Doctor's Note

Where were the kale video games when I was growing up!? :)

For a smattering of other video's on children's health, check out:

  1. Nerves of Mercury
  2. Doctors’ Nutritional Ignorance
  3. Protein, Puberty, and Pollutants
  4. How Fast Can Children Detoxify from PCBs?
  5. Does a Drink of Water Make Children Smarter?
  6. Are Cats or Dogs More Protective For Children’s Health?

This is the second of a 3-part video series on practical tips for dietary improvement. Check out the last video of the day Tricks to Get Kids to Eat Healthier at School (which includes the cookie cutting experiment). Next I'll cover grown-ups in Tricks to Get Adults to Eat Healthier.

Anyone think their kids would have chosen the broccoli?

For more context, check out my associated blog posts: How to Get Kids to Eat Their Vegetables, How to Get Our Kids to Eat Their Vegetables, and How to Get Parents to Eat Their Vegetables.

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  • Thea

    Having a good role model is so important for kids. I really like this video.

    It got me to thinking: How much do role models affect adults? How much does my eating healthy affect the adults around me? I know it goes the other way. People eating poorly around me sometimes entice me to eat poorly. (Those chips shared in the break room sometimes… argh!) This is an important question because it puts the impetus for having healthy kids on everyone in the community, not just the parents — as other people affect parents and then the parents affect their kids.

    Over the last couple of decades, more and more people are choosing to eat a whole food plant based diet. I wonder how much of that increase in healthy eating is due to influence from other adult role models. While we may not know how much our behavior affects others, we know it does have an effect. Something to think about the next time I sit down to have lunch in the break room or attend a potluck.

    • beccadoggie10

      A number of people have come up to me and said that I have beautiful skin and hair. If my skin is healthy, I thought it was because of good genes and not getting too much sun. But, they said they thought it was more, like my diet.

      My diet is mostly dark leafy greens for calcium, and magnesium, carrots and sweet potatoes for vitamin A and totally vegan to reduce pain and inflammation, which is a constant.battle since injuring my spine. But, my diet is better now than ever before. I’ve dropped lettuce and added more nutrient rich veggies; dropped meat, white potatoes and dairy inc. eggs, and added healthy veggie and fruit fiber and lots of blue and black berries.

      I wear no makeup since reading the Environmental Working Group report on Cosmetics. But, even before I read it, make up was really not my thing. With me, it’s what you see is what you receive.

      • Thea

        Nice. Sounds like your diet is pretty near perfect. You are a great role model for your community and a walking advertisement. :-)

    • TCB Health

      This is a great comment, Thea, and a great example of how we are all a part of the issues and solutions. Adults absolutely can affect other adults, just as you note in your chips example. The same concept is why the “buddy system” is promoted for exercise plans – we tend to be more likely to keep up with a regimen when we’re held accountable to someone. Thanks for the great post.

      • Thea

        TCB Health: Thanks for the feedback!

        So, what does TCB stand for? I’m guessing “The Country’s Best”

    • Robert Haile

      I could not agree more. We must be what we hope for our descendants.

  • Plantstrongdoc M.D.

    Solution: Vitamix, broccoli, beetroot, kale, fresh and frozen fruit and a little juice. And then off to school.

    • Whoa–them are some lucky kids!

    • VegAtHeart

      Great idea…but I am not a gifted cook and am likely to create a disaster unless I have the exact recipe….what proportion of ingredients did you use?

      • Plantstrongdoc M.D.

        You have to use a high-power blender, so there are no chunks (of broccoli). I use Vitamix. 1 fresh peeled beetroot, approx 30 grapes, 3-4 bouquet of broccoli, 1 big handful of fresh kale, 1 slice pineapple (incl. stem), frozen strawberries, frozen blueberries, 1 peeled fresh orange, approx 300 ml (depends on the thickness, so it can vary) of apple juice (not from concentrate), 1 slice of lemon or a little piece of ginger. Difficult to be more specific than this in the recipe. It will make approx 1500 ml of the best smoothie. Some would argue that there are too much fruit and too little vegetables, but it is designed to sneak powerful vegetables in the kid. Slowly you can increase the content of vegetables. This and a cup of coffee and I am off to work!

