Baby food for adults

Why Adults Shouldn’t Eat Baby Food

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Celebrities have quite the knack for causing a stir when they release their “diet secrets,” and this week is no different. Today, Girls writer and star Lena Dunham posted on Instagram her “Trump Diet.” Dunham, a liberal stalwart, was facetiously remarking on how difficult she’s found eating since the November election. Her tone is clearly joking, but tucked in the third entry is a shout out to baby food, an infamous celebrity diet trend.

Image zoom Photo: Lena Dunham/Instagram

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Indeed, several celebrities tout baby food as their secret elixir for shedding pounds. Last summer, Camila Alves credited her flat stomach to two meals of baby food each day. She eats a more sensible dinner—a protein, black beans, and vegetables —but the actress and co-founder of baby food company Yummy Spoonfuls says she supplements her nutritional needs all day with pouches of squeezable food. Designer Hedi Slimane admitted to living on a diet of baby food to keep his super-slim physique, too.

What is the baby food diet? Why is it popular?

The idea is simple: replace two meals each day with several jars (or pouches) of baby food. A jar of baby food contains between 20 and 90 calories, so sticking to a low-calorie diet will still require downing several jars of pureed goo.

Celebrity trainer Tracy Anderson gets a lot of the internet-(in)famous credit for this fad, but research reveals it’s been around since the 1980s. Some advocates suggest eating about 14 jars of baby food throughout the day, then a dinner at night. Other “plans” suggest you only eat baby food. Truthfully, you won’t find any hard and fast rules for the baby food diet because it’s more of a myth than a medical regimen.

Can you lose weight with the baby food diet?

Absolutely. You can lose weight with just about any “diet” though, so don’t give the baby food diet too much credit. In fact, it’s easy to understand why the baby food diet would be successful. You will need to eat a lot of baby food to maintain a normal calorie count each day, so if you can’t keep up, you may miss your daily calorie goal. Eating fewer calories than needed for weight maintenance means you will start seeing pounds slip off. Each jar is small, so portion control isn’t very difficult. And if you can stomach all the flavors (turkey and “gravy,” anyone?), you also get a wide variety of flavorful options.

But with those “benefits” come a few harsh realities. You’ll have to train your palate to find baby food tolerable. Many brands don’t season their foods at all. A more mature palate is accustomed to salt, sugar, and fat, so removing those entirely will be quite a shock to your tongue. Likewise, adults are made to eat real food. Unlike babies, we have teeth and digestive systems that can handle chewable food.

A balance of fiber, protein, fat, and carbohydrates is essential to keeping your body running at optimal levels. If you exercise too, a diet of pureed produce is unlikely to meet your body’s needs. You could soon find yourself feeling weak or worse, hangry. Meeting your daily nutritional requirements while eating two meals of pureed fruits and vegetables will be difficult, if not nearly impossible. If you use it for quick slim down prior to a big day (like a wedding or a party), know that you’ll likely gain back all the weight you lost quickly once you return to solid food.

“Baby food is lacking adequate amounts of fiber, fat, and protein to sustain a healthy adult. This puréed, and often strained, food is created for babies with underdeveloped digestive systems,” says Cooking Light assistant nutrition editor Jamie Vespa, MS, RD. “Keeping our digestive systems active by eating whole, nutrient-dense food is healthy for both our gut and our immune system. The ‘baby food diet’ is a gimmicky, unsustainable diet that should not be utilized by adults wishing for long-term results.”

Bottom line: Like Dunham’s advice to not follow her Trump Diet, we do not recommend you try the baby food diet. “It’s nutritionally inadequate. I can’t think of a single pro for an adult to eat baby food, unless their jaws are wired shut,” Vespa says. Healthy adults should instead look to fill their plates with fiber, protein, fat, and carbohydrates and leave the jars of colorful glop to the young ones.

I held the spoon to my mouth, and I grimaced when the contents touched my tongue — warm, mushy carrots.

This was my 7-month-old son’s dinner — and mine too. I would spend a week eating baby food, although it was less of a calculated effort and more of a desperate attempt to hang onto my sanity.

As a new mother who worked from home, I was unprepared for how difficult it would be to juggle both a job and an infant, often getting crapped on from everyone, everywhere. The laundry piled up to unbelievable heights. The dishes in the sink smelled like a homeland security threat. For myself, I did the bare minimum to erase the stink lines that followed me around like Pigpen in a Peanuts comic.

Courtesy of Maggie Downs

Something had to give, I realized. And that something was chewing.

I’m kidding. Chewing wasn’t so much the issue. The problem was the time it took to make myself a separate meal. When the choice came down to cooking for my son and cooking for myself, it was an easy decision. He who sobs the loudest wins.

This sort of thing wasn’t new for me, per se. I’ve done some crazy diets in the past. In college, I was the originator of the Beef Jerky Diet, which sprained my jaw before I ever lost any weight. (No wonder my diet never caught on.) I’ve been a raw foodist and I’ve tried juices. I’ve scrubbed my guts with gallons of cabbage soup and master cleansed with liters of lemonade. One time I ate nothing but raw macadamia nuts for three days.

