There is often a correlation between how a child eats and how they learn. Dr. Bill Sears in this podcast talks about 4 points that he teaches kids and parents to focus on:
- Go Fish
- Go Green
- Go Nuts, and
- Go Blue
I am so excited to interview someone whose work I followed so closely when my kids were younger. I am pretty sure I was on the “askdrsears.com” website all the time.
In this episode, Dr. Bill Sears talks about how he addresses growth issues in his practice and does a special segment just for us on how to further help children with Down syndrome who have growth issues.
Gut Health and Growth Ebook www.functionalnutritionforkids.com/guthealth
There is often a correlation between how a child eats and how they learn. Dr. Bill Sears in this podcast talks about four points that he teaches kids and parents to focus on. Go Fish, go green, go nuts, and Go Blue. I was so excited to interview someone whose work I followed so closely when my kids were younger. I’m pretty sure I was on the Ask Dr. sears.com website all the time.
In this episode, Dr. Sears talks about how he addresses growth issues in his practice. And that’s a special segment just for us on how to further help children with Down Syndrome who have growth issues. William Sears MD has been advising parents on how to raise healthier families for over 50 years.
He received his medical training at Harvard Medical School’s Children’s Hospital in Boston, and the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, which is the world’s largest Children’s Hospital, where he was associate war chief of the newborn intensive care unit. Before serving as the chief of pediatrics at Toronto Western Hospital.
The father of eight children, he and his wife Martha have written over 45 books and hundreds of articles on parenting, child care, nutrition, and healthy aging. I’m guessing that most of you on this podcast have been to his website. He is the founder of the doctors. He is a wellness Institute for training health coaches, and he runs the health and parenting website.
As Dr. sears.com Dr. Sears and his contribution to Family Health were featured on the cover of Time magazine in May 2012. He has noted for his science meets simple and fun approach to Family Health, something that you’re gonna find a lot in today’s episode, you are listening to functional nutrition and learning for kids. And this is episode 99. With Dr. Bill Sears.
Bill big welcome to Dr. Sears. And like I said, I’ve been a fan of your website when my kids were younger. And it was really refreshing, you know, compared to the standard parenting advice of the time. I used to consult it all the time. So I’m really glad that you’re here. And that I get to talk to you about growth and failure to thrive. Thank you for being here.
Dr. Bill Sears:
Well, thank you, Dr. Vaish. I’m so honored to be with you. Thank you. We’d love you we love your podcast, and you do so much good for the nutritional health of so many families.
Thank you. I heard you say and I heard this statement. If your child fits or is lower than average on a growth chart, you said that it’s not a red flag, it’s a yellow flag. And can we start with that? Why is that a yellow flag and what is the Yellow Flag mean?
Dr. Bill Sears:
It’s a yellow flag because it’s easily corrected. It’s just a wave flag that says, hey, parents, maybe you should take a total look at how your child is eating. Is he eating enough or eating enough nutrition? So let’s the Yellow Flag. So you’re looking at the growth chart. And there are so many great growth charts on websites now, you can go to growth collector, you can go to growth chart collector, you can go to grow your child, so many growth charts are yours.
So go to the websites see a growth chart and see where your child fits. And then think Alright, Does my child need to eat more grow foods and you may be surprised that your child is not eating enough protein for one that’s the usual one Enough Healthy Fats because of the fat phobia we grew up with now that’s gone unfortunately we know what now we call it smart fats. smarten fat diet, not a low-fat diet. And so it’s sort of it’s actually a good flag that says hey parents, and teachers and families and all child feeders maybe need some more grow foods.
You’re calling them to grow foods I like that you know as a functional Nutrition Consultant poor growth is often a point of separation between conventional nutrition and model because a lot of times parents that go to a convention a nutritionist you’re simply adding more calories but here you know, that’s where I feel like there’s a difference when you’re looking a little deeper about is the food being absorbed or is you know what’s going on with the child. What are the first thing that you do Dr. Sears when a child comes to you and they present with for growth?
