This is not an exhaustive list of all the yoghurts on the market.
It isn’t even an exhaustive list of all the natural or Greek yoghurts on the market!
And there isn’t just one ‘best’ natural yoghurt – it really depends what your priority is – high protein, organic or taste.
I will add to the review as I try more yoghurts on the market, but this is the review so far….
Best on price
The 2 cheapest yoghurts reviewed were Aldi and Farmers Union Pot set. These were $5 per kg.
Aldi performed better than Farmers Union on many fronts.
The Farmers Union yoghurt was not very popular with my kids. In fact my 5 year old flat out refused it and he eats natural yoghurt all the time. It has a very firm texture and little characteristic yoghurt flavour. It might be ok mixed with fruit, but not on its own.
The Aldi yoghurt on the other hand is fab. It is made from organic milk which is a big plus. I choose organic whenever I can, especially for dairy. One thing that bugs me is that on the ingredient list, they have “organic milk powder, milk powder”. They have obviously calculated the % organic ingredients they need to have to make the organic claim, and then added non organic ingredients to the maximum allowed limit. It has a great true yoghurt flavour. Sour, but not too tart.
A lot of the yoghurts I reviewed list the types of bacteria / cultures that they use. For instance Farmers Union use Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus bulgaricus, while Aldi use Acidophilus and Bifidobacterium. They might look all scientificky on the label, however if still doesn’t give enough information. There are 3 parts to the name of a bacteria. Farmers Union has given us 2 parts, Aldi has given us 1 part. Only Vaalia gave us all 3 parts. It is the 3rd part that really gives you the level of information you need to know.
The 5am yoghurt is very very similar to the Aldi yoghurt. Very similar taste, nutritional information and ingredient listing. The big difference is that the 5am one is a lot more expensive. So if you love 5am, consider switching to the Aldi brand.
The highest protein content
If you are eating yoghurt to get an extra shot of protein, then Chobani is the way to go. It has 9.7% protein, which is about double the other yoghurts. It also has a really low fat content. I am in no way anti-fat, fat is a critical nutrient, just like protein. Fat does however contain a lot more calories per gram than carbohydrate or protein. So if you need to reduce your overall energy intake, Chobani will supply fewer calories. Chobani does have a distinctive taste, due to the high protein and low fat. It tastes pretty similar to cottage cheese (which I love). If you don’t like cottage cheese, this may not be the yoghurt for you.
The second highest protein content is the Evia Greek yoghurt. It has a nice creamy texture, but it really tasted of cooked milk. Maybe I just had an odd batch, but it wasn’t a flavour I could love. It was much higher in fat than Chobani, if that is a concern to you.
A few of these yoghurts really did taste pretty good, but I think my favourite would have to be “The Collective Straight Up”. This is made from single origin Jersey cow milk. Jersey cows have higher fat and protein contents in their milk, and their milk will be tastier because of this. Jersey Cows will also produce mostly A2 protein milk, which some people feel they tolerate better. This yoghurt tastes the way yoghurt used to taste.
Both Tamar Valley and Jalna yoghurts also tasted really good, and really creamy. You could easily use them as a cream replacement with a dessert. And they taste creamy, because they have cream added to them! If you are transitioning your kids away from a high sugar fruity yoghurt, this would be a good one to try. Jalna has the highest fat, at 10%.
Another organic option
The Macro Organic Natural Yoghurt is good value for money, just slightly more expensive than Aldi. The texture was not quite as smooth as some of the others. While the flavour did have a degree of tartness, like a natural yoghurt, it didn’t have the same characteristic yoghurt flavour.
Last but not least is Vaalia
The thing I love about Vaalia is that is specifies exactly the strain of probiotic it uses. It contains 3 bacteria, one of them being Lactobacillus rhamnosus LGG. This is a well-researched probiotic and useful if you or your child have allergies, or gut issues. Vaalia even specifies the number of bacteria in their yoghurt, and whilst the dose may not be as high as in a probiotic capsule, it is believed that a lower dose can be effective when it is contained in a yoghurt. It also contains inulin, which is a prebiotic fibre, so the bacteria have something to eat when they get to your gut. Some people don’t react well to inulin so if you get some bloating after eating this yoghurt, that’s why.