When my son began eating solid foods, I decided to make all his meals from scratch. I’m a person who enjoys cooking anyway, and it was important to me to provide him with fresh, healthy produce.

When I thought about it, eating baby food wasn’t a bad idea idea. After all, many of the world’s most beloved foods are enjoyed in their squished form. Guacamole is perfection. Applesauce is awesome. Hummus is great. And who doesn’t love mashed potatoes?

Plus, I’ve been enough to fancy restaurants where entrees are served atop puddles of parsnip mash or dollops of spring pea purée. This wasn’t mere baby food I was creating — it was cutting-edge cuisine!

Courtesy of Maggie Downs

At first, the purées I ate were terrific, like downing super thick smoothies for every meal. And it really did save a lot of time, which otherwise would have been spent over the stove or cleaning the dishes. The bonus was that it forced me to be more creative with the things I whipped up in the blender, because I wanted to consume delicious things too. Snap peas, pears and a banana? Tasty. Sweet potatoes, cherries and vanilla? Like a party in my mouth. Fava beans and summer squash with leeks? Eh, not the worst.

After a week of baby food; however, eating became something laborious. It was no longer interesting or enjoyable. I fantasized about crunch. Chewing felt like an old friend I only vaguely remembered. I realized I was on the diet of someone who just had his wisdom teeth pulled, but for no real reason.

That’s the day I decided to reverse the process: Instead of eating what my baby eats, I would simply give him what I like to eat.

It’s a strategy that has worked well for us ever since, with a food repertoire that has expanded to include soft grilled eggplant, five-bean chili, rice pudding, roasted veggies of all kinds, aloo gobi and pillows of naan.

We didn’t want to be those culinary snobs who go to a restaurant and just order the parsnip purée, anyway.

Maggie Downs Maggie Downs is a journalist and essayist based in Palm Springs, CA.

When Teresa Paonessa wants to lose a few pounds, she does what any expert would recommend: ramp up her exercise and clean up her diet. But Ms. Paonessa, who runs the R.E.D Lifestyle Group, an agency that represents fitness professionals, includes another surefire strategy, one she says curbs her cravings while satisfying her sweet tooth.

Gum? Dark chocolate? Frozen grapes? Try baby food.

“I’ve never pulled it out in the food court but my friends are aware that I eat it,” she says. “They think I’m nuts, but they say they want a flat stomach by summer and I tell them this is what they have to do. I sell it as a portion-controlled snack, not as baby food.”

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No surprise, it’s a tough sell. The thought of eating pureed fruit or vegetables packaged in a jar boasting “for babies 6 to 12 months” is enough to make some people skip snack time altogether. And make no mistake: Adults eating baby food is less a trend than a quirky preference enjoyed by a few.

But devotees are quick to point out that there’s nothing repulsive about consuming food that you happily serve to the most precious ones in your life. Consider that baby food is almost always fat free and the serving size is smaller than a pudding cup (most range from 45 to 140 calories).

Fruit and vegetable varieties (you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who eats the beef and chicken blends) rarely consist of anything other than the main ingredient and water. Commercial brands such as Gerber have introduced organic lines, while Sweetpea Baby Foods, a Toronto-based company, packages their flash-frozen flavours in ice cube trays that can be popped out and blended into smoothies.

“You get hooked on it,” Ms. Paonessa says of the blueberry flavour. “It tastes like jelly as opposed to jam.”

Like any unusual diet, the baby-food club even has a celebrity fan: Sophie Dahl, the former model and granddaughter of the late author Roald Dahl, is unapologetic about her love for infant cuisine. She includes her grandfather’s recipe for mashed bananas with olive oil in her new cookbook, Miss Dahl’s Voluptuous Delights.

Nostalgia is often part of the appeal. Paul Aguirre-Livingston, a 23-year-old magazine editor, says he was “addicted” to banana baby food when he was younger; later he would eat some of his nephew’s infant dessert when babysitting. So when he was charged with bringing dessert for a dinner party a few weeks ago, he opted to bring six jars of banana mush instead of mini crème brulées.

“It was a gag dessert,” he says, no pun intended. “I spent 99 cents for six jars, you can’t go wrong. There was something kind of trashy about it because we were eating it out of the jar but I’ve eaten worse when drunk.”

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Mr. Aguirre-Livingston is convinced that more people would be inclined to eat baby food if the jars weren’t plastered with big-cheeked toddlers or childish graphics.

“It’s like pink is for girls, blue is for boys and baby food is for babies,” he says. “been conditioned.”

Lily, who did not want her last name used, agrees. “I don’t think of it so much as baby food as wholesome in convenient serving sizes,” says the 62-year-old Torontonian, who always has Sweetpea packages at home (she’ll mix the banana blueberry with yogurt and eat the sweet potato as a side dish or snack). “Sometimes I don’t have a chance to do groceries and it’s nice to know there’s something in the freezer that’s so small and defrosts quickly.”

