Local 4 News: Nutritionist Stacy Goldberg Nutrition Tips For Vegan Teens
DETROIT – Many teens are trying out a vegan diet, but are they going about it the right way? Even kids in elementary school have said they want to go vegan. If your child wants to explore a plant-based diet, you should ask them why. “So, going vegan because Beyonce is doing it, or somebody else is doing it, is not necessarily the best option. Especially for a teen,” nutritionist Stacy Goldberg said. Goldberg, a CEO of Savorfull, said there’s a right and wrong way to go vegan.
By definition, a vegan diet excludes all forms of animal products and focuses solely on plant-based foods and beverages. Fundamentally, veganism is rooted in avoiding harm and cruel conditions of animals from food to lifestyle choices such as clothing and personal care items. Vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, tofu and tempeh are permitted; animal protein, eggs, dairy, honey and animal fats as primary or additional ingredients to foods are not allowed on a vegan diet. Generally speaking, this differs from a vegetarian diet in that vegetarians often consume eggs, cheese and other dairy products.
Vegan diets have tapped into mainstream culture as many well-known figures such as pro athletes such as tennis-star Venus Williams and celebrities like Beyoncé are now following strict animal-free diets. The penetration into everyday lives reaches to younger generations more than ever before with the connectivity of social media. Regardless of the reason and rationale to follow a vegan diet, understanding crucial tenants of maintaining a well-rounded, calorically stable diet is essential to prevent adverse health effects – especially in young athletes.
Pros and Cons of Vegan Diets
Vegan diets present many health benefits. A “cleaner” diet with increased consumption of fruits, vegetables and whole grains can assist in weight maintenance, enhanced digestion, restful sleep, and reduce the risk of heart disease, type II diabetes, high blood pressure and even certain cancers. Plant-based proteins can create a diet complete in all essential amino acids necessary for growth, development and daily function when well planned. Paired plant proteins create a complete protein option, such as combining 100% whole wheat bread with peanut butter. Net protein balance must be achieved to compensate for the muscular breakdown and use during physical activities and the muscle growth from training in the athletic population. If teens do not consume enough protein, the body shifts to burn other body stores which can result in weight loss and preservation of fat free mass. With a proper plant-based diet, ideally there is an increased intake of antioxidants, vitamin C and E, as well fiber-rich carbohydrates. If vegan diets are not structured and well planned out, there is a risk for deficiencies in protein, vitamin B12, vitamin D, iron, zinc, calcium, and iodine. In either case, multivitamin supplementation is necessary. Omega-3 fatty acids found in seafood sources should be compensated for by intake of flaxseed oil or walnuts, or a plant based supplement. Iron based foods and supplements should be taken with or consumed with vitamin C to enhance absorption . For example, add an orange to your meal after eating a bowl of vegan bean chili.
Vegan Diet Traps
When embarking on a vegan diet, there is often a tendency to increase carbohydrates and empty calories. Many people mistakenly swap out protein for carbs and they increase foods such as pastas, breads/bread products, potatoes, rice and other snack foods. Some of these can be healthful choices, but many options that vegans lean on are empty calories, empty carbs and can pack on pounds. Additionally, many new vegans lean on “vegan junk food” such as frozen and packaged vegan foods as their new replacement diet options. They look to vegan sausage, burgers, patties, frozen meals and other prepackaged foods to replace their animal proteins and calories. These foods can have high amounts of sodium, preservatives, added sugars and added fats which can also make it difficult to lose or maintain weight. Lastly, some vegans equate a vegan diet with weight loss or lower calories. This is not always the case. People assume that because vegan options are “healthier” they can eat unlimited portions of grains, veggies (especially starchy vegetables), nuts, seeds and anything else vegan. This can also contribute to weight gain or lack of weight loss.
Plant-Based Protocol For Teen Athletes
As mentioned above, following a vegan diet requires significant planning as well as food and nutrition knowledge in order to prevent nutritional deficiencies and have a well rounded diet. Choosing a variety in food choices across all food groups will create a balance of nutrients and not omit vital sources of vitamins, minerals, micronutrients and macronutrients. Adolescents and teens have increased needs during this crucial growth period. They need to consume proper amounts of all nutrients for optimal growth and development. In general, any restrictive diet can create pitfalls and lead to stunted growth.
