Surprise: Doctors caution against a raw diet for kids

You may know a food trend has turned the corner into something else — perhaps old news — when the New York Times does a story about how it affects kids.

So, raw foodies, consider yourself passe.

The Times on Monday hunkered down and gave a look at kids who grow up on raw diets. And, surprise, doctors caution against it:

The Bowlands are among a growing cadre of families who are raising their children on entirely uncooked fare: fresh fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts and sprouted grains. While most of these diets tend to be vegan, some do include raw meat or fish, as well as raw or unpasteurized milk, yogurt and cheese.

But many doctors are cautioning against the trend. A child’s digestive system may not be able “to pull the nutrients out of raw foods as effectively as an adult’s,” said Dr. Benjamin Kligler, a family practitioner with the Center for Health and Healing in Manhattan.

Over the last year, Dr. TJ Gold, a pediatrician in Park Slope, Brooklyn, with a strong focus on nutrition, has seen about five families who are feeding their children, including toddlers, raw diets. Some of the children were severely anemic, she said, and the parents were supplementing the diets with vitamin B12.

“If you have to supplement something for children in order to do it, is that really the right diet for them?” Dr. Gold said.

It’s hard to gauge how many families have adopted raw food diets, but websites abound, like the Raw Food Family blog, along with recipes, books, support groups, and products for purchase. The fifth annual Woodstock Fruit Festival in upstate New York this summer is expected to draw 1,000 raw-food devotees. About 20 percent are families with young children, said the founder, Michael Arnstein of

Now, some of our longer-time readers may remember the usual take down of these types of Times pieces: a trend typically for them is something the reporter’s friends are doing, and then they find the scantest evidence to support their “trend” idea. As in: “about five families.”

Because there are only about 15 families, total, around Park Slope, I’m sure.

And then there is the requisite “it’s hard to judge” line. This time they used the word “gauge.”

That caution aside, with our continued mostly raw diet — to become much less so while in India — I have to point the piece out. (I suppose I’m also obliged to note the comments on it, which quickly suggest that raw eaters have eating disorders.)

I’ll note, too, that it ends on a refrain that is pretty much the one we share: moderation is best, and it is important to listen to what your body is telling you it needs.

Posted by Steve

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

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