Growing up, we always had dinners together. My parents ran a business from home, so they didn’t have to commute anywhere, they were always around home.
The TV was off, and of course, there was no such thing as a device.
Dinner time is often the one time in the day where the whole family is there and can share a conversation. I have great memories about the giggles we had at dinner. And so often, the encylopedia would be pulled off the book case to settle an argument.
Of course, it wasn’t perfect. I also have memories of having to sit at the table for hours on my own because I wouldn’t finish my dinner!
The evidence is staggering in support of family meal times. I am going to make some pretty big claims in this article, so I am going to pop some references at the bottom if anyone wants to fact check me.
Children who eat dinner together are twice as likely to get the right amount of fruit and vegetables every day, compared to those who don’t.
There was a study with more than 15,000 children (that’s quite a big study!), between the ages of 9 and 14. Those who ate dinner together ‘most days’ were 50% more likely to eat 5 serves of fruit and vegetables every day. They were also a third less likely to eat fried food away from home (like takeaway), and a quarter less likely to drink soft drinks. The more often the kids ate meals together with their parents, the higher their intake of vitamins and minerals (Gillman et al., 2000).
Children who eat dinner together have better vocabulary and performance at school
How much cheaper is this that paying for a tutor!
Studies show not only that children who eat together as a family will spend more time reading for pleasure and doing homework, but this translates to better school performance.
A study of 5000 teenagers in the US found that the less often teenagers eat together as a family, the lower their grades at school. This link was particularly strong for the teenage girls. The researchers also found there was more to this association that just connectedness with their families. It also has to do with the conversation around the dinner table, and learning skills from their parents (Eisenberg, Olson, Neumark-Sztainer, Story, & Bearinger, 2004).
Children who eat dinner together have less asthma.
Yes, you read that correctly.
As I said, there are some big claims in this post. This one even surprised me!
86 families were involved in a study that looked at the relationship between family rituals (such as shared meal times) and asthma. Families to adhered to routines and rituals, had children with less anxiety. This then translated to lower levels of asthma, due to the lessened anxiety. Children with anxiety have higher rates of asthma, and asthma can make anxiety worse (Markson & Fiese, 2012).
Children who eat dinner together have better social skills
Children who eat dinner together have higher levels of fitness
Children who eat dinner together drink lower levels of soft drinks
Children who eat dinner together feel better about themselves and have better long term physical and mental health
These were the findings of a Canadian study that looked at children all the way from 5 months to 10 years old. These researchers felt so compelled by their findings that they recommended governments should run public health campaigns to encourage the return of the family meal (Harbec & Pagani, 2018)
I appreciate that it probably isn’t feasible for most families to eat dinner together every day, but see if there are a few days in the week where this is possible. Or perhaps parents can adjust their schedules so that breakfast can be eaten together as a family.
The key in all this research though is that parents need to be warm and engaged in the family mealtimes, not stressed and controlling.
Eisenberg, M. E., Olson, R. E., Neumark-Sztainer, D., Story, M., & Bearinger, L. H. (2004). Correlations between family meals and psychosocial well-being among adolescents. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. https://doi.org/10.1001/archpedi.158.8.792
Gillman, M. W., Rifas-Shiman, S. L., Frazier, A. L., Rockett, H. R. H., Camargo, J., Field, A. E., … Colditz, G. A. (2000). Family dinner and diet quality among older children and adolescents. Archives of Family Medicine. https://doi.org/10.1001/archfami.9.3.235
Harbec, M. J., & Pagani, L. S. (2018). Associations between early family meal environment quality and later well-being in school-age children. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics. https://doi.org/10.1097/DBP.0000000000000520
Markson, S., & Fiese, B. H. (2012). Family Rituals as a Protective Factor for Children With Asthma. Journal of Pediatric Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1093/jpepsy/25.7.471
Nuts are a very nutritious food, but they are best when you prepare them in a traditional way. They can put a strain on the digestive system otherwise. The traditional way means soaking them first.
