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HomeNewsNorthern Health tips for parents wanting to switch kids to plant-based diets

Northern Health tips for parents wanting to switch kids to plant-based diets

Long term studies have shown that switching to a plant-based diet can have its health benefits, but is it the right choice for growing children?

According to Lise Luppens, Northern Health Dietitian, making the switch can provide proper nutrition, but she recommends people talk to an expert before considering making a change to a vegetarian, vegan or plant-based diet.

She says the more restrictive parents want the diet to be, the more cautious they must be towards meeting nutritional needs.

“Nutrients to keep in mind include things like protein, essential fatty acids, iron, zinc, calcium, vitamin B12 and vitamin D. Careful planning with foods, including fortified and even supplements can help meet nutrient needs. That’s where a dietitian can help.”

Plant-based diets can mean different things to different people. In general, a plant-based diet is made up of mostly plant foods, and may include a small amount of animal products.

Parents also need to keep in mind diets are different for adults and children. For example, plant-based beverages, such as soy, rice, almond, hemp, or coconut beverages, are not suitable alternatives for breast milk, infant formula or animal milks for children.

Luppens added it’s not about cutting things out, but finding the right replacements.

“If you’re use to having a meat, potato, vegetable kind of dinner, there is some learning to do in terms of how to work with beans, lentils, and tofu. That is why I encourage people to start small and to build things slowly.”

When Luppens worked as a clinical dietitian she says she saw both parents and children come forward who wanted to move towards a plant-based diet.

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