Give your chil­dren healthy and nu­tri­tious meals to help them re­alise their full po­ten­tial.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Family - Star2@thes­ For more de­tails, go to wyeth­nu­tri­tion.

AS a work­ing mother, se­nior lec­turer Lisa Chan, 35, has a hec­tic sched­ule jug­gling her ca­reer and fam­ily. But no mat­ter how busy she is, feed­ing her three chil­dren nu­tri­tious meals is a top pri­or­ity.

She en­sures her three chil­dren, eight-year-old Mar­cus Wong, fiveyear-old Justin Wong and three­year-old Sherene Wong, have whole­some meals each day be­cause she be­lieves it is cru­cial to their phys­i­cal and men­tal de­vel­op­ment.

“It is im­por­tant to feed nu­tri­tious and bal­anced meals to chil­dren. I try to in­cor­po­rate as many of the nu­tri­ents as pos­si­ble – pro­tein, car­bo­hy­drate, milk and dairy food – in their diet. Eat­ing nu­tri­tious food can help chil­dren grow and pre­vent dis­or­ders like anaemia, den­tal cav­i­ties and obe­sity,” says