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Episode 34: Understanding Toxins and Finding Better Ways to Raise Healthy Kids with Dr. Natasha Beck

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Brief summary of show:

Do you relate to the struggle of kids having poor eating habits? I know it’s not just me!

Too much sugar and toxins can lead to so many problems, including developmentally, healthy-wise and with sleep. And it’s not just our kids, it’s adults too.

So, how do we start to change the conversation we have with our kids around food? How do we get them to eat more fruits and vegetables without having to sneak them in, or pretend they aren’t there?

My guest this week is Dr. Natasha Beck, parenting expert and founder of Dr. Organic Mommy, an online resource focused on pregnancy, parenting, and non-toxic living. She holds a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology, specializing in pediatric neuropsychology, and a Master’s in Public Health, specializing in child and family health. She is also certified in leadership education in neurodevelopmental disabilities from Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

Listen in as we talk about:

  • The controversy around artificial coloring and food dyes

  • How to help our kids make better decisions when it comes to food

  • What you should actually buy organic vs. not

  • What to look for on food labels

  • Breakfast food ideas that are healthy and support your immune system

  • How to start transitioning your eating

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Resources mentioned in the episode:

Connect with Dr. Natasha

Connect with Me

Podcast Highlights:

[00:05:13] Tips to help kids make better food choices

[00:07:32] Where to start when buying organic food

[00:11:37] Impact that toxins have on our kids

[00:20:36] The relation of diet and behavior

[00:22:55] How to involve your kids in eating healthier

Full transcript of episode:

