Our munching munchkins

photo of Vesanto Melina

by Vesanto Melina and Claudia Lemay

Like a super-powered magnet, children are often drawn to sugary and non-nutritious foods. However, regular consumption of junk food can lead to health problems, such as chronic illness and poor performance at school and in sports. It can also lead to kids becoming overweight, fostering low self-esteem. Even when they are protected from junk foods as infants, watch a young tot’s eyes light up with the first lick of something sweet.Registered dietitian Claudia Lemay explored this phenomenon with her lively young daughter, Amelie. Every time they went grocery shopping, Claudia would discover candy bars, chips and lollipops in her cart that little Amelie had added with Houdini-like deftness. The result became a children’s book, Stargold the Food Fairy: The Plant-Based Edition. This beautifully illustrated story takes readers on a journey towards healthy eating. It features young Lucie, who is swept into an adventure by Stargold, the food fairy. Together, they reach Growland where Lucie is amazed to find elves building magical houses that represent our human bodies. Each food group, and the nutrients it provides, furnish an essential building material. Only when the proper types of foods are eaten does the house, and thus the human body, grow healthy and strong. With the help of Stargold, Lucie learns to associate choosing nutritious foods with an energetic and healthy body.

Some people may be hesitant about an entirely plant-based diet for children, but based on a solid and vast foundation of scientific evidence, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics gives the following reassurance. “Appropriately planned vegetarian, including vegan, diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate and may provide health benefits for the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. These diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence, older adulthood and for athletes. Plant-based diets are more environmentally sustainable than diets rich in animal products because they use fewer natural resources and are associated with much less environmental damage. Vegetarians and vegans are at reduced risk of certain health conditions, including ischemic heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, certain types of cancer and obesity.”

The metaphor that compares house construction to the building of a person’s body helps kids visualize how food choices either positively or negatively impact growth and well-being. This book is a wonderful resource for parents, dietitians and educators. It is backed by science, yet fun and easy to understand. This book and Claudia’s earlier edition, Stargold the Food Fairy (non-vegan) are available at amazon.ca and stargoldthefoodfairy.com Claudia’s writing has earned a Mom’s Choice Award®. Part of the proceeds from the book sales will go to the Malala Fund, which helps promote the access of education to children worldwide. “Good foods build the brain; good books expand it.” (malala.org)


DECEMBER 10: Meet author Claudia Lemay (5-7PM) at Vegan Supply, 250 E. Pender in Vancouver. Vesanto Melina will also be present to chat and answer questions. Lemay and Melina’s books will be available for purchase.

Claudia Lemay is a Surrey-based dietitian, author and consultant. www.truehealthnutrition.ca

Vesanto Melina is a Vancouver dietitian author and consultant. www.nutrispeak.com, www.becomingvegan.ca

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