Dr. Bill Sears:
Well, the first thing I do is taken all neutral. Slow history. And I say Alright, now let’s look at your child’s growth chart. So I go on my old website there, and I show him a child growth chart calculator. And then I say, now let’s Google growth child protein, to see if your child eats enough protein, like a gram a day, a gram a pound. And so your child weighs, you know, 3030 pounds, does your child eat 30 grams of protein? So we start with that, and almost all the time, almost all the time bearish, I can say, Alright, here’s the problem.
Your child needs more growing foods. And the parents love the term grow foods is positive. Now for older children, for older children, as a motivator, we’ll say well, what’s your child’s special something? What are they really into? What are they love? And they may say, Well, my own daughter loves soccer. She’s such a good soccer player. She loves soccer, I say, Okay, call them soccer foods, like money, you need to eat more soccer foods. And, and they get it. They love that.
I like that a lot. Do you find that so one of the questions one of the things I was thinking about do you find that when you see children with poor growth, you also see correlations with other symptoms and anything from eczema to ADHD? Is there often a correlation? Or not necessarily?
Dr. Bill Sears:
Good. Another? Yes, yes, I think you nailed it. Again, there often is a correlation between how children eat, and how they learn. And the reason is, and oftentimes, say you’re in my office. And I find when I start talking about the brain, parents will pay more attention. So as you just said, sometimes the child has a learning problem. I don’t call it a disability, or disorder, there’s a difference. Not many children learn differently. But say your child has been labeled with some say, ADHD or not paying attention, or just not learning well.
I take the parents into the brain and say, Alright, point number one, your brain is the main organ in your body that is most influenced. For better or worse, by nutrition. You put smart food into the brain, you get back smart learning. Secondly, I go through, what your child eats. And I say, No, you’re feeding a little fat head. And they look at me and say, what’s that? What’s the fat head? I said, your child’s brain is mostly fat. So let’s look at the fat in the diet. And almost all the time.
I see that there are not enough omega-three fats in the most important smart fat. So I go through them on why they should eat more seafood. And I show them that I have a salmon on my wall. They’re a little piece of not a piece of salmon but a little picture of salmon. And is wearing a white coat says Dr omega the third. So I show a picture. I want you to meet Dr. Omega third, and I go through the 10 nutrients that are in a piece of wild salmon. Oh my goodness, the nutrients are incredible.
You have you have protein. You have omega-three DHA EPA smart fats. Protein Aster Xanthine what makes salmon pink? A B 12. V. O and vitamin D, are great sources of vitamin D. Choline, all these good things? And they’ll look at me oh my gosh, Dr. Bill, I never realized there was so much I’m gonna get him to eat salmon. And I said not also the brain.
The brain has the greatest garden ever grown. So what do you need to grow a garden? You need to feed and fertilize the plants. You need to water them. You need to kick the weeds out. toxic thoughts. And so I said let’s go into fruits and vegetables because fat, the fat head and the brain. Fat turns rancid it oxidizes. That’s the term Okay, so let’s eat more anti-oxygen’s fruits and vegetables. And I start with blueberries and the kids love it the blueberry is the brain Berry. And they run it.
Remember that and I give them little things to remember like, Go Fish, go blue, go green, and go nuts. Now, parents, give your children a little baggie, with an assortment of nuts, have them go through the kids like to pick out their own things when they shop, have them get four or five different varieties of nuts, make your own trail mix, put it in their pocket, and they can nibble on the nuts throughout the day. So simple things like that. Oftentimes, just increasing maybe 100 or 200, healthy calories, Jay is just enough to pick up the brain and pick up their growth chart.
That you’ve simplified that so much. So you said just I’m going to repeat what you said. Because that’s amazing. You said just in I don’t have to start increasing by just adapting or increasing 100 or so healthy calories a day is enough to pick up the growth charts.
Dr. Bill Sears:
Oftentimes, that’s enough. And it has made me know another thing I asked them if they’re having like you mentioned problems learning at school. I say what does your child have for breakfast? Oh, he doesn’t eat much for breakfast. He doesn’t like breakfast or gives them a little tart or a little piece of junk cereal. So they said well, your child must have a brainy breakfast. Write that down. Brainy breakfast mom. Right brainy breakfast because the brain has been resting all night. It needs refueling. And so I have a make a smoothie because children love smoothies. So the smoothie is all and I give my recipe a smoothie. And first of all, healthy fats in the smoothie.
