|(Photo by .curt.)|
Health Canada recently published a statement with new guidelines on what to feed infants. Normally I wouldn’t even consider such a statement news, since I don’t purposely subject myself to hearing about the government’s dietary advice. But, this news was indeed quite shocking.
Are you ready for this? Lo and behold Health Canada is actually recommending that infants eat…. meat (and meat alternatives). What the? How did that happen? And why isn’t this breaking news? I’d expect riots out in the streets. How long before they get pressured into backtracking this statement? I’ve only seen it from a handful of news sources, some of which are more than and some of them are all too happy to equate meat with tofu in the headlines. It’s almost like the media doesn’t want to touch this? Personally, I thought that the first article I saw was some sort of spoof until I checked the government website myself. To my delight, here’s what I found:
“First complementary foods should be iron-rich. Recommend meat, meat alternatives, and iron-fortified cereal as an infant’s first complementary foods.”
Please ignore the “meat alternatives” and “iron-fortified cereal” for now. And focus on the fact that meat is listed first, as well as this:
“While meat and fish are traditional first foods for some Aboriginal groups, the common practice in North America has been to introduce infant cereal, vegetables, and fruit as first complementary foods.”
What?! A reference to traditional foods? And it gets better:
“However, the daily or frequent consumption of heme iron foods (meat, poultry, and fish) can contribute considerably to meeting infant iron requirements (PAHO, 2003; Krebs & Hambidge, 2007). Infants should be offered iron containing foods two or more times each day. They should be served meat, fish, poultry, or meat alternatives daily. The amount of food offered should be guided by the infant’s hunger and satiety cues (PAHO, 2003). Breastfeeding continues to provide the main source of nutrition as other foods are introduced.”
Are you as speechless as I was when I first read this? Dietary recommendations that actually make sense?
Now, considering that the government believes iron is so important for infants and their “growth and cognitive, neurological, motor, and behavioural development”, couldn’t one extrapolate that perhaps kids, teens, adults, everyone could benefit from meat as well? Okay, maybe I’m getting ahead of myself here. Honestly, I’m just happy that infants nationwide will be encouraged to eat meat. And hoping that it doesn’t backfire into more infants being subjected to tofu and fortified cereals.
It’s the first time the guidelines have been updated since 1998. Previously the recommended first foods to be introduced were cereals (iron-fortified) followed by fruits and vegetables. Meat was to be introduced last. And then they realized that not only is there no reason for that recommendation, but infants need iron. Yes, they only focus on the iron aspect of meat but hey, if that’s what it takes for infants to eat meat, I’ll take it.
The guidelines also emphasize the importance of breastfeeding for a minimum of six months, and up to two years or longer with appropriate complementary feeding (starting with meat and meat alternatives). And as if this news couldn’t get any better, there’s even a media article about this that makes reference to the paleo diet.
Have you heard about these new guidelines? If you have kids, what were their first foods?