Sweetpea is one company trying to tap into the adult market. Last month, it launched a line of vegan, kosher, organic cookies made with 100-per-cent whole grains in such flavours as pumpkin spice, sweet apple and pear and banana. Tagline: “For ages 1 to 101.”

“We have a lot of customers who give their kids half the bag and eat the rest,” says co-founder Erin Green.

The flower-shaped bites have far more taste than Arrowroots, which have a following among adults, but still lack the salt and full-bodied richness of an adult cookie.

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It’s an example of another reason the baby-food trend isn’t going to catch on, says Rosie Schwartz, a consulting dietician and author of The Enlightened Eater’s Whole Foods Guide.

“I think people won’t eat because it is really bland,” she says. “It has no spices and no salt.”

Ms. Schwartz is concerned about people who use baby food as a diet aid, especially as far as portion control is concerned. “To me that’s extreme. I think people need to learn to control portions and that’s not the answer.”

She will recommend baby food to clients who are trying to determine whether they have allergies to certain fruits and vegetables. Short of that, she says stick to the whole fruit. “If someone is eating only applesauce, they’re missing flavonoids in the peel. With peaches, it’s the same thing. The pigments in the peel offer anthocyanins and other nutrients.” Ms. Schwartz also notes that the more a food is chopped up or processed, the higher its position on the glycemic index, which measures the effect of carbohydrates on blood-sugar levels.

As for using it as a quick snack-food alternative, “If you’d be grabbing candy or white flour, then yeah, go for baby food,” she says. “But you can’t take baby food with you when you go out for dinner or to a party.”

Sometimes, you just have to act – and eat – your age.

What Dr. Melinda Ratini Says:

Does It Work?

The Baby Food Diet is a fad diet that may help you lose weight for the short term. Substituting several jars of baby food for standard meals will likely lower the amount of calories you eat by sheer portion control and tastebud boredom. But just like a baby, it won’t be long before you outgrow this diet and start to gain weight.

Is It Good for Certain Conditions?

Gerber, a leader in prepared baby foods, states on its web site that its baby foods meet the American Heart Association’s (AHA) sodium recommendations for a 1- to 3-year-old child: less than 1,500 milligrams of sodium a day. This is the same amount that the AHA recommends for adults, as well. But that assumes you are only going to be eating the amount of baby food that a baby would eat in a day. If you are going to be eating more than that and adding an adult meal or two a day, you will need to be reading labels closely to make sure you do not go over your limit of salt, especially if you have high blood pressure or heart disease.

If you have heart disease or high cholesterol, the baby food diet may help decrease the fat in your diet. This is because you are bound to fill up on the pureed fruits and vegetables rather than on the less tasty meats. You will have to make sure that you are getting enough protein and other nutrients in your “adult” meal each day.

The nutrition guidelines of the American Diabetes Association state that all diets should be pleasurable and practical. An eating plan should help you make healthy food choices. The Baby Food Diet falls short in both of these respects.

Any weight loss will help decrease your chances of getting diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. But there are healthier and tastier ways to shed the pounds. And exercise should be part of the plan, as well.

The Final Word

The Baby Food Diet may be an option if you are just trying to kick-start some weight loss. Your actual food prep is minimal unless you choose to puree your own baby food. All you need to do is pick out jars of baby food at the store. They are easy to pack for lunches. And many versions of the diet allow you total freedom for a daily “adult” meal.

But unless you do make some of your own baby food, your choices will be pretty slim. You are also likely to find out that a lot of the enjoyment of eating involves not only taste but texture. Your stomach is liable to feel pretty empty, making it tough to resist temptation. Costs may add up quickly, too, depending on how many jars a day you will be eating. And all that individual packaging doesn’t do much good for the environment, either.

It would be far better to look into another eating plan that you can stick with and not quickly grow out of. And while you are at it, look for one that involves some age-appropriate exercise, as well.

Image: instagram.com/uponafarm

It’s a daily struggle not to eat the pastries, cookies, and various other sweets I have around the apartment for my boyfriend and guests. I don’t always succeed, but without healthy, tasty, AND filling alternatives I would have zero chance! This brings me to an unlikely source for a healthy snack, baby food. Awhile back people made fun of Jennifer Ansiton for supposedly being on a “baby food diet,” now whether or not she ever was on such a diet I have no idea but it’s really not that crazy! Especially in this age of all liquid cleansing (which personally I do think is a little nuts…).

“While it might feel silly to indulge in your toddler’s treat, it’s actually a great and easy way to get a filling and nutritious snack,” says holistic health expert, Hailey Miller. “First of all, baby foods come in easy to eat portable packs, so you can snack while you’re in the car or walking down the street without risking spilling on your freshly dry cleaned blouse and, from a nutrition standpoint, pureed foods are much easier for your body to digest.”

