Parenting

4 Easy Ways to Avoid GMOs in Baby's Diet

messy baby eating foodYou've probably heard the term GMO thrown around a lot on the news by health advocates and organizations, but what does the acronym really mean and how does it affect the well-being of your family?

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GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism and, according to the Non-GMO Project, is defined as organisms whose genetic material has been artificially manipulated in a laboratory through genetic engineering, or GE.

The science behind GMOs is still fairly new, and because of this, little is known about how these manipulations of our food will affect our well-being down the road. That's pretty frightening for parents who are trying to do right by their children and give them food they know is healthy.

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What should we, as parents, be concerned with in regard to GMOs? Most importantly, we need to become educated and observant consumers.

"There is not enough evidence to indicate that GMOs are a direct threat to human safety simply as a result of eating foods that are made from ingredients that are genetically engineered," says Sharon Palmer, RDN, the Plant-Powered Dietitian, author of Plant-Powered for Life. "But there have not been enough long-term studies to know for absolute sure, and it's important to look at the safety of GMO foods on a case by case basis."

This lack of information can be unnerving for new parents who want to know if GMOs are more harmful to their newborns. But Deborah Malkoff, a registered dietitian, pediatric nutritionist, and owner of New York–based City Kids Nutrition, offers this if you're on the fence about whether to eliminate foods containing GMOs:

"With infants, their bodies are developing so quickly. Their brains, their digestive track, everything is growing," Malkoff says. "We don't know what's going to happen 30 years from now with the GMO generation."

So many parents are trying to avoid giving their babies GMOs where they can. If you're aiming to follow in their footsteps, here's what you can do.

1. Give baby whole foods.

"Only very few GMO crops have been approved, such as soybeans, corn, sugar beets, canola, cottonseed, Hawaiian papaya, and a small amount of summer squash," says Palmer. "Typically, GMO corn and soy is grown only for animal food and processing (i.e., making oil and high-fructose corn syrup), sugar beets are used for sugar, cottonseed and canola are used for oil." In other words, not too many fruits and veggies you find in your local grocery story are genetically modified. "If you eat whole foods -- soy (i.e., tofu), an ear of corn, a beet -- you would rarely be eating a GMO. This is a huge misunderstanding among most people."

2. Make your own baby food.

Since you're more likely to find GMOs in processed foods, fresh is best. "Make your own applesauce, which would yield more [than what you'd find in a jar]," says Malkoff. "Or buy grass-fed beef, cook it in a pan, and blend it with something else. You can make it yourself and make extra portions. You don't necessarily have to buy baby food in squeeze pouches. They actually make squeeze pouches that you can fill with your own purees." The bonus is that making your own can often save you money.

3. Become a label reader.

The best way to know what foods you're bringing into your home is to look at product packaging. "Read the ingredients list and avoid highly processed foods," says Palmer. "Look for the Non-GMO Project Verified label, which certifies the food is GMO-free."

4. Go organic where you can.

Not sure whether a food could contain a GMO? Buy organic, since certified organic foods are regulated and cannot contain GMO ingredients by law.

Many of us have balked at the prices placed on organic foods, so Malkoff encourages parents to make the investment for items your baby or child consumes the most, like formula or milk. Also, packaged baby foods and cereals are good to buy organic.

By following these tips whenever possible, you can feel confident you're taking steps to avoid GMOs in baby's diet.

 

Photo via iStock.com/YsaL

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