[00:00:00] Natalie: Tell me, if you relate to the struggle with kids and poor eating habits, is it just me? No know it's not sugar. Addiction is a huge problem. It can lead to learning issues and much more [00:00:41] Natalie: Hi everyone. It's Natalie. And I feel like our kids are surrounded by unhealthy things and getting them to eat fruits and vegetables, and it can be next to impossible. [00:00:49] I've gotten to a point where I started requiring it, but that often backfires because they really don't want it. So I sneak it into things like soups and smoothies. Well, kids are smart and they're totally onto me. So how do we change the eating habits of our kids? Unfortunately, the American diet is often just bad and it's leading to problems with our kids' learning and overall health. [00:01:13] And, you know, That applies to us adults as well. So we're going to talk about all of that on the podcast today with Dr. Natasha Beck. She is the founder of Dr. Organic mommy and online resource focused on pregnancy, parenting nutrition, and nontoxic living. She holds a doctorate in clinical psychology, and she specializes in child and family. [00:01:34] Before we get started. I want to ask you a favor. If you haven't yet subscribed or written a review of this podcast, it would be so much to me. I would be honored to have you do so. And thank you for helping me spread the word on what we're doing to help get healthy with our relationships and with our physical health as well onto the podcast. [00:01:53] Now with Dr. Natasha back. Natasha is joining me now. And [00:01:57] this conversation is one that is so close to me, and I know a lot of parents first keeping our kids healthy, Natasha, but it feels like we live in a world that makes that difficult, especially here in the [00:02:09] Dr. Natasha: U S that's definitely so true. It is really tough, especially because we don't value health as much. [00:02:17] I mean, we're definitely going in that direction, which is great. Cause there's more options. And there's more awareness, but it definitely is tough on. So, [00:02:25] Natalie: have, and I'll use this as an example. My, oldest daughter started realizing, and I want to talk about a couple of things here. [00:02:31] Let me back up toxicity, things that are toxic in what we eat. Also, I want to talk about sugar and sleep because these are all really important in my family. And I know for other parents, they worry about these things. But one of the things that we look at when I was talking about my daughter is food colorings. [00:02:46] It seems to be in everything that we eat. I mean, our food is really pretty right. It's it's way too colorful in boxes and cans, but let's go into that because my daughter gets headaches when there's red, number 40 in things that she eats. Give me some other examples of that and why it's important for us to pay [00:03:05] Dr. Natasha: attention to this. [00:03:05] So you're talking about artificial food dyes, and there's been a lot of controversy about that. They're banned. A lot of them are banned in other places like in Europe, but in the states we still have several that we still use consistently. Unfortunately. Speaking of which red dye 40 that your daughter is so sensitive to, that's banned in in Europe, but it's not banned here, unfortunately. [00:03:27] And even in the sixties, we started seeing. That there was impacts on children who had attentional difficulties. And that research has been ongoing looking at how artificial food dyes, as well as refined sugar and preservatives are all impacting children's behavior from sleep to attention, to cognition and causing long-term impacts with like fatty liver disease with sugar. [00:03:53] Now that we've never seen in young teens, And so it's really a huge public health problem. [00:03:59] Natalie: What is fatty liver disease? [00:04:01] Dr. Natasha: So our liver actually can't is it? Our liver is our detox Oregon. Right? And so when we are consuming so much refined sugar and we're just constantly getting insulin spikes, our liver turns into fat basically, and we can't regulate the amount of sugar that we're taking in. [00:04:19] And so these kids are all developing diabetes. [00:04:22] Natalie: Oh, that's, that's scary to think about from a child's perspective, but then those children grow into young adults and older adults where that will impact them greatly [00:04:32] Dr. Natasha: very much so. So we just have to be more conscientious about it. And obviously this can seem overwhelming, especially for a parent. [00:04:39] Well, how do I deal with this? Like sugar is so prevalent. Artificial dyes are so prevalent. How do I manage all the. [00:04:45] Natalie: Well, let's go right into that because I feel like, you know, my older, daughters are a little bit more aware probably cause I talk about it and it started to sink in. But when we look at our younger children, creating those habits and living in a world where. [00:04:59] Cupcakes are in the classroom every day and, candy at Halloween. Like you, you don't want to make your kids feel like they're being punished because they don't get what other kids have that has that immediate gratification. But how do we deal with that [00:05:13] Dr. Natasha: as parents? It's definitely tough, especially, you know, when they become school age, and you don't have as much control, but with the younger children, it's really about. [00:05:21] Controlling what you can at home. My view is always 80 20, so you can't control everything. You just got to learn to let go, because if you restrict too much with kids, the, you know, when the inevitably are let loose, they will go completely bonkers and, and, So you've got to educate and you've got to model for them. [00:05:39] And so with young children, it's really about showing them. You know, the importance of connecting what they eat with, how they feel. So they be calm. Self-aware like your oldest daughter. Realizing, oh, when I eat this red dye 40, I get headaches. So with children, you want to make that same connection for them and help them see like, oh, it's not normal to actually feel bloated. [00:06:02] It's not normal to feel like it's painful to go to the bathroom. It's not normal to feel like slow and sluggish or to feel so hyper that I'm running around all the time, you know, or that I feel like I can't sleep. These are things that are not normal to feel. And so we want to make that connection for kids to see that. [00:06:21] And then we want to educate our children about food, where food comes from, I always tell our kids and all our families that I work with. Always read your labels and do it with your kids. Let's look things up together. What is this ingredient? And when there's like hundreds of ingredients on something, I don't want to eat fake food. [00:06:39] I want to stick with the real food. when you're going to the grocery store, I always tell you stick with the outer Isles, go to the farmer's markets, you know, stick with what's in season buy frozen. If you have two, frozen is great. Be a great option, especially one that's cheaper to get things that are. [00:06:55] They flash freeze it at the peak of the season. And so that way the nutrition is held in. So that's another great option. [00:07:02] Natalie: Yeah. Frozen, I think sometimes gets overlooked because you're right. They can freeze it right away. Can we talk about for moment and I'm not sure if you hear my dogs barking, the benefit of working at home. [00:07:13] It's great. There must be somebody outside. Apologize