Miller goes on to explain that she finds most people tend to eat their meals too quickly and don’t chew their food enough, which causes bloating and indigestion. “Since baby food is produced for people who can’t chew, it’s a great snack alternative to give your digestive system a much needed break. As an added bonus, most baby foods are only made with a couple of ingredients primarily fruit and vegetables. We’re lucky that there are so many organic options on the market and are made with just a few simple, real ingredients – something both babies and adults can benefit from.”

Among my favorite go-to snacks are cold-pressed, organic blends from Once Upon A Farm. They’re made from organic produce including beets, mangoes, pears, and apples and they come in single-serve pouches for portion control. The company is super transparent – checkout where they source all their ingredients from here (they’re all small, local American farms). The brand also has an advisory board consisting solely of doctors. Their apple sauces taste so good! Plum Organics also has some awesome options that work in veggies and grains like quinoa, millet and amaranth. Come summer you can also use these pouches, with ice and some sort of thinner, to quickly make refreshing, filling smoothies!

Baby food secrets: Understanding your baby’s reactions to new foods and flavors

© 2009 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved

Babies sometimes act like they have very strong opinions about food. What’s going on in their heads? Do they truly hate green beans? Or love rice cereal? Do babies prefer bland food, or do they like certain spices? Do babies experience flavors in the same way that adults do? Do they perceive things that we don’t?

Fascinating research offers answers. For example, experiments suggest that baby food preferences may start in the womb. There is also evidence that babies become accustomed to food flavors that they encounter in their milk or formula.

We know, too, that children are influenced by the behavior of demonstrators. When they see someone else eating a food, it can make them more accepting of it (Addessi et al 2005).

And no — babies don’t necessarily prefer bland food. They don’t even prefer bland breast milk! In an experiment on 3-month infants, Julie Mennella and her team asked lactating moms to eat garlic and then watched how their babies responded.

When the garlic reached its peak concentration in their mothers’ breast milk, the babies suckled longer at the breast (Mennella and Beauchamp 1991).

So science can help us better understand our babies reactions to food. Here are some tips for making sense of your baby’s table manners.

(Looking for information about starting your baby on solids? For help with that, see my other article, “How to start babies on solid food.”)

Introducing new foods: Don’t give up just because your baby makes a funny face!

This seems to be one of those cases where Grandma was right: Babies really do make all sorts of funny faces when they try a new, solid food—even when that food is destined to become a favorite.

In an experiment on infants just beginning the transition from rice cereal to other forms of baby food, researchers recorded the facial expressions of babies tasting pureed green beans for the first time (Forestell and Mennella 2007). These were the most common reactions.

  • 95% of the babies squinted
  • 82% waggled their brows
  • 76% raised their upper lips
  • 42% wrinkled their noses

Such responses look like disgust or distaste, and indeed the expressions were related to baby food acceptance. The more infants squinted, the more slowly they ate.

But here’s the important point: They got over their initial dislike for green beans. It just took time.

Researchers asked the babies’ mothers to try feeding the infants green beans every day for 8 days in a row. The daily exposure wasn’t forced feeding. Each daily session consisted of a mom offering green beans to the baby until he had either rejected the food three times (by turning away or pushing the spoon back with his hand) or finished the jar. At the end of 8 days, babies were eating three times as much pureed green beans as they had in the introductory session.

Interestingly, though, their mothers couldn’t tell. Researchers asked moms to rate how well their babies liked green beans–both before and after the 8 day exposure program. The mothers’ assessments didn’t change. Perhaps that’s because babies continued to make funny faces while they ate.

So it seems that parents shouldn’t be overly deterred by a few screwball facial expressions. With daily exposure—even if it’s only three little tastes—your infant may come to accept a new baby food.

What about fruit? If you give infants sweet foods, won’t it spoil their appetites for other kinds of baby food?

Actually, there isn’t any experimental evidence for this idea. On the contrary, experiments suggest that children will learn to like a new vegetable more if their first experience with the vegetable is associated with sweetness (Havermans and Jansen 2007).

For this reason, half the babies in the green bean study were given peaches after each session with green beans. And that proved to be important, because

“…only those who experienced peaches after green beans seemed to like the taste of the green beans more after exposure” (Forestell and Mennella 2007).

Why should a sweet second course improve a baby’s liking for vegetables? I suspect it’s a question of fooling the baby’s system of postingestive feedback.

Postingestive feedback is how food makes us feel after we’ve begun to digest it, and this information can lead to rapid, automatic learning. If we associate a food with pleasant sensations–like feeling full or satisfied–we tend to like it. If a food leaves us feeling hungry, we will be less enthusiastic. And if we feel sick or uncomfortable after eating, we may develop an immediate dislike for the food’s odor and flavor.

So I’ll bet that the babies who ate green beans in a “stand alone” manner (i.e., without peaches as a second course) were more likely to notice the relatively poor energy return associated with green beans. By contrast, the babies whose green beans were paired with peaches were probably more satisfied after each meal. As a result, they developed a stronger liking for green beans.

