This a guest post by Sheila Kilbane, MD. She is a board certified pediatrician who also trained with Andrew Weil, MD at the University of Arizona in integrative medicine. This Pediatrician Shares Natural Alternative To Pediasure.

Pediatrician Shares Natural Alternative To Pediasure

As an integrative pediatrician, I have built my current medical practice upon real food. I have seen the affects of synthetic processed foods on children and anything I can do to help spread the word about whole food nutrition makes me over the moon excited!

Note: Don’t confuse the electrolyte drink Pedialyte® with PediaSure®, a liquid meal replacement.

My first encounter with PediaSure®

I was on a long road trip some three years out of pediatric residency and miscalculated how much food I needed to make it from Charlotte, North Carolina to Kelley’s Island, Ohio. When I ran out of “real food” I was famished and forced to purchase something at a West Virginia gas station. I bought a bottle of PediaSure®.
Odd, right?! It seemed like the only reasonable choice among a sea of chips, candy bars, and jerky. Despite being a pediatrician, up until that moment I had never laid hands on a bottle of PediaSure®, which is also why I had never read the label.

I opened the bottle and began drinking before I finished pumping my gas. What ensued looked like a scene from a Jim Carrey movie. I gagged and nearly spewed the liquid contents all over my car. Then I read the ingredient list.

For years I have told my patients, “If you can’t pronounce the product ingredients, put it back on the shelf”.

How many of these PediaSure® Ingredients can you pronounce? Water, Sugar, Corn Maltodextrin, High Oleic Safflower Oil, Milk Protein Concentrate, Canola Oil, Soy Protein Isolate, Pea Protein Concentrate. Less than 0.5% of the Following: Short-Chain Fructooligosaccharides, Natural & Artificial Flavor, Cellulose Gel, Potassium Chloride, Magnesium Phosphate, Potassium Citrate, Calcium Phosphate, Calcium Carbonate, Tuna Oil, Potassium Phosphate, Cellulose Gum, Choline Chloride, Ascorbic Acid, Soy Lecithin, Monoglycerides, Salt, Potassium Hydroxide, m-Inositol, Carrageenan, Taurine, Ferrous Sulfate, dl-Alpha-Tocopheryl Acetate, L-Carnitine, Zinc Sulfate, Calcium Pantothenate, Niacinamide, Manganese Sulfate, Thiamine Chloride Hydrochloride, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Lutein, Cupric Sulfate, Vitamin A Palmitate, Folic Acid, Chromium Chloride, Biotin, Potassium Iodide, Sodium Selenate, Sodium Molybdate, Phylloquinone, Vitamin D3, and Cyanocobalamin. CONTAINS MILK AND SOY INGREDIENTS.

How one mouthful of PediaSure® changed my clinical practice

Despite my gnawing hunger, I immediately threw the bottle away. There was no way I was putting that chemical tasting, sugar-laden drink into my body. And to throw away a perfectly good can of ANYTHING goes fully against my nature; I normally don’t waste a thing.

I can’t believe we give this to our kids!

From that day forward, anytime a family came to see me in clinic, and the child was on PediaSure®, I did everything in my integrative pediatric power to get them off of it. First we would move them onto smoothies made with real food. Next we would decrease the amount of processed foods they were eating. And ultimately, we would get them predominantly eating fresh, whole foods with smoothies used as an adjunct to a healthy diet.

Once these kids were off processed foods, the clarity, energy, and vibrancy astounded everyone who knew them.

Are you using PediaSure® to boost nutrients in your child’s diet?

The kids I am talking about are generally healthy but eat a lot of processed, pro-inflammatory foods as well as PediaSure®. The children with medical issues like a G-tube, poor growth, autism, sensory integration challenges, and extremely particular eaters are in an entirely different category. Some of these children need intensive therapy and other support before they begin eating certain foods.

But if you are a parent who is giving your child PediaSure® to be sure she is getting adequate vitamins and minerals from her food, then this information (including the recipes below) are for you. A natural alternative to Pediasure.

A whole-foods diet instead of supplements

Pediatrician Shares Natural Alternative To Pediasure

Healthy saladLike my clinic patients, my goal for you is to move your child over to a wholesome, whole-foods diet. We absorb nutrients much better when they come in natural forms like real fruits and vegetables and not synthetically created.

This same thing goes for dietary supplements. Many supplements are the synthetic equivalent of the natural vitamins and minerals. Adding synthetic foods to our body creates more work for the liver, the main organ responsible for detoxifying the body.

I didn’t realize how challenging it would be to get the caloric and nutrient equivalent of PediaSure® into 8 ounces of liquid, without using synthetic ingredients or protein powders. But I did come pretty close when I concocted what I have dubbed Dr. Kilbane’s Liquid Vitality.

Before I get to my recipes, I need to tell you why they don’t contain dairy. Children who suffer from constipation, recurrent stomach aches, eczema, chronic runny nose, recurrent ear infections, and much more are often eating and drinking a great deal of dairy. Too much dairy often inflames the gut and does not allow the body to absorb nutrients properly. So my Pediatrician Shares Natural Alternative To Pediasure recipe does not add more dairy to their diets.

