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Nutrition Education for Plant-Based Kids (& their Parents) | Plant-Based Juniors

Nutrition Education for Plant-Based Kids (& their Parents) | Plant-Based Juniors

Being a parent is hard. Trying to get your kids to eat healthy and build lifelong nutritional habits is even harder. Empowering both parents and kids with plant-based nutrition knowledge is priceless, no matter what kind of diet you follow.


Alexandra Caspero and Whitney English are licensed dietitians, and they know the pressure that comes with being a parent.

When you become a parent, you’re bombarded with mixed messages on how to do everything. Are you feeding them enough? Should you let them “cry it out”? Is screen time going to rot their brains? Now, imagine you make the conscious choice to feed your children a plant-based diet. Watch out! Everyone is going to have something to say about that.

Licensed dietitians and nutrition experts Alex and Whitney not only felt that pressure when they had their kids, they used it as fuel. Plant-Based Juniors, affectionately called PBJs, is a community for parents and educators interested in properly implementing plant-based diets for kids. Alex and Whitney created this resource as a tool to empower parents looking for evidence-based recommendations regarding diet and nutrition. You don’t have to be vegan to find this website useful, trust me.

This conversation was so fun. Whitney and Alex not only share my values, they share in my quest to open eyes to the health powers of a plant-based diet. We went over the myths associated with eating plant-based (Where do you get your protein??), vitamin deficiencies to be aware of in children, the truth about soy and how to get your picky eaters to make healthy choices.

I promise, if you have kids, or spend any time with kids, you’re going to want to tune in to this one.

  • The origin story of Plant-Based Juniors
  • Plant-based myths
  • How much B12 do kids need?
  • The truth about soy
  • To supplement or not to supplement
  • Picky eating tips

Episode Transcript

Darin: You are listening to the Darin Olien Show. I’m Darin. I spent the last 20 years devoted to improving health, protecting the environment, and finding ways to live a more sustainable life. In this podcast, I have honest conversations with people that inspire me. I hope that through their knowledge and unique perspectives they’ll inspire you too. We talk about all kinds of topics, from camping up your diets to improving your well-being to the mind-blowing stories behind the human experience and the people that are striving to save us and our incredible planet. We even investigate some of life’s fatal conveniences, those things that we are told might be good for us but totally aren’t. So here’s to making better choices in the small tweaks in your life that amount to big changes for you and the people around you and the planet. Let’s do this. This is my show, the Darin Olien Show.

Darin: Hey, everybody. Welcome to the show. Thanks for tuning in. I’m your host. I am stoked you’re here. I really mean that. I love that we get to interact this way. I love that we get to share long form interviews and ideas and concepts to inform you, enrich you, enrich the soil of your life. So then you can sprout new possibilities, new ideas, and be a better version of yourself and then bear fruit in the world so that others can benefit from your passion and your purpose.

[00:01:46] I love that. So take from these episodes, what you can, what resonates and then follow up, take action and implement them in your life. Write them down. Follow up with yourself, find another ally, talk about it and be a better human. This is right chance. This is our life. Let’s do this. Okay. Hey, this was an amazing episode.

[00:02:15] This episode you’re gonna freakin love. Especially parents, especially plant-based people. And everyone in between, by the way, because these are inspired powerful women and nothing gives me greater pleasure than to talk with people that I resonate with on these levels. So this is the plant based juniors. These are Alexandra Caspero and Whitney English. They are both registered dieticians with master’s degrees. They’re both moms and they are dedicated to filling that frickin gap between the normal information and then the real credible plant-based information about you, your children and your infants. They have kids, they were pregnant.

[00:03:12] They said we need to do better. They have basically this fricking website, That’s They have laid it all out for you. Ways to eat, ways to take care of yourself while pregnant, ways to be a guide for you and your children. So it doesn’t feel scary and you think your kids need their protein.

[00:03:43] All of these myths we frickin busted, and these are whether you’re vegan or vegetarian or not at all and you just want to include more healthy, powerful plants in your life and in your children’s life. This is the way to go. And this is reliable based in science and also based in powerful mothers doing the right thing.

[00:04:12] This was an incredible conversation. It just gives me great joy to introduce you to both Alexandra Caspero and Whitney English. Enjoy. 

Darin: I’m stoked to talk to you both. There’s many reasons why I’m stoked to talk to you both. Obviously the plant-based, science-based ideas & concepts. But, the great thing is you both being moms.

[00:04:45] And, you know, I have friends in the plant-based movement who are moms and they’ve been vilified, like it’s child abuse, it’s whatever. Right? And that’s of course, fringe as well, but it happens. People don’t know they’re ignorant to all of it. And, and we’re constantly being yanked around by partial science, with lies attached to it.

[00:05:08] And all of these things. So I also just started a new book on fatal convenience’s. One of the chapters in there is toxification. That’s coming by way of, from binkies to diapers, to toys, to lotions, to everything else. And there’s a whole chapter dedicated to children. So it’s a long way of saying I’m excited to talk with you, both.

[00:05:33] I just got the book. I haven’t had a chance to go through it, but I was reading a bunch on your website and things. And so, uh, I’m excited to dig into it with two brilliant moms and unpack some of the stuff that can maybe liberate many moms and many people to look at nutrition from a common sense.

[00:05:56] Point of view. Yeah. Yeah. 

[00:05:58] Alex: [00:05:58] We’re happy 

[00:06:01] Darin: [00:06:01] to chat with you. Let’s unpack. You guys got together, you have different, but similar backgrounds, you both came to the conclusion that a predominantly plant-based diet was healthy for yourselves and your children. So if you both want to take a stab at that in terms of your own journey to get there, and then we can kind of talk about how you guys came to you.

[00:06:26] Alex: [00:06:26] Yeah, sure. So 

[00:06:28] Whitney: [00:06:28] I’m actually a second career dietician. My first job was as an entertainment reporter in Los Angeles. That’s what brought me out there about 14 years ago. And I was always personally interested in nutrition and fitness and always trying to cater my job as a journalist. To those interests, interviewing celebrities about their nutrition and fitness plans.

