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Child Nutrition Articles

Arginine, an Essential Nutrient for growth
The Importance of Keeping Track of your Child’s Growth
Which foods have the most probiotics?
Does “brain food” help children study well?
Healthy Habits to Keep a Child’s Immunity Strong
Why you should pay attention to your child’s appetite
How to Support Your Child’s Immune System through Nutrition
4 Important Nutrients Your Child Might Not Be Eating Enough
How Protein Fuels Child Development
Why Kids Need Healthy Snacks
Nutrition Tips to Help your Child Stay Healthy during School Age
Signs that Tell Your Child is Undergoing Growth Spurt
How to Choose Healthy Drinks for your Child
Why kids go through a picky eating phase and how to address
Healthy Ingredient Swaps for Kids’ Meals
Nutrition’s Role in Building Strong Immune System in Children
Healthy Food Swaps for Kids so they don’t miss out on nourishment
Why the Food in Between Matter: Beverage Choices

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Five Important Food Groups for Kids

Five Important Food Groups for Kids

Getting proper nutrition is what will help a child grow and healthily develop to enjoy life. WHen it comes to nutrients, there are three kinds. One of them is macronutrients, which are proteins, fats and carbohydrates or the nutrients that provide energy. The next is Micronutrients, which are the essential vitamins and minerals calcium, iron, vitamin C, D and B. They are for long-term general health maintenance and a healthy immune system. Dietary fibres, Soluble and Insoluble, are crucial for digestive health. To make sure that a child gets all the nutrition they need, focus on providing them with food from these five top food groups.1

 

Grains and Rice

Food from this group can be considered the “bulk” of the meal as it is where it will contain the most fiber. This food group must be kept whole as possible as the typical Asian white rice and refined flours tend to be stripped of its fibers. Preferably consider including this food group in the morning meals because since your child will be fuller during the day, they will not ask for heavier dinners. You can either give your child oats at breakfast and wheat or rice or whatever grain is best locally for lunch.2, 3

 

Vegetables

The more variety of vegetables included in your child’s diet, the more variety of nutrients they will receive. Vegetables are a good source of Potassium, Vitamin A, E, C, and also fiber, not only are they nutrient rich, they also add to keeping your child fuller longer. Dark green (bok choy, gai lan, broccoli), orange (squashes, carrots, bell peppers), beans, and starchy (potatoes, arrowroot, yams) are all vegetable options.2, 3  

 

Fruits

Fruits come in many shapes, sizes, and colors children tend to love so it is not difficult to get them to eat enough. This food is seen as the classic source of Vitamin C, including many other nutrients, and if eaten whole compared to juice, is also a good source of fiber. Fruits should be considered where your child gets most of their sugar content as candies and packaged snacks have calories but no nutrition.2, 3

 

Red Meats and Seafood

Protein, Iron, Vitamin B and E can come from vegetable and nut sources, but meats and seafood provide a higher quality of them. Higher quality source is the choice to make as protein is the building block for the body. If your child does not like eating fish curries, try barbequing or pan frying. For red meats, serve them in small bite sized pieces as large portions can be intimidating to children.2, 3 

 

Dairy

This is the classic source for calcium and B12 and with today’s improved technology on fortifying products, soy and nut milks are options for children with lactose intolerance. This food group does not have to be provided in its purest form, but can be occasionally received through cheese, ice cream, pudding, and milk drinks.2, 3

 

Reference(s):

  1. https://www.pediasure.com.au/nutrition-development/balanced-nutrition-for-kids
  2. https://www.verywellfamily.com/food-groups-child-nutrition-2633922
  3. https://www.gosh.nhs.uk/conditions-and-treatments/general-health-advice-children/eat-smart/food-science/food-group-fun/

Balanced Nutrition for Kids Explained

Balanced Nutrition for Kids Explained

It is well known among parents that getting kids to eat healthy can be a challenge. The reason for that is because nutrition has many significant impacts on each stage of their development. Balance is key, get to know how each important nutrient will affect your child’s growth.