Teen athletes that are also vegan or beginning to explore veganism as a dietary lifestyle have even greater concerns. According to the International Society of Sports Nutrition, energy needs for young athletes should be calculated according to type of activity, training characteristics and individual body composition. In other words, there is no one size fits all equation for all teen athletes. For example, a larger football player will have drastically different needs than petite swimmers despite the activities both having high energy demands. A general recommendation for athletes is 1.4-2.0 grams of protein per kilogram a day for athletes. This range should be tailored to the individual to assess specific needs. A vegan athlete should aim for the higher end of the range because plant proteins have less bioavailability than animal based proteins. In regards to level of digestibility and bioavailability, soy protein ranks highest followed by beans and legumes. Many plant-based protein supplements exist on the market today to easily supplement a vegan’s total protein consumption. Pea, rice, and hemp protein powders are vegan friendly protein options on the market. Garden of Life makes an excellent plant-based protein powder that is organic, non-GMO, as well NSF for Sport and Informed Choice certified ensuring it is free-from banned substances.
Vegan diets may be difficult for teens and athletes both because they are predominately comprised of high fiber, low energy-dense raw foods that cause early satiety. This diet is beneficial for populations seeking weight loss but athletes require increased needs to assist in lean body mass retention, muscle building and weight maintenance. Solutions for these features include small, frequent meals high in calories and protein within vegan guidelines. Snacking throughout the day on items such as peanut butter, adding high protein dips with vegetables or sprinkling olive oil on bean based pasta dishes can assist in meeting performance needs by adding significant calories without deviating from veganism.
In summary, it is possible to have a healthy vegan diet as a teenager. With proper planning, guidance and research this can be an excellent dietary lifestyle. However, it is important to consider all of the points mentioned above before hastily embarking on a vegan diet, just because your favorite pop star or athlete has had success. Consulting with a nutrition professional can also be of great benefit to evaluate if a vegan diet is right for you and your teen.
Savorfull loved to hear that Small Batch Detroit offers real-world employment and career opportunities for Detroit Food Academy high school graduates. These students have an overwhelming passion for local food, the city of Detroit, and entrepreneurship… just like our CEO Stacy and her team! Small Batch Detroit craftily designed six different uniquely flavored Mitten Bites including Dark Chocolate + Peanut Butter, Blueberry + Lavender, Rhubarb + Ginger, Apple + Cinnamon, Dark Chocolate + Raspberry, and Cranberry + Date. These nutrient dense bars are packed with organic and local ingredients that will keep you feeling fueled for your day. Mitten Bites are proudly made without using preservatives or additives. These scrumptious bars make a valuable addition to your workday with protein amounts ranging from 3-5 g, 3 g of fiber, and a healthy source of fats. The best part? The Savorfull team was overjoyed to find out that Mitten Bites are free-from wheat, soy, and dairy!
Here are our Nutritionist Stacy Goldberg’s top 5 favorite ways to use Mitten Bites:
Mitten Bites Yogurt bars: Use your favorite Greek or Icelandic yogurt to create a thick layer on top of any flavored mitten bite. Place in freezer for 20 minutes. We suggest: Blueberry and Lavender Mitten Bites covered with plain greek yogurt and blueberries.
Drizzle your Mitten Bites with dark chocolate for an easy and delicious dessert. Use the Mitten Bites Dark Chocolate and Peanut Butter and add dip it in a coating of melted dark chocolate. Place in the fridge for 20 minutes to set.
Yogurt Parfait: Crumble any Mitten Bites granola snack over your favorite yogurt. Add fresh fruit: we love using the Rhubarb and Ginger Mitten Bites and adding fresh strawberries!
Baked Apples with Apple and Cinnamon Mitten Bites: Sprinkle ¼ tsp cinnamon and 1 crumbled mitten bite over a sliced red apple. Place in a microwave safe dish, cover with 1 tsp of water and heat for 2 minutes for an easy delicious fall treat.
Mitten Bite PB+J: Spread your favorite nut butter and jam on top of any Mitten Bite to make an instant, hearty PB and J!
Here are some of her insider tips for how to encourage healthy snacking for your kids:
Engage your kids by filling celery sticks with a low fat cream cheese and topping them with Qwackers Cheddar Crackers, a healthier option than Goldfish. Stacy’s top health tip is to get creative and involve your kids in food preparation.
Kids love muffins and getting involved with baking recipes in the kitchen. Step away from the traditional muffin mixes and experiment with all natural baking mixes such as Jessica’s Gluten Free Muffin Mix next time you make a sweet treat!
Watch this full clip from WDIV Local 4 / ClickOnDetroit to see our CEO & Nutritionist Stacy Goldberg talk about more of the hottest nutrition tips for kids!