[00:06:48] And I found along the way that there was a lot of misinformation, a lot of contradictory, controversial information about what was healthy. And that was really perpetuated by the media and by Hollywood and as a journalist, I wanted to get to the bottom of it, find out the truth. And along the way, I learned that if I really.

[00:07:06] Wanted to be helping to spread factual information that I needed to, to go back to school and become an expert myself. So I was about six or so years ago, I decided to go back to school. I went to the university of Southern California to get my master’s degree in health, nutrition, and lifespan. And it was actually during my dietetics program that I took a course with Dr.

[00:07:29] Valter Longo, who I know you’re familiar with. In Italy about nutrition and genes and how, uh, our diet can really shape our longterm chronic disease risk and our chances of longevity. And it was there that I learned about the benefits of a plant-based diet and it was like a curtain. Been pulled back in all my years of being interested in nutrition and fitness, being immersed in Hollywood, I had never seen and heard in such a in-depth and convincing in, in such an in-depth and convincing way, the benefits of a plant-based diet.

[00:08:04] And it was on like the second day of that class that I decided to go predominantly plant-based and I haven’t looked back since. We were talking right before we started about kind of our journey and how everything happens for a reason. And I truly believe that if I hadn’t gone down this path where I started with a different career and came around to, to nutrition later, then I, I probably wouldn’t have ended up meeting Dr.

[00:08:27] Valter Longo. I wouldn’t have become plant-based. I wouldn’t have started PBJS, but I’ll let Alex take, uh, the part about how we. After that, that’s how I became that. Yeah. 

[00:08:36] Alex: [00:08:36] I, uh, I like to say that I have like the most uninspiring story of why I became plant-based. And it also is very much related to things that you don’t know are a blessing at the time and they turn out to be so.

[00:08:50] I’ve never really been a big meat eater. My dad actually is a big hunter and that had the opposite effect of, I think, as he wanted it to be. I was just really grossed out by meat at an early age. And then in college I was dating this bodybuilder. So he was always getting ready for competitions. And he would like to wake up in the middle of the night and eat like tuna and drink milk.

[00:09:10] And I was like, so grossed out by that. And then we broke up and I was like, well, I’m done. Like, I don’t want to eat meat again. I really wanted to cleanse myself from, you know, this persona, this relationship that I had had, and that’s really why I stopped eating meat, you know, that was in 2006.

[00:09:26] So I sort of say like, thank you wherever you are for that, because that has been a huge blessing in my life as well. And then, you know, of course I was learning about nutrition at that time. Uh, and so I was sort of understand a little bit about a plant rich diet. Uh, we didn’t talk too much about plant-based diets in my undergrad program.

[00:09:43] Then I went on to get a master’s. Continuing to learn more and just really continue to evolve that, you know, sort of the plethora of evidence that we have out there really supports plant rich plant predominant plant, exclusive diet. When I was pregnant with my son, I also started getting a little nervous.

[00:09:59] You know, I remember talking to my midwives and they were saying things like, are you sure? You know, you want to eat this way pregnant because you’re not going to get enough iron or you might harm your baby really enough protein. You know, thankfully I felt strong enough in my education and my training that I knew that that wasn’t true, but you know, it did sort of make me second guess things for a little bit.

[00:10:18] And so I went to do the research and tried to really figure out what was out there. And I just found that there wasn’t a lot of evidence-based information that was current. That was up to date. Place that was easy to navigate. And Whitney was pregnant at the time with her son and we just sort of came together and said, you know, okay, if we’re both dieticians, if we’re sort of having trouble navigating through all this research and this literature to find what are the recommendations, what are, you know, parents supposed to be doing at this point?

[00:10:44] Other parents are going to be in a similar boat. And that’s really why we started PBJS. It was, you know, sort of the resource that we were looking for when we were pregnant and knew that there were other parents out there who would likely benefit from what we were digging out for each other.

[00:10:56] Darin: That’s cool. It’s actually a great story because I couldn’t help, but to laugh because it’s literally no offense to this person. This is a general statement, but the meat. Right? Yeah, we’ve all, we’ve all been there. And it’s like, if you had an affinity to not have that in your life, and then this kind of relationship that you chose in some level stamp that home, it certainly, it certainly did.

[00:11:23] And then when it comes to our children, there’s, there’s kind of this place where, and I’m only speaking from someone who doesn’t have children, only a 90 per pound dog, but I have seen my God children born and grew up with them. So I do have a little bit. Popping through. I’ve seen that, but you can understand as a mother because your radar gets amped on a whole new level when you’re birthing and providing for your child.

[00:11:53] And talk to me when you both kind of came together, you basically said we gotta pull this information together, support each other and support other mothers. Is that kind of how it started? Yeah, 

[00:12:05] Whitney: [00:12:05] Alex and I, like she said, we were, I was pregnant. She had her young son and we were, we were starting to investigate because we didn’t have any.

[00:12:15] Resources with all of the guidelines on how to, how to raise plant-based kids, how to have a healthy plant-based pregnancy at the time, the most evidence-based book that was out there for a plant-based pregnancy was 10 years old. And so some of the information in there was already outdated. And so we just had so many questions and literally every time Alex and I would have to go over to pub med and we’d have to dig into the research and we’d have to write experts.

[00:12:38] We were literally reaching out. Fruits in B12 metabolism across the, across the world to try to get answers about the proper amount of B12 to supplement a child, considering the absorption rates. And this, this was information that we said, this should be easily accessible. This should be in one place so that a plant-based parent can feel really confident in what and how they’re raising their child.

[00:13:00] And, and it just wasn’t. So as we kind of answered these questions for ourselves, we started writing them down and we started sharing them on our Instagram account and then kind of. Course of the past three, four years, the book sort of just wrote itself because it’s what we were doing in our, yeah. 