Peanuts are actually a legume, so are a bit different to ‘tree nuts’, but you should still soak them first. Peanuts can be quite mucous producing so if you or your kids are prone to a bit of phlegm, you might want to choose a different nut.
- 4 cups organic raw peanuts
- 1 tablespoon sea salt (for soaking)
- 1 teaspoon sea salt (for making the nut butter)
- Coconut oil to taste
- Filtered water
Place the peanuts, the 1 tablespoon of sea salt and water in a large pyrex bowl.
In the morning drain off the water in a colander or sieve.
Place the soaked nuts on a baking tray and dry in a warm oven (about 60C) for 12-24 hours.
Given them a stir occasionally. If you have a dehydrator, use this instead.
Place the nuts and 1 teaspoon of sea salt in a food processor and blend until the oil releases and forms a butter.
You can add coconut oil at this stage if you wish.
This was a fun review to do, as I love peanut butter!
I got my 8 year old involved too, to make sure my opinion on taste was in line with a kid’s taste (albeit the kid of a nutritionist!).
I just tested 6 readily available peanut butters. I’m sure there are more niche brands at markets and health foods shops which I haven’t covered. You can apply my summary recommendations to other brands that I haven’t included, to see if they come up to scratch.
I am still reeling from the overwhelming saltiness of this product. You can’t even taste the peanuts, it’s just salt. And the saltiness lingers for a long time.
There are 2 problems with this.
- The first is if you feed your kids salty tasting foods, their taste buds adapt, and they don’t even think it’s salty anymore. They will need to add salt to foods that don’t have much salt in them, to compensate for their salt hungry taste buds.
- The second issue is the actual detrimental effect this salt is having on your child. High salt intakes lead to all sorts of issues. It’s bad for your bones, your heart, kidneys and stomach.
This peanut butter had the second highest sodium content of the ones I reviewed, 469mg of sodium per 100g of peanut butter.
Another bad thing about this one is that it is only 90% peanuts. They have actually added sugar to the recipe.
Sugar, salt and fat in combination is a recipe for overeating, so even though this is one of the cheaper ones, your kids will probably eat it faster.
Bega Peanut Butter
I got quite a shock as I browsed the peanut butter section of the supermarket. It was totally dominated by Bega. They have obviously negotiated a sweet deal with the supermarket.
This was, amazingly, even more salty than the Woolworth’s Essentials. I even got in my trusty assistant, age 8, for a second opinion. She agreed that this was unpleasantly salty.
It has 576mg sodium per 100g.
It also has the lowest level of peanuts, only 85%. The have added a ‘vegetable oil’ to make up the difference, and haven’t labelled exactly which one.
Vegetable oils like canola are very inflammatory. I always recommend people chuck these out from their pantry, and use less inflammatory oils. Vegetable oils are really cheap, so used in processed foods and café / takeaway food.
Canola oil is one of the few permitted genetically modified crops in Australia. If you want to avoid eating genetically modified foods, avoid canola.
These type of oils are high in omega 6, and we all have way too much omega 6 in our diet. You want to keep a high ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 in your diet.
Pics peanut butter
This one tasted really good, like peanuts!
The odd thing was there was a bit of a white sludge on the top of the jar, which was probably just the naturally occurring fat separating out. Nevertheless, most consumers would think it was mould.
This one only had 180mg sodium per 100g. Enough to enhance the peanut flavour, without overwhelming it.
The ingredient list is simple: High oleic peanuts (99.5%), sea salt.
