Why I Feed My Toddler An Anti-Cancer Diet

Can you imagine if you had never put anything unhealthy into your body? No fried foods, candy, caffeine, soft drinks, alcohol, drugs, red dye #40, processed foods, chemicals, hormones or any of that other known bad stuff? Not to mention if you had never intentionally baked your body in the sun, smoked cigarettes or placed yourself in a cloud of aerosol hair spray daily for years? If your body was as pure and toxin-free as it could be?

Once our little girl began eating table food, I realized that we had a great opportunity to take advantage of this (no doubt brief) period of time when we could control what goes into her body. For the time being, we can make sure she only consumes clean foods, which we hope will put her at a health advantage as she grows and get her off to a good start.

Our hope is that she'll develop a taste for natural, organic, whole foods, and therefore not develop a craving for (or addiction to) fast foods and sugary treats. Of course, it could be all over as soon as someone gives our daughter her first energy drink or candy bar. But at least we can try to create a healthy physical foundation (for her to later ruin if she so chooses). And we can educate her about the dangers of certain types of food so she will hopefully make healthy choices as she gets older.

I think part of the reason it's so difficult for us adults, especially us older adults, to "switch" to healthier foods is because we've gotten used to the unhealthy ones. If we weren't raised on hamburgers and french fries, cookies and ice cream, we might not crave those types of foods. We wouldn't be having to "develop a taste for" healthier versions of the foods we grew to love.

A friend of mine chose to raise her children on healthy, organic foods from the beginning. For her, this included raising them vegetarian. She told me of the time her daughter had one of her first sleepovers and came home very angry with her mother. She had been given a certain famous brand of fried chicken, and demanded to know WHY her mother had kept this delicious delicacy from her. 

Rather than scold her daughter for eating fried chicken, or launch into a diatribe on the dangers of fast food, my friend chose to handle the situation a little differently. She told her daughter that she could have fried chicken if that's what she wanted. They'd drive through and pick up some straight away. But ... her daughter would have to wait until the next day to eat it.

Her daughter agreed, and they duly acquired an order of fried chicken to go. When they got home, they put it into the refrigerator to save until the next day. The daughter was excited ... until she opened the refrigerator the next day and saw what had happened to her beloved fried chicken. It was covered with a thick, white gelantinous substance. 

"Gross! What is this?!" the daughter exclaimed. My friend then explained that the white stuff was the grease or lard in which the chicken had been fried ... that when it got cold, it congealed. And lard, my friend explained, was fat from the abdomen of a pig that had been rendered for use in cooking. "That's what makes it taste so good," my friend explained.

Suddenly fried chicken became a lot less appealing to the young girl.

I think if we all took a hard look at the source and content of the foods we ate, we might not eat half the things we do. If you doubt me, why don't you sit down and watch "Food, Inc.," "Forks Over Knives" or "The World According To Monsanto." Unless we make mindful and informed food choices, we're all in danger of poisoning ourselves.

So even though it's challenging for some of us to convert to a largely raw, vegan, plant-based diet -- a diet that will create an environment unfriendly to cancer and other life-threatening diseases -- we can help our kids eat healthy right out of the gate. 

So what do I feed my toddler? The goal is to make sure she eats a nutritious, balanced diet with sufficient calcium and protein (and more in keeping with the current government "healthy plate" chart, a far cry from the meat and carb-heavy food pyramid of my youth). Some staples right now are:

Whole pastuerized goat milk (easier to digest than cow milk, and I opt for the pastueurized version over the raw version due to her young age and her susceptibility to bacterial infections);

Lots of fresh fruits (apples, pears, strawberries, blueberries, kiwi and watermelon are favorites, plus she probably eats an average of an entire avocado a day);

Raw and steamed vegetables, including root vegetable other than starchy potatoes (steamed edamame and carrots are staples);

Beans, beans beans (garbanzos, black beans and organic, low salt refried pinto beans are always in heavy rotation); 

Organic string cheese in moderation;

100% pure, organic juices such as pear, prune and apple juice, in moderation and always diluted with alkaline water;

Whole grain pasta with yogurt spread instead of butter;

Sunflower seed butter (instead of peanut butter);


Non GMO tofu;

Brown rice cereal or oatmeal;

Grains such as quinoa, cous cous and long grain rice;

Organic applesauce; and

Whole grain pita bread in moderation ... those kinds of thing. We avoid sugar like the plague, and have opted not to give our daughter any meat at this point (although local, grass-fed meats at some point would not be out of the question).

As for us, my husband and I are trying not to consume things that we would deem unsuitable for our child (the occasional glass of wine or cocktail not included).

The bottom line is that the old adage is largely true: we are what we eat. And as long as we can help create for our daughter's body an environment that will help protect her against disease and illness, we feel like we're doing our part.