[00:13:16] Alex: [00:13:16] Yeah.

[00:13:16] And I’ll just say too, you know, I get it. Like I remember sitting in that doctor’s office and. Wait a minute. No, no, no, no. I don’t think you’re right here. I know you’re not right here, but when you’re responsible for someone else’s life, like I can mess myself up fine. Right. I’ll figure it out. But when it comes to a baby, when it comes to that, like child, I mean, I think that every, every mother, every parent out there knows that fear and knows that, like, I know, I know.

[00:13:42] Right. And sort of like wanting to question it. And so I get that and that’s really why Whitney and I were like, okay, if we’re going to do this and we want to do it for so many reasons, I also want to sort of like double check everything and really ensure that what I’m doing is backed by science.

[00:13:56] Because, you know, I want to ensure that I’m not approaching it either in sort of the stock medic way, but really approach it and saying that this is what I believe is the best. And this is also what we know is that. You know, it’s, it’s hard out there to be a parent a 

[00:14:08] Darin: [00:14:08] hundred percent. So what were some of the first things that you wanted to dig in to go like?

[00:14:13] Oh, well, the B12 obviously is a thing. A protein is a thing. What were some of the kind of big pillars you wanted to double and triple check and reach out to doctors all over the world? What were some of those in that list? I mean, 

[00:14:26] Alex: [00:14:26] the, the B12 one, like Whitney said too, and that was huge. I mean, we, if you go on any sort of like pediatric thing, it’ll say things like

[00:14:34] That’s it. And we were like, okay. Yeah, of course we know we have still going to be 12, but how much? Right? Because dosing matters and source matters. And, you know, B12 is different than any other nutrient in the sense that you don’t just match the RDA because there’s a lot of different absorption issues when it comes with larger doses and how much we actually absorb.

[00:14:52] And all of those studies are done. Adults. And now we’re looking at, you know, eight pound, not, you know, 15 pound toddlers. And we’re saying to ourselves like, well, what is the dosing here? And that just really wasn’t the data. And so we just reached out to all these various researchers and sort of saying, okay, you know, we have this study, we see this, what about this level?

[00:15:11] And just trying to come up with most of them. Based recommendation that we could. And I mean, gosh, that took us months to find out and we were like, okay, you know, what is everyone else doing? And we would reach out to some of these like pioneers in the field and they would just say things to us like yeah, supplement.

[00:15:25] Okay. But again, like how much, so, you know, we, we really just give them a 

[00:15:29] Whitney: [00:15:29] multivitamin. Now we see that that’s not the best option because most of the multivitamins are too low in B12 kids. Aren’t actually going to absorb enough. I think another, another really big. And that we had to do a ton of research on was, is soy.

[00:15:42] Um, we were big proponents of soy foods. We eat them regularly in our diet, um, con or despite all of the contradictory information. You may hear about soy for adults, but if you think there’s controversy over soy consumption for adult males, think about it for, for young boys, at least once a day. The question from a parent about whether soy is safe for young kids.

[00:16:04] And so, um, we spent a lot of time really double checking the evidence to make sure that it was and really digging through the literature. Spoiler alert, long story short it’s perfectly safe. And even for young girls, we have some information showing that it’s likely beneficial to start a high soy intake early in life, because it can lead to a reduced risk of breast cancer later 

[00:16:24] Darin: [00:16:24] in life.

[00:16:25] That’s amazing. It was a while ago, but the Dr. Michael Greger did a whole. Thing on this too. And he was like too much estrogen for man and effecting your testosterone, which just turned out to be completely not true. I, myself, you know, I’m 50 and I still have a high amount of testosterone. I eat the hell out of it.

[00:16:43] But from toe food attempt to edamame a you name it. I don’t try to eat a bunch of it. I just, you know, uh, it’s fantastic. Like you said, from kids’ perspective, is there a level to it or is it just kind of. Not really a concern period. And you can just give it to them as with any food. 

[00:17:05] Alex: [00:17:05] There’s not a concern, like any food, we wouldn’t want to displace other nutrients.

[00:17:09] Right? So every time we’re adding something to the diet, we’re likely taking something else away. And so it’s all about balance. So I just like, I would never recommend a child eat nothing, but like fruits and vegetables all day long, even though those are incredibly nutritious, they’re also going to displace other nutrients.

[00:17:24] So, uh, you know, food servings of soy foods or diet. Safe. Uh, we have vast amounts of human studies to support this, but, uh, again, you know, we wouldn’t wanna displace other nutrients. There’s really no need to go above that amount.

Darin: So for years, maybe most of my life, people have been asking me, “What kind of foods do you eat? What kind of exercises do you do? What kind of water should I drink?” All of these things and so much more we put into a 21-day program so that can take you through a theme every day of knowledge, action, and then eating these delicious meals, working out, getting support, anchoring in these new habits so you can do what? So that you can kick ass. So you have the energy, the vitality to live the kind of life that you really want. That’s what it’s all about. So all in this app, we have grocery lists, we have education about real hydration and what greater oxygenation and the balance of alkalinization. All of these things we are diving into as you’re heading down this hero’s journey of implementation into a new life to give you the kind of life that you actually want. So join my Tribe. All you have to do is go Sign up, and you get three free days. Join me on this hero’s journey. Join the Tribe.

Darin: Circling back on B12 since people are just chomping at the bit. What would you say then with B12 when people are going, oh, my little kids and themselves, what would you say about some annotation on that from a general perspective? Because I also know that everyone’s individual equality. The, where it’s coming from, the source that comes from etc. 

[00:19:23] Whitney: [00:19:23] at about 12 months of age, is when we would recommend that you start supplementing your child before then they’re going to be getting all the B12 they need from either formula or from mom’s breast milk provided that she supplementing enough breastfeeding moms.