But does this mean I should force my baby to eat?

No. There are many reasons not to force feed babies. At best, it’s an exercise in futility. When people are forced to eat a food, they come to like it less, not more. And at worst, you might be forcing your baby to eat something to which he is allergic or sensitive.

So how can I tell if a baby truly dislikes something?

The key, I think, is what the baby does when you try to put food in her mouth. If she turns her head away, or pushes away the spoon, or gags, she’s done with that particular baby food. At least until tomorrow, when—like the babies in the green bean experiment—she can try it again.

What about a baby’s sense of taste? Is it possible that babies perceive flavors differently than we do?

Yes, I think so.

Our sense of taste is influenced by two sources of information.

1. Our taste buds detect the primary tastes–sweetness, sourness, bitterness, saltiness, and umami, a savory, hearty taste associated with glutamate and found in meats, milk products, and mushrooms.

2. Our sense of smell permits us to distinguish all the other, more complex flavors—like garlic or cumin or cinnamon.

Experiments reveal babies have a well-developed sense of smell at birth. And newborns can detect sweetness, sourness, umami, and some bitter flavors. The ability to detect saltiness comes later, at about 4 months (Beauchamp et al 1986).

But this doesn’t mean that your 4-month old experiences flavors in the same way that you do. As many parents can attest, babies may stubbornly reject foods that seem perfectly acceptable to adults. There are several possible reasons for this, and you can read the details in my story about the science of picky eaters.
But the quick version is:

  • Over the years, you have learned to tolerate bitter and sour flavors that are initially aversive
  • Babies might be more sensitive to bitter flavors
  • Babies might be “prewired” to detect and prefer the sweetest foods, because sweetness is a cue for higher energy content
  • Even after you control for age, some individuals have a genetically-based, heightened sensitivity to bitterness.

So, despite your best efforts, your baby might reject some foods no matter what you do.

Other ideas: Make your own baby food

As noted above, commercially-prepared baby food is often lacking in seasoning. If your baby craves a little of the flavors he encountered when he was gestating or drinking breast milk, you can always try making your own babies foods at home.

For inspiration and recipes, check out Baby Food 101, by Lisa and Matt Cain. This website includes a variety of helpful information, including nutritional facts and suggestions about which ingredients are best purchased in organic form.

References: Baby food

Beauchamp GK, Cowart BJ, and Moran M.1986. Developmental changes in salt acceptability in human infants. Dev. Psychobiology 19:17-25.

Beauchamp GK and Mennella JA. 2011. Flavor perception in human infants: development and functional significance. Digestion. 83 Suppl 1:1-6.

Forestell CA and Mennella JA. 2007. Early determinants of fruit and vegetable acceptance. Pediatrics 120(6):1247-1254.

Mennella JA, Beauchamp GK. Maternal diet alters the sensory qualities of human milk and the nursling’s behavior. Pediatrics 1991;88:737-744

Mennella JA, Nicklaus S, Jagolino AL, and Yourshaw LM. 2008. Variety is the spice of life: strategies for promoting fruit and vegetable acceptance during infancy. Physiol Behav. 94(1):29-38.

Mennella JA, Trabulsi JC. 2013. Complementary foods and flavor experiences: setting the foundation. Ann Nutr Metab. 60 Suppl 2:40-50.

Ventura AK and Worobey J. 2013. Early influences on the development of food preferences. Curr Biol. 6;23(9):R401-8.

Content last modified 4/9

image of baby in high chair ©iStockphoto.com/Ashok Rodrigues

Feeding Your Baby

If your child is 4 months old and can hold her head up, the time may be right to introduce solids. Use this chart as a guide, but remember that until age 1, food should supplement breast milk or formula, not replace it.

Age 4-6 Months

What to start?

Rice cereal. It’s

the least likely to cause allergies, and it provides

a valuable source of iron.

How Much?

Mix 1 tsp. of cereal

with 1 Tbs. of breast milk or formula. (Over

time, you can make the cereal thicker and servings

larger.) Aim for one or two solid feedings a

day in addition to his usual diet.

Tips for Success

Start with feedings

in the morning, when babies are typically more

relaxed. Wait four days before introducing another

grain, such as barley. This will help you identify

an allergy.

Age 4-8 Months

What to start?

Fruits and veggies. These can be

introduced either before or after cereal at each

meal. Try anything from peas to pears, but offer

new foods a few days apart so you can watch for

allergies.

How Much?

To start, serve 2 to 3 tsp. once

a day. Work up to 1 to 2 Tbs. two or three times

a day.

Tips for Success

Introduce vegetables first, before

your baby develops a preference for the sweet

taste of fruit, and wait until she’s 1 before

feeding her citrus fruits — their high acid

content can upset her stomach.

Age 8-12 Months

What to start?