 

Proteins is what supports their Growth

Just because a child is young, it does not mean they should not work on growing their muscles. Just like in adults, protein supports the growth of cells to support the body’s growth. Strong cells also support a body’s immune system. Children who are affected by protein deficiency are fatigued easily, small for their age, and can fall ill often. It is not difficult to find a good food source for protein because it is all your child’s favorite dishes that contain chicken, fish, fortified cereals, milk, and some vegetables.1

 

Watch the Carbs & Fats

Fats have a bad reputation for causing obesity in children and adults alike. It actually depends on the type of fat and how much of it one eats. The fatty acids (Omega-3, Docosahexaenoic “DHA”, Eicosapentaenoic “EPA”), are good fats. When they are consumed in appropriate amounts, they support the nervous system, enhance memory power and help absorb immunity improving Vitamins (A, D, E).1, 2

 

Carbohydrates are in everything and they are what will provide a child with energy to function in a day. Similar to fats, too much carbohydrates in a child’s diet can cause early childhood Diabetes. Children who develop diabetes (Type 1) early are at a higher risk of getting heart diseases in their adult years. To prevent this, reduce the amount of highly processed foods and provide them with carbs that keep them fuller longer like whole grains, brown bread, fresh fruits and vegetables, and low fat dairy.1, 3

 

Get their Synbiotics right

The balance power of both Probiotics and Prebiotics is known as Synbiotic. Parents making sure that their child gets the right mix will help reduce the development of gastrointestinal problems and late life food allergies. Our digestive system has many different types of bacteria to aid in digestion and for our general well being like improved immunity. Probiotics are the food bacteria found in yogurt and pickled items. Prebiotics are non digestible fibers from food that feed the good bacteria in the digestive system.1, 4

 

Remember their Vitamins

If food lacks essential vitamins and minerals, they are called empty calories. Vitamins and minerals help us heal bones, wounds and boost immunity. Calcium, Vitamin D, Vitamin K, Magnesium, and Phosphorus for strong bones, while Fluoride is for dental health. Vitamin C will help your child’s body absorb Iron for oxygen circulation for proper muscle function. Along with Iron, Zinc will help promote a healthy appetite so that your child will grow up strong.1, 5

 

Reference(s): 

  1. https://www.pediasure.com.au/nutrition-development/nutrition-explained
  2. https://www.webmd.com/diet/features/what-to-know-about-omega-3s-and-fish#1
  3. https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/news/20180810/early-onset-type-1-diabetes-tied-to-heart-disease
  4. https://nutricia.com.au/aptamil/parents-corner/first-weeks/synbiotics-and-child-gut-health/
  5. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/childrens-health/in-depth/iron-deficiency/art-20045634

How Nutrition Can Shape a Child’s Emotional Well-being

How Nutrition Can Shape a Child’s Emotional Well-being?

What children eat affects not only how fast they develop and learn but as well impacts their mood and overall well-being. Research, in fact, shows that kids who achieve a healthy weight are not only fitter but also better able to learn and are more self-confident. They are also less likely to have low self-esteem. 1, 2

On one hand, undernourished children are more likely to have behaviour problems, struggle in school and have difficulty keeping up in the workplace as adults. While these challenges are affected by more than just one factor, providing a child optimal nutrition has a crucial impact.1

Food for the brain

During the first two to three years of life, brain growth is fast and furious, making nutrition critical for cognitive development in children. Research shows that 2-year-olds with stunted growth may have learning difficulties that can linger into their teen years. Without the right brain foods on their plate, your child may fall behind in their development.1

Food for good mood

Nutrients like folate, vitamin B6 and choline are necessary to synthesize certain brain chemicals, called neurotransmitters, that regulate mood and memory. An imbalance of neurotransmitters is often associated with mood-related conditions like anxiety and depression.

A diet lacking essential nutrients can also alter the way the body burns fat, carbohydrates and calories, which can lead to them becoming overweight or obese. Staying at an unnatural weight takes an emotional toll, as children who are under or overweight are more likely to experience bullying and depression.1

How to start your kids’ healthy eating habits

Here are practices for parents to help their child get the best nutrition so they stand to benefit from all the cognitive and energy benefits that come with eating right.1

  1. At meals, offer a mix of your child’s favorites as well as some new foods.
  2. Gently encourage your child to try new foods, but don’t pressure them.
  3. Keep in mind that everyone has foods that they do and don’t like.
  4. If your child refuses what’s on the table, don’t be a short-order cook. Instead, offer a simple alternative such  as a bowl of fortified cereal or a peanut butter sandwich.
  5. Use healthy snacks to fill in nutrient gaps throughout the day.

