why white out and the role of whole grains
q&a with plum’s pediatric adviser, dr. greene
We sat down with Dr. Greene to discuss the WhiteOut Now Movement and get some helpful hints for parents. See below for our discussion.
Q: WHAT IS THE WHITEOUT NOW MOVEMENT?Dr. Greene: For more than 50 years, the first food fed to most babies in the United States has been processed white rice baby food. The goal of the WhiteOut Now movement is to mobilize parents, grandparents, retailers, manufacturers, and pediatricians to end this practice forever and to get white rice baby food off of store shelves and out of babies’ mouths.
Q: WHY IS WHITE RICE BABY CEREAL BAD?DG: White rice flour cereal has not just been the first food for many babies, but also the largest source of solid food calories in their first year. Babies’ long-term food preferences and metabolisms are influenced by early food exposures. At this critical window of development, ripe with opportunity, we are giving babies large amounts of simple carbohydrates. Metabolically, it’s not that different from giving babies sugar. Highly processed white flour with the fiber removed can cause insulin spikes that may contribute to insulin insensitivity/resistance, which could be associated with obesity and/or diabetes.
Q: HOW DO YOU RESPOND TO THE RECOMMENDATION TO ADD RICE CEREAL TO A BABY’S BOTTLE?DG: Putting rice cereal into a baby’s bottle has long been recommended to help put the baby to sleep. The refined cereal doesn’t actually help with this, but having a regular eating schedule might. Often bottle feeding with cereal grains simply introduces extra empty calories and teaches your baby to eat when they are not actually hungry.
Q: WHY SHOULD PARENTS CHOOSE WHOLE GRAINS?DG: Whole grains are not refined so they maintain their macro- and micronutrients better than refined white rice or white flour. Whole grains or powerhouse ancient grains such as quinoa, amaranth, barley, and millet are great for baby’s diet because they are rich in fiber and protein, as well as a variety of minerals and B vitamins.
Q: IF A PARENT IS STARTING WITH WHOLE GRAIN CEREAL, IS THERE MORE THAT SHE CAN INCLUDE?DG: If you start with a whole grain cereal, add in other ingredients and experiment as your baby is ready. Add breast milk or formula to cereal to play with texture. As your baby grows, or even right from the start, you can try adding in smooth purees of fruit and veggies, or even whole milk cultured yogurt—anything goes!
Q: AFTER READING THIS, MANY PARENTS WILL ELIMINATE REFINED WHITE RICE CEREAL FROM THEIR LIST OF FIRST FOODS. HOWEVER, MANY WOULD STILL LIKE A SINGLE INGREDIENT OPTION FOR BABY’S FIRST FORAY INTO SOLIDS. WHAT DO YOU RECOMMEND?DG: I think it’s important for parents to understand why single ingredients are still a helpful component of baby’s diet at any stage. In addition to being a suitable first food, the real opportunity you have when introducing a single ingredient is to teach your child to appreciate the whole, unique, and delicious taste of that individual food. They will learn to love carrots not just carrots with dip or the naturally sweet, tart taste of freshly picked peaches. To help you put some of Dr. Greene’s recommendations into practice, here are some simple suggestions for single ingredient first foods:
- ORGANIC MEAT: Offers plenty of the protein and iron growing babies need
- COOKED EGG YOLK: Contains choline, which is credited with benefiting brain development and spinal chord structure
- WHOLE GRAIN CEREAL/PORRIDGE: A great way to play with various textures by adding more or less liquid. Certain whole grains offer more protein and also have a slightly nutty flavor. Look for whole grains that are fortified with iron, vitamin D, and fiber
- ORGANIC FRUIT AND VEGETABLES: A nicely ripened avocado, roasted sweet potato, or ripe banana make great first foods for baby to touch and smell as well as eat
- PLUM ORGANICS POUCHES: A JUST Fruits or JUST Veggies pouch is a great single ingredient meal option