        • Thea

          Thanks for posting this recipe! I have a hard time coming up with smoothies that work for my own tastes. I probably need your kid version.

          I was thinking that the one thing I would do add is some ground flax seed. Just a thought.

          Thanks again for posting this.

          • Plantstrongdoc M.D.

            Actually, I have thought of exactly that – for health benefits. BTW I keep the peel on the slice of lemon (organic of course).

        • VegAtHeart

          Just got around to making your smoothie. Amazing!

          • VegAtHeart

            This smoothie is a great way to get beets into the diet, which is something I have been struggling to find. Can anyone provide any other tips on how to painlessly sneak beets it into the diet? Say, for example, an exact recipe for a whole foods plant based version of Borscht soup.

          • Plantstrongdoc M.D.

            Have you tried to bake them with other root vegetables (sliced like french fries) with a little salt and spices

          • Tini

            I found the best way to eat them is to peel the beets, cut it in cubes steam them for 20-30 minutes and then add a couple of tablespoon Organic cider vinegar with a touch of honey to your liking. The cider vinegar seems to eliminate the beet taste and the honey makes it yummy : )

          • Plantstrongdoc M.D.

            Glad to hear

  • Sabrina

    Dr. Michael what do you suggest for younger children around 12-24 months?

  • just me

    I modeled eating veggies even though they mad me gag. I used to pretend to like them, then swallow them whole. Little by little, I learned to enjoy their flavors, though. Now in their 20s and 30s, they all love most vegetables.

    • Thea

      just me: Wow! That’s amazing. I’m really impressed. What a great parent you are.

  • Lawrence

    Question for the good doctor: When we puree or blend vegetables and fruit are we “damaging” the fibre and other nutrients or are we just making them more accessible?

    • beccadoggie10

      I doubt that the fiber and nutrients are damaged from pureeing or blending. Boiling, maybe. But I think they are made more accessible. My two year old grandson has been drinking kale smoothies since he was weaned. He’s very healthy, lean and solid muscle. No fat on this kid.

      • Lawrence

        Thanks beccadoggie. That is what I thought but I was wondering if there was any research on this point.

  • beccadoggie10

    When my daughter was small, she never received junk food from me. When I took her to the pool at age 2 1/2, I also took a container of frozen mixed vegetables. And, some frozen cubes of apple or some other juice. By the time she was ready for something to eat, the veggies and ice cubes were thawed and very appealing.

    Now, my daughter is using her memories on her son although he has always received healthy snacks and meals from her. One way to get Ethan to drink kale smoothies was to puree kale, fresh ginger, and apple in a Vita-Mix blender so herself, and of course, Ethan also wanted whatever his mom was drinking. At the age of 2, Ethan was drinking Kale smoothies. He’s a chip of the ole block!

    • Thea

      beccadoggie10: Another great story. Thanks for sharing.

  • beccadoggie10

    Does everyone grow their own food? Or, do you buy organic produce and other foods?

    I ask because I just received an important heads up from the Cornucopia Institute.


    Unless you grow all your own food…or even if you grow all your own food, it may be at risk because of bad policy at the FDA and USDA, which smells of Monsanto to me!

    Involvement is important.

    I’ve been using the Humane Society’s (Michael Greger’s) research and attachments to put comments into the record at the US FDA, and as usual have been ignored. This needs a large momentum to save organic and healthy agriculture!!!.

    • Pandabonium

      Americans spend a lot of time, money, and chemicals on growing the biggest crop there – lawn grass. I live in a fairly rural community in Japan and most people here have fruit trees and vegetable gardens. Some are organic, many people use chemical fertilizers, but few use herbicides or pesticides. Gifting of fruits or veggies among neighbors is very common.

      It is isn’t perfection, but which social arrangement has the best opportunity to improve? I hope Americans move increasingly toward food over grass in the yard and from there to organic food. Don’t wait for the government to do something.

