The “paleo” trend is taking over. And now, there’s even a paleo cookbook for babies.
Unless you’ve been living in an actual cave, you will have heard that the “paleo” diet is having a bit of an “It Moment”.
The controversial diet involves restricting food intake to what cavemen ate over 10,000 years ago — mostly meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, eggs and natural oil — and has attracted endorsement from a few celebrities. Dietitians have criticised the extreme version of the diet for excluding core nutritious foods like breads, cereals, legumes and dairy foods.
Now, the paleo obsession has reached new heights (or lows, perhaps) — there’s an actual cookbook being released that includes paleo recipe for babies.
Yep, the book, co-authored by actress Charlotte Carr and TV chef Pete Evans (a self-styled diet expert who did a $5000 online course at a private clinic called Integrative Nutrition), features gluten-free and dairy-free recipes for new mothers, toddlers and babies.
Titled Bubba Yum Yum: The Paleo Way for New Mums, Toddlers and Babies, it’s due to hit shelves in April, and as Australian Women’s Weekly reports, its foreward actually implies that the diet may help prevent autism, birth defects, and varioius behavioural disorders.
Today, health experts told Mamamia that parents should not, except in exceptional circumstances, put otherwise healthy babies or children on restrictive eating plans like the paleo diet.
“I believe in ‘paleo-inspired ‘and not taking an extreme approach on food especially with babies and toddlers,” nutritionist and author Michele Chevally Hedge, founder of www.myfamilywellness.com.au, told Mamamia.
“Everyone has bio individual needs- some but not all people required dairy free and no grains,” she added. “The fundamental principles of wholefood are fabulous,however the discrimination of certains food groups may not be beneficial too all people.”
Independent nutritionist Dr Rosemary Stanton took a similar view, telling Mamamia that while a “small percentage” of children have an allergy to the protein in cow’s or goat’s milk, “for all other children, milk (and yoghurt and cheese) are useful foods, supplying protein, calcium, several of the B complex vitamins, especially riboflavin and vitamin B12.”
For children without an allergy, she said, “(t)here is no valid reason to avoid these products.”
Related content: “Oh, so it’s my COOKING that has caused my son’s autism?”
That wasn’t Dr Stanton’s only concern, either: She added that some of the book’s authors promote a ‘bone broth’ for infants in place of milk, which she would not recommend.
“At least one study has found that bones sequester lead and bone broths tested had high lead levels,” Dr Stanton — author of the Choice Guide to Foods — said. “While the levels may be fine for an adult, they are unsafe for babies.”
“An even smaller number of children have coeliac disease which means they must avoid gluten – one of the proteins in wheat, rye and barley. Some also react adversely to a similar protein in oats, (but) for all other children (and adults) there is no reason to avoid gluten,” she said.
“Indeed, there is a lot of valid scientific evidence that wholegrain products, including those made from wheat, rye or barley, offer long-term reduction of risk of many possible heath problems – including type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some types of cancer. “
As for Evans’ claim that a paleo diet can help prevent autism?
“There is no evidence for such claims – not a single study,” she said. “Nor is there any valid scientific reason why such a diet would ‘cure’ autism. However, a diet with less junk will benefit every child’s health.”
We say, do your kid’s health a favour. Before you jump on the paleo parenting bandwagon, do your research.
Because chances are, your little human doesn’t need a dairy-free or gluten-free diet at all.