Food For Thought And Your Child
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09 August 2010
By Soumita Majumdar
With health problems among children, especially those related to food, increasing with each passing day, DNA talks to Dr Preeti Galagali, consultant paediatrician, Radha Ortho and Paedriatric centre, to find out what’s safe and what’s not for children.
What’s the safest food for children till they are seven years old?
The safest food for children of any age is freshly prepared, clean, hygienic and nutritious food. This should be a balanced diet containing appropriate quantities of cereals, pulses, fruits, vegetables, milk, curd and water with a limited intake of oil and sweets.
At what age can children start eating food prepared in restaurants, hotels, etc?
Eating out is a norm in some families, especially in double income families where parents are pressed for time. Eating in fast food joints, restaurants and packaged food is an easier and more practical option for them. However, this is an unhealthy option as outside food is known to be contaminated with disease producing micro–organisms due to unhygienic cooking practices. This can result in diarrhoea, typhoid, jaundice, food poisoning etc. Children above the age of six months should only be given a fresh homemade balanced diet. And, they should only be breast fed till they are six months old.
Are packaged foods harmful for children?
Packaged and tinned food usually contains high concentration of salt, preservatives, trans fats and other saturated fats and some contain a lot of sugar. Excessive and frequent intake of this food can result in high blood pressure, heart problems and chronic constipation amongst young children and adolescents. Such food provides empty calories which are calories without nutrients (vitamins and minerals) that in turn lead to obesity, anaemia and micronutrient deficiency.
Are Indian spices harmful for a child’s health?
Spices are known to improve the palatability of food. But when eaten in excess, they can cause indigestion and gastric and bowel irritability. Spices, consumed in moderation at any age, are a source of alfa and beta carotene, vitamins and minerals too. For example, turmeric contains iron, green chilies supply carotenes and garlic contains selenium.