healthy living

The ABCs of health for your child – Part 1

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As parents, our responsibility to nurture our children requires a holistic approach – taking into consideration the whole child. Healthy living for your child requires that you place equal importance on your child’s physical, developmental, emotional and social wellbeing.

Africans, like Asians, are known for placing a lot of emphasis on the academic development of their children. This parental focus on academics is not necessarily a bad thing but can become an obstacle to the overall wellbeing of a child, if other areas of development are ignored.

The ABCs

  • Healthy Nutrition
  • Fitness
  • Dental Health
  • Emotional Health

In addition to well child doctor visits to make sure his overall development is on track, your child should receive all the recommended vaccinations. The ABC’s of child health are the health basics you need to pay careful attention to at home on a daily basis.

Helping Kids Eat Healthy


Good nutrition is essential to good health for all kids whether they’re babies or teenagers.

Couple of african children crying

Infants

  • Breast milk only until 6 months of age + vitamins
  • Begin Iron-fortified cereals, pureed fruits and vegetables at 6 months
  • Add lean meats and eggs when the above are well tolerated (8 months)
  • Begin table foods at 9 months (avoid small hard foods that can choke the baby)
  • Continue breast milk until 12 months if possible

Toddlers (1 – 3 years)

  • Growth and appetite come in spurts at this age so they’re often picky eaters
  • 4 -5 servings of fruit and vegetables daily for fiber and valuable nutrients
  • Fiber is essential for digestive health and is good for the heart
  • 2 – 3 servings of whole milk daily for calcium
  • Avoid the juice trap – it’s mostly sugar. Give Water! Water! Water!
  • Avoid the junk food trap because you’re desperate for him to eat anything!

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Elementary school age (4 – 10 years)

  • Eat most nutritious foods from all 5 food groups
  • 4 -5 servings of fruit and vegetables daily for fiber and valuable nutrients
  • 2 – 3 servings of low fat milk daily for calcium
  • Avoid the sugar trap – juice, soft drinks, candy, cookies, cakes, starchy foods
  • Watch out for fats and salty foods
  • Water! Water! Water!

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Preteens and Teens (11 – 18 years)

  • More calcium needed at this age for bone mass
  • Menstruating girls need more iron, boys need more protein for muscle mass
  • 4 -5 servings of fruit and vegetables daily for fiber and valuable nutrients
  • 2 – 3 servings of low fat milk daily for calcium
  • Avoid the sugar trap – juice, soft drinks, candy, cookies, cakes, starchy foods
  • Watch out for fats and salty foods
  • Water! Water! Water!

In the next blog post we’ll review fitness, emotional and dental health for your child.

Putting Meals Together By Guest blogger – Maje Ayida

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Now that we know what kinds of food are good for us and those to avoid like the plague, we’ll put it all together to build great meals.

 

Breakfast

Ever heard the phase “Breakfast like a King, Lunch like a Prince, Dine like a Pauper”? Well this is a great rule to follow. Load yourself with foods and energy first thing when you need it most. Good breakfast choices are: omelettes, smoked salmon, porridge, moi-moi, salads, and leftovers.

 

Lunch

Both lunch and dinner meals can be interchanged. Try to eat more during lunch than in the evening. No use having all that energy at night just before bed. Meals can be made up of meats, vegetables, beans, lentils, and rice. Snack on nuts if you need a little something between meals.

 

Dinner

Try to eat light in the evening. Fish is always a good option with a tasty salad. Make up a large meal and then save it for the next days lunch. Try not to eat too late and relax in the evening with low lighting and soothing music. Now is not the time to get all jacked up on caffeine and high adrenaline pumping dramas just before bed.

 

Drinks

We all know the importance of drinking clean water. Aim for 2 litres per day. Drink herbal teas and limit green tea to mornings only.

Assortment of fresh Organic Vegetables /  on the Wooden Desk

One of the biggest mistakes in the nutrition industry is the belief that there is a one-size fit all approach to nutrition. It is important to learn what foods are right for you. This process is a time for self-discovery. It’s a time to try foods and see how your body reacts to them. Do you feel tired, full of energy, satisfied for longer, have abdominal bloating etc.

 

Keep your meals simple and discover what foods are right for you via a process of elimination. Perhaps you may eat like a vegetarian for a few days or eat more meat for a few days. Listen to your body. Some people find they need more fat and others find they need more protein. Again this is about finding out what’s best for you.

 

Start by dividing your meals into equal quantities of Fat (eg. olive oil, avocado, coconut milk, nuts), Protein (meats, fish) and Carbohydrate (vegetables, lentils, beans). Now depending on where your ancestors originated from you may be better with more fat and protein (ancestors living in colder climates) or more carbohydrates (ancestors living close to the equator).

 

So work with your proportions of fat, protein and carbohydrate and see what works best for you. You may also notice a desire for more fats in the winter or protein following activity and exercise. Try not to destroy all your food before you have had chance to eat it. Avoid microwaves, they destroy the molecular structure of the foods and cause problems in the gut. Try to eat some food raw and steam as much vegetable as you can. Eat local in-season veg with less air miles. Without a plan you are doomed. Write out your meals for the week. Clear out your cupboards so you are not forced to cheat. Make up big batches of food for lunches. Always plan ahead.

 

Finally

Eating and drinking the way we have evolved to eat and drink is vital for a healthy body and mind. Some of the above Bad Foods may seem a little harsh and even surprising. But the truth is your body will tell you what is good and bad. A healthy body is not tired, carrying excess fat or lacking vitality.

 

Try the above way of eating for only 21 Days and you will never look back. Go on a journey of self-discovery and see just what foods agree and disagree with you. Listen to your body and take of it.

 

 

Maje Ayida is a Wellness Coach and CEO of the award winning Health and Fitness Brand, Eden Lifestyle. The visionary behind the popular HIIT Squad, he is also a fitness columnist for a national newspaper, and has made numerous television and radio appearances, educating and motivation Nigerians on healthy living.