Tuesday, October 2, 2001, Chandigarh, India





B O D Y  &  M I N D

What should I feed my baby?
Nandini

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.

Food for sensitive stomach
Aparna Kapur and Sonia Gandhi
P
EOPLE 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 problem.

  • Right Food Combinations








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What should I feed my baby?
Nandini

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.

A child over a year old can eat almost everything an adult does
A child over a year old can eat almost everything an adult does

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

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Food for sensitive stomach
Aparna Kapur and Sonia Gandhi

PEOPLE 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 problem.

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:

  • As a rule, meals should be as simple as possible. For people with a sensitive stomach, it is important to eat small portions of food at regular intervals, rather than indulge in large meals consisting of many food groups at one time.

  • Eat fruits alone and not with meals. Make oranges, bananas, and potatoes a mini-meal in themselves.

  • Do not combine proteins and carbohydrates at the same time. The right combination is to have cooked animal proteins and vegetables (other than potatoes) or cooked starches with vegetables.

  • Do not combine starch and proteins as together, they inhibit metabolism.

  • Pineapple and papaya can be combined with lean animal proteins (chicken, fish, cheese) because they contain a powerful protein digesting enzyme.

  • Fruits and vegetables are not compatible in the same meal.

  • Drinking right after meals or up to two hours later dilutes the digestive juices and can impair digestion, causing stomach pains and heartburns. If at all you have to drink between meals, opt for soup or milk, as they are the least troublesome beverages.

  • Avoid hot condiments such as chilli, paprika and mustard which increase secretions in the stomach and irritate the stomach lining, leading to ulcers.

  • Eat high biological value proteins like milk and milk products, eggs, fish, chicken, soyabean etc.

  • Give a gap of about three hours between two meals.

Right Food Combinations

Protein/Green leafy vegetables
Grilled chicken, fish, egg along with salad.

Proteins/ fats
Chicken along with cream sauce or mayonnaise.

Proteins /fruits
Chicken along with pineapple or pineapple curd.

Fats/fruits
Cream or ice-cream along with fresh fruits.

Starches/fats
Bread-butter or baked potatoes with butter or bananas with cream

Starches/vegetables
Chapati along with green leafy vegetables.

The writers are dieticians at Fortis Heart Insitute, Mohali


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