Nuts and Nutrition in Family Life
By SUE VIGNOLA
Little Ben Greenaway is a very healthy-looking toddler. With sparkling eyes, clear skin and an easy-going temperament, two-year-old Ben is a testament to the benefits of a healthy, wholesome diet. Parents Yania and Robert Greenaway are not vegetarian, but they are committed to a nutritious dietary lifestyle, with nuts and seeds playing a regular role in their family meals.
They also state that through nurturing a natural love of wholesome foods they’ve so far managed to keep Ben utterly uninterested in chocolate and sugar! Ben’s diet is mostly wheat-free and non-dairy as well, although they began introducing goat cheese after his second birthday. What’s more, Ben’s an absolute fiend for almond milk and almond butter.
We’re visiting the Greenaways at their family home in Vernon, BC. Ben has just awoken from his afternoon nap and is playing shy. However, once he has his almond milk in front of him, plus a pile of raw mixed nuts, he’s happy to engage with us! When asked which nuts he loves best, he yells out "almonds!" Yania and Robert say he also loves pecans, walnuts and Brazil nuts, but almonds play a prominent role due to the almond milk and butter.
Yania: "Well, at his age it’s fairly easy, as we have full control. However, we know at some point we can expect to lose the dietary battle with him, and we’ll have to let go a little. School will be a powder keg of challenges!
Agreeing, Robert says, "Young kids learn from each other and we realize that Ben will be exposed to unhealthy eating habits, which he may want to imitate." While bowing to the inevitable, Robert and Yania believe that by giving Ben a good healthy start in life they are laying the foundation for a lifetime of wholefood awareness.
School ban on nut products. How will this family handle the issue? Yania responds, "Well, it’s already arisen for us, since we’re not allowed to bring any nut products to Ben’s drop-in play group. I’m definitely of two minds about it, as nuts are such a big part of Ben’s diet. However, having myself suffered from childhood allergies, I know how unpleasant an adverse reaction can be. For those children with a peanut allergy that is literally life-threatening, I think it’s one of those times when you simply have to comply with the rules for the greater good." Yania continues thoughtfully, "School lunch is only one meal out of three. It’s up to us as parents to make sure his other meals are wholesome and healthy."
Behavioural problems with young children ~ diet-related? Many nutritional experts believe diet plays a role in the uncontrollable behaviour increasingly exhibited by many young children. Yania and Robert agree wholeheartedly.
Yania: "I think it’s huge. After taking my education assistant course, I saw first-hand how many children come to school hungry. And when they do eat or drink, they’re consuming empty calories through sweet, starchy foods and sugary drinks." She continues, "Healthy oils, from nuts, flax and fish have been proven to play a vital role in reducing behavioural problems. It’s so important to include these essential nutrients in your child’s diet."
Almonds ~ a handful a day gives you all this!
- BRAIN FOOD: High contents of riboflavin and L-carnitine boost brain activity, and phenylalanine aids in developing brain function
- Lowers risk of cardiovascular and coronary heart disease
- Lowers blood pressure
- High magnesium content
- Rich source of folic acid, calcium and phosphorus
- Good source of protein
- Excellent source of dietary fibre