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Child's Play

If there's one thing that parents worry about, it's children's nutrition. So what do children need? Rude Health finds out...

A photo of healthy-looking children

Fussy eaters

“A lot of parents come to see me because their child is a fussy eater or only eats pasta,” says Frankie Lewis of Nature’s Gold in Greystones, Co Wicklow. “I speak to them about rotating their foods, varying the grains that they use. Use buckwheat pasta, corn pasta or quinoa pasta. Make homemade pesto and sauces with veggies and then blend the sauce up and serve.”

Sleep issues

“Sometimes sleep problems can be caused by a child being low in magnesium,” says Frankie Lewis. Magnesium is found in green vegetables, nuts and legumes, seafood and wholegrain cereals.

“Why not grow your own sprouts on the kitchen windowsill? The more living foods we eat, the better we feel. To keep it simple, I tell parents to serve lots of food from the ground and foods that you would pick from a tree. If you serve animal proteins for lunch, try to have a vegetarian option in the evening.”

Supplements

There are lots of supplements and multivitamins for children in liquid form or as chewable tablets. Multivitamin supplements are ideal if the child is a fussy eater as it will provide a little of everything the child needs while you take the time to be relaxed around food and slowly introduce them to new tastes. Emily Whitehead, a nutritional therapist who works as consultant to vitamin brand BetterYou says, “Multivitamins are suitable to be taken all year round as they should cover the spectrum needed. If a child is particularly deficient in a vitamin or mineral a standalone supplement should be considered, but always seek the advice of a health practitioner before you do this.”

Snack foods

We know a lot about how most shop-bought snack foods are bad for our children, but what foods are OK for them to snack on?

“An ideal snack plate when your child comes home from school would be raw carrot sticks, five or six sugar snap peas, two or three almonds, a small handful of sunflower seeds, slices of cucumber with the skin on, a small bowl of home-made popcorn,” says Frankie Lewis. “They will love to graze on these foods.”

The (lack of) sunshine vitamin

“Typical requests we get from parents are for immune-boosting supplements for their children,” says Frankie Lewis. “I always ask if they are giving their baby or child a vitamin D supplement.

“Growing pains in children are very often due to a lack of vitamin D and magnesium. Allow your child 15-20 minutes in the Irish sun, in the morning before it gets too hot and before you put on sunscreen so that their bodies can store some vitamin D in the liver for the darker months. Many people decide to keep their little ones on vitamin D drops all year round.”

“The primary source of vitamin D is sunlight, with food sources including oily fish and eggs,” according to Emily Whitehead. “Some multivitamin formulations contain vitamin D, but in low amounts, so an additional vitamin D supplement is often required, particularly between October and March. Oral sprays are also perfect for parents who want a stress-free way of supplementing vitamin D.”

Click here to read earlier Rude Health Magazine natural health articles.
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