Article By: Dr. Evangelynn Honegger
Dr. Evangelynn Honegger is the Lead Clinic Physician at TRUEcare Integrative Medicine, an integrative naturopathic family medicine, acupuncture, and functional nutrition practice in Kirkland, WA.
Here's a round-up of the most common questions I’m asked as an integrative pediatric and family medicine clinician.
1) What tips & snacks do you recommend for picky eaters?
Coming up with healthful and balanced snacks that are also delicious can be a challenge, especially if you have picky eaters. Do you find meal and snack times becoming negotiations around, “Take one more bite please?” This must be one of the top questions I receive from parents of young toddlers to teens with selective tastes. Here are some small tips to try before you even set anything out on the table.
- Offer 2-3 options – it is important for children to see a couple foods they have enjoyed and recognize.
- Aways serve a preferred food alongside those new flavors and textures to try.
- Keep things colorful, even full of shapes with fun shape cutters.
- For older kiddos, aim for a "try-one-time-before-you-decide" rule, which keeps exposing tastebuds to new flavors and textures even if it’s turned down. Keep trying in future weeks.
- Make a list of everything kiddos eat, even sweeter cravings. Peek at any patterns... Is everything one color, one texture, one taste variety, one food group? Oftentimes, this process can provide some insight into how kids are selecting or avoiding foods.
I always emphasize looking at the food variety within a two-week period versus, "Did we get everything in one day?" Zooming out will often reveal a kiddo is getting a good variety... The question then becomes, "How do we build on current healthy choices to keep food fun and flexible with less pressure?"
Choose nutrient dense ingredients like zucchini, pumpkin, chia seed, banana, blueberries, or sweet potatoes since all of these options pack a nutrient kick with high fiber and immune-boosting support! This can take form of miniature muffins, protein cookies, and similar bite size snacks, which are easy to make large batches and freeze for later.
Tiny but mighty! Often smaller bites or portions are less overwhelming than a fully-loaded plate.
Fruits are usually the all-star food choice for kids. Try to choose fresh, in season fruits and lower glycemic index fruits like apples, pears, all the berries, clementines, melons, and avocados.
Prioritize food pairing. Aim for appropriate pairing to keep blood sugar stable.
P+C+F (protein + carbohydrate + healthy fat or fiber). Carbs for energy and muscles, protein for healthy growth development, fats for appetite satiety, and fiber for optimal digestion and heart health.
2) Do my kids need supplements? What are the most important vitamins for kids?
As parents, it can be overwhelming to navigate nutrition for your children and which supplements are essential. I’m constantly impressed with the formulations by Renzo’s and the wide essential nutrients their superpower supplements offer for littles. Renzo's has great bundles too, so you can try some on for size in your little’s routine.
The Fantastic 4
- Vitamin D3 – for healthy bones, hormones, mood, energy, and immune system support. Check levels first!
- Probiotic – to help boost healthy immune system function and gut microbiome (great for recovery if an antibiotic was needed).
- Iron – for optimal energy levels, focus, and healthy sleep. Check levels first!
- Vitamin C – for immune, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory support.
Before considering which supplements to implement into your child’s daily routine, try to first add nutrients naturally through diet with the many foods that are high in iron, rich in probiotics, and full of omega-3s.
Just like food variety for littles, the goal with supplement optimization is to aim for consistency within a week. Every extra day you get supplements in consistently is a bonus! You’re doing great, even if it’s just 3 days a week consistently!
3) What are the things to look for in any supplement for kids?
As parents beginning their search for the perfect vitamins to consider, we certainly find that not all supplements are created equal! Whether I get asked this question for adult patients or pediatric patients, my answer always runs true when critically picking out any supplement...
- Method of delivery – meltable and liquid formats are usually the easiest for younger kiddos.
- No added sugars or synthetic sugars (yet still taste yummy and palatable)!
- Non GMO.
- Money back guarantee.
- Co-factors and bioavailable ingredients for absorption.
- Tooth friendly/non-gummy (gummies impact dental health in both kiddos and adults)!
The Renzo’s Picky Eater Multi is a great option that comes in a Melty Tab format and supplies important nutrients for kids like iron for brain development, immune health-supporting zinc, and Vitamin D, which helps support healthy muscles and bones.
Discuss with your family or naturopathic doctor prior to beginning supplementation.
4) What vitamins should we increase during cold & flu season?
It’s critical to boost your kiddos’ immune system. While some viral infections are inevitable, there are plenty of immunity boosters for kids that will help decrease frequency and severity after getting sick and help prevent being taken out by the cold or flu going around this season. You can see that many of the supplements I’d recommend for immune-boosting support are mainstay foundational supplements to consider year-round.
- Vitamin D3
- Multi if you have a selective eater
The Renzo's Immunity Builder Bundle checks the boxes for what I would recommend in my office to my families and kiddos as it includes 3 immune-boosting superstars all in ONE simple bundle...
5) Do you have tips to optimize sleep?
Oftentimes, the whole family’s nervous system depends on how everyone is sleeping. This is a common conversation in every visit I have. I find kids can be iron deficient, and iron supplementation can often help decrease sleepiness, improve lack of focus during the day, and improve restless sleep (but we always make sure to check those iron levels first).
Vitamin B6 is an underrated support that has dual benefit for focus/attention and sleep as it helps the production of serotonin and melatonin in the body for healthy sleep circadian cycles.
Teachers are such an important part of your child’s development. They can provide so much insight on patterns they see in your child’s day-to-day focus and learning. Commonly, focus and attention come up for my school aged patients. This is where I tend to focus on brain-boosting superfoods, addressing nutrient deficiencies if that is part of the picture, and even suggesting the power of additional Vitamin B6 to help healthy neurotransmitters and brain health which can be a vital nutrient for focus and memory – especially in patterns showcasing ADD/ADHD or trouble concentrating. Consider checking out Bright & Brainy B6 and Iron Strong by Renzo’s.
6) When should we come see you?
I love seeing all my families and especially littles! I am grateful to work with my patients every day. Often, I have worked with families since their little ones were just days old. I always tell parents that it’s important to find the right pediatrician, and any other care provider on their child’s team who advocates for them and helps empower and educate. I also recommend prioritizing well child appointments and those preventative exams just as much as when you need an acute exam for an ear check, lung check, fever check, and check after a hard tumble. It’s just as important to practice prevention and help support your child's health and learning and growing milestones with your provider to keep your kiddos thriving.
Renzo's Vitamins provides general recommendations, not to be construed as medical advice.