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Iron and Toddlers: How to Make Sure Your Child Is Getting Enough

Is your toddler pumping enough iron through her veins? You might want to take a look at your tot’s iron intake. That’s because iron is an essential mineral that’s needed to make red blood cells — and red blood cells are essential because they deliver oxygen throughout the entire body. If your tot is low on iron, there’s a chance she’ll also be low on red blood cells — and that can lead to growth deficiencies, learning problems, and behavior issues. To guard against iron deficiency (which is on the rise among one- to three-year-olds, by the way), check out these ways to make sure your child gets the iron she needs.

Serve iron-rich foods. Toddlers ages one to three need 7 mg of iron per day. Depending on the food, your toddler could get her daily dose of iron in one serving (for instance, one cup of Corn Chex has 8 mg) or a few servings (for example, three ounces of lean beef has 2 to 3 mg of iron, and one slice of whole-wheat bread has 1 mg). The most easily absorbed iron — called heme iron — is found in meat. The other form of iron — called non-heme iron — comes from plant sources, but because of its chemical structure, it’s not as easy for the intestines to absorb. Still, both sources of iron are worth eating. In fact, heme iron helps improve the absorption of non-heme iron, so eating food sources of both forms of iron at the same time (like turkey on whole-wheat bread) is ideal. Try to fit some of these iron-rich foods into your child’s diet each day:

Heme iron-rich foods: 
Lean beef 
Lean pork 
Poultry (dark meat, in particular) 
Scallops 
Shrimp 
Salmon 
Tuna 
Eggs

Non-heme iron-rich foods: 
Prunes and prune juice 
Raisins 
Figs 
Peanut butter 
Beans (black, kidney, lime, pinto) 
Tofu 
Hummus 
Leafy green vegetables such as turnip greens, kale, and broccoli 
Oatmeal or cream of wheat 
Enriched breads, pastas, and cereals

Mix and match with other nutrients. Vitamin C helps iron absorption, so increase the amount of iron that your toddler’s body gets from plant sources by pairing iron-rich foods with foods chock-full of vitamin C. Good match-ups include:

  • Iron-fortified cereal and orange juice
  • Iron-fortified oatmeal with strawberries or kiwi
  • Hummus with sliced tomatoes and red peppers
  • Iron-enriched pasta with broccoli

Consider a supplement. If your toddler doesn’t eat much meat or other iron-rich foods, you may need to offer an iron supplement. But talk with your paediatrician first so you don’t accidentally end up overcompensating. Another way to get some iron onto your child’s plate: Cook food in cast-iron pots and pans — some of the iron in the cookware will end up in your food.

Don’t overdo it on milk. As important as milk is to a growing toddler, there can be too much of a good thing. In fact, it’s common for toddlers to fill up on milk (which has no iron) and then not have an appetite for any other nutrient-rich foods. Why do kids get stuck on milk? Toddlers are used to drinking lots of milk from their recent baby days, and some kids are simply slow to transition away from their liquid diets. Plus, parents of milk lovers often think that if their kid doesn’t eat lunch or dinner, it’s not so bad because at least their tot’s getting nutrients from milk. The problem is that if your toddler overdoes it on milk (or eats too much of any one food), she may end up missing out on iron. So have your toddler stick to two to three cups of milk each day so that she has room in her tummy for a variety of foods.

Check with your paediatrician. Most paediatricians check children’s iron levels between six and 18 months of age, but if your doc hasn’t yet, ask for a blood test (all it takes is a simple finger or toe prick). This is especially important if your child is overweight. Research shows that overweight children are more likely to be iron deficient (they may be eating a lot, but the foods they eat are often not high in key nutrients). Also, make sure your child’s iron levels are checked if she has any of the following symptoms of iron-deficiency anemia: pale skin, fatigue, frequent headaches, dizziness, irritability, or cold hands and feet. If your child’s iron levels do turn out to be low, talk with your paediatrician about whether you should revamp your toddler’s diet or consider an iron supplement

 

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Hiding Food in Your Picky Eater’s Favourites

This sneaky strategy has many pros and cons you should weigh before you give it a try.

Pros of Hiding Food in Your Picky Eater’s Favorites

1. Less Stress at Mealtime for Both of You
Feeding a picky eater feels like a form of punishment. Your child has probably clamped his mouth shut, screamed, cried, thrown the food to the floor, spit it out and turned his head in an angle that resembles Linda Blair inThe Exorcistjust to get away from the menacing fork with the offensive food on it.

