase risk of cancer, and are reeking havoc on all of our bodies. I’ll be the first to admit it is hard to get these completely out of the diet, but start trying! The processed oils/fat in the diets of children is one more of the toxins their little bodies are having to work overtime to eliminate and recover from moment by moment everyday. If this doesn’t convince you that, as Dr. Shanahan says,”canola oil is death in a bottle,” then I can’t help you anyway :)

If you’ve talked to me about your child’s nutrition for more than one minute I’ve probably told you to increase the fat in your child’s diet. I mean it. Kids developing brains need fat so badly! But, the type of fat we feed the brain is extremely important. It is widely accepted now that an ADHD brain (child or adult) is either starved or toxic. Our low-fat culture is part of the brain starvation that contributes to many learning difficulties and emotional instability. We cannot expect kids to learn and develop well on low-fat diets or toxic oils. We are starving their brains.

Another helpful addition to fat in the diet is supplementing with Cod Liver Oil. This is beneficial for the brains of both children and adults. At Marian Hope Center, we frequently see language increase and behaviors improve when kids start taking Cod Liver Oil. For kids 3 months to 12 years old, start with 1/2 tsp and work up to 1 tsp daily. I recommend only these 3 brands of Cod Liver Oil: Nordic Naturals, Carlson Labs, and Green Pastures.

So in conclusion, I leave you with wisdom from Julia Childs, “With enough butter, anything is good.”

  1. Can we put that cod liver oil in a snack instead of straight up? And does it have an icky flavor? Are you suggesting this for all kids in America?

  2. Amy- yes, you can put cod liver oil in anything you want to disguise it. Long term, I think it works better for kids to just learn how to take it. You can make jokes about it being “icky” or “gross,” remind them it helps our brain and then let them “chase” it with a favorite drink or piece of dark chocolate, etc.

    It does have an icky flavor but most people just get used to it over time.

    I can’t say that 100% of all children should be on Cod Liver Oil, because there could be a type of condition (I’m not aware of any) where it might not be a good idea, but in general, when well tolerated (no rashes or diarrhea) I think it is a good idea for children (and adults)

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