Look at these pictures of a patient before and after eliminating inflammatory foods from his diet! I want to explicitly state that he was never using PediaSure® We simply figured out what food group was inflaming his system and removed it.


Liquid calories keep the tank filled, but foods that are closer to their natural form do more to not only sustain the body, but they also help it to heal. It is more difficult for the body to heal on processed foods alone because they are inherently inflammatory. This is why I recommend a natural alternative to Pediasure.

The second key part of this blog post it to help you understand the process I take children thru to help shift their taste buds from the world of synthetic foods and into the world of real foods.

How to feed a picky eater

It is sometimes necessary for parents of picky eaters to reach for supplements and/or meal replacement drinks like PediaSure®. But when possible, we want kids eating real fruits and veggies. The most difficult part of creating nutrient dense smoothies is finding a taste and texture that kids will drink. You see, the typical American child’s taste buds are constantly bathed in processed sugars. This affects their taste preferences.

However, once we begin giving their body more of the vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients they need in order for their cells to work properly, their taste buds begin to shift and the palate expands.

That’s where my methodology comes in. I advise parents to gradually decrease their children’s liquid calories so they will be hungry and eat more real food. Spinach, sprouts, fruits, nuts, and seeds pack a great deal of “real food” nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients compared to PediaSure®. And they taste a lot better, too!

And let me clarify, PediaSure® definitely contains many vitamins and nutrients, many of which are synthesized in a lab. As with everything in nature, our bodies absorb and utilize real foods much better and more efficiently than synthetic products.

I hear you saying, “Enough theory! What’s your PediaSure® replacement recipe?” Here it is:

Pediatrician Shares Natural Alternative To Pediasure

Dr. Kilbane’s Liquid Vitality

Makes 3 servings. In a blender, mix:

2 cups fresh spinach
2 cups liquid – rice milk, almond milk, hemp milk, coconut milk, or water
2 tablespoons chia seeds (soaked) – start with 1 tablespoon and if the kids do well with the texture, gradually increase this to 2 tablespoons

Dr. Kilbane’s Liquid Vitality: Kid Approved!

1 cup mango, fresh or frozen
1 cup fresh pineapple
2 bananas, fresh or frozen
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 oz sprouts (alfalfa, broccoli, pea, etc. – these can be sprouted at home or from seeds) (or) 1 oz of microgreens – don’t add the sprouts or greens the first time you make this. Wait until the kids are used to the other ingredients and then start to add these wonderfully nutritious foods.

* If possible, use all organic ingredients.
* Mix the greens and the liquid first until smooth and then blend in the rest of the ingredients.
* The nutrients of the food in a smoothie degrade quickly once it is blended. So it is very important to drink the smoothie within a few minutes after it is made.

I know you’re saying “There’s no way my child is going to drink this!” And this is where my gradual process of shifting kids’ taste buds comes into play.

Smoothies are the gateway to health

Pediatrician Shares Natural Alternative To Pediasure®

If your child has never had a smoothie, which is what Dr. Kilbanes’s Liquid Vitality really is, I want you to begin with one of the simple, easy to digest “Starter Smoothies” listed below and gradually work up to the Dr. Kilbane’s Liquid Vitality, the natural alternative to Pediasure.

Even Dr. Kilbanes’s Liquid Vitality can be evolved. There is a lot of natural sugar in two bananas, a cup of pineapple, and a cup of mango. My goal is to have you gradually decrease the fruits that are not only high in vitamins but also in natural sugars and increase the foods that are high in nutrients and have a lower natural sugar content,such as:

spinach and other dark leafy greens
chia seeds
flax seeds
sprouts of all type
healthy oils like coconut oil

The MOST important thing at the beginning is to make sure your child likes that first smoothie. We have one first shot at this so let’s make it count! As my friend and health coach Haynes Paschall says, begin with a starter smoothie.

If they like it, they will keep asking for more!

Starter Smoothie – Banana Berry Heaven (recipe from
3 spinach leaves (fresh blends up the best)
1 banana (fresh or frozen)
1 cup of frozen berries (strawberries or raspberries are a good start) or 1 pealed orange
1 cup of water or milk

As your child gets used to this smoothie, enlist her in helping to prepare the Intermediate Smoothie.

Intermediate Smoothie – Pina Colada
2 cups spinach
2 cups coconut milk
1 tsp of chia seeds (soaked)
1 cup pineapple
1 cup frozen mango
2 bananas
1 tablespoon coconut oil

Intermediate Smoothie – Cilantro-Mango Detox Green Smoothie (recipe from
1 ½ cups spinach, fresh
1/2 cup cilantro, fresh
2 cups water
1 ½ cups mango
1 cup pineapple
1 tablespoon chia seeds
(soaked) – this is my addition☺
½ avocado

When your child enjoys these smoothies, try giving him Dr. Kilbane’s Liquid Vitality. These recipes are not set in stone. PLEASE play around with them to match your family’s preferences and seasonal pantry. Our vitality is closely linked to what we put in our bodies. Living foods create energetic, healthy bodies. A natural alternative to Pediasure is really the best in terms of nutrition.