References:

  1. https://www.nutritionnews.abbott/pregnancy-childhood/kids-growth/how-nutrition-can-shape-a-child-s-emotional-well-being/
  2. https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-weight/very-overweight-children-advice-for-parents/

How to Teach Kids about Healthy Eating

How to Teach Kids about Healthy Eating

A positive relationship with food must be started at a young age and it should begin at home. Parents have a big role to play in teaching their children about nutrition, which can have a great impact on their kids’ body image and long-term relationship with food up until their adulthood.1

With child obesity and other eating disorders among the youth on the rise, it should be every parent’s responsibility to encourage their kids to embrace a healthy eating lifestyle– one that is focused on food as nourishment instead of a reward or punishment for weight loss or gain.1

Here are tips to help parents foster healthy eating habits among their children:

 

Model Healthy Eating Habits

Kids eat healthier when their parents do. Thus, exposing children to healthy food options and being a positive role model who views food as a source of joy and nourishment rather than an enemy, can go a long way in improving their body image and relationship with food.

If you are the type of parent who is trying to keep the weight off, keep in mind to avoid restricting foods during mealtimes and going on fad diets that can promote short-term and unhealthy weight loss. It is instead recommended for parents to plan healthy, balanced meals that include fruits and vegetables with whole grains and protein. 1

 

Eat Together as Family as Often as Possible

Having positive eating conversations with children can foster their lifelong healthy relationship with food. A parent can put this into practice by eating together as a family as often as possible and by involving kids in food shopping and cooking to expose them to fruits and vegetables at an early age.

Studies suggest that families who eat together at mealtimes tend to have higher-quality diets with more fruits and vegetables and less fast food and sugary beverages.1, 2

 

Don’t make the food conversation about weight

Weight-focused conversations with kids can manifest later as low self-esteem, unhealthy body image and disordered eating. While it is true that any discussion about eating vegetables or exercising can become harmful especially when related to losing weight, it is highly recommended to turn the conversation instead on positive outcomes. By eating the right food a person can become strong, healthy, and happy. 1, 3

 

Reference:

  1. https://www.nytimes.com/article/kids-healthy-eating-habits.html
  2. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2715616

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23797808/


Top Kid Eating Problems

Top Kid Eating Problems

Picky eating is all part of growing up for a child and provides a parent with many teaching opportunities about food. At times you may want to resort to punishments or bribes, but instead encourage healthy eating by understanding the most common mealtime dramas parents face.

 

You child is always hungry or is outright refusing to eat

Due to a child’s growth fluctuation, food amount requirements will vary. Instead of forcing them to eat three square meals a day, try offering more frequent smaller meals, up to 5 with child appropriate portions. Be patient as it takes time for your child to get used to new foods.1

 

You child refusing to try new foods

Your child may be neophobic, the inability or unwillingness to try new foods. Children often will always default back on to what is familiar so they will often ask for the same foods they are comfortable with. Instead of forcing change, try adding variety to their most favorite food. Change up the way you cook certain things so that they can experience new textures.1

 

You are more frustrated than your child

Children are not shy about telling you if they do not like the food and when that happens on a regular basis, you become frustrated. Do not resort to yelling or depriving them of activities that make them happy. Fix your own reaction and lead by example because behaviour is learned. Never use sweet and junk foods as rewards because they can develop negative association with the food they must eat. Get them involved in shopping, explain certain foods and maybe attach a story behind some of them. Children need to focus on food so avoid having the TV on or mobile devices during meal time.1

 

Reference(s):

  1. https://www.parents.com/toddlers-preschoolers/feeding/problems/toddler-feeding-problems-solved/

Why kids go through a picky eating phase and how to address

Why kids go through a picky eating phase and how to address

A parent may have confidence in knowing the nutritional value of most foods, but still have difficulty feeding their child. Any serious medical reasons aside, picky eating is a normal behaviour in a child.1, 2

 

Why are children picky eaters?

It has to do with a child’s growing cycle and they will need different amounts of food at different stages. Picky eating behaviour can last until they are much older. Picky eating can also be defined as your child having “neophobia” or a fear of new foods. When helping your child overcome food neophobia, make sure that you neither praise or punish them for it.1, 2

 

Praise – Praising can have an opposite effect where just because them eating makes you happy, they will develop a habit of overeating when full.1, 2

 

Rewards & Bribery – Using bribes can make a child develop an unhealthy association with food. Using other foods as rewards can develop emotional eating early on.1, 2

 

Restrictions & Punishments – if you are way too firm on your food eating rules, they may sneak or throw away food. This leads to early childhood obesity and eating disorders. Please consult with a child nutrition expert if you suspect your child’s food issue is beyond your control.1, 2

 

Have a Plan – Have a generally precise meal plan and schedule time for grocery shopping. These few extra steps will help you make it right.1, 2

 

Designate an eating location – Have a designated place to eat at home. It is important to make mealtimes as natural as possible with a general positive mood.1, 2

 

