Reader call: stealth health for your family

Katie writes:

"I have used flax oil in the past – as liquid and capsule form.  I just started with the meal (ground flax seeds) mixed in with a little applesauce in the morning.  I want to start my kids on it but wondered about the dose.  I take 2T a day but wonder if that is too much for them.  My daughter is 3.5 and son is 1 year. Any suggestions? Also what else should I include in their meals that I can slip under the radar. I mix in veggies when I can but wondered about supplements. I want to try the same for my husband."

I don’t think you can overdose on flax seed oil (there are studies done with super mega-doses with only positive effects), but too much oil or seed might affect a person’s bowels. I think it would have to be way more than 2 tablespoons, though, even for a kid. I don’t know if you could get a full 2T into a one-year-old, though, since they have such fickle eating habits and tend to pick at a bunch of things, or inhale something one day and then reject it outright the next day. So I’d just say to try to get it into them and don’t worry about overdosing, but don’t be surprised if the baby won’t eat enough applesauce to get in all the ground flax seed.

If you do notice loose stools, just cut back on the flax seed and it’ll work itself out.

A note about flax seed and flax seed oil: It loses its beneficial effects if it’s heated, so don’t cook with it or bake with it. (If you bake with flax seeds you’ll still get the fiber, so it’s not a total wash, but the fatty acids are destroyed.) And you have to grind the flax seeds (or buy it preground like Barleans) or else your body can’t get the oils from them and they just pass through you undigested.

I’ve been trying to think of other things you could slip in so your family won’t notice them. I don’t have a ton of practice with this. I do slip in rolled oats (the 5-minute kind) for extra fiber whenever I bake something, I sometimes put cooked pumpkin in chocolate chip cookies (sounds gross but is really delicious and makes them moist), and I’m notorious for putting beans into too many meals, but that’s about it. I’d ask my mother, but she was never any good at slipping things in without our knowledge. (During her health food days she’d just expect us to happily eat her disgusting concoctions. Finally we just flat-out refused to eat any more carob or brussels sprouts.)

Someone out there has to be good at slipping in healthy things without anyone noticing. Any ideas?