Monday, 19 January 2015

Amounts and types of food your child needs for healthy growth.Drive Hot News

There are several ways to get your kid to like vegetables. Provide a variety of vegetables so that child can choose the one they like most. Photo/FILE
 There are several ways to get your kid to like vegetables. Provide a variety of vegetables so that child can choose the one they like most.

Dear Doc,
My child does not like vegetables at all. How do I get him to like them without having to use force?
Mama Ryan
Dear Mama Ryan,
First, let me assure you that you are not alone as many parents experience the same. Vegetables are an important food group as they are a good source of most vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, C, potassium and calcium.
In addition, they have high amounts of dietary fiber and are low in fat and calories. They also don’t have cholesterol. Therefore, it is important for your child to have some vegetables every day.
There are several ways to get your kid to like vegetables. Provide a variety of vegetables so that child can choose the one they like most.
These may include dark green vegetables like spinach and broccoli, starchy vegetables like green peas, orange vegetables such as carrots and pumpkin, as well as other vegetables such as cabbage, tomatoes and cauliflower.
Offer fresh vegetables and make sure they are not overcooked. Children are more likely to like vegetables that are crunchy and have a nice flavour.
Come up with various vegetable recipes such as soups and salads, or serve vegetables together with your child’s favourite dishes, for example fried rice with green peas.
To avoid monotony, serve a different vegetable each day. You can try different cooking methods such as steaming and frying.
Offer vegetables in small portions and do not force a child to eat as this might look like punishment.
If your kids are older, allow them to choose the vegetables they like when you go shopping for groceries.
Finally, be a role model; don’t expect your child to eat vegetables if you do not eat them yourself.
Dear Doc,
How do I ensure that my child maintains a healthy weight?
Concerned parent
Dear concerned parent,
Most children who become overweight or obese usually have unhealthy eating habits (diet containing too many calories) as well as too little or lack of physical activity (sedentary lifestyle).
The good news is that these habits can be tackled when the child is young, and thereby, prevent obesity. Preventing obesity in children is an important step towards guaranteeing their lifetime health and wellness.
Help your child adapt healthy eating by providing nutritionally balanced meals which include plenty of whole grains, vegetables and fruits. Limit the intake of sugar-sweetened drinks and saturated fats.
Serve reasonable portions of food to avoid overfeeding. Go for healthy snacks such as slices of fruit instead of potato chips.
Designate eating areas as eating while watching television, for instance, can encourage idle eating, making a child overeat.
Also, encourage your child to be active by engaging in outdoor activities such as biking, jumping rope and other sports.
You can make these activities more fun by doing them as a family. Limit the amount of time the child spends watching television or playing video games.
Outdoor play keeps a child moving, helps burn calories and builds strong muscles, as well as promotes growth and development.
Dear Doc,
How do I tell if my child is eating enough?
Dear Sally,
It might be challenging to keep record of how much your child eats since it is not even easy to have a child sit still during meals. It is normal for children to have fluctuations in appetite, alternating between picking at their food and stuffing themselves.
However, it ends up balancing out. A child will eat only when he or she is hungry and generally stop when full. It is normal for a parent to be concerned when a child seems to eat little.
But, you also do not expect a child to eat sas much as an adult. To ensure that your child eats enough, give him or her balanced meals all the time so that no essential nutrient is entirely left out.
A balanced meal has proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients in the right proportions. Missing on a nutrient for a long time can have negative consequences on a child’s health.
Make sure you prepare a variety of foods as different foods contain different nutrients. In the end, what’s important is that the child is growing well.
If your child is adding weight as recommended, developing normally, is energetic and active, then rest assured that he or she is eating adequately.
Dear Doc,
My son snacks a lot, and this interferes with his eating during meals. What can I do so that he eats well; should I cut out snacks?
Dear Winnie,
Snacking itself is not bad, but rather the timing, type, and amount of snacks you serve. Nutritious snacks can help a child control hunger, boost energy level between meals, and also prevent overeating at mealtimes.
Furthermore, snacks can help picky eaters get the necessary nutrients. However, this does not imply that you give your child a packet of potato crisps a few minutes to meals.
The best snacks to give your child are nutritious ones. This means that they should be low in fat, sugar and salt.
Slices of fresh fruits and vegetables, a glass of fresh fruit juice, a cup of yoghurt, whole grains such as breakfast cereals and other foods rich in proteins are good choice for healthy snacks.
In addition, pay attention to the amount of snacks and the timing so that you don’t interfere with the child’s appetite during the next meal.
Offer snacks at least an hour or two before the next meal. By doing this, you will be lowering your child’s chances of refusing to eat at meal times.
If you offer nutritious snacks, plan them well, serve them regularly, and co-ordinate them with meals, your child is more likely to be healthy.
Have a question about your health? Please send it to
Why it’s important to give a child an iron-rich diet
IRON IS AMONG THE most essential minerals in the human body as it plays a significant role in generating the energy needed for the body to function normally.
Deficiency in iron is usually common among the most susceptible groups, namely children between six and 24 months, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers.
Children in particular, need iron because the are growing fast and need lots of energy. The first two to three years of a child’s development are very vital and require adequate supplies of iron.
Iron deficiency can result in iron deficiency anaemia, a condition in which the ability of the red blood cells to transport oxygen in the body is affected, resulting in low energy levels and making the child weak.
Consequently, the general physical, mental, psychological and social development of a child is impaired.
Iron is a component of the red blood cells and has various roles in the body, among them transporting oxygen through the body, which is in turn important in the synthesis of the energy required for various bodily functions.
In addition, iron is important in the development and function of the brain. It influences the way the brain processes information and coordinates the functions of the body. Iron enhances the ability of the immune system to respond and fight infections.
Children between ages the ages of one and five years need about 7-10 mg of iron daily. This can be estimated as half a cup of kidney beans, half a cup of cooked spinach, and 55 grammes of liver daily to meet the daily requirement.
Lack of iron can affect a child’s development and behaviour as it not only reduces energy levels, but also affects behaviour, mood, attention span and ultimately, the child’s ability to learn.
A child lacking iron appears restless, tired and might not be able to concentrate. The lack of energy caused by iron deficiency, therefore, inhibits the child’s ability to engage in normal activities like playing and learning.
You can spot a child who is iron-deficient by looking for certain signs:
• A child looks tired and weak
• A decline in the child’s academic performance
• Slowed social and cognitive development
• Susceptibility to illnesses as a result of weakened immunity.
To prevent your child from iron deficiency, it is important to ensure that every meal is balanced with iron-rich foods like chicken, kidney beans, red meat, soy beans and green leafy vegetables like spinach.
Foods fortified with iron are also available, for example iron-fortified breakfast cereals. Foods rich in vitamin C like fruits and green vegetables enhance the absorption of iron in the body.
Caffeine and tannin-containing foods like tea, coffee, sodas inhibit the absorption of iron in the body and should not be given to children during or immediately after meals.
If necessary, they should be taken at least 30 minutes before or after meals. In addition, certain intestinal worms can cause iron deficiency anaemia when they suck the child’s blood.
To avoid this, children should be de-wormed regularly to ensure their digestive system is free of any kind of worms.
Whereas the body needs iron to function, it can store surplus iron in certain body organs like the kidney, spleen and muscles. The body regulates the amount of iron it absorbs.
For example, a body that has inadequate iron will absorb more iron while a body with sufficient iron will take absorb a small amount and store the rest.
Iron is an important component of the human body. In children, it is important for growth and development especially duringthe first years of life.
Iron supplements are available for children in dire need of the mineral, like those in drought-prone areas or with other health problems.