High oleic peanuts are one which have more of a monounsaturated fatty acid called oleic acid in them. This means they last longer than regular ones without going rancid, which is a great thing for taste and health. They have also used sea salt instead of refined salt. Although this still contains sodium, at least is has some trace minerals in it too.
Sanitarium natural peanut butter
This was quite impressive for a mainstream brand.
It only has 5mg of sodium, because they don’t add any salt at all. It is just blended up peanuts.
This tasted great, with no off flavours, and didn’t suffer from the lack of salt. But strangely, it did have an oily aftertaste, which you wouldn’t expect without the added oil.
It has the highest level of protein, so if you are using peanut butter to boost your protein intake, this one is the best.
All round a great choice.
Mayvers peanut butter
Similar to Pics with 99.5% peanuts, the rest sea salt. Tasted great, a really good balance of salt and peanut.
Macro organic peanut butter
This was the biggest disappointment for me. I was so excited to have an organic peanut butter to try. I try to buy as much as I can organic. There is so much evidence that the pesticides in food are harmful to health, I am more than happy to spend more on my grocery bills and less on my doctor’s bills.
But this tasted terrible.
Just rancid peanuts.
Again, I double checked with my 8 year old and got her to taste all the peanut butters and tell me her least favourite one, and this was it.
If I learnt one thing from my 15 years in the food industry, it was that if a food doesn’t taste good, the health credentials of it are worthless.
This has no added salt, just organic peanuts. This has led to some problems.
Salt is a great preservative. Without it, you rely on having great, fresh raw materials. There is nothing to preserve it.
With no salt, you can’t mask any rancid flavour. The peanuts are naked.
As they are using organic peanuts, it probably really limits their choice on where their peanuts come from and what age they are. So possibly the peanuts weren’t great quality to start off with.
Worryingly, the one I tasted still had 350 days of shelf life left.
Aldi peanut butter
Like Sanitarium, Aldi don’t add any salt, but it is still a great tasting product. Just 100% peanuts.
This is the one we normally buy.
I am a huge fan of Aldi, as they have some great products, including organic ones.
But my favourite thing about Aldi is the lack of choice. It makes the shopping trip so much easier!
Take home message:
- Choose a peanut butter with no more than 0.5% salt added
- The salt should preferably be sea salt
- There should be no oils or sugar added
- My preferred brands from above would be Aldi, Mayvers, Pics or Sanitarium (I surprised myself with that!)
Kids love ‘crumbed’ meats, but you can use lots of things other than bread for the crumbs. If you are avoiding grains, and want to get more healthy fats into your kids, you can use seeds or nuts instead of breadcrumbs.
750g organic chicken breast
2 tablespoons olive oil
120g raw pecans
1/4 teaspoon celtic sea salt
Preheat the oven to 220C.
Rinse and pat dry the chicken breasts with paper towel.
Using a sharp knife, slice down the middle to make them half as thick.
Grind the pecans in a food processor, to the desired fineness.
Mix the pecans and the salt together in a bowl.
Coat the chicken with olive oil.
Dip the chicken in the pecan blend and coat completely.
Place chicken breasts on greaseproof paper on oven tray.
Bake for 20-25 minutes.
As you might have read in my post about almond milk, the best one is the one you make yourself. It doesn’t keep for a very long time in the fridge, but that is because it is a natural product – no additives and no harsh heat treatments. You can even bring it along to your favourite cafe, as once you try this, you won’t fancy some of the commercial products.
1 cup of organic (pesticide free) raw almonds, soaked overnight in water and drained and rinsed
5 cups of filtered water
A pinch of celtic sea salt
Add all the ingredients to a high speed blender (I use a Thermomix)
Blend for 1-2 minutes
Strain through a nut milk bag.
Store in the fridge, and use within 3 days.
If you have a dehydrator, you can dry the leftover pulp and use as almond meal in recipes. If you use it straight away, you don’t need to worry about drying it first, just adjust the liquid in your recipe.