Mealtime shouldn’t be stressful for either of you. Hiding food in your child’s favourites could be a welcome change from this daily drama.

Add vegetables he refuses to eat to a tomato sauce. Make avegetable beef soup recipethat’s too yummy for kids to resist. Chop veggies finely and see if he’ll nibble on them. Bake the vegetables in with your casseroles and lasagnes. If you get really desperate, you can even puree vegetables and add them in to some of the sugary treats you bake him like cookies and cupcakes.

2. Hello New Foods
Although you’re not outright demanding your child try broccoli, you are giving him a somewhat-disguised introduction to it. Don’t overpower his palate by adding too much of the foods he finds disgusting to his favourites or you’ll soon have a new problem on your hands (seeBusted!below).

But you can use this approach to help him develop a taste for foods he wouldn’t normally eat if it was on a plate by itself. When it is time to introduce those foods, do it slowly without making him stare down a heaping portion and make the dish as kid-friendly as possible. For example,broccoli with cheese sauceis a lot less intimidating to him than strange-looking green trees in a pile all by themselves.

3. Peace of Mind
In at least one point of your life, you’ve been told to “Eat your vegetables!” It’s no secret that vegetables are full of nutrients we all need, especially children who are growing every single day.

If you feel like your picky eater isn’t going to budge, sneaking veggies into his other favourites may give you peace of mind. You’ll know he’s getting the proper nutrients because you’ve slid them right into his meal without him realizing it.

Cons of Hiding Food in Your Picky Eater’s Favorites

1. Busted!
One major pitfall of hiding food in your picky eater’s favourites is that you could get busted. If your child finds a disgusting carrot in his beloved mashed potatoes, you could be in for a major meltdown and outright refusal of eating anything more (at least for now).

He’ll trust you again eventually but don’t be surprised at his next mealtime if he runs his fork through everything to make sure you’ve served him food that’s on the up and up. In other words, if the hiding food strategy backfires, you’ll be on probation in his eyes at every meal.

2. His Palate Says No
Another con of hiding food in your child’s tried and true favourites is that, even if he doesn’t see the foods he hates, he may still be able to taste them. Over time, his love of that particular food will wane because he’s noticed something’s not quite right.

While you may be able to trick him a few times, he could eventually turn on you and decide that his once-favourite food is now on his personal “do not eat” list. Instead of celebrating your victory that you got him to eat veggies without him knowing it, you’ll both end up sulking at the defeat … he’s lost the love for one of his favourite foods and now you’ve got one more food that he won’t touch.

3. Short-Term Success
You may want to do a little dance when you see your child unknowingly gobbling down those peas he once proclaimed you would never, ever get him to eat. But hiding food really isn’t a long-term solution to conquering the picky eater.

You want him to eat and you want him to be healthy but hiding the foods he doesn’t like won’t help him form long-term healthy eating habits. What you can do is use multiple strategies to help your child grow into a healthy eater.

For example, start hiding food if you decide this method is right for you. Don’t use it too long before you graduate to theone-bite rule. Build upon each strategy to find a solution that works for your family and transforms your child from a picky eater into a healthy eater.

However, if your picky eater is downright refusing to eat, talk with your child’s paediatrician. He may recommend anumber of alternativesthat will pick up the slack of the nutrients lost from your child’s picky eating habits. He may also have his own set of strategies he can draw on from his years as a doctor and even as a parent who undoubtedly dealt with his own picky eater!

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Vegetables for Toddlers

Not only might these options slide down the hatch, they’ll provide an alphabet of vitamins and tons of fibre too.

 
Get a daily dose. Try to give your child at least three (and preferably five) servings of vegetables and two servings of fruit each day. Keep in mind that toddler servings are pretty small (about one tablespoon for each year of age for most cooked veggies), so a little goes a long way! 
 
It takes a garden. To encourage eating a wide variety of veggies, make them available at every meal.  Cooked asparagus, broccoli, and peas are all good “green” options to add to the spread. For additional variety (and colour), serve mashed sweet potatoes, carrots, red bell peppers, and unsweetened pumpkin puree.

Be a good role model.Your own (positive) attitude about vegetables will go a long way toward getting your toddler to eat them up. If he sees you (or an older sib) snacking on carrots, chances are he’ll want some too.
 