It’s that time of year again…back-to-school is fast approaching. At my house, I am busy organizing folders, filling out paperwork and yes, testing healthy back-to-school meal and snack options! My kitchen and Savorfull offices has turned into a test kitchen with my kids, their friends and of course, our Savorfull team. This can be an overwhelming task for many parents! This month, in my column, Eat Right Now, featured in the Detroit Jewish News, I focus on Healthy Hacks For Back-To-School.
Read here for the full article:
Healthy Hacks For Back-To-School
As I walked through the aisles of Target getting my sunscreen last month, I caught a glimpse of backpacks and binders being set up for back-to-school. My mind immediately started thinking about lunches, snacks and fueling my kids for their extra-curricular activities. As parents well know, getting ready for work and school in the morning can be incredibly stressful. Rushing the process may lead to making unhealthy, unsatisfying choices at breakfast, lunch and in-between. A poorly packed lunch not only slows down productivity in the afternoon but contributes to weight gain.
According to the CDC, the percentage of children with obesity in the United States has more than tripled since the 1970s. Today, about one in five school aged-children (ages 6-19) has obesity. Putting together a balanced midday meal may be a dreaded task in your home, but packing a lunch need not feel like a chore this school year.
Dedicate a fraction of your Sunday to lunch-packing prep. Prepare soups, salads or leftovers into BPA-free reusable containers for easy additions to lunch bags during the week. Cook quinoa or brown rice ahead of time and have whole grains on hand. If you can’t find time to prep a full week of meals, plan a weekly family menu to eliminate time spent scouring the fridge for lunch foods.
PACK THE NIGHT BEFORE
Before heading to bed, put the finishing touches on your lunch to eliminate stress the next morning. Pack any foods that weren’t pre-prepped earlier in the week, such as crackers, dips and dressings.
CREATE A LUNCH-PACKING STATION
For hectic mornings, keep grab-and-go lunch options within reach to ensure no one misses the bus. Stock an area of your fridge with pre-cut and washed fruits and veggies that can be added to lunch bags in a time crunch. When rushing out the door, toss Greek yogurt, string cheese, individually portioned guacamole or hummus into your kids’ bags for a nutritious boost.
Tupperware with multiple compartments makes lunch-packing easier. This helps with portion control and allows organization for all your food groups. When shopping for containers to store your foods, look for products labeled BPA-free. BPA is an industrial chemical used to make polycarbonate, a hard, clear plastic, which is used in many consumer products. Several studies have proven that health risks are created due to this chemical seeping into food over time.
Think outside the lunch box.
The 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kid Act helped transform school meals and snacks with the most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans. When packing lunch for your child, include lean proteins, brightly colored fruits and veggies, whole grains, healthy fats and calcium-rich dairy products (or non-dairy alternatives).
Instead of your standard PB&J, try it on a stick! Cut your sandwich into squares and place onto skewers with pieces of fruit in between. For a peanut-free alternative, try Don’t Go Nuts Soy Nut Butters with sprouted grain bread. Alternatively, try a PB&J burrito with raisins or unsweetened dried cranberries. To amp up the protein and fiber, look for tortillas infused with added protein and fiber, such as La Tortilla Factory.
Lunchables are a classic favorite for kids but often filled with sugar and fat. Make your own nacho or taco bento boxes and swap out your traditional tortilla chip for Beanfields chips. This provides more protein and fiber in the diet for sustained energy. Include beans, olives, guacamole, shredded cheese and diced veggies for an awesome home-made lunchable.
Mix it up with monochromatic lunches and let your child decide which color and foods he desires. For example, if choosing the color green, you can offer cucumbers and broccoli dipped in avocado, fresh or dry roasted edamame and grapes or kiwi for dessert.
Skip the sugary fruit snacks and opt for Brothers All Natural Fruit Crisps. Make fruit fun, crunchy and healthy with interesting flavors such as pear and apple cinnamon. Mix with nuts, seeds or cereals for a fast and easy trail mix.
Swap traditional cut-up fruit for a fruit cone. Use an organic ice-cream cone such as Let’s Do Organic Sugar cones and fill with your fresh fruit to keep it lively for kids. You could also make a waffle cone sundae using Nutritional Choices Waffle Bites and top them off with vanilla Greek yogurt, fresh berries and a few dark-chocolate chips.
Note: Many of the snacks suggested in this article are available at savorfull.com.
Stacy Goldberg is a nationally recognized nutritional consultant, registered nurse and the CEO of Savorfull (savorfull.com), a Detroit-based company that sources healthy, allergen-friendly foods and provides nutrition-consulting. Savorfull is part of the Quicken Loans Family of Companies.