I was going to do a review of the whole dairy-free milk category, until I realised this was way too vast a supermarket section! So I narrowed it down to almond milks, and I will cover the others in another post.
Another thing that I want to mention is that I am no way affiliated with any of the manufacturers mentioned (I purchased the products for this test at the supermarket, just like everyone else does!).
Unfortunately, the sad fact is that most product recommendations you see on social media or on TV are paid for. Seemingly credible sources will recommend products and get paid for it. They don’t have to disclose it. So bear that in mind if someone is encouraging you to buy one food product over another.
The first thing I’ll say is that it truly is best to make your own almond milk!
- It’s super easy
- It’s super cheap
- You know exactly what is in it (just almonds, water and a pinch of salt)
On the down side,
- Homemade almond milk doesn’t last very long in the fridge, so it’s not something you can make in bulk.
- It takes time
If you make everything from scratch, then chances are you will either have to give up work, or give up sleep!
So what about the store-bought options?
There are basically two broad groups in the category – the fridge/fresh and the shelf/UHT.
Lets go through the options one by one.
Almond breeze unsweetened
This has the lowest almond content of all the milks I looked at. It is only 2.5% almonds. So think about that for a minute. A 1 litre UHT carton will only have 25g of almonds, the rest is water. Luckily it’s also the cheapest option, but that doesn’t really represent good value! This one also had the longest ingredient list.
Check this out: filtered water, ground whole almonds, tapioca starch, mineral salt (calcium carbonate [ground limestone]), salt, stabiliser (carrageenan), emulisfier (sunflower lecithin), natural flavour.
Wow. Remember, homemade will be just water, almonds and salt.
Lets talk about the added calcium, as this is often a reason people choose an almond milk. As they rightly say on the label, calcium carbonate is ground limestone, or chalk.
How well do you think your body can absorb the calcium from limestone?
Only about 15% of the calcium will be absorbed by your body. It is really cheap to add to food, gets a great claim on the label, but is essentially useless to humans.
Carrageenan is used as a thickener and emulsifier, and is actually derived from Irish moss, so pretty healthy you assume?
The US organic certifiers believe it is harmful enough to human health that they don’t allow it in any organic products. There is evidence to suggest that it is damaging to gut health, causing inflammation, IBS symptoms and ulcers.
This almond milk tasted the most ‘watery’ of all the ones I tried.
Macro certified organic smooth & nutty almond milk
This has a shorter ingredient list (filtered water, organic almonds, organic rice syrup, organic sugar, organic sunflower oil, plant calcium, sea salt) however it was far and away the highest in sugar. It has 2.4g of sugar per 100ml, and it actually tasted super sweet.
In the ingredient list you can see they have listed both rice syrup and sugar. Rice syrup is just another form of sugar, which is why it is so sweet.
On the plus side, it is great that they are using organic almonds. Non-organic almonds will absorb a lot of the pesticides which are sprayed on them, because of their high oil content. Not only are these pesticides bad for our health, they are bad for bees too. Bees are very involved in almond production, and if we are spraying the almonds we are killing the bees.
Find out all about the impact of organic food on our kids’ brains in this article.
The macro milk has a almond content of 4%, middle of the road compared to the others.
This had the second highest level of almonds, 10%, so you are getting more almond bang for your buck. It also had the second highest sugar content, but unlike the macro one, it didn’t really taste sweet. It only has 4 ingredients (filtered water, organic activated almonds, organic rice syrup, sea salt), so if they could just reduce the sugar a bit, it wouldn’t be a bad choice.
Australia’s own unsweetened almond milk
This one gave me a good laugh. The ingredients read “filtered Australian water, organic almonds, organic sunflower oil, salt”. Obviously to call it “Australia’s own”, it needs to emphasise the fact that they are using real Australian water to make it. And as it is 97% water, this is an important claim!
But more importantly, it tasted really bad. A really odd flavour. I would not buy this one, based on taste.
