Probiotic Foods for Kids
Tips for getting your kids to eat them!
The key to optimal gut health is managing the balance of bacteria in the gut. One way to increase the number of good bacteria is through the use of probiotic powders or capsules. This seems simple enough, but the most powerful source of probiotics comes from fermented foods including yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, or kombucha. While some adults naturally enjoy these bold flavors, it can be a little bit tricky to get your children to embrace them especially if you have picky eaters.
Yogurt is usually a good place to start. While there are many kid-friendly commercial yogurts, these are typically full of harmful additives, food dyes, and added sugar. Do these kids yogurts really have that much sugar? To put this in perspective, Coca-Cola has 3.25 grams of sugar per ounce compared to Go-Gurt’s 4.89 grams of sugar per ounce (Go-Gurt Ingredients: More Sugar than Coca-Cola). Scary, isn’t it? The recommended daily intake of added sugar for children ages 4-8 is no more than 3 teaspoons a day, and that’s just three yogurt tubes since each have a teaspoon of added sugar/corn syrup in them. So what’s a mom to do? DIY yogurt squeezes to the rescue! Purchase organic plain yogurt and blend it together with some of your child’s favorite fruit to sweeten it up naturally. Bananas and berries work well. Then you can portion out the yogurt in fun, reusable containers to make your own squeezable yogurts. These containers are great for at-home use (Silicone Popsicle Molds) and these work well for lunchboxes (Food Pouches). If you are transitioning away from sugary kid's yogurt, you might need to initially add a little bit of raw honey for extra sweetness and then gradually reduce the amount over time. If you need a dairy-free option, you can use unsweetened almond or coconut milk yogurt as your base. I actually make my own coconut milk yogurt to avoid the additives. It's easier than you might think.
Another great strategy for introducing healthy, fermented foods is to start with foods that your kids already enjoy and modify them to include beneficial bacteria. Since most kids love ketchup, making fermented ketchup is a good option. It just takes a few minutes to mix up the ingredients, and then you just leave it out on the counter for 3-5 days. Your kids can then enjoy their favorite condiment and improve their gut health! I also had success with fermented applesauce when I was first introducing ferments to my kids. To keep this simple and dairy-free, I use purchased coconut water kefir (Kevita brand) as the culture starter for the applesauce. Overtime, my kid's taste buds have adapted, and they now enjoy or at least tolerate some of the bolder probiotic foods. Their favorites are the Kevita drinks as well as Apple Ginger and Curtido Krauts that I purchase from Fermenti Artisan (a local, Indianapolis based company). My little guy also loves Kombucha or "The Bucha" as he calls it now.
Small steps can create big changes! Just remember that these are powerful probiotics and a small amount (even just one spoonful a day of Kraut or a few sips of a probiotic beverage) can help repopulate the gut with beneficial bacteria. If you'd like some help getting started, I have health coaching programs available to help you transition your family to a gut friendly diet. You can e-mail me directly at email@example.com or sign-up here for a free initial consultation.