October 2, 2001, Chandigarh, India
What should I feed my baby?
Food for sensitive stomach Right Food
Right Food Combinations
What should I feed my baby?
RARELY does one find a mother who is satisfied with the state of her baby's health. Not only is the new mother worried whether her baby is eating enough, well-meaning friends and relatives too can overwhelm her with bits of nutritional advice.
However, it is quite simple to feed a growing baby if one follows some basic principles with a few modifications to suit individual tastes. It is universally known that for the first few months of a baby's life breast milk is the most wholesome. beneficial and safe food. In fact, today doctors advise mothers to continue breast feeding their babies for two years — exclusively for the first three or four months and then with supplements until they can be weaned off if completely.
Breast milk is beneficial for several reasons: it is very rich in antibodies which protect babies from infections and it also contains all the essential nutritional requirements for infants in forms that are easily digested by the baby's still-immature stomach. It contains al fats, proteins and carbohydrates necessary for the child's growth and in the right proportions.
According to Rekha Sharma Chief Dietician at Delhi's All-India institute of Medical Science (AIIMS), mothers all over the world are realising that freshly prepared foods are preferable to anything that comes out of a tin. Some common weaning foods recommended by the Food and Nutrition Board of the Government of India are cooked and mashed vegetables and fruit. These can be started from the age of about five months and introduced gradually with either wheat or rice-based preparations.
Pureed vegetables are simple to make and involve boiling the vegetables, putting them through a mixer and straining them to remove fibers, seeds and the hard portions of the vegetable which may be indigestible or on which the baby might gag.
In fact, pediatricians recommend a rice-based mash with a new boiled vegetable added to it every week to provide both nutrition and variety in taste. Seasonal fruit is best served in the form of juices of stews.
During the first few months (until about 10 months), a baby needs feeding approximately every two to three hours. As the baby grows, the gap between meals can be increased to four hours. Since a chile's first few years are a period of prolific all-round growth, a combination of wheat/rice with dals (lentils) is known to be as rich a source of proteins as meat. Together with soyabean products such as nuggets, a vegetarian baby gets as much nutrition as a non-vegetarian one.
But while all these are essential for a baby, Sharma also points out that it is never too early to initiate healthy eating habits in infants. Says she, "Sugar is not a natural product and its addition to milk is never necessary. So mothers should try and get their babies used to milk without any sweetening right from the start. Moreover, since breast milk is rather dilute, babies are not naturally used to a sweet taste. It is developed later by mothers who give sugar to their babies."
Sharma also feels that sweets in concentrated forms as in biscuits, jams and ice creams should be discouraged because snacking on these items kills the appetite, especially close to meal times. Not only that, they are digested quickly leaving the child perpetually hungry.
All three classes of food — proteins (from milk and diary products, eggs, meat, whole grains and legumes like beans), fats (primarily as ghee, oil, butter) and carbohydrates (in the form of cereals and grain products, vegetables and fruits ) are essential for a child's normal development. But of these, proteins are the most important from the point of view of the rapid growth taking place in a child.
These is a simple way of working out what to feed a child and in what quantities. Imagine a food pyramid in which the base of the pyramid is formed by vegetables, fruits, cereals and whole grains. These can be eaten in the largest quantities. Above the base are milk, cheese, lean meats, chicken, legumes and grams which should be consumed in moderation. The apex of the pyramid is formed by sugars, salt, oil and cream, which should be eaten in the least quantities.
Once a child is over a year old, he or she can eat almost everything an adult does. According to pediatricians, while it is more convenient to feed a child separately, the child should eat at least one meal with the family so that he or she can sample tidbits from the adults' plates and gradually develop a taste for a variety of everyday food.
It is also better to encourage snacks rich in protein and complex carbohydrates such as whole wheat biscuits, cereals, fruit, nuts and gur (jaggery). In short, almost everything that applies to the adult diet does to children too.
And the thing to
remember when bringing up a baby is that no diet is a magic formula.
Many mothers despair for their children's health, complaining that they
are finicky and just won't eat. Just remember that beyond a certain
point nature takes over from nurture — what's in the genes is likely
to show up eventually. WFS
Food for sensitive stomach
with a sensitive stomach often complain of acidity, heartburns,
dyspepsia, headaches, allergies, flatulence and nervousness. If not
well-versed with food and food habits, it could become a serious
Since starches require an alkaline medium for digestion and proteins an acidic one, it is obvious that eating both foods together stresses the digestive system. While proteins are being digested in the stomach, starches in the stomach cause the fermentation of carbohydrates, leading to flatulence, indigestion and heartburns.
Although young people with a strong digestive system and plenty of stomach acids are not affected by the protein-starch combination, older ones with weak digestion are prone to indigestion, particularly if the food is not chewed properly.
Therefore, people with an extremely sensitive stomach may find the practice of combining high sugar foods with proteins distressing.
This sets the basic principle of avoiding the wrong combinations of food.
Starch, fat, green leafy vegetables and sugar can be combined together in one meal and proteins, fats and green leafy vegetables can be served for the next meal.
The correct combination of foods not only aids digestion but also helps lose 2 kg to 6 kg in a month.
Tips for a sensitive stomach:
The writers are dieticians at Fortis Heart Insitute, Mohali
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