Cheat a tablespoon of MCT oil, very healthy fat. Avocados. Wonderful healthy fat. Whole milk. Grass-fed organic plain yogurt or kefir. Ah, the kids love it. Kiwis, berries. I haven’t put out a nice etching get wonderful protein powders. For you know from healthy heights. I have to grow daily. I have, I have one over on my in my kitchen, or grow daily.
They have a really good one for children, three, three years and up and 10 years and up. And it’s high in protein. So a scoop of protein powder in it. And then you have as a young child, you have them help you make the smoothie, you know, take a handful of blueberries and put it in a handful of kale is the old Dr. Bill my chart.
My child doesn’t like kale, you know, we call them the sneaky Fs they’ll never know what’s in there if you put it in there. So you know, oh, ginger, if they like flavor, pineapples, a nice sweetener, papaya is usually a fruit child, you know, absolutely love or use pomegranates when they’re in season. And so that’s a type of, and sometimes children get constipated a lot. So I throw fig, you know, a couple of figs in there. Wonderful. And, and then I remember our own children.
We had so many kids to feed and I’d make a big smoothie. And off we go into the family van. And they’re drinking their smoothies on the way to school. And so smoothies. I can’t emphasize them enough vase that you can just sneak things in that children will eat and they get a taste for it. It’s very the gut feel a wonderful gut feel. And one of the things I like about smoothies. It’s a Japanese term that I love called umami. And like umami what a little baby would say when they’re nursing for mommy, umami.
What is the Japanese term meaning the mouthfeel? The mouthfeel and smoothies have that you know sit on a smoothie and they have the protein And the fat and the healthy fiber-filled carbs, lots of fiber, and it stays in their mouth longer. And then. So that’s sort of what I love to do make a smoothie in the morning, especially for kids who need a brainy breakfast.
Lots of really, really good tips there. Yeah, thank you. And I’m going to summarize what Dr. Bill said and tell you if I missed a few things. So you said Go Fish Go Blue. Then I missed two other things. I know you talked about protein. But what was the other thing I missed? Go Green and go nuts.
Dr. Bill Sears:
Right, right there you have two of those that have lots of protein in them. And nut butter for your children. They don’t like it too young for nuts and all or take a big tablespoon of almond butter. Put the smoothie on. Yum.
So let’s take a short detour to talk about, you know, maybe our favorite populations as well. So I just got to know that you also have a son with Down syndrome. And I was going to ask you this question anyway. So we know that growth issues can occur more frequently in kids with Down syndrome. Is there anything different that you do? Or do you still start with the same basics that you talked about when you’re working with a child with Down syndrome?
Dr. Bill Sears:
Well, yes, it’s the same basics that we mentioned. But a step above. And a Steven number seven, we have so many children, we have to number them a little bit. Number seven, number seven, he came into our world, differently abled, not disabled, but differently abled. He had a different set of chromosomes. And we realize and at that time, the whole field of gen of epi genetics was coming on board that we can’t change his genes are his chromosome, but we can change the way the genes behave, by the way, he eats. So that was the first thing. My wife breastfed him for three years and is very, very, very difficult. Children with Down syndrome, they’re very lazy suckers.
They are kudos to your wife because I couldn’t do it for more than six months. It was that’s a hard thing to do.
Dr. Bill Sears:
That’s the golden time of six months. That’s when the brain is growing so fast. So I congratulate you on that. Because they those those those little suckers their hearts are so good for you. So that’s the first thing breastfeed next, you only start growing foods. You don’t start on junk food. His very first food was avocado, avocado. No, no, this rice cereal and all this much protein and fat and rice cereal. So we start them off on avocados. And his second food was wild salmon. Must be wild. I would mess a little bit up just a little bit up a little fingertip.
Put it on Stephens’s tongue a little bit more, a little bit more, and a little bit more. And by two years of age, he had a little piece of salmon almost every day. By two years of age. He craved salmon. Wow. We also started among smoothies that we talked about when he was around two years of age. He would help me make me grab a handful of blueberries and throw them in and all that called The children love messy stuff and so he didn’t mess and now when he’ll wake up in about an hour or so they’ll come down and the first thing he does he holds his hand up.
