Healthy fasting for Kids

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Keeping kids healthy and hydrated has never been an easy task. With Ramadan coinciding during summer months, maintaining proper hydration and a healthy diet for your kid could be a challenge. Joel Steelman, M.D., an endocrinologist at Cook Children’s Hospital, the leading pediatric health care system in Fort Worth, Texas, provides tips on healthier fasting habits during summer months.

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate…
Make sure your kids stay hydrated and drink plenty of water during non-fasting hours. Organic juices and yogurt based drinks can be used if your child won’t eat fruit. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than 12 oz (350 ml) of juice per day.
According to Joel Steelman, M.D., “juices deliver a lot of sugar without much else. Whole fruits are better, have fibre and more available nutrients.” Water and/or milk and yogurt based drinks such as buttermilk and Laban are better sources for hydration and much tastier options if you are having trouble with your kids drinking water.
If your child is observing fasts during Ramadan, add fruit salads during Suhoor and Iftar meals to keep up their energy levels. Watermelon, or other high water content fruits and vegetables, is also a great way to rehydrate. A fun and healthy way to encourage consumption of fruit is to slice them in small cubes and shapes and serve them as popsicles.

Plan a protein powered start

Ensure that your kids get the right start by planning a protein powered Suhoor. It is essential that kids consume a lot of proteins, such as peanut butter, cheese, yogurt or milk. Dr. Steelman suggests adding nuts, especially almonds, to Suhoor because they have protein and carbs in them. Other protein based items that can be included are beans, lentils, eggs and other dairy products. If lactose intolerant, there are choices such as almond or soy milks.

Serving dried nuts with French toast and pancakes is a great way to encourage their consumption.   Scrambled eggs and omelettes are other alternatives that are appealing to kids and contain protein, iron and other important nutrients.

Increase intake of fibre

Encourage your child to break their fast with high-fiber items, such as dates and lentil soups. Breaking fast with items rich in fibre, minerals and vitamins helps in retaining hydrating ingredients and fluids and also prevents constipation. Fruit salads and soups are another great way to ensure that your kids get the right amount of nutrients. Dates are also excellent natural power packs and are rich in fibre. Encourage the tradition of breaking fasts with a date.

Avoid serving carbonated and sugary drinks

Dr. Steelman states that high sugar intake, which contributes to childhood obesity, is particularly easy to consume when children drink it in the form of sodas or other sugar-sweetened beverages. Be cautious of adding sugar to home-made/traditional fruit drinks. “The fructose component in sucrose (table sugar) or in high fructose corn syrup is strongly suspected in impacting how our liver works and increases the risk for diabetes. Also, high sugar intake can create a continued craving for more sugar,” continues Dr. Steelman.

Serving carbonated drinks at fast breaks not only deprives children of a healthy appetite, but can also lead to dehydration and sugar cravings during the fast. Dr. Steelman added, “Removing sugar drinks from kid’s diets and sticking to water and milk is a great step toward developing a healthy lifestyle.”

Avoid spicy/fried delicacies

Spicy and fried delicacies might be tempting to your kids, but consuming them while fasting leads to indigestion and acidity. Avoid deep fried items and consuming too much oil, as it could lead to nausea attacks and vomiting. Dr. Steelman suggests sticking to grilled meats instead, especially during Iftar. Using cooking methods such as air frying and steaming can be used as an alternative to deep frying.

Avoid overeatingA common mistake made by parents is to encourage their kids to overeat during Suhoor or Iftar. This is an extremely unhealthy habit which causes indigestion and bloating. Overeating can also lead to extreme cases of vomiting and nausea. To avoid indigestion, Dr. Steelman recommends to split your child’s Iftar into two or three smaller nutrient rich meals. Space the meals between one and a half hours to allow your child to digest. If you are serving a heavy main dish, follow it with fruit or a light salad.

Limit physical activities while fasting

Limit your kids from getting extremely exhausted and decrease their physical activities while fasting. Plan some indoor activities and games to keep them busy and distracted from hunger pangs. While outdoors, plan activities during the evening and around greener areas to avoid direct heat contact. Also, encourage your child to nap during the afternoon to relax a bit.

Include healthier options

Consuming items high in salts also causes dehydration. Try avoiding pickles, items with high sodium levels and highly processed items. Include whole grain and oatmeal based meals to keep your kids energized throughout the day. Oats, cereals and flavoured yogurt are some excellent options to be served during Suhoor. During Iftar, try including steamed vegetables and a selection of grilled meats.

To learn more about Cook Children’s International Program in English and Arabic visit: http://www.cookchildrensinternational.org

About Cook Children’s:

Cook Children’s Health Care System is a not-for-profit, nationally recognized pediatric health care organization comprised of eight entities – a Medical Center, Physician Network, Home Health company, Northeast Hospital, Pediatric Surgery Center, Health Plan, Health Services Inc. and Health Foundation. Based in Fort Worth, Texas, the integrated system has more than 60 primary and specialty care offices throughout the state of Texas.Cook Children’s Health Care System embraces an inspiring Promise – to improve the health of every child, through the prevention and treatment of illness, disease and injury. Based in Fort Worth, Texas, we’re proud of our long and rich tradition of serving our community. For more information, visit cookchildrensinternational.org and follow us on Twitter @CCIntl_program.

 

 

 

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