One in three babies born today is expected to develop diabetes later in life, unless something dramatic changes. What if white rice helped trigger diabetes and brown rice helped to prevent it, regardless of weight or lifestyle? That’s just what a 2010 Harvard study suggests.

The problem

Most core food preferences are learned during critical early windows of opportunity. In America we have raised a generation where most children learn to get zero servings of whole grains daily by the time they are 18 to 24 months old. Official recommendations encourage us to replace white flour with whole grains for children and adults, but this is very difficult because we usually start after taste preferences have already formed.

Let’s start earlier, when babies won’t mind at all. Today, the majority of babies in America are given white rice cereal as their first bite of solid food. White rice cereal isn’t just babies’ first food. In the US, this processed white flour is the number one carb eaten by babies from the first bite to the first birthday.

The solution

If we just made the simple switch from white rice to whole grain brown rice for babies we might cultivate a taste for whole grains and prevent millions and millions of people from developing diabetes.

Even better...

For that very first bite of solids, though, I prefer choosing something that doesn’t come in a box or jar. Let your baby see a real whole food in its natural state, something she’s seen you eat before, such as a banana or an avocado.Let her handle the whole food. Let her smell it. Let her see you eat some, and then let her see you mash up a bit, perhaps with some breast milk.

Consider a future population of 300 million in the U.S., with 100 million expected to develop diabetes. A 36 percent reduced risk would represent a huge savings of life.

If you are nursing, she will already have experienced the flavor in your breast milk before. Her strong desire to imitate you and to learn from you, coupled with this powerful combination of seeing, tasting, smelling, and touch creates a profound learning experience that is deeply satisfying and fun. Let a whole food mark this momentous occasion— or a whole grain cereal. But not processed white flour rice cereal.

The Harvard study suggests that if we switched from white rice to whole grain brown rice we could drop diabetes by 36 percent. Consider a future population of 300 million in the U.S., with 100 million expected to develop diabetes. A 36 percent reduced risk would represent a huge savings of life, limb, eyesight, money and health. It’s time to change babies’ first food and give them a healthy start. They deserve to love the taste and texture of great food. They deserve a chance to beat the odds of getting diabetes.

Other Snacks to Try:

Dairy foods provide a powerhouse of nine essential nutrients important for a healthy diet. Try these tasty snacks!

  • Blend low-fat strawberry milk with banana slices and ice.

  • Alternate apples slices and reduced fat Cheddar cheese cubes on skewers.

  • Layer reduced fat Colby Jack cheese and smoked turkey on crackers.

  • Layer granola and fresh fruit with your favorite low-fat yogurt.

  • Freeze squeezable yogurt for a quick and creamy popsicle.