What do you feed your kids?


Images top to bottom: Joanne Montgomery; US Department of Agriculture

baby health, toddler health, picky eaters, nutrition, cancer


To add a comment, please log in with

Use Your CafeMom Profile

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Comment As a Guest

Guest comments are moderated and will not appear immediately.

Lynette Lynette

we don't do dairy and eat healthy.  No cane sugar or HFCS.  My kids LOVE green smoothies. 

Smmeyn Smmeyn

Wish I was rich too.

laure... lauren_d0407

Um I'm not rich and my daughter eats all of that, and the occasional candy or Mac n cheese but even the Mac and cheese is homemade and organic. Everyone always comments on how smart she is and how healthy and active she is. Its because I don't feed her crap food, she will choose peppers over a cookie any day.

Rhond... RhondaVeggie

We eat pretty much the same stuff as you. It's far tastier than a bunch of junk and cheaper too.

jalaz77 jalaz77

Well I do nothing like this. We eat everything even the nasty chicken nuggets from McD's and home cooked meals, I quit buying organic cause even the low cost stuff added up to an extra $300 a month, wasn't worth it. I will go off of the 90+ yr old patients I see who ate a balanced diet, including the occ alcohol consumption, moderation dear is what they say, and they still have an amazing independent life. I have to say though, I want my own garden so I don't have to buy fresh expensive crap that goes bad a day after you buy it. Just being honest here. Some won't agree but we are raising our kids no one else.

kelti... kelticmom

My son eats a well balanced diet. Lots of fruit and raw veggies, eggs, cheese, I buy whole wheat bread and organic peanut butter. But I do "gasp" let him have a cookie, a McDonald's Happy Meal, etc from time to time. When you so severely limit a child's diet like in the above article, that is when they get to high school and want to eat pizza, soda, ice cream, etc , all the "bad foods" because they don't want to be different from their friends. Things in moderation will not kill you. Genetics has a lot to do with your health. My Irish grandpa ate fried meats, potatoes, sweets, drank like a fish, smoked like a chimney, and died at 93 in his sleep. My old bosses' wife did all organic, vegetarian, herbal supplement, etc. She was diagnosed with cancer at 42. Refused typical care, did the homeopathic remedies and died at 45, leaving three young girls behind. My point is, you can't put yourself in a "cancer free bubble". Every day there is some new study saying something else can cause cancer, and we all freak out. Cancer is not a new disease, we are just able to more frequently and accurately diagnose it. And treat it. Live your life as healthily as you can, but it's ok to enjoy a cookie or an ice cream cone. Have a hot dog at the ballpark.

Mommy... Mommy2justone

I was apprehensive at first about switching to raw and organic foods, because of the price tag. Then I found things that I could live without. We don't use fancy shmansy toilet paper, we get the cheapest stuff. We grow out own veggies and can them in the summer, so we can eat them in the winter when the organic store bought is too expensive. 
We don't buy junk food or snacks, no chips or pretzels, no extras of any kind in our house. We make a meal plan and stick to it, buying only what we need for that plan.
When my friend's family has a sale on their chickens we buy 10lbs of it and freeze it.
My neighbor's dad has free range organic chickens and we get eggs from him.

It is a lot of work and planning, but is totally worth the health of my family.  

nonmember avatar jaime

I was so proud the day my 2 year old daughter told my mom (who btw thinks i'm depriving her by not giving her sweets) that fruit is better than candy. I see no good reason to give babies candy, cookies, cakes, ice cream etc.. it just allows them to develop a taste for it and then they don't want to eat anything else. There is a time for that later when they understand what that stuff is and you can explain to them how it is not good. I believe that if you start with a good foundation it will help them make better choices as they grow.

nonmember avatar Michelle

Joanna, I am glad u are taking a vested interest in making sure your daughter eats well. Many parents do not, and it's frightening. However, I see a few pitfalls with your article...there are NO guarantees that a diet like this means she will NEVER get cancer or some other disease. Genetics are a tough beast to slay. And my allowing her to eat foods you deem as "bad"? I don't agree with that either. Sorry but the key to any decent diet is MODERATION. So she won't be allowed to eat fried zucchini flowers in Italy because they are "bad and fried"? Please let her have a happy meal at least ONCE...it won't kill her! My daughter is offered everything...the good and bad. She got homemade, "locally grown" baby food, and guess what? She hates pizza, McDonald's AND fried chicken! And I didn't have to gross her out by doing that "fridge trick"...I hate that when parents manipulate with food. Keep it real, ladies...

nonmember avatar Michelle

Also watch out for all those "organic" products...many of them can harbor salmonella and e.coli more easily because of the lack of pesticides....wash wash WASH!!!

1-10 of 49 comments 12345 Last