[00:19:35] We recommend supplement with at least 150 micrograms a day. And again, that’s to overcome. The reduced absorption rate from a supplement. Um, when we’re looking at B12 absorption after about one to two milligrams, you only absorb one to 2% of the supplement. So if you’re taking one or two, you get about 50% of that.

[00:19:57] And, and beyond it’s only one to two. So we have to take like astronomical amounts to overcome that. But however, for children, we, although there is no research showing a toxic, upper, upper level for the 12, we still don’t want to be giving them massive doses since there isn’t tons and tons of research on that.

[00:20:13] So we recommend a minimum dose of about five micrograms a day for, for children. And, um, we don’t have an upper level, but we would say somewhere around 40 micrograms could be a good. Maximum amount. It’s typical though, because most of the supplements that are on the market in a liquid form for kids are these higher, higher dose supplements.

[00:20:35] But we do have a free supplement guide on our website and on our Instagram link in our bio that you can download. And it really dives into each. It tells you exactly how much you need and why you need it. So parents can get it. 

[00:20:47] Darin: [00:20:47] That’s huge. And what’s the, what’s the website link? Just so people have it right here right now.

[00:20:52] Alex: Uh, and I’ll also just quickly add too. If you’re listening. If you have older kids too, that number is going to be a little bit higher. Uh, after about 10, it jumps up to about 10 micrograms, 25 micrograms from there. And then for adults, we think 50 micrograms is probably a good, a good dose amount.

[00:21:08] Like Whitney said, accounting for all of the absorption issues. 

[00:21:11] Darin: [00:21:11] That’s awesome. Cause that’s always been a thing and spending a career, trying to find nutrient dense foods around the world. I always love finding ones that have it within it. And I came across this raw food grade spirulina that comes to the house frozen and all the tests.

[00:21:28] All of the B vitamins, B12, all of that and food form phenomenal. So, and that’s an offense, tastic food, obviously to give to children easy to make up and, and, and mask any taste, taste, and maybe mix it with some fruit and they won’t even know. And they’re consuming, uh, one of the most nutrient dense foods in the world.

[00:21:49] And then I’m, I don’t know the, the science around. I know that they’ve always said it. I’ve actually never looked, uh, nutritional. They have always said that, uh, I don’t know if you guys know that they’ve always said that that has B12, but I also, I’m not sure the uptake, I don’t 

[00:22:05] Alex: [00:22:05] think 

[00:22:06] Whitney: [00:22:06] innately that it has it, but a lot of nutritional yeast out there is fortified with it because there are such different fortification processes with different foods on the market between different brands and the mounts that they have.

[00:22:18] And potentially even the way food is stored. We always recommend that that kids. Strictly plant-based. But even if you’re vegetarian, even if you’re predominantly plant-based that all of them get a B12 supplement daily, just because that’s the most reliable form B 12 is such a critical nutrient in the first two years of life, it’s really, really important for brain health and brain development.

[00:22:39] And studies show that a B12 deficiency during pregnancy, during lactation and the first few years of life could really have permanent neurological damage, um, to a child. So just to be the safest that you can be. Just take a, just take a supplement. You may be able to meet it with fortified foods, but a supplement is really going to just make sure you’re checking all the boxes.

[00:22:59] Darin: Yeah, that’s really great. And the thing I just want to say at this point too, is that people are under this delusion when they’re in this argument about, see, that’s not healthy, plant-based eating, blah, blah, blah, is missing out these nutrients. Listen back in the day when we were grabbing food from the ground and we’re getting it from the earth and literally mixing it in, we’re getting B12 manufactured from our microbiome, with the dirt, all of that stuff.

[00:23:26] And it was uptaking and we don’t need that much. And that’s what it came from. And since we’ve kind of conveniently made food away from that scenario. We’re now in this place where we’re not getting that exposure and that microbic exposure and that dirt exposure, et cetera. And that being said our modern day world itself is void of the way that we used to live.

[00:23:50] So. We are in a supplemental world. We are not in this scenario. Hell, we’ve got to supplement with vitamin D to go outside because 93% of our lives are inside. So let’s let go of anyone listening to this. Go. See, everyone’s got a supplement we’re void of what we used to be connected to in a multitude of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, nutrients.

[00:24:19] Whitney: [00:24:19] I’m so glad you bring that up, Darin. We actually have an entire few pages in our introduction that are dedicated to this argument about whether a plant-based diet is natural. It’s such an irrelevant argument. The thing about our modern day society is natural anymore. And there’s, there’s such a trade-off, you know, with the vitamin D you bring up now, people don’t get skin cancer as much.

[00:24:42] So everything comes with a plus and a minus. And if you have to take some supplements these days, it doesn’t negate the benefits of a plant-based diet. There are so many other benefits that we reap from our modern day society. And the fact is we don’t need to eat meat to get all of these things anymore.

[00:25:01] And like you brought up the other, the trade-off with B12 is that people aren’t getting sick as much as they would if they were drinking from an unfiltered stream or eating dirty vegetables. 

[00:25:11] Alex:  Yeah. And the other thing I’ll say too, just because this argument of natural so stupid, uh, even, even if you think that you’re right.

[00:25:19] Supplementing you are, you know, 90% of farm animals are given B12 because we have cobalt issues in the soil. Uh, your cows milk has vitamin D added. It has vitamin a added if it’s a skim milk. Iodine is only found in dairy foods because of the way that we sterilize the equipment and the iodine solution gets into the dairy milk.

[00:25:37] So even if you don’t think that your quote unquote supplement. Your diet is supplemented because of the way that we currently produce food and this sort of industrialized age. So we don’t live the natural lives anymore. There’s a lot of benefits like Whitney said. Um, and so we just think this is a mute point.

[00:25:52] Uh, we also think it’s the safest thing for kids to do, and for all adults related to all people to do two on a plant-based diet. So if you’re going to follow this and you want it to be as healthy as possible, there’s just no, no debate in our minds. 

[00:26:05] Darin: [00:26:05] They’ll take a drug from a doctor that doesn’t believe putting any food in your mouth makes a difference.