ALDI Inner goodness almond milk
This one tastes good and it’s in the fridge at ALDI. It is low sugar, with an average amount of almonds. The ingredient list is a bit long: filtered water, almonds, mineral (calcium), emulsifier (322), sea salt, natural flavour, stabiliser (418).
Stabiliser 418 is gellan gum, a polysaccharide gum made from bacteria. It doesn’t have any red flags around safety and is used at really low levels. 322 is lecithin and is added to stop the milk separating.
Inside Out Almond Milk
This has a whopping 11% almonds, and is found in the fridge. It tastes amazing, really creamy.
The downside is, it really doesn’t last very long in the fridge. Similar to a homemade almond milk it will separate and go slimy in a few days. But that’s the trade-off you make for having fewer ingredients.
This only contains filtered water, activated almonds, vegetable gum (gellan), sea salt.
Personally, I love this one.
If I am out and about and I want an almond milk latte, I will go from café to café to find one that stocks MilkLab almond milk. It was designed for coffee, and it shows.
It is middle of the road for sugar and almond level, but its ingredient list is shocking:
Australian Water, Almonds (3.5%), Sugar, Sunflower Oil, Maltodextrin (From Corn), Acidity Regulators (340, 332), Vegetable Gums (418, 415, 410), Sunflower Lecithin, Sea Salt.
As it is mainly sold in cafés, it’s ingredient list doesn’t get the same level of scrutiny, and now that I see it, I will think twice about buying it again.
This almond comes in a pretty funky bottle, and is found in the fridge. It tastes good, and it is pretty popular with my clients.
A massive issue I have with this milk is that it is made in the USA!!
From an environmental point of view (food miles), this is not good.
To transport chilled goods from the USA would cost a fortune. This makes me wonder…..is this actually just a normal UHT shelf stable milk which is being sold from the fridge to give the impression of fresh? The expiry date is months in the future, which adds more weight to this theory.
Even if this is not true, when you buy this, you are paying a huge amount of your money for the cost of airfreight, not for the quality of the food.
This only has 2.3% almonds, so not a lot. If also contains ‘flavourings’, which are probably artificial as it doesn’t make claims to the contrary.
Things to look out for when choosing an almond milk:
- Length of ingredient list – the shorter the best
- The % almonds – the higher the better
- The % sugar – the lower the better.
- No carrageenan
- Organic is best
- Made in Australia
Don’t worry about calcium fortification, as you can (& should) get calcium from other food sources.
Before you read this article, here are a couple of key facts to consider.
* 9% of children diagnosed with autism at age 2 will lose their diagnosis by age 4
* The life expectancy of a child with autism is 36 years, compared to 72 for rest of the population
There are lots of interventions to improve symptoms of autism and help children to flourish, however, the diet should be the first. It is possible to improve your child’s functioning through diet, and it is well worth giving it a shot!
Autism doesn’t just have one cause, it has multiple root causes, therefore there isn’t necessarily only one dietary approach which can work. Your child could have gut issues, detox pathway problems or mitochondrial dysfunction.
This isn’t about trying to change your child; it’s about stopping the pain, the digestive issues, stopping the seizures and healing your child’s body in a respectful way and increasing their life expectancy. Things won’t get better without doing something about it, but they can get worse.
The following are the dietary approaches I choose from when working with a child with autism.
- Gluten free, casein free, soy free (GFCFSF)
- Specific carbohydrate diet (SCD) / Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) diet
- Low oxalate diet
- Anti-candida diet
- Food sensitivity / elimination diet
- Paleo diet
- Low FODMAP diet
- Feingold / failsafe
- Low Oxalate diet
Now I’ll explain a little about how each one works, its positives and its negatives.
Gluten free casein free and soy free
This is useful because it removes substances that can cause digestive, neurological and systemic issues in some people. By removing these from the diet the gut can heal, nutrients can be absorbed and you can get some quick improvements.
