As you walk down the aisles of your local supermarket you may have noticed an increase in the number of veggie powders marketed at kids with colourful characters on them. There are also protein shakes being promoted to children and countless multivitamin gummies at your pharmacy.
But, do our kids need any of these?
The simple answer is no. Here are the reasons why:
- Most kids get enough protein. You do not need to give them a protein powder or protein supplement. Instead, focus on adding in protein foods to their diet. If they don’t eat meat, you can meet their protein needs from vegetarian food sources likes nuts, legumes, seeds (shout out to hemps seeds in particular with more protein than red meat!) and also tofu. Don’t forget dairy foods like yogurt, cheese and milk that are packed full of protein too.
- Most veggie powders contain very little vegetables. Even if they do, during the manufacturing process they can lose a significant amount of their heat sensitive nutrients.
- We need to ask ourselves, what does giving them a vegetable powder actually achieve? It doesn’t expose them to the look, smell and taste of the actual vegetable you want them to eat. Instead, we are missing out on a chance to help them learn about the food in its whole form. It can feel frustrating to waste veggies kids won’t eat but if we don’t offer it to them, how can we expect them to learn to accept them?
- These powders are incredibly expensive at $25 per 100g…. that $250 per kilo! Now think about the amount of fruit and vegetables you could go and buy with that instead….or just something nice for yourself!
- We lose all the important fibre in a powder.
- Parents are often worried that their little one is not getting enough vitamins and minerals from vegetables, but did you know many fruits offer similar nutrients? If your little one likes eating a variety of fruit, it is very unlikely they will have a deficiency from missing out on veggies.
- These powders are often mixed with water or into a smoothie and can fill little bellies up. Doing this can mean that they don’t have the appetite for a meal or snack. We want to focus on the whole foods over drinks.
- Do you know how much vitamins and mineral are in them? We also want to be careful that we aren’t exceeding the recommended daily intake of any one vitamin or mineral, which is much easier to do from a powder compared to the whole food.
The take home:
If you are worried enough about your little one’s diet to want to offer a supplement, veggie, or protein powder then you should get their diet assessed by a paediatric dietitian. They will look for any gaps and help you come up with an individual plan to address any potential deficiency. They will also support you to work towards having more whole foods in you little one’s diet. If there is a reason to supplement, they will be able to guide you in exactly what you need as well.
Most of these products are not there because there is a genuine need for them. They are there to make a profit from the desire of every parent to ensure their kids are getting the nutrition they need to thrive. But you can rest assured, there is no need for these powders in your pantry.