Stick to the routine – Children thrive on routine. A structured schedule that is easy to follow helps them develop good self-regulating skills, especially with food. It will reduce constant cravings for snacks and increase their willingness to tell you they are hungry at the right time.1, 2

 

Trust your child – The best thing you can do is set a good healthy eating habit. Use this picky eating stage as a teaching opportunity by swapping ingredients, changing cooking methods, and even planning a meal together.1, 2

 

Reference(s):

  1. https://www.childrensnutrition.co.uk/full-blog/refuse-meals
  2. https://www.childrensnutrition.co.uk/members-club

Top reasons your kid is refusing to eat

Top reasons your kid is refusing to eat

It is normal for parents to get frustrated when their child constantly rejects food that they’ve lovingly prepared. You’d think that the Myanmar saying “try and try until you succeed” might only be applicable to a point, especially in feeding a picky eater children.

Before scolding or bribing your little one with a yummy treat for dessert, learn the top reasons why your kid is refusing to eat. 1,

 

  1. Developing Taste Buds

At a young age, children’s taste buds are still developing. While they have mature, sweet taste buds, their bitter and sour taste buds are not yet fully mature. This is why vegetables, which have many bitter compounds, are naturally rejected by kids.

 

That said, children also have more sensitive taste buds in general compared to adults which means that feeding them a variety of healthy food can help them develop a palate for a broad selection of healthy food. It is just a matter of a parent exposing them to these nutritious foods.1,2

 

  1. Timing of Meals

Even with a structured meal and snack routine, children will sometimes ask for more snacks in between times. A couple of things could be happening here. They could be undergoing developmental leaps which in turn requires more energy, especially if they’re asking for carbs. Or more often than not it can be because they are hungry, mostly likely because they didn’t eat well at the last meal.1

 

  1. Distracted Eating

Eating while watching TV or iPad, bringing toys to the table to mindless eating or eating not in response to hunger. When children are eating mindlessly, they are not interacting with the food. There’s no learning happening, thus they are not experiencing the sensory properties of the food. They are also not paying attention to their hunger or their fullness cues. This can lead to them either overeating as they grow up or it can lead to them not eating enough. 1

 

  1. Tiredness

Dinner is often the worst meal of the day for many children. It’s the end of a busy day and they’re getting ready for bed. This is when often children gravitate towards junk foods like chicken nuggets and hot dogs that are pre-processed before they eat them, so they don’t have to chew as much. A solution to this would be to switch meals around. Make lunch a bit more substantial and dinner something a bit more low key, and introduce a bedtime snack alongside milk.1

 

Reference(s):

  1. https://www.childrensnutrition.co.uk/full-blog/toddlers-wont-eat
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2721271/

Healthy Ingredient Swaps for Kids’ Meals

Healthy Ingredient Swaps for Kids’ Meals

Making your little ones eat nutritious food does not have to be a bore for them. You can make healthy everyday foods more interesting and appetizing by substituting healthier ingredients with more flavor and color. Ingredient swapping is a smart and strategic way to make meal time a more enriching and worthwhile experience for a child and a parent, too! 1,

Here are some ways to make eating healthier and fun for your child:

  1. Mix up the milk

For strong and healthy bones in kids, milk delivers quality nutrition. But if your child dislikes the taste of milk or is lactose intolerant, alternatives are available in the form of soy, almond, and rice milk. Pediasure is another great option as it provides protein, calcium, and Vitamin D. To help your child build a habit of drinking milk, try mixing half milk and half Pediasure in a cup. Then begin to decrease the amount of Pediasure over time. 1,2

 

  1. Sweeten up food naturally

Instead of feeding your child sugar, try sweetening up their breakfast and snacks with fresh fruits. Fruits are natural sweeteners and a variety of these will make for a colorful meal. 1

 

  1. Add Toppings

Children find toppings fun and enticing. Putting nutritious and familiar ingredients on top of less appetizing food can make a meal interesting to a kids and introduce their palate to more exciting dishes. Toppings kids enjoy may include cheese on top of vegetables and banana or apple slices with peanut butter. 1

 

  1. Try Dips

Put a little action in meal time by making your kid dunk fruits and vegetables in sauces, dips, or dressings. Matching fresh fruits with a bowl of yogurt is a great example.

 

  1. Make it a Smoothie

A surefire way to make your kid eat more fruits and vegetables is to make smoothies out of them alongside yogurt and fresh milk. The delicious taste of yogurt or milk covers up the taste of fruit or vegetables that kids might dislike at first. 1

 

References:

  1. https://pediasure.com/healthy-eating-kids/picky-eaters/recipe-ingredients
  2. https://www.thv11.com/article/news/verify/which-milk-is-best-for-toddlers-almond-coconut-dairy-verify/91-566114463#:~:text=It%20is%20a%20good%20source,fat%20%2D%2D%20primarily%20saturated%20fat.

