Ramadan Nutrition for Children

How to make food attractive for children?

Children have specific food preferences. The following tips may make the foods you serve more attractive to the children keeping in mind about

Food texture. Vary textures — crunchy, crisp, creamy. Children often dislike thick or fibrous foods. Avoid overcooking vegetables you might miss out on nutrients.

Food color. Choose from the colors of rainbow. Serving foods of different colors makes a meal more interesting and attractive.

Foods of different shapes. Use cookie cutters to add shape to the foods like cheese, fruit, veggie embellishment to a plate and make it more presentable.

Food flavors. Rule of five. Consider foods with sweet, salty, sour, tart, spicy and mild flavors.

Include a favorite food. Choose healthy foods that are familiar to them.

Introduce new foods with familiar foods. Introduce only one new food at a time. If the acceptance is poor reintroduce the same after two weeks time do not eliminate it from routine as they might miss out on good nutrients.

Are there any nutritional losses in wasting food ?

When we discard food, we’re also discarding a lot of healthy nutrients. Especially the most perishable foods that we tend to throw away are – vegetables, fruits and sea foods. Plan your grocery shopping accordingly and do not over stock perishable foods in your refrigerator.

How can parents train children to eat everything on a plate ?

Offer a variety of healthy foods. When children eat a variety of foods, they get a balance of the vitamins and minerals they need to grow. Such as fresh vegetables and fruits, low-fat dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheeses) or dairy substitutes, lean proteins (beans, chicken, turkey, fish, tofu, eggs), and whole-grain cereals and bread. • Offer smaller portion size. Serve appropriate portion sizes, but do not expect your child to always eat everything on the plate. let your children choose their own portion sizes. It is okay even if they do not eat everything on their plates.’’Do not force feed your child” • Set regular meal times. Serve foods at regular meal and snack times. Try not to offer foods between these eating times.When it is meal or snack time, turn off the TV, and eat together at the table. Sit together while having meal this helps to bond better with your children.

Limit processed food and sugary drinks. Sugary foods and drinks can lead to cavities and unhealthy weight gain at young age. Try not to stock such foods at your pantry which include soda, juice drinks, lemonade, sweet tea, and sports drinks, rather offer drinks like fruit infused water, milk for stronger bones and fresh fruit juice without sugar.

Offer Small portions for your little ones. Encourage your children to choose their own serving size, similarly use smaller and colourful plates, bowls, and cups to serve the foods.

Teach table manners. ‘Be a role model’ Set an example as a parent. What you do is what they learn from you. Do not use gadgets or watch television while eating. Also teach other table manners, such as not talking with a full mouth, using a napkin, and not reaching across another person’s plate. Engage them in preparing the meal.

Why are kids picky eaters?

Every kid’s palate develops on their own time, just like their motor, speech and cognitive development. Think about it !eating involves the three senses of taste, smell and touch.

If you are worried that they aren’t getting their nutritional needs met, observe your Child’s food intake over a weeks time to understand their food choices, try and balance it through their favourite foods. ‘Respect your Child’s appetite’

Make it fun to learn and eat.Teach them about the major food groups and what they do for their body. Help them pick there favorite fruit if they don’t eat veggies challenge them to find another way to get their vitamins. Make it into a fun game. Try and appreciate them when they complete a meal.

Be patient with new foods. You can use the ‘try each thing once’ rule, but don’t worry if it doesn’t work or try the same food after couple of weeks. I find that the more pressure you put on them, the less likely they are to find it and appreciate it for themselves when they are ready.

You can try to hide veggies in their food, in the form of soups and stuffed parathas or breads and make it more attractive.

Do not offer deserts as rewards !

What about poor handling of food, does it cause wastage ?

Food waste is also a major concern. Wasted food is a huge challenge to our natural resources and our environment.

Here are few tips from on how to avoid food wasting

• Be aware of how much food you throw away.

• Plan your grocery and use shopping lists. Check the fridge and pantry to avoid buying what you already have.

• Avoid bulk purchases, do not go buy promotions especially produce and dairy that have a limited shelf life. Check for expiry.

• Make wise choices when eating out. If you’re unable to complete the meal you ordered bring your leftovers home and refrigerate or freeze them within two hours.

• Refrigerate peeled or cut veggies to keep the freshness and to avoid food spoilage.

• To keep foods safe when entertaining, remember the 2-Hour Rule: don’t leave perishable foods out at room temperature for more than two hours, unless you’re keeping hot foods hot and cold foods cold. If you’re eating outdoors and the temperature is above 90° F, perishable foods shouldn’t be left out for more than one hour.

Dietitian

Ms. Janani 

Dietitian 

Aster Hospital, Al Qusais 

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