[00:26:10] And then they’ll go after someone for all of this other nonsense. So we just have to keep things in perspective because when people divorce themselves of common sense, then there’s not a lot of things that you can do to combat that. Tell them, but then they can also argue against you for a variety of reasons, but the evidence is super clear.

[00:26:29] So let’s talk about, cause it’s going to come up. People are going to ask what about protein? We don’t have a 

[00:26:35] Alex: [00:26:35] protein deficiency in the developed world, right? So, uh, even when we look at studies on begin kids, they get about two times the amount of protein that they need. Um, two of our kids get about three times, even four times fan on some kind of studies.

[00:26:47] So, uh, in developed nations, there is not, there’s no such thing as a protein deficiency, you know, I’ve been analyzing diets for, well over 10 years. I’ve never seen a protein deficiency once we have a lack of other nutrients. And that’s true when we look at, uh, you know, studies of kids as well, especially omnivore kids, they don’t get enough fiber.

[00:27:03] They don’t get enough vitamin C full, late vitamin a, uh, so there are definitely. Takeaways from focusing too much on protein, but protein is just not an issue. The one thing that we do like to educate on is the idea that we want to be consuming things like beans and lagoons often in our diet. And that’s because they’re a rich source of the amino acid lysine, which can be a little bit more limiting in a plant-based diet.

[00:27:25] So it’s one of the reasons that we’re not big fans of raw diets for kids, just because it’s harder to meet those needs. The needs. So feeding your children, you know, all these wonderful by indent plant foods that are naturally good sources of protein. And then also focusing a little bit more on beans in the goons.

[00:27:40] You’re going to get all the protein you need likely more than 

[00:27:43] Whitney: [00:27:43] you. I think a lot of people also are not as aware of where protein is found. Protein is literally found in every single whole plant food. There is not one whole plant food that doesn’t have protein in it. So as long as you’re eating a diverse array of plants, you’re going to meet your protein.

[00:27:59] Very easily. Something parents don’t understand is that so-called Carbridge foods like whole grains are an excellent source of protein. A slice of bread has got four to six grams of protein in it. A cup of oatmeal’s got like nine grams of protein in it. So plant-based kids can easily meet their protein needs.

[00:28:17] And in fact, as Alex said before, most kids are getting way more protein than they need. And. We’ll circle back. I think you may remember this from, uh, your interviews with Dr. Longo, but there can be a detriment to too much protein. We actually do see this in the studies of kids. Those that are getting excessive amounts of protein are at an increased risk of overweight and obesity, which again is going to be, um, a risk factor for other chronic diseases later in life.

[00:28:42] Alex: [00:28:42] Yeah. And those studies that show that a lot of it is because those children have too much cow’s milk in their diets. So they’re consuming an excess of three, four or five cups a day, which, you know, a cup of cow’s milk is going to be eight grams of protein. And so that’s another reason why we really want them.

[00:28:58] These sort of additional beverages in our diet that can be adding too much protein in it because those studies do show that those kinds of kids, especially in the first couple of years of life, their excess of protein is likely related to cow’s milk. 

[00:29:09] Darin: [00:29:09] This just keeps coming up like crazy. And somehow.

[00:29:14] The meat, dairy, fish and egg industry is somehow, you know, perpetrated this idea for so long that we just continue to come up. I’m kind of like this point where if you focus on fiber, you get the nuts, the gums seeds and all of that stuff. And then the plural Federation of great fiber seeding, the intestinal track and boosting the immune system and increasing micro flora.

[00:29:38] That’s kind of like focus on that and you’re going to get infinitely more. Benefits then this acidification and harmful side, if you’re getting too much protein and the Longo always sticks for people that don’t know, he sticks around like 15% and even T Colin Campbell, and a lot of the other research.

[00:29:57] Once you get over 15 PR probably a little different for kids, maybe a little more, I’m not sure, but over 15% in adults, it can then start to turn on those ages. 

[00:30:09] Whitney: [00:30:09] Yeah, honestly, again, the first day of Dr. Longo’s class, I went home and I tracked my protein intake. I said, I’m going to eat plant-based tomorrow.

[00:30:17] And I’m going to see if I can get enough protein. And I tracked my protein intake for the day and I was about, and this is eating plant based about 20 grams over what I actually physiologically needed. So it’s really hard. To not get enough protein. I don’t know how one would do that actual thing. And even with kids, you know, two cups of soy milk gives you enough protein for your one to three-year-old to meet all of their needs.

[00:30:42] And those two beverages, not even counting the rest of the foods that they’re going to eat during the day.

[00:30:46] Darin: That’s amazing. Let’s tackle another big one that you definitely wanted to look at. I mean, there’s tons of micronutrients that tons of minerals and stuff. What were some of the biggest concerns was that iron was a calcium magnesium.

[00:31:01] Whitney: You named it right there. Iron is probably the top nutrient concern amongst parents is for good reason. Iron deficiency is the most common nutrient deficiency for both adults and children alike and iron needs are extremely high from about six months of age to 12 months of age. When kids first start eating solid foods in the diet and a myth that you’ll hear perpetuated by the meat industry is that you have to eat beef in order to meet baby’s iron needs.

[00:31:28] Absolutely not true. If we compare the amount of iron that’s found in beef to the amount of iron found in the same serving of most lagoons, the lagoons have either the same amount of iron or in some cases a little bit more. The, the issue, however, is that iron found in plants is in a form that’s less bioavailable.

[00:31:46] So it’s not absorbed at as such an increased rate as the iron that’s mainly found in animals. But this is something that can be easily got around by plant-based parents by pairing iron rich foods with a source of vitamin C, which can increase the absorption by four to six times, bringing it up to the same absorption as, as meat.

[00:32:04] But that’s just a place where the education is really important so that plant-based parents know that when they’re serving oatmeal, they need to add in some strawberries or that when they’re serving some black beans, they need to add in some, some bell pepper. Um, but once parents know that and they are, and they’re educated and they’ve got the meal planning tools in place, they can absolutely provide all of their kids.