Nutrition Tips to Help your Child Stay Healthy during School Age

Nutrition Tips to Help your Child Stay Healthy during School Age

Exams and academic tests are all part of a child’s learning journey throughout their school age. Children are expected to excel in them, which can cause stress. Because healthy kids are happier and better learners, it is in a parent’s best interest to provide them with best supporting nutrition. Effort put in now will go a long way to helping your child maintain a healthy mind and body well into adult life. Here are a couple of nutritional ways to support children throughout their schooling years.1 

 

Make breakfast, lunch and dinner with healthy real food

Children who have had breakfast do better in school because they are more focused. Pack your child’s lunch as much as possible to ensure healthy eating. At dinner time, eat together as a family and set healthy eating habit examples.1  

 

When preparing meals to support your child’s mental and physical well being, make sure that you include:

 

Protein – Include lean meats, skinless poultry, eggs, beans, or milk in any of your child’s meals to provide nourishment for the brain and better concentration. 1 

 

Good carbs – Fuel for the brain and various activities. To help your child’s brain function efficiently, provide your child with grain foods, fruit and milk to keep up with daily demands.1  

 

Provide plenty of good fats – Fatty acids like (polyunsaturated) omega-3 and omega-6 improves memory function so make sure you include plenty of food sources that provide them (eg. mackerel, walnuts, soybeans, tofu, corn, meat, eggs) in your child’s diet.1, 2

 

Vitamins and important minerals – Only needed in smaller amounts compared to other nutrients, vitamins are essential for a child’s brain function at peak ability. Read food labels, compare to natural foods, and pick ones that will deliver the most vitamins per serving to support the overall well being of your child.1  

 

Fiber – Fiber in a child’s diet keeps them full longer and supports their gut health by feeding the ‘good’ probiotic bacteria in the gut. Fibers aid in breaking down hard to digest foods to extract the most nutrients.1  

 

Reference(s):

  1. https://abbottfamily.com.sg/articles/school/exams#

https://www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/Fat/What%E2%80%99s-the-difference-between-omega-3-and-omega-6


How to Choose Healthy Drinks for your Child

How to Choose Healthy Drinks for your Child

Juice trends have been around since the 1970s. It has always been popular because it is a great way to enjoy the daily servings of fruit and vegetables in a drink format. Juicing is a great option for children to get their nutritional needs. Though there are many juices out there, the main reason to drink juice is to get liquids into your diet. Make market nutritional choices by reading labels before you buy something for your child. Here are a few simple tips to keep your child healthily hydrated with beverages.1

 

Water

Water is the source of life and people cannot go without it for an extended period. Water carries vitamins and nutrients around your body to the cells that need it. On average, a child should have about six to eight glasses of water every day. Soups, juices, watery fruits and vegetables can add to the daily water intake. Watermelons, cantaloupe, pineapples, and cucumbers are example of natural high water content food items.1, 2

 

Milk

Milk is often attributed to children having strong bones and muscles. Milk is a good source of liquid nutrition because it provides protein and calcium for a growing child. About two glasses (250ml glass serving size) of regular milk or plant based is recommended for kids daily. It has to be part of a healthy meal plan to be effective.1, 3

 

Fruit and Vegetable Juices

If your child is reluctant to eat whole fruits and vegetables, juicing it will get past that. Make sure the juices throughout the day all amount to at least two whole fruits and three to four vegetables a day. Avoid adding additional sugars to the juices because most fruits seasonally contain all of the sugar necessary. A drawback of juicing is that a majority of fiber is thrown out in the pulp. Pulps can be added to cooking to gain back some of that fiber. Because juicing allows a child to technically consume more fruit, the calories can add up. Work around this by using fruit as a natural sweetener (eg. mangos and apples)  to vegetable juice.1

 

Sweetened Drinks

Packaged drinks are an easy fix to making your own juice. As attractively packaged as they are, never go beyond the recommended serving suggestions and never used as replacements for real natural foods in a child’s diet. Check with a pediatrician first before starting them on them because you never know what they may be allergic to.1

Reference(s):

  1. https://abbottfamily.com.sg/articles/pre-school/healthy-drinks#
  2. https://www.efbw.org/index.php?id=46
  3. https://www.webmd.com/children/news/20121213/cups-milk-preschoolers#1

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