Factor in fruit for toddlers.Great news for mothers of veggie-hating tots: Fruits offer many of the same nutritional benefits, but often don’t evoke the same yuck factor. Fruits also come in a rainbow of colours: Think of green kiwis (a good source of vitamin C), yellow bananas (potassium), and orange cantaloupe (fibre-rich and vitamin C–filled) and apricots (vitamin A).  And don’t forget about smoothies — just throw some fruit in the blender with milk or yogurt and serve (preferably with a silly straw!)

Article derived from: What to expect, Pregnancy and Parenting, every step of the way.

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Why Do Children Lose Their Appetite?

There are kids out there who do not want to eat no matter what time of the day it is and there are those who only wish to eat their favorite foods. The problem is that most of these foods are not healthy and a lot of children lose their desire to eat specifically when it comes to nutritious foods. When a child does lose his appetite, this can cause weight loss and lack of energy. This can prove to be quite alarming for the parents, especially if the child seems small for their age. It could lead to eating disorders or it may be an indication that the child has some kind of sickness.

A lot of kids are picky eaters. If they do not see something appealing on the table in front of them, they would rather go without than eat it especially if it is green and leafy. On the other hand, if you offer them a neat package of prepared junk foods, their emotions will change immediately because they are excited to eat this stuff. Another tactic that they will use is to tell you that they are hungry before dinner in hopes that you will give them a snack that will probably be junk food. This is a great way to ruin their appetite especially if it is close to dinner time. Knowing this, you can adjust your meal times if needed and if they want a snack, provide them with a nutritious one that will increase their appetite. Do not make the mistake of shoving them full of junk food before mealtime.

One of the most common reasons why kids lose their appetite is influenza or flu. That is because when they have this, they do not feel well and have less energy and they lose their ability to taste food. A child will not eat if they cannot taste the food or if their stomach does not feel well. If your child has a sudden loss of appetite, then you should check their temperature, as they could be coming down with the flu. Try to give them soups and natural fruit juices if they are sick and do not force them to eat full solid meals. It is also okay to let then eat their favorite snack once or twice as this will help them to get their mind off from sick.

Too much pressure or stress is another reason for appetite loss in children. This can take away their desire to eat. There are signs that you can look for such as aloofness, sadness or irritability in your child. If he is having problems in school such as bullying or is fighting with his siblings or best friend, this could be the reason for his appetite loss. Make sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your child to eat and do not force feed them as this can lead to severe eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia. The best thing that you can do is to start feeding your child healthy foods at an early age and that way, they will get used to eating and liking them and they will not crave junk foods as they get older.

Distractions are also a major factor that can keep children from mealtimes. Two of the most distracting ones are that of television and computer games. If they are capable of distracting adults from their work or doing other important things, think of the impact that they have on children during mealtimes. Our kids are followers and if they see a bad example being set in front of them, then chances are, they are going to take the lead. This is why it is very important to encourage your whole family to sit down together and eat as a family unit. It is okay to let them get away with eating in front of the television once in a while, but do not make a steady habit of it as it can take away your child’s needed nutrition.

These are just a few of the reasons for appetite loss in children. Make sure to keep a close eye on your children so they will eat the right foods and develop healthy eating habits.

 

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List of Natural Appetite-Suppressing Food

Apples

Apples provide satiety and can help suppress your appetite. According to a study published in 2006 in the journal “Appetite,” eating an apple was found to reduce hunger in women. The hunger-suppressing effect of apples may be due to their high amount of soluble fiber and pectin, which help you to feel full.

Hot And Sweet Pepper

Both hot peppers and sweet peppers may help decrease your appetite. Capsaicin — found in hot peppers — and capsiate — found in sweet peppers — have both been shown to suppress hunger sensations, according to a study published in 2012 in the journal “Chemical Senses.” The researchers noted that the appetite-suppressing effect was small, but that including hot and sweet peppers in the diet may help with weight management.

Ginger

Evidence suggests that ginger can decrease your appetite and increase satiety. According to a study published in 2012 in the journal “Metabolism,” men who consumed ginger reported decreased hunger and greater feelings of fullness compared to those not given ginger. Based on these results, ginger may play a positive role in weight management, according to the study’s authors.

Dark Chocolate

If you love chocolate, now you may have one more reason to eat it. In a study published in 2010 in the journal “Regulatory Peptides,” the relationship between appetite and gastrointestinal hormones after smelling and eating dark chocolate was evaluated. Researchers had women either smell or eat 30 grams of dark chocolate that contained 85 percent cocoa. Both smelling and eating the chocolate was shown to induce appetite suppression in the subjects.