[00:32:23] Micronutrient needs. 

[00:32:25] Darin: [00:32:25] I think the most important thing too, is that, is it a little awareness? Is very important, right? When pairing foods, combining foods, et cetera, with the little bit of knowledge, but listen, and people may say, oh, I don’t want to need to know all that and do all that. This then it’s going back to our basic instinct.

[00:32:44] It’s going back to the very thing. You both said, listen, I’m growing a child. I’m going to provide for a child. We need to know, not only for our individual health, but for the health of our children, we need to know what the hell we’re putting in our mouth. Right. So I just want to say that because this doesn’t have to be difficult.

[00:33:04] There’s a little learning curve and I love the fact that you’ve put it off. In a place so that parents, all parents, new parents, whatever can come and explore different ways that you’ve spent all this time. I mean, I just love the fact that you spent months before. I mean, it’s just. You 

[00:33:25] Alex: [00:33:25] know, we, we do try to make this as easy as possible because you know, Whitney and I are both moms to two toddlers.

[00:33:31] We know how valuable time is. And so we created something called the PB three plate that parents can really follow to sort of say, okay, it’s meal time. I need to make sure that I’m getting sort of these, these categories of foods on the plate. Uh, and if I do this. Meals and snack times the nutrition kind of takes care of itself.

[00:33:51] So we have a category for our fruits and vegetables, a category for the games that’s in seeds and a category for grains and starches. We have a few call-outs within that. So focusing on iron rich foods, focusing on vitamin a vitamin C rich foods, but for the most part of your choosing an item in each of those three categories, you’re going to get the macronutrients, but you’re also going to focus on the micronutrients.

[00:34:11] We haven’t talked too much. That yet, but that’s one thing that is a little bit different in a plant-based kid’s diet versus a plant-based adult’s diet. We need kids need a lot more fat than adults do. So they need about 30 to 40% of their calories coming from fat for optimal growth and development. And so sometimes, especially in the plant-based community where people are trying to limit fat or limit added oils, we really want to emphasize the importance of yes.

[00:34:36] One of the benefits of a plant-based diet is the fact that it can be more naturally low in fat. We want to emphasize these foods and kids because they need it, especially for brain development. So some of that shifting is someone who, you know, some of the other education for the most part that PB three plate really helps parents figure out exactly what to serve on the bus.

[00:34:54] And Darren 

[00:34:54] Whitney: [00:34:54] did tag team off what you said any. If you’re going to try to avoid nutrient deficiencies is going to take knowledge and a little bit of planning, any diet, whether it’s plant-based or omnivores, you have to know, you have to know about food a little bit. Otherwise you’re going to fall into that trap of the standard Western diet, where you’re just eating processed foods and you are going to have nutrient deficiencies there as well.

[00:35:17] So I think whenever people think, oh, a plant-based diet is going to be difficult, it’s no more difficult than any other diet that has. Common guidelines that you have to follow in order to keep yourself healthy. 

[00:35:28] Alex: [00:35:28] That’s been true throughout history as well, right? Like it’s comical to think that we didn’t have deficiencies, you know, decades, centuries ago, too, when we were eating.

[00:35:36] So now we know about vitamin C, we don’t see scurvy anymore. We know about the importance of vitamin D. We don’t see rickets, right? So we’re continuously understanding it and learning more about nutrition and all of the benefits that has. And that’s true for all diets. Not necessarily just plant based one.

Transcript Text

Darin: Many of you who follow me know I’ve spent most of my life searching for the healthiest foods on the planet. If you look hard enough, there are a few unknown extraordinary foods around the world that people still don’t know about. And a few years ago, I came across my favorite superfood discovery of all time, Barukas nuts. When I first tasted them, my eyes lit up. The taste alone just absolutely blew me away. But after sending them to the lab, which I do, and getting all the tests, I realized they’re the health theists nuts on the planet. No other nut even compares. They have an unusually high amount of fiber and they’re off the charts in super high antioxidants and have few calories than any other nut. It’s jam-packed with micronutrients. But they’re not just good for you, they’re really good for the planet. Most other nuts require millions of gallons of irrigated water, but Baruka trees require no artificial irrigation. Barukas are truly good for you, good for the planet, and good for the world community. It’s a win all the way around. I really think you’ll love them, so I’m giving all of my listeners 15% off by going to That’s B-A-R-U-K-A-S dot com backslash Darin, D-A-R-I-N. I know you will enjoy.

Darin: The fact that there’s a resource there. So many moms always reach out to me and it’s just, it just gives me great pleasure to know. That there is a source now that I can send people as well, because it is a scary thing. And if we don’t have a place to go, it’s just insane to me actually. But yet at the same time, it isn’t because just looking around at our world today, the fact that we’re not going into the rabbit hole of our current situation, but Dr. Fuhrmann. Did this, uh, research and, and deemed that only 2.5% of Americans were deemed actually helped. Of what 350 million people were actually healthy. And you’re like, that’s a ticking time bomb for anything that’s going to 

[00:38:41] Whitney: [00:38:41] happen. Yeah. So we’re seeing these chronic disease rates skyrocketing, even in kids, kids as young as 10 years of age are being diagnosed with type two diabetes, which was previously thought to be just a lifestyle disease that came on.

[00:38:54] You’re in life. We’re seeing, uh, rates of obesity and preschoolers reaching up to 14%. So there’s just really something wrong with the way that we’re feeding our kids right now. And that really highlights the importance of instilling these positive eating patterns or early on in life so that they do carry on later.

[00:39:14] We 

[00:39:15] Alex: [00:39:15] always think it’s funny that we’re the ones that have to play defense when we’re like, yes. I know that you think that this diet perhaps is a little bit out there, a fringe, but it’s not like the standard American diet is health promoting. You know, it’s not like these kids have these great markers of health, you know, like Whitney said, we’re seeing type two diabetes, younger and younger.