Soft foods. Oatmeal, mashed sweet

potatoes, and yogurt are all easy for a baby

to eat. A child this age also needs additional

sources of iron, so try pureed meats like beef

or turkey.

How Much?

Gradually work up to 1 to 2 Tbs.

of soft foods and 2 Tbs. of pureed meat each

day. Babies can get overwhelmed, so offer only

two or three foods at one time.

Tips for Success

To interest your child, try placing

small amounts of new foods next to favorites.

Age 9-12 Months

What to start?

Finger foods. Your

baby has developed his superior pincer grasp

and is eager to try feeding himself. Offer cooked

pasta, soft bits of fruit, and dried cereals.

How Much?

One or two finger foods (about 1 to 2 Tbs. of each)at

each meal, in addition to several servings of the

foods above.

Tips for Success

Make sure all pieces

are smaller than the width of your child’s pinkie.

Continue to feed him with a spoon to make sure

he’s getting enough to eat each day.

Age 12-24 Months

What to start?

Table foods. If you’re no longer giving your baby breast

milk or formula, be sure she’s getting all of

the calories and nutrients she needs by offering

her a wide variety of healthy foods.

How Much?

Total servings per day (serving sizes in parentheses):

4 grains (1/2 slice bread, 1/4 to 1/2 cup cereal

or pasta); 4 fruit/veggie (1 to 2 Tbs., or

3 oz. juice); 2 protein (1 oz. meat or 1 egg);

4 dairy (4 to 6 oz. whole milk, 1/3 cup yogurt,

or 1/3 oz. cheese).

Tips for Success

Entice your child to eat a varied diet by always providing different

textures, colors, and flavors at mealtime.

Parents Magazine

Baby Food Diet: Would You Follow This Extreme Diet to Cut Down on Extra Calories?

We live in a world obsessed with ‘lean’ rather than ‘healthy’ when it comes to our body. As such most of us seek out quick ways to cut down on flabs with any means possible. If you thought the Sleeping Beauty Diet was the craziest diet fad you have heard or read about, wait till you learn about the Baby Food Diet. No, we aren’t talking about the diet plan for babies, but adults who are turning to baby foods to shed those extra kilos. Baby Food Diet, the new internet sensation and ‘Hollywood’ obsession, boasts of being an effective means to cut down on calories and controlling portions. It involves replacing several meals or snacks a day with baby foods to curb cravings.

This diet is said to have become a new favourite of Hollywood actresses. For this diet, you actually feed yourself like a baby; you replace several meals with portions of baby food, from sweet potato mash to pureed peas and blended chicken. All you have to do is eat baby portion (25-75 calories each portion) throughout the day and end with a regular-sized dinner.

For this diet, you actually feed yourself like a baby; you replace meals with portions of baby food
Baby Food Diet works on the concept of ‘portion control’. Instead of having proper meals, the food is replaced with several portions of baby food. Health experts, however, point out that baby foods wouldn’t fulfill an adult’s calorie requirement for the day, therefore it is a fad or crash diet. It only helps you lose weight for the short term. Also, replacing your meals with baby food could result in nutritional imbalances and very few calorie intakes.

Why You Shouldn’t Switch to Baby Food Diet

  • Baby foods are easy to digest considering the weak or developing digestive system of the baby; hence the food is processed and lacks fiber, fat and protein – nutrients that take time to digest. Consequently, as an adult, these foods won’t let you stay full for even two hours before indicating hunger. Eventually you will turn to other foods to stay fuller.
  • Baby foods are bland. You can have them only till the time you don’t feel bored.
  • Baby foods can help you only on a short term basis. Long term usage could lead to various ailments due to nutrition deficiencies.

The concept of Baby Food Diet is based on portion-control and if you are thinking to follow this concept, then it is recommended to follow it along with regular foods, considering the amount of important nutrients and calories you need as an adult. It is always good to fuel your body with healthy and whole foods and fruits along with leading a healthy lifestyle that includes exercises. So if you are looking to lose weight anytime soon, you know what you shouldn’t do.

iStock/marekuliasz

It’s been rumored that celebrity trainer Tracy Anderson put her clients on a “baby food diet” in which one eats 14 jars of baby food per day with the optional chewable meal at night. Sounds nutty (creamy nutty, not crunchy), sure, but does it work? If Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Aniston, and Reese Witherspoon have all (allegedly) done it, then maybe it’s worth the go? Here’s what you need to know about the baby food diet fad, once and for all.

What the Baby Food Diet Looks Like

There’s not much structure to the baby food diet. No one has written a book about it, and the general premise varies depending on whom you listen to in the rumor mill. After some research, the trend points to the dozen-plus jars of baby food as your main diet throughout the day, and if you have the urge to chew, you can incorporate a proper lean protein and vegetable meal at the end of the day as the last thing you consume. Other sources take a much more relaxed approach to the baby food diet, consuming mini 20 to 100-calorie jars as snack replacements, two or three times per day.

Does the Baby Food Diet Work?

