5 'hippy' things that are evidence based

1. Extended breastfeeding
Despite the fact that it seems to create societal outrage, breastfeeding past the age of one is associated with many health advantages including lowered risk of being overweight later in life 1, continued immunological protection and reduced risk of certain cancers for the mother 2. There is also some belief that the fat constitution of breast milk is beneficial in the face of the rapid brain development that occurs throughout the early years of childhood 3 The World Health Organisation states children should be preferable breastfed until at least the age of two 4.

2. Limit red meat consumption
 Processed meat consumption is linked to a higher incidence of coronary heart disease and diabetes 5. Red meat consumption is linked to colorectal cancer in particular 6 and may increase the risk of several other sorts of cancers 7. For these reasons, it is recommended to limit red meat consumption to less than 500g (18 oz) a week, very little of which should be processed.
It is also worth considering the environmental impact of red meat consumption. Red meat is highly energy intensive to produce and produces 150% more greenhouse gases than that of chicken or fish 8. Climate change should always remain a pressing issue for parents as children are the most vulnerable to 'extreme weather events' currently occurring and our children will be those who will be bearing the burden of continuing change.

3. Limit processed foods
This is not due to any fear of 'preservatives', chemical or other food babe type thinking. Processed food generally has a large salt, sugar and fat content than unprocessed food. They are also generally unsatisfying, causing larger calorie contents to be consumed in order to feel full. Labelling on these foods is difficult to comprehend - particularly for a parent with a child in tow and many manufacturers take advantage of the situation by using deceptive labelling to make a food appear healthier than it is. The easiest solution is to avoid the entire situation completely.

4. Encourage natural outdoor play
Play outside in nature is considered to be important for the development of skills such as sustained attention and problem solving 9. Studies have shown an increased activity level and lower BMI associated with more time playing outdoors 10, in particular improved motor skills have been linked to playing in a natural landscape 11. Vigorous outdoor play is also considered to be important for brain development and increased learning abilities 12.

5. No harsh discipline techniques
The harm associated with physical punishments is well established. Less well established however is that parenting experts recommend that time out is also limited to being used only for serious offences 13. Minor offences should be handled by verbal reminders or relevant consequences 14.


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