      At least here I have an opportunity to discuss the matter with neighbors as we give each other part of what we’ve grown and encourage better ways of producing healthier food.


      • Thea

        Pandabonium: I’m jealous. Sounds like a way better way to do things to me!

        I refuse to keep an American style lawn, but I hate gardening and don’t have much of a front or back yard. So most trees and growing my own food are out for me.

        I love the picture you paint of what happens where you live. Maybe some day I’ll work more on growing my own food. I do have some nut trees growing in my small yard right now. Maybe they will actually produce nuts at some point in the future, and I could gift them to my neighbors. If so, I’ll think of you. :-)

        • Pandabonium

          Thea, growing food isn’t for everyone, but perhaps you can grow some wild flowers to attract insects (like butterflies and bees) which pollinate food crops and provide food for other animals. Even just sowing some clover will create a nice ground cover that enriches the soil with nitrogen. No maintenance required.

          Nut trees – awesome. Bless you.

          • Thea

            Pandabonium: re: “wild flowers” Yes! Got that covered. My yard is a mine field of bees at certain times of year. But I take pride in what grows and what lives there. I have a very healthy family of garden snakes that I glimps fairly often. Also I have seen praying mantises every couple of years. It may be hubris or coincidence, but I think I have a nice diversity of fauna because I keep my landscape natural and chemical-free.

            Thanks for your thoughts.

  • Mike

    Here’s the video game for kids mentioned in this video….

    It says it’s available free but you need a “game code” to get it to work and it doesn’t tell you how to get one.

    If anyone figures it out, please post.


    • Amy

      Hi Mike,
      I work at The Cooper Institute. We are the developers of Quest to Lava Mountain. In order to get a game code, you child’s school must be using FITNESSGRAM10 software to assess student activity levels in PE class. Do you know if they are using this assessment software? Here is more information about FITNESSGRAM: and

  • Amber Keumurian
  • leanna

    Hi. I’m a mother of 3 kids, and my youngest just turned a year old a month ago. So far all three as toddlers insisted on eating meals consisting of a lot of fruits, as well as other foods like legumes, spelt pasta, vegetables, mushrooms etc, but when it came to fruit it was definitely their favorite, and they would eat pretty big amounts of it at sittings. Health recommendations are that toddlers can’t handle a lot of fiber, and even your article states that they don’t do well on raw food diets (never tried that exclusively). But I’ve had 3 kids and they’ve ALL done this. Even when they eat avocados they still demand fruits like grapes, bananas, berries. For example they left oatmeal uneaten, toast uneaten etc all in favor of a lot of grapes as toddlers and never been sick from it, or anything like that. That’s the reason they actually say they recommend milk and eggs for toddlers (avocados are considered “substitutes for veg*ans).

    • leanna

      What I’m asking is your thoughts regarding the theory that toddlers can only handle concentrated food sources. I understand that at times small children do go through periods of reduced appetite, so I see the value in prioritizing nutrient-dense foods during those times, but in general? I should add that I have yet to have a child with a small appetite.

      • Thea

        leanna: I don’t have an expert reply for you, but I wanted to share my appreciation for your posts. You have some lucky kids!

        My understanding of the point about nutrient-dense foods for kids is to make sure they get enough calories. If a parent has every indication that their kids are getting enough calories and are eating enough variety of foods, I don’t see the point in worrying about pushing say the avocados. That’s just my thoughts/agreeing with you.

        As for the large amounts of fruits: I don’t know. But if your kids are turning out great and are eating more than *just* fruit, I wouldn’t think it is a problem worth worrying about???

        Sounds like you may already be aware of the following information (or may be questioning it), but it is worth taking a look at I think the site is very trust-worthy:

        Here’s the whole series. Another article may also interest you:

        I hope you get better replies than mine. And good luck!

        • leanna

          thankyou :) very reassuring.