for that. So let's talk about organic. It's more expensive, can be harder for people sometimes to pay for how important is it? And do you think in your professional opinion that it should be everything or what's most important for us to buy [00:07:31] Dr. Natasha: organic? [00:07:32] Yeah, so everybody's at a different point in their journey. So it's really hard, I think for parents not to compare themselves to other people. So if you're at a point where you don't buy anything or. Let's start with something from the environmental working group, which is a great nonprofit organization that they published the dirty dozen and the clean 15. [00:07:51] So the dirty dozen meaning like these are the top 12 foods that hold pesticides, the most pesticides, meaning what they spray on crops to avoid getting, you know, bugs, eating them or for them breaking down or having weeds. And so we want to avoid those because they are harmful to our bodies. So looking at that dirty dozen list, like kales on their strawberries on there, things that have a thin skin, but like looking at the clean 15, you've got, you know, things that are citrus, like an orange or a lemon or a banana, those have thicker skin. [00:08:24] So the pesticides don't actually get through to the fruit or vegetable as much. So I always say, When you can try to buy organic with at least the dirty dozen. But I think people are confused about what organic actually means. So when you find a package that says organic, what does that actually mean? [00:08:41] It does mean there's no artificial food dyes in there. It means that there's no high fructose corn syrup. It means there's no GMOs. It means there's no glyphosate sprayed on it. And so that at least, you know, having that USDA organic symbol is. [00:08:56] Something to cue you that, Hey, this is not, this doesn't have everything. It doesn't always mean it's healthy for you, but at least, you know, that, that, option is there for you to say, all right, there's two different kinds of pasta sauces, one right next to the other two coat, different kinds of maple syrups, you know, one that's organic and one, that's not typically, you know, they're right next to each other in the store and it's not always more expensive. [00:09:19] And so you just want to be mindful of that, When you're doing your grocery shopping, let's [00:09:24] Natalie: go into a few of the things when you're looking at an ingredient list. Like the first thing I do is I look to see if there are a lot of ingredients, because if it's a big, long list, I usually start questioning. [00:09:34] And when I don't know what half of the ingredients are that's when I question it, but what are some of the top offenders, if you pull out the box that the grocery store and you're looking at it, we know of course artificial coloring, but what are some of the others that we should be [00:09:48] Dr. Natasha: watching? So the first thing I always advise people to do is to look right directly for the added sugar that's now regulated. [00:09:55] And so all companies actually have to do that. And so when I look at the added sugar, I don't want the added sugars the most important, because they it's very complicated. When you look at the ingredients, they can list cane sugar, they can list brown rice syrup. Those are all different sugars. So you think, oh, there's only one sugar in there. [00:10:13] It's okay. But they don't have to combine them, you know? And so there's several, sometimes 10 different types of sugar it's in one product. And so that's why I go first for the added sugar. How much is there? You know, and you want to be mindful of that because for children under the age of. [00:10:30] The American academy of pediatrics recommends no sugar. And then all of a sudden it jumps from age two to 17, 24 grams of sugar, which is a huge range because a two year old does not weigh the same as a 17 year old. And so you want to be mindful of that. Like, I'm not going to give my kid 24 grams of added sugar each day and it actually adds up really quickly. [00:10:53] Unfortunately, you've got, a glass. Orange juice. You've got a muffin. You've got your sweetened yogurt and a piece of toast. You're basically got your added sugar for the day. All in one meal right there. With 24 grams of added sugar. And that's a [00:11:09] Natalie: lot. Yeah. That goes very quickly, especially at school, if they have, you know, somebody's birthday and they have cookies or whatever that might be, you you've pretty much used your day of added sugar right there. [00:11:21] Yeah, exactly. [00:11:22] Dr. Natasha: And there's impacts to that on, on your child's health. [00:11:26] Natalie: Okay. So what would those types of impacts be? And we talk about the hyper or the ADHD that we're starting to see more of in kids, but what other impacts do you see? [00:11:37] Dr. Natasha: I mean, I see it impacts sleep. I mean, if you're so wound up and you've got like huge spikes in insulin and your body's not able to regulate, it's really hard to calm your body down to actually relax, to go to sleep. [00:11:49] If you are. You know, not getting enough fiber, which most people in America, unfortunately don't. And when you're getting all this added sugar, there's no fiber there. You know, especially with like a glass of orange juice, that's a huge amount of sugar, but there's no fiber, unfortunately or apple juice you're going to have bowel movement issues. [00:12:07] You know, you're going to feel constipated and no kid is going to feel happy if they are feeling strained, if they feel uncomfortable with their digestion. And so then that comes out in their behavior because they don't know how to put two and two together to express that. [00:12:21] Natalie: So with your kids and tell us how old they are and give us an example of what a day looks like or a weekend or something. [00:12:30] Just, I like to give people real world examples of what it can look like. And I also know that it's hard to just turn the page and all of a sudden one day wake up and say, okay, kids we're, we're changing everything. So maybe some advice for starting to make those changes and getting [00:12:46] Dr. Natasha: help. Great question. [00:12:47] So I have a seven year old boy, a five-year-old girl and an almost three-year-old girl, and then another girl on the way. So a typical day, you know, I like to make a veggie loaded oatmeal in the morning. I always say why do we not put vegetables in our every meal? I think people tend to avoid it because you know, there's mystery behind it and oh, it's might be bitter or it might taste. [00:13:10] But if you're buying things in season, vegetables are great and I don't want my kids to be fearful of it. So it's really important to introduce it all the time and to not make a big deal over it. So if my child says to me, oh, I don't want to eat this. Oh, it seems like you don't want that right now. So you're going to validate what they're saying to you and acknowledge it. [00:13:29] Validate seems like you feel a little bit frustrated because they don't want that tension with my child because. I don't want to dictate to them. You have to eat this, eat one more bite. I never use that in my vocabulary. That's not there me as the parent or the caregiver, you want to decide what, and when your child eats and your child decides if and how much. [00:13:52] So that way the battle at least is removed from the table. But I do let my kids know that our taste buds are always changing and I examine our tongues. We get out of the magnifying