If your child is generally healthy, but is drinking PediaSure® just to “get some calories,” then you may be able to start adding these smoothies into their diet while decreasing their PediaSure® intake.

A few notes on blending smoothies:
Vitamix works great to make it smooth for those children who are particular to tastes and textures. * VERY IMPORTANT!

The makings of a great smoothie

Pediatrician Shares Natural Alternative To Pediasure®
Spinach: fresh definitely mixes up better than frozen and it’s best if you mix any greens with your liquid first and then add the rest of the ingredients.

Chia Seeds: soak for 10 to 15 minutes in 3 to 4 tablespoons of water before adding to your smoothie. This makes them gelatinous and they will mix better.

Coconut Oil: at room temperature is liquid and at cooler temperatures it is solid. So I usually blend everything first and then add the coconut oil.

Sweeteners: if your child still needs any of these recipes sweeter, consider maple syrup, honey, or black strap molasses (black strap molasses has a great deal of iron in it, but it does not have the greatest taste for young palates).

For more information, please also see How To Make Green Smoothies for kids Tutorial.

The liquid base of these smoothies should NEVER BE BASED ON COMMERCIAL JUICE PRODUCTS. Juices bought in the store, even if they are organic, are predominantly sugar. Freshly extracted juices are a whole different ball game and are extremely healthful.

I have the honor to share this Pediatrician Shares Natural Alternative To Pediasure guest post by Dr. Sheila Kilbane. She has a passion for nutrition and uses natural and nutritional therapies whenever possible in treating things such as: colic, reflux, eczema, recurrent ear infections, recurrent sinus infections, asthma, allergies, stomach and GI issues like constipation and abdominal pain.

I think this post is so helpful for families dealing with picky eaters. A natural alternative to Pediasure is really the best for kids. Try to get them to eat real food by following Dr. Kilbane’s advice. Little by little you will see they will start to eat more variety and make better choices.

For more information visit her website at

If you are interested in reading more about picky eaters and what you can do to help, please see 5 Tips For Raising Healthy Non-Picky Eaters. These tips really work for my family and my kids eat a great variety of foods.

If you are interested in reading more about my blog, please take a look at my latest articles. I am a mom blogger who loves to share creative and healthy fun food ideas.

I also believe kids deserve to eat real food. If you are interested, please check out my recipes for easy to make, healthy, and homemade family meals. I am not a chef or have many years of experience cooking. So most of my recipes are very easy to prepare.

A special thanks to the following health coaches for their input:
Tracey Fox
Haynes Paschall
Adri Warrick

The China Study by T Collin Campbell, Thomas M Campbell II, Howard Lyman, John Robbins
The Coconut Oil Miracle by Bruce Fife, CN, ND
Life Force – Superior Health and Longevity by Brian R Clement, Phd, NMD, LNC
Nsouli et al. The Role of Food Allergy in Serous Otitis Media. Annals of Allergy 1994;73(3):215-219.
Host A, Halken S. In: Pediatric Allergy: Principles and Practice. Mosby-Year Book, Inc; 2003:488-494.
Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy. Adverse reactions to food. Available at: SH.
Pediatrics. 2003;111:1609-1616.

This Pediatrician Shares Natural Alternative to Pediasure post contains affiliate links. The products linked are the products I use and recommend. If you purchase a product through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Creative And Healthy Fun Food will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.


7 Responses so far.

  1. Shae says:

    Do you add ingredients from both the liquid vitality and the kid approved vitality? Just wasn’t sure. Thanks

  2. Leslie Bienz says:

    I just want to make sure you are aware that children with g-tubes do not have to live off Pediasure or receive any Pediasure at all or related products. My son, until recently, was 100% tube fed and is fed 100% whole foods, and mostly whole plant foods. He has absolutely thrived. He was completely debilitated by nausea and vomiting, as are many children, when he was fed enteral formula for his diet. It all stopped immediately when I stopped pumping this crap into his stomach.

    A child having medical issues is all the more reason to not feed Pediasure. If it’s bad for a healthy child’s health, it’s certainly worse for a child with medical issues.

    I take real food, puree it in a blender and feed it through his tube. If this is safe for an oral eater, it’s safe for a tube fed patient, too. Tube fed children deserve real food, too.

  3. Leslie Bienz says:

    I just want to emphasize this because many of us parents of tube fed children are very tired of doctors that tell parents of orally fed children to feed fresh, non-processed, low sugar foods, but then tell parents of children with feeding tubes that they should feed entirely processed, entirely synthetic, extremely high sugar foods. The advice is so different, you would think that tube fed children are a different species.

    Tube fed children are not in a different category. My son has a very severe oral aversion. He is not in a different category. He is a human child just like children without feeding tubes and without feeding disorders and therefore, his nutritional needs and his body’s response to Pediasure, etc are exactly the same.

    • Hi Leslie, Thank you so much for your comment. I agree. The problem is kids with more serious eating problems than just being picky need to be monitored closely. I have heard from many moms that they will be happy if their kids would just eat junk. At least something they say. And I totally disagree. I think all kids deserve real nutritious food.

  4. Hailee says:

    What do you define as micro greens?

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