Friday, June 4, 2010

Protein Panic!

My ten year old son is all of a sudden hungry - ALL. THE. TIME.  I swear, I can not feed that kid enough! And heaven help us if he's not fed at regular intervals  - it's total melt down and chaos! Anger, tears, and anxiety - all relieved by food. It's craziness! He's always been on the thin side, but is just perfect for him, continuing on his own growth curve. I have been worried lately though, since he is SO hungry.   I wonder how the vegan thing is playing in. My gut says that it's just that that he's a growing boy; from talking to other parents and watching their kids, it certainly seems so! They're all hungry hungry hungry!

(Above photo: a hungry, hungry vegan!) 

So, the question then becomes, how the hell do you fill them up?? I know hunger is often confused with thirst, so I always try to keep him well hydrated. If that fails to help, my first thought is "PROTEIN"! But is this right? Is this the best way, and is that what his body will benefit most from? Or is it all bologna propaganda that is making me think that it's what he needs?

The first thing I did was look up how much protein is recommend? I found this:

"You can figure out how much protein you need if you know how much you weigh. Each day, kids need to eat about 0.5 grams of protein for every pound (0.5 kilograms) they weigh. That's a gram for every 2 pounds (1 kilogram) you weigh. Your protein needs will grow as you get bigger, but then they will level off when you reach adult size. Adults, for instance, need about 60 grams per day."

I checked a variety of sites, and all (veg and non-veg) seemed to agree with this recommendation, ranging from 0.36 - 0.50 grams per pound. Dylan is 55 lbs; according to this, he needs approximately 19.8-27.5 grams per day. Ummmmm...... he eats way more than that! On baseball days, I feed him Clif Builder Bars, which contain 20g. of soy and nut proteins alone! He also has about 1/2 c. of tofu per day, weighing in around 10g. And, I recently added Hemp shakes to his diet, adding another 5-7g. per day.

I also came across this statement a lot: "Proteins must be balanced in order to get the right mixture of amino acids". However, I came across even more dispelling this as old-school thought, including most articles linked from the USDA

Bottom line seems to be, focus on eating the first four of the "Vegan Six" and your kids will be fine! Here are some great veg protein sources:

GRAINS - Brown rice, oats (cereals - oatmeal, granola, etc.) millet, corn, barley, bulghur, wheat (including whole wheat bread, pastas, cereals, flour, etc.)

LEGUMES - Green peas, lentils, chick peas, alfalfa sprouts, mung beans, and beans of all kinds (kidney, lima, aduki, navy beans, soy beans and products made from them; e.g., tofu, textured vegetable protein granules [Textured Soy Protein], tempeh, soy milks), peanuts, etc.

GREENS - Broccoli, collards, spinach, etc.

NUTS AND SEEDSAlmonds, cashews, walnuts, filberts, pistachios, pecans, macadamias and nut butters made from these. Sunflower seeds, sesame seeds (including tahini butter made from ground sesame seeds), pumpkin seeds, etc. (Surprisingly, I read a lot that peanut butter is really not a good source of this! Dang, that's the one I've been counting on the most!) 

Here are some ideas to combine high-protein sources: 

* Corn Tacos with Pinto Beans
* Oat Bran Muffins with Soymilk
Brown Rice with Green Peas and Tofu
* Tempeh Burgers on Whole Wheat Bun
* Whole Grain Bread with Peanut Butter and Jelly
* Tofu Yogurt with Walnuts
* Tofu Cutlets with Green Beans Almondine
* Sunflower Pate & Sprouts on Pita
* Meatless (textured soy protein) Loaf with Tahini Dressing
* Noodles with Sesame Seeds
* Oatmeal with Sunflower Seeds
* Brown Rice with Almonds & Cashews
* Avacdo, Sprouts & Almond Butter on Whole Wheat Bread
* Corn or Wheat Flakes w/ Chopped Almonds & Filberts
* Chickpea Hummus (made w/Sesame Seed Butter) on Pita

An idea of how much protein is contained in these sources:

Healthy Protein Sources (in grams)

Black beans, boiled (1 cup)
Broccoli (1 cup)
Bulgur, cooked (1 cup)
Chickpeas, boiled (1 cup)
Lentils, boiled (1 cup)
Peanut butter (2 tbsp)
Quinoa, cooked (1 cup)
Seitan* (4 oz)
Spinach, boiled (1 cup)
Tempeh (1/2 cup)
Tofu, firm (1/2 cup)
Whole wheat bread (1 slice)

With all this information, I've decided to bulk up his fiber intake and make sure he's eating more of the above mentioned foods, and that we're not relying too much on non-nutritious snack foods. I've also sent an email to Dr. Fuhrman, nutrient expert, vegan supporter,  and author of "Disease Proof Your Child"  to see if he can provide any insight! I'll keep ya'll updated!

Update: Well, at least I got a quick response! Here it is: "Hi Sarah, Dr. Fuhrman would need more info about your son's diet to answer your question - he answers questions on the Member Center of Dr. If you are interested in joining, you can do so here:"

Unfortunately, the subscription is $44.95 for 6 weeks, then $14.95 a month. More than I can fork out at this time, even though the group looks pretty cool!  I'll re-read his book tonight to see if I can gain any new info from it!


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