The baby food diet’s effectiveness hinges on portion control and low-calorie consumption (about 700 to 1,000 calories per day). And just like any other diet that limits your intake of high-calorie foods, you may indeed lose weight. The baby food diet also gives your digestive system a break, which allows the body to focus its energy on healing and repairing your cells, at least in theory.

If you are replacing only snacks with baby food, then the diet’s effectiveness depends on what you are replacing. If you normally snack on high-calorie, high-fat, and dense goodies, then a compact 20 to 100-calorie baby food jar can help replace bad dietary habits and ultimately lead to weight loss.

The Takeaway

There is absolutely no need to stock up on hundreds of baby food jars per week to achieve the body of your dreams. The baby food diet, as silly or harmless as it may seem compared to other diets, is completely pointless. Whether it helps you to lose weight is not really relevant. There are ways to cut calories and portion sizes without dipping a miniature spoon into baby jars all day long. Baby food does what a green smoothie or green juice does. But therein lies the point: have a green juice or smoothie, like a grown ass woman, not pureed mush from a baby food jar. Unless, you know, bibs are your thing.

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  • All babies are different, some will have sprouted a couple of teeth by now and some won’t have any yet.

    Either way, now is the time to get your baby used to a few lumps and bumps for stage two of baby weaning.

    Try using a baby food mill or masher instead of blending your baby’s meal to a smooth puree. If feeding your baby lumpier meals isn’t going smoothly and your heart skips a beat every time they gag or choke on another spoonful, go back to pureeing your baby’s meal and try a lumpy version again in a couple of days time.

    As your baby becomes hungrier you can add snacks and even desserts to their 3-meals-a-day diet. Snacks and desserts are a great way for your baby to experiment with new foods and you can use them to add more dairy, grains, fruits and vegetables to your baby’s day. And if your baby’s teething they’ll love our banana yogurt pops to help cool their gums.

    Some babies will naturally eat more or less than others and you should never force feed your baby, but there’s no harm in offering extra snacks and desserts incase they’re having a hungry day.

    This is the perfect stage in your child’s development for them to experiment with different textures of food, tastes, colour. Of course, all babies progress at different stages so don’t feel down-hearted if your little one takes longer to eat the lumps and bumps. They’ll soon get the hang of it!

    Baby food meal planner 7 – 9 months

    Credit: Getty

    Click to download, print and keep your baby food meal planner 7 – 9 months – it’ll look great on the fridge!

    All of the recipes in the baby food meal planner 7 – 9 months above can be found in our baby food recipes collection including apple sauce, banana porridge, turkey puree, jacket potato ideas and more.

    Other recipes featured in the baby food meal planner 7 – 9 months:

    • Annabel Karmel’s chicken apple balls
    • Chicken in broth (take out the noodles if preferred)
    • Scrambled eggs with toast fingers
    • Annabel Karmel’s haddock and spinach pasta bake
    • Annabel Karmel’s pasta shells with salmon and broccoli

    Important: When weaning offer water with every meal and throughout the day. Each day contains at least 3 portions each of carbohydrates, fruit and veg, 2 portions of protein and some dairy. Morning and evening milk feeds are not included on this planner but should still be offered. This meal plan has no measurements as it varies baby to baby. Feed according to your baby’s needs and cues.

    Every baby is different and this baby food meal planner 7 – 9 months should only be used as a guide. Always go at your baby’s pace and never force feed them. If you’re worried about your baby’s weight or have any questions, ask your health visitor.

    Teaching your baby to chew

    During this stage in your child’s development it’s important to encourage and teach them how to chew properly. Baby-safe objects such as chewing toys, teething rings etc. are a great way to encourage this, especially when your little one starts teething – they’ll naturally want to bite.

    Another way to encourage the chewing notion is to play face games to build up their jaw muscles. Get them smiling and pulling funny faces to work their jaw muscles. Opening and closing their mouths is a great way of doing this.

    Should You Lose Weight With the Baby Food Diet?

    iStock

    The baby food diet has been Tinseltown’s most buzzed-about new weight loss plan since widespread reports claimed that celeb fitness guru Tracy Anderson put Jennifer Aniston on the diet to lose a few pounds for a role. Aniston has denied the rumors, but that hasn’t stopped the baby talk. (Think this celebrity diet is bizarre? Check out The Weirdest Weight Loss Tricks Celebs Swear By.)

    The diet reportedly involves replacing breakfast and lunch with about 14 jars of baby food (about 25 to 75 calories each), and then eating a sensible dinner. What’s really up with the weight loss trend? Here, a quick pro and con guide:

    Pro: No need to cook-just throw a bunch of jars of baby food in your bag and go. They’re portion controlled!

    Con: Maybe there’s a reason you don’t remember what you ate as a baby. Pureed peas, anyone? And if you choose the higher calorie options, you’re still eating at least 1,000 calories. If you really, really love the taste, well, research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that finding a diet you can stick to is more important than which diet you choose. But baby food for the long term? Doubt it.