Does my smoothie. And so he is now programmed, programmed for healthy food. And I think why he’s he craves it, instead of just like it is here’s my theory on that vase you start early on with healthy foods grow foods, and the tongue likes and the tongue sends the tongues very enriched with nerve fibers. So you put this healthy food on the tongue goes like and it sends text messages to the craving center of the brain. And the brain says like feed me more Don’t feed me more the brain sends text messages all the way down the vagus nerve, the biggest nerve in the body down to the gut, the gut has called the second brain. And the gut says, Hmm, like.
You have that, that network, that greatest social network, neurological network going between tongue and brain and gut three times, four times a day, for the first two years, and by two years of age, that network is imprinted. That’s why I think it’s so important. Also, one other thing too, with, for children with Down syndrome, movement, movement, movement, movement, as as a fact my doctor mom said it all out, go outside and play. And I tell the kids to sit and stew is bad for you. Since two is bad for you, movement mobilizes the immune system. So we got Stephen and as many sports as we could. And I still remember that seeing kids was Down syndrome is very empathetic.
They’re very caring, and they hug other children. I remember Stephen is in, a race one time with other kids, right, other children with special needs, and they’re running and running and running and running fast. And he likes to win. So he’s running real fast, and the child next to him falls down, even stops in the middle of the race, picks up the other child helps him to get up and they complete the race. You know, that’s not a typical child.
Know, it’s not gonna happen. And so many lessons, I mean, it’s just a, it’s just such an enriching eye-opening experience. Having a child with Down syndrome, it’s just a really, it’s just so another Oh, another thing too, one other little chapter for parents.
Dr. Bill Sears:
Down syndrome, sometimes, some children with special needs, don’t have good appetite control, they will overeat. And one of the things we found, if I had if a parent were to ask me of say, a parent with a child has Down Syndrome and asked me, Dr. Bill, give me one, give me once one sentence, just one till I can do the rest of his life, her life. Keep your child lean. Learn how to keep your child lean, that has the right amount of length does not being skinny, I mean means having the right amount of body fat and body muscle for your child’s body type. And that is what we just mentioned, feed them grow foods. See our group’s growing food is nutrient dense.
Run them move them a lot, movement. Swimming, I’m going to have to put swimming at the top of the list. Because oftentimes children with special needs will have some motor problems. You know, they’re sometimes not coordinated. It is a swimming pool. There’s no right way to do it. They can swim the way they want. And they love it. So Steven Stevens still swims every day. And so, weather permitting, parents keep their children’s lane, get them moving, especially nowadays movement mobilizes your immune system. Movement mobilizes the immune system. So it’s another reason to move more and sit less.
To summarize what you said about your recommendations for children with Down syndrome your basics remain the same. So when we talked about growing foods and eating blue foods and fish, I said to go nuts, green, and all of the nutrient-dense foods, they remain the same but you’re making a bigger point about starting when the child is younger.
I think that automatically means avoiding refined carbs and refined sugar because that’s usually like first foods there’s you know, there’s rice and in sometimes in Indian culture, there’s sugar and so on. So there’s so your kind of setting the patterns up early as opposed because it’s once the sugar pattern gets going that’s really hard to override.
Dr. Bill Sears:
It is and you mentioned them You’ve just mentioned the bad word because this is parents we have a problem. The incidence of type two diabetes, the most preventable illness on the planet, the incidence of type two diabetes had has tripled in young children in the last three years tripled just the last three years.
Last three years
Dr. Bill Sears:
The last three years are true. Wow. No, so So and that so and that’s due to two bad words sugar spikes, sugar spikes.
So COVID situation cost a little bit more.
Dr. Bill Sears:
Yes, I think they were sitting there first two things sit inside and stew they would sit inside worrying worried depresses the immune system and makes you overeat. Secondly, they would eat junk food. So type two diet and type two diabetes and obesity have tripled. Alas, last two years, so this is why I want parents to look at labels.