This is my entry point for children with autism, it’s a great place to start. It is a reasonably straightforward diet to start with.
The reason why some people don’t get any results with it is because it can lead people down a road of eating highly processed gluten free diets. Highly processed gluten free foods can be higher in sugar and additives than products containing gluten. This is because the manufacturers are trying to replace the functionality of gluten in the recipe. That’s why it’s critical to work with a specialist nutritionist, rather than going alone on this diet. This must be approached from a perspective of whole foods, not processed foods.
SCD / GAPS diet
These diets remove disaccharides and polysaccharides. People who don’t have enough of certain enzymes in their body will react with constipation, diarrhoea, inflammation and bloating when they eat disaccharides and polysaccharides. Disaccharides are sugars such as sucrose (table sugar) and lactose (milk sugar). Polysaccharides are found in starches, like grains or potato. By temporarily removing them, the gut can heal and the bacteria in the gut are able to rebalance. This diet is useful for autism, and lots of severe gut issues. SCD is a bit easier to do, but it doesn’t include as many gut healing foods as GAPS does, which is why I prefer to use GAPS. There are numerous ways that GAPS or SCD can be done poorly, which is why I highly recommend you work with someone with specialist training in this area. For instance, some people do GAPS too low in carbohydrate. This can cause issues, particularly for people with thyroid or mitochondrial issues. Some people react strongly to some of the healing foods such as fermented foods, and never manage to progress and reap the benefits.
Paleo is one of my favourite eating styles. It is very focussed on whole foods and it removes grains, dairy and soy. It is an approach which you can stick to long term, if it suits you. A common misinterpretation of the Paleo diet is that it is meat heavy. This isn’t actually true. The basis of all Paleo meals should be vegetables, with a bit of meat, rather than a slab of steak with a side of veggies.
The ketogenic diet is quite trendy at the moment, particularly for weight loss. It is actually a therapeutic diet which has been used for a hundred years for epilepsy. It fell out of favour when anti-epileptic drugs were developed, and is only now recommended for people when epilepsy doesn’t respond to drugs. But shouldn’t dietary intervention come first, then drugs? It is a low carb, high fat diet which forces the body to use ketones for energy, not glucose. It is restrictive, but it works. It protects the brain and reduces oxidative stress, which is why it is helpful for autism. Again, you can do keto in a really unhealthy way. Think of a keto meal as a massive bowl of leafy greens, with olive oil and some meat. Not a slab of cheese.
A low FODMAP diet can be used if a child has really bad gut symptoms and we want to get immediate relief of the pain. It removes the foods that feed bacteria, so it reduces gas and bloating. However I see over and over people who have been told to do a low FODMAP diet years ago and are still on it. This is a disaster for gut health. The foods that feed bacteria feed the good bacteria and the bad bacteria. By permanently removing them you can starve the good guys, and gut health will go downhill over time. Never do a low FODMAP diet without supervision, and never stay on it long term (more than 6 weeks).
This removes sugar, which feeds candida and restores the body’s good gut bacteria. You can look for clues that your child has candida issues . This diet can get complicated with restrictions and food combining, so I use it in a simplified way for clients, and focus on reducing sugar.
Feingold / Failsafe diets
These remove food chemicals (naturally occurring and additives) called phenols from the diet. Lots of children with autism have issues with their biochemical pathways so they can’t detoxify these substances normally. Removing the phenols can give instant results, however it is a really restrictive, plain diet to stick with, and there is no end game. I frequently see people who have been on this diet for years, and still can’t tolerate any thing. I then guide them off the diet and on to something like GAPS which helps improve the range of foods they are able to eat. I have tried most diets myself, so I am familiar with their unique challenges, and this one is the hardest in my opinion.