    Pro: Celebs like Lady Gaga, Marcia Cross and Reese Witherspoon are rumored to have followed the Baby Food Diet.

    Con: Maybe they’re not. None of these stars are fessing up. We probably wouldn’t admit it if we were subsisting on strained squash, either.

    Pro: Nobody will steal your food from the office fridge.

    Con: It’s hard to earn professional respect when spooning strained carrots out of an itty bitty jar at a business lunch. Enough said.

    Pro: Baby food is low in additives and preservatives.

    Con: It’s still baby food. Sure, you have something on your colleague with the organic food superiority complex. But it’s still more likely that her organic arugula with heirloom tomato salad will end up on a celeb chef menu than your mashed cauliflower.

    Pro: Baby food is cheaper than a home delivery juice cleanse program.

    Con: It’s not as trendy. A juice cleanse program can run around $65 per day, whereas baby food costs a fraction of this. But while juice cleanses are widely considered socially acceptable, baby food…isn’t. (But even juice cleanses give out false claims. Here, The Next Wave of Juice Cleanses.)

    Bottom line: You can lose weight on the baby food diet, but we still recommend eating like a grown-up. Check out our inventory of recommended foods for weight loss, plus healthy recipes and other sensible diet strategies.

    • By Colleen Egan

    On the so-called “Baby Food Diet,” you literally do as the name suggests. (iStock)

    A lot of people have asked me about developing a weight loss plan that revolves around baby food. Because I deliver babies, they think that I know all about baby food; so I looked into this diet. Below are the facts about it, including its plan and how it works:

    The Diet

    On the so-called “Baby Food Diet,” you literally do as the name suggests. You replace several meals and snacks with jars of baby food, from sweet potato mash to pureed peas and blended chicken. Many people on the diet will eat 10–14 jars of baby food throughout the day and end with a regular-sized dinner.

    Why do people like this diet? It gives them an easy way to control their portion sizes while still getting in fruits and vegetables.

    Since the snack and meals take little time to make, they also don’t have as much motivation to eat out and can get on with their busy lives. They do not have to spend half an hour or more cooking meals.

    Health Concerns

    There are many health concerns that come with replacing adult-sized meals with portions made for little babies. First of all, babies’ digestive systems are just developing, meaning that they have to take eating slowly and easily so that their stomachs can process it.

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    On the other hand, adults have fully developed digestive systems. They get great satisfaction from tasting and chewing food, then letting the heavy substance settle in their stomachs.

    Their active digestive systems will zip right through baby food, leaving them hungry and unsatisfied throughout the day. You can probably guess what will happen if this cycle of hunger continues. The person will launch right into a binge after a while, undoing any “progress” he may have made.

    Second, adults can suffer nutritional deficiencies. Aside from needing over a dozen baby food jars to accommodate an adult’s metabolism, adults can easily get too little nutrients.

    Baby food does not have enough fiber for a grown human body, and some people may limit their choices if they do not like the taste. For example, adults might find it hard to stomach pureed meats. Also, while baby food consists of mainly fruits and vegetables, its small size likely will not suffice for an adult’s nutrient needs.

    In addition, health professionals have no research to show that the Baby Food Diet is actually safe for people to use. Therefore, dieters are proceeding with unknown risks to their safety.

    Not an Effective Diet Program

    While many people do not realize this fact, those promoting the Baby Food Diet actually use it for maintaining weight, not losing it. They recommend losing weight on a different diet regimen before starting the Baby Food Diet.

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    In fact, you should not rely on this diet for weight loss at all. It does not provide a safe, effective route for it.

    The Baby Food Diet may lead to severe caloric restriction, slowing down your metabolism. In addition, because you need high motivation to keep up with it, you risk binge-eating or resorting back to your old habits.

    Also, professionals have absolutely no research to back this diet, making it entirely unsafe. In fact, the diet does not even have rules or guidelines to help each person obtain similar results.

    One person might replace two entire meals with one or two jars of baby food. Another person might eat four or five at a meal and pick through a few more for snacks.

    Then, on a busy day, a person could forget to eat all of their dozen jars and experience dizziness, nausea, or weakness. They have no consistency.

    COULD THIS BE THE NEXT GREAT WEIGHT LOSS SECRET?

    Last but definitely not least, the Baby Food Diet does not teach adults the essential rudiments of a healthy diet. Adults who go back and forth between normal food and baby food will find themselves regaining any weight they may have lost before or during this diet. They may also have more temptation to cheat, undercutting their health and learning little about a truly healthy lifestyle.

    The Baby Food Diet simply does not work—unless you’re a baby. It does not have adequate research to prove its safety nor guidelines to help people gain consistent, healthy results. Dieters risk getting nutritional deficiencies due to the small portion sizes and lack of fiber, and they do not learn the foundation of a healthy lifestyle. Do yourself a favor and toss out this diet fad in place of a more balanced plan. You will see healthier, longer-lasting results.

    This article first appeared on AskDrManny.com.