[00:39:33] We’re seeing early signs of. Fluorosis and young kids, uh, the average child in America, one in 10 gets enough fiber one and 10 gets enough produce. So it’s not like the norm is this health promoting diet that, you know, you really shouldn’t stray from, you know? And, and that’s also why one of our messages is really inclusive.

[00:39:50] You know, we’re telling all parents. Regardless of diet that we need to get more plants on the plate or health benefits to really start to show the benefits of these foods for kids. Because the earlier that they’re exposed to them, the more they become part of the food culture, sort of the foods that they’re used to and are.

[00:40:08] And like, as they get older, but also for planetary health, you know, we’re, we’re parents like the world that we are leaving our kids. Scares the shit out of me every single day. And, you know, I feel like me being able to do what I can, as soon as, you know, my diet habits and what I’m feeding my kids feels like I’m being part of the solution.

[00:40:27] And so wherever you’re at, I think we can all agree that we all need to get more plants on our kid’s 

[00:40:31] Darin: [00:40:31] plate. Bingo. I couldn’t say it better because it is so important and these kids are. We’re leaving them with something here. And if we can at least empower them with habits because you are who they’re learning from everything every way, every feeling, every vibration, every frequency, every.

[00:40:54] And that is the greatest thing that we can do is embody that ourselves and, and teach that as a way of leading ourselves through that. And I agree, I don’t care to convert people. I don’t want to spend my time on a soap box. But I will also agree with you. Let’s not get into this philosophical debate, just eat more fricking plants and, uh, make that a bigger part of your diet and get more fiber in.

[00:41:23] Cause it’s so. Important on so many levels. The other thing I want to talk about is food allergies, food sensitivities. I’ve seen so many picky, picky kids. It’s like, it drives me crazy when I, I see like, and then parents. Bow down to them, just continuously feeding them poor quality food that, I mean, let’s talk terrain theory in that sense.

[00:41:54] If you keep feeding them that, then those cravings are going to keep wanting the cravings that you’re creating. So how do you. Maybe you guys didn’t have an issue with that because you kind of set out exposing them to a lot of food, but maybe you did. I don’t know. What can you say to parents that maybe aren’t doing what they could be doing and maybe transition and or how do you deal with that side of things?

[00:42:20] Yeah, picky 

[00:42:21] Alex: [00:42:21] eating is tough, you know, I mean, Whitney and I, like, I like to say, like, I know all of the theory, all of the research, and there are still some times I look at my three-and-a-half year old son and I’m like, what do you mean? You don’t like this? You eat this like four times yesterday and now you refuse to eat it.

[00:42:34] Like, oh my gosh, like it is so frustrating. So that’s how there’s, we’ll always sort of win that battle of the wills. Picky eating is, is developmentally sort of appropriate. Some level for all kids, right? So the toddler years, they’re starting to become more autonomous. They’re starting to have a sort of their own ability to decide what kinds of foods they like, what kind of things they want in their body.

[00:42:56] And so we want to respect that at some level and don’t, we don’t want to override those, those choices. What I think a lot of parents do is they let say, feed their child a piece of broccoli. And their child says, I don’t like that. And the parent says, okay, you don’t like that. And so, therefore I’m not going to waste my time or my money or my energy serving you that food that you’ve told me that you don’t like, but what happens is then that starts to sort of develop this vicious cycle.

[00:43:22] Right? So the child is. As opposed to broccoli, they’re never really given a chance to learn to like it. And so therefore the parents sort of just tends to continue to feed the child, these preferences of foods they do like, and then likely what happens is that window of acceptable foods gets narrower and narrower.

[00:43:38] And then the parent’s like, I don’t know what to do. My child is so picky. And so what we say is, I’m okay. If my kid doesn’t eat the food, my job as a parent is to offer healthy food, to offer those foods often, to offer them in different ways. And it’s my child’s job to decide if he wants to eat and how much he wants to eat.

[00:43:56] So if that means for dinner, some nights, all he eats is, you know, five strawberries and a vitamin that. That is okay. Right. I don’t need to override how much he wants to eat. I don’t need to override his, his decisions of what he puts in his body. I trust that he knows that, but I’m also going to say, okay, you didn’t eat that broccoli today.

[00:44:15] I’m going to give that broccoli to you in two more days, and I’m not going to press you to eat it. I’m not going to force you to eat it, but it’s, I want you to know that that is part of our food culture. That is part of the food, the family eats. And I also want you to. Exposed to it as much as possible and exposure from like a lot of different things.

[00:44:31] Right? So when we go to the grocery store, I have him pick out the broccoli. We go to the grocery store, he counts the apples in the bag or counts the kale leaves. Right? Those are all ways to increase exposure. When we go home, I have him help me sort the groceries and put them in the fridge. Or trying to make salad.

[00:44:45] I’ll have him tear the lettuce with me, right. Even if he doesn’t eat that lettuce, that is okay because he’s being exposed to these foods and they’re becoming more and more normal. And that’s really, our advice to parents is off of these foods often take sort of the ego out of it. Take the, like the battle out of it, make it your child’s choice as far as what they put into their body.

[00:45:04] But it’s your job still to continue to offer these foods as, as often as people. 

[00:45:08] Darin: [00:45:08] I really liked that. It’s also showing the sovereignty that you’re giving that little being the nature that lives inside of your children is the same nature that lives inside us. The same nature that opens up the pedals of the rose.

[00:45:23] It’s the same nature that, that crashes the waves on the ground. It’s the same nature that the sun hits the photosynthetic green leaves. It’s the same nature that nature is there. If you’re forcing something. How does that often work? Right? I’ve really love that idea because finish your plate, finish your plate, finish your plate, finish your plate.