  • I started making my own banana jam and it couldn’t be easier. Simply mash a banana onto a piece of toast. Enjoy this as a quick breakfast or snack. Try making it for your kids before school or as an after school snack. The name alone should cause them to gobble this up.

    You can also drastically increase the antioxidant content by adding a pinch of each of your favorite spices. Try Ceylon cinnamon, ginger powder, cloves, nutmeg, and/or cardamom. Switching to a red banana will also add more antioxidants.

    Monkey Toast

    – 2 slices Ezekiel low sodium bread, toasted
    – 1-2 bananas (depending on size)
    – Pinch Ceylon cinnamon, ginger powder, cloves, nutmeg, and/or cardamom (optional)

    Mash ½ to 1 banana one each slice of toast and sprinkle on spices (if using). Enjoy and rest easy knowing no monkeys were harmed in the making of this treat.

    ~complements of plant-based emporium

  • Sara

    Tips for PBDs for fussy 1.5 year olds who wont eat vegies and u cant reason with them cos they cant talk yet?

  • Katherine Quinn

    My family has been eating a plant based, whole food diet for about 2 years now. I have 2 children a 5 year old girl and a 7 year old boy and they are whole food plant based as well.
    Contrary to what is so often the goal of weight loss, I was wondering if you had some advice for helping folks, especially kids, GAIN healthy weight.

    We already do lots of whole grains, fruit, seeds, nuts, nut butters and avocado. We even started adding pea protein to smoothies and nutritional yeast to sauces and veggies.
    The 7 year old (3’ 10” 44lb ) is totally on board with whole food plant based eating. He eats beans, lentils, grains, potatoes, fruit, and some veggies great! He isn’t very motivated by sugar and will no longer eat meat.
    The 5 year old (3’ 7” 37 lb ) is not so on board – no beans or lentils (except hummus), picky, and like most kids, seeks fat/sugar/salt whenever possible.
    Both kids are active and fight infectious disease well, they just are small for their age – especially my oldest.
    Since eating a whole foods plant based diet, my 7 year old has gained about 3.5 lbs a year and my 5 year old only about 2 lbs a year.

    Since I dropped dairy, I find I have to make sure to eat extra helpings of nuts, dried fruit and avocado every day or I will start to drop weight (5’ 5” 110). While it was great for me to finally lose some stubborn weight after having babies, it seems like it would be hard to gain weight now. Which leads me to worry about my kiddos who need to grow.

    I don’t what to teach them bad eating habits or fill them with junk, but I do worry. I also must admit I also get grief from extended family that we “are not giving their little bodies what they need to grow.”

    Thanks for any thoughts on this topic!

    • Thea

      Katie: I have some resources that I think will help.

      First, note the following quote from a position paper from the ADA: “It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.”
      But having said that, there are some ‘gotchas’ when it comes to young children and whole plant food diets (just like there are gotchas with children and any diet). So, it really is worth spending some time reviewing accurate, evidence-based information on the topic. Here’s some ideas for specifics:
      PCRM is the Physician’s Committee For Responsible Medicine, headed up by Dr. Barnard. Dr. Greger has mentioned Dr. Barnard and PCRM favorably in posts and his book. Here are two articles from PCRM that I think contains the type of information you are looking for:
      I’ll also refer you to a site called the Vegetarian Resource Group, VRG. Their articles are usually very well researched and Dr. Greger has mentioned VRG favorably at least once. VRG has a whole section on kids on their website.
      Here’s the main page. Scroll down to the Nutrition section:
      This is one of my favorite articles on that page. which starts with babies and goes on up:
      Finally, I highly recommend getting a book called, Becoming Vegan, Express Edition. That book is a great over-all reference book for the whole family. It also has an entire chapter on children and what to feed. The authors of that book have been guest bloggers here on NutritionFacts. They are very well respected and extremely knowledgeable about nutrition science and how it applies to all ages.
      I really hope this helps you and your family. There is no doubt in my mind that eating a whole plant food based diet is the very best/healthiest diet for children. But it is important to make sure that they get enough calories and to try to do so in a healthy way. Good luck!