Look at labels. Alright. Very little sugar at it. Maybe a little bit. So okay. But avoid sugar slurps Secondly, kids will love this little analogy. I play the game with them. And I say now you have good sugars and bad sugars. A good sugar plays with friends, protein, fat, and fiber. A bad sugar doesn’t have any friends. So bad sugar you put in your mouth. And it goes into your bloodstream real fast and hypes up your brain. And you use it too fast. And then you slump later on and you can’t learn at school.
You have a sugar slump later in the morning. But a good sugar. A happy sugar. A smart sugar has three friends fat, protein and fiber. And those three friends hold hands with the sugar when you’re eating it, so it doesn’t get into your bloodstream too fast. It slowly gives you energy which is what you want. And you know what? Do the kids get it? They’ll come home sometimes WLC they’ll remind Mommy, I want the happy sugar. Is this smart sugar? Does this sugar eating? Does that have to have three friends along with it? That’s why things like you like a smoothie, for example, our vegetables, and avocados, those have fiber, protein, and healthy fats with them that keep the sugar from spiking.
Right is definitely an in a state where pretty much every meal is blood sugar spiking for kids. And it’s really hard to pay attention in the morning if your blood sugar is going up and down. The child is going to school with a breakfast like that. I have to round things out. So we’ve got some really good advice on working with to grow foods and learning foods and sugar which kind of ties into both of them, for neurotypical kids for kids with Down syndrome. Or finally, I wanted to ask you to do these so do growth issues.
If parents don’t do anything to growth issues? Will children eventually catch up? How does that work? So what is when you went? Because there’s sometimes when you talk to parents, a lot of the advice that pediatricians conventional pediatricians will give parents is that your child will catch up. And how true is this?
Dr. Bill Sears:
Yes, that’s true. That is true. They will catch up. But it doesn’t mean you just sit and do nothing. You know, they have an I have a bunch of here’s a fact here’s my little here’s my role is smoothie making book called Dr. Poo. Okay. I give that to the kids when they come to the office and they read it because it has in there a summary of a lot of what we’re talking about on how to make a smoothie.
Why fiber is so good for you? Whey protein is so good for you? You know, proteins, the top grow food and it’s So yes, they will catch up. But see you want them not only to catch up on the chart, but you want them to catch up with habits, habits that last a lifetime. And this is why I stress parents early on, early on.
You know, parenting in a nutshell is giving your children the tools to succeed in life. What better tool is the craving for growing foods? Wow, what a tool. Can you imagine? What do you feed your children right now and for the first five years, 10 years? And they’re still eating that same food. 5070 years later. Thank you, mom. Thank you, Dad. Thank you, teacher.
Yes. I love that. Thank you. Thank you for making this. You know, explanation. So simple, and especially what you said in the end. It’s a very nice mentorship that it’s, it’s not just catching up on the group chat. It’s catching up on good habits. It’s catching up on learning. It’s catching up on just living a more wholesome life. Right. So yeah, I really like that. Thanks for sharing so much with our audience. Dr. So much. You’re so generous, I love talking to you. And I know that people can reach you at askdrsears.com. Are there any other resources you want to direct the audience towards?
Dr. Bill Sears:
Well, yes, askdrsears.com. And then we have the Dr. Poole book I showed. And another book I think they would really love like was called that the healthiest kid in the neighborhood. In the neighborhood. For adults, like adults with Down syndrome modeled as adults, we have the healthy brain book, The Healthy Brain book and we donate all the proceeds from the healthy brain book to charities. And then if you want a little book to reach for your kids, we have eaten healthily, and feel great.
A little picture book. So you can go on our website you can go on Amazon and all and, and children read to your children show them pictures. Children love to see pictures like grow foods, football foods, and soccer foods, and pretty hair foods that they love to they love to make the connection between what they eat, how they think and how they look, and how they feel.
Thank you again for your time.
Dr. Bill Sears:
Thank you. I love to be in with you.
This is such a fun way to present such important information and I’m never going to forget to sit and stewing is bad for you for the rest of my life. In the meantime, if you know where to find Dr. Sears www.askdrsears.com. This is also in the show notes and you know where to go for a gut health cheat sheet. If you’re worried about gut health, your child’s gut health is related to their growth www.functionalnutritionforkids.com/guthealth. See you next week on the 100th episode of functional nutrition and learning for kids. Bye.