Low oxalate diet
This isn’t one that you commonly hear about. I think about a low oxalate diet in people who have pain all over their body, and oddly enough have cloudy urine. I also think about it when someone proudly tells me how many green leafy veggies they or their kids eat. Lots of green leafy veggies are high in oxalates. A low oxalate diet can be a really unhealthy diet as it removes nutritious foods, so the emphasis always needs to be on temporary removal of oxalates while you heal the gut, then reintroduce them.
The take home message:
As you can see there is no one size fits all. A personalised diet needs to be chosen based on all the symptoms someone has.
Supplements are great, but they come after diet. You can’t out-supplement a bad diet, or even just the wrong diet.
And it is really important to remember that healing diets are therapeutic. They aren’t intended to be used forever. Get proper guidance from me on which diet is best for you by making an appointment here.
Before the demonization of cholesterol in the 1980s, it was very common to have an egg for breakfast. Then all of a sudden, eggs were going to kill us because they contain cholesterol, fat was bad, and breakfast cereal was good. But do you ever notice that when you have an egg for breakfast you are full until lunchtime and if you have breakfast cereal you are starving by 9am?
Eggs have so much going for them nutritionally, that they should be encouraged for breakfast, for adults and children.
Of course, diets are not one size fit all. Lots of children have egg allergies or intolerances, so need to avoid them.
Adults with autoimmune diseases also need to tread carefully with eggs.
So why are eggs such a great food?
Eggs contain fats called ‘phospholipids’. These help to make the myelin sheath, the insulation that covers all our nerves. Having good insulation is essential for signals to be transmitted easily along nerves.
Eating enough phospholipids will help your child’s mood, school performance and focus.
There are 2 types of phospholipids of interest, called phosphatidyl choline and phosphatidyl serine.
Rat studies have shown that pregnant rats that are fed phophatidyl choline give birth to baby rats with better brain function and better memory. The reason it is so important is because our bodies use it to make acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter in our brain which helps with memory.
Choline can also have big impacts on children with speech delay, also because of it’s impact on acteylcholine
This is also really important for brain health, especially learning, concentration and memory.
It is also able to decrease cortisol, the stress hormone, making it really useful for people who are chronically stressed (all kids with behaviour issues will be under chronic stress).
One of the best sources of these phospholipids is eggs. Another great source is organ meats like liver, kidney or brain!
A vegetarian or vegan child (either through fussiness or parental wish) will struggle to get enough phospholipids without taking a supplement.
Egg whites are a great source of complete protein. Having an egg at breakfast will provide protein which is necessary to build healthy neurotransmitters in the brain.
It will also help to stabilise your child’s blood sugar so they won’t by tired and irritable by the time they get to class.
Having an egg at breakfast will mean your child won’t spend the first hour at school wondering when they are going to be able to eat something because they are so hungry!
Sulphur and selenium
Eggs contain sulphur and selenium. These are both great nutrients for detoxifying.
Lots of children have been inadvertently exposed to heavy metals like lead and mercury (find out if this is a problem for them with a hair test), and eating eggs is one way to start to remove these toxins.
These are needed to have a healthy stress response, and to produce energy.
Children that have behaviour issues are under constant stress, at home and at school: “hurry up”, “sit down”, “don’t do that”.
Having a good store of B vitamins will help them deal with that.
Being under stress also depletes B vitamins so it is easy to get into a vicious cycle
The “slip, slop slap” campaign has been so successful that a lot of children are now deficient in vitamin D.
Vitamin D is needed to make serotonin (the happy neurotransmitter).
Children with ADHD have vitamin D levels which are a third lower than children without ADHD.
Eggs are one of the few commonly consumed food sources of vitamin D. Another reason to eat them!
How to choose eggs
When shopping for eggs, you want to choose free range organic eggs. What a chicken eats will directly affect the nutritional content of their eggs. If they are eating a diet just of grains, they will not have as rich a nutrient content as if they are eating grass, bugs and worms.
Boiling or scrambling the eggs is better than frying them. Frying eggs in a high heat will destroy more nutrients and oxidise the fats more.