[00:45:44] You know what I hear in that eating disorder, eating disorder, eating disorder, eating disorder, the 

[00:45:49] Alex: [00:45:49] research 

[00:45:50] Whitney: [00:45:50] shows kids are born with the innate ability to regulate their hunger and fullness cues as adults. And I think we’ve probably experienced this in our life, Alex and I talked about how our.

[00:46:01] Parenting style affected the way we ate. When you start to build negative eating patterns, it’s from getting away from your natural innate preferences. It’s it’s when you start taking into account all the rules and the guidelines and the things that the world’s telling you about how you should eat versus how your body is telling you to eat and how you naturally would eat babies.

[00:46:22] Aren’t born with eating disorders. People develop those from years of listening of not listening to 

[00:46:27] Alex: [00:46:27] their body. Well, it also tells my child, I trust you. You know, when he’s telling me something like I’m full, I don’t want to eat that. Like, okay, I trust you. You know, I think sometimes with parents we see this often is we think our kids need perhaps more than they need, or we don’t necessarily think that they understand things like hunger and fullness, like Whitney was saying.

[00:46:47] All kids know those things, right? We don’t have to force them. They’re telling you that they don’t like something. They don’t want something. We also want to show that, you know, Hey, I respect you. I trust that, you know, what’s best for your body. I’m still gonna offer dinner. Right. I’m still cooking dinner tonight because it’s what we’re doing as a family.

[00:47:01] But I also trust that it’s your decision. If you don’t want to eat the food. And 

[00:47:07] Whitney: [00:47:07] the research really shows that it’s not to your benefit to try to force your child. Not only are you going to be possibly creating some lifelong negative eating patterns, but it’s going to backfire on you. Whenever you try to force a child to do something, they’re going to do the opposite.

[00:47:23] Um, and we see that. Just true too. If you try to restrict a child whom you think is eating too much, they’re going to end up eating more. They’re going to end up eating more of those foods that you’re trying to restrict them from. So it’s a very delicate balance, and that’s why it’s really important. Like Alex outlined that you follow this kind of division of responsibility where you know your job as a parent that’s to serve those needs.

[00:47:44] Foods regularly. So they, your kid can expect that they’re going to be on a plate and then it’s their job, their job to figure out how much they’re going to eat. And when they’re going to eat.

[00:47:53] Darin: [00:47:53] I love that there was something that happened to me that was really powerful. Me observing a parent and their child.

[00:48:01] And he was maybe. I dunno, seven ish. And I was in this workshop in San Francisco and it was at this person’s house. So I was there and they were letting me stay in a room. So we’re at, in this workshop and the kids were just running around being kids. And that night he said, mom, I’m really hungry. Okay.

[00:48:22] Well, ask your body what a want. This is what she said. Right. She used those term asked your body what it wants, which I loved. Right. So now you’re tuning the kid inside. Right. And the kid said, I really want that ice cream. And the mom said, really? That’s what you want for dinner. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

[00:48:41] So she was like, okay, here you go. She gave him the ice cream ate and ate and ate it, loved it, loved it, loved it. And then I witnessed the next morning. Fantastic. He woke up. Sluggish. He came to his mom, I saw this whole thing play out and he said, mom, remember when you asked me what my body wanted? And I said ice cream.

[00:49:05] Yeah. I remember my body didn’t want the ice cream. I wanted the ice cream by body didn’t and I really feel bad. My body doesn’t feel good today. And so that was so powerful because the autonomy, the freedom that the mom put into the child, and now the child made the choice and the child was sitting in those consequences and was able to have the wisdom to be able to go.

[00:49:36] That’s what my choice did, and I don’t feel good as a result of it. So when I actually listen, what is that real voice, as opposed to the mind and the, whatever, I haven’t even thought of that moment for a long time. And that’s what it reminded me. When you were saying that you’re giving that power over and it’s not being stupid, right?

[00:49:58] It’s not being complacent. It’s not letting them eat harmful things per se. As opposed to obviously standard American diet is mostly harmful, but that being said, it’s not directly harmful. 

[00:50:11] Whitney: [00:50:11] And I talk about this in the book too. We talk about, you know, the book is really for babies and toddlers, but we talk about looking ahead as your kids grow older.

[00:50:19] Sweets and treats get introduced in the diet and how sometimes we might serve our child a whole plate of cookies and let them decide how many they’re going to eat, because what’s going to be a better lesson. You telling them they can’t have cookies and them rebelling against you or the meeting too many cookies and going, Hey, my body doesn’t like how that feels.

[00:50:36] Darin: [00:50:36] It’s so powerful. So I want to stay connected to you both because we’re in this place or we really need to be better stewards of our children. And this isn’t a knock on parents because it takes a lot. Just look what you guys you’ve studied it, you educated yourself, not only that, but then you actually had to dive yourself into that world just to figure out what was actually true.

[00:51:03] So, yeah. Or parents can do that, obviously, but we can too. That power back and start to learn. And I love what you’re doing. And I hope everyone sees that. What you have is such a resource and this new book, I can’t wait to read it. Actually. I’m kind of fascinated the plant-based baby and toddler right here.

[00:51:27] What a beautiful thing. And then in some weird way, we’re connected because I’m diving into all the toxic way. Children are, are being exposed to things and having alternative solutions for them because obviously that’s affecting them on both sides, the lack of good food, and then the exposure of things in our modern day world.

[00:51:47] Absolutely. 

[00:51:48] Whitney: [00:51:48] We can’t wait to read that because that is such an important piece of the puzzle. We’re talking about health. 

[00:51:53] Darin: [00:51:53] Thank you. For being here, I’d love to support you guys in any way I can and your path and your mission for healthy toddlers, healthy parents, healthy family. 

[00:52:05] Alex: [00:52:05] Awesome. 

Darin: What a fantastic episode. So tell me, what is one thing you got out of today’s conversation? If this episode struck a chord with you and you want to dive a little deeper into my other conversations with incredible guests, you can head over to my website, for more episodes and in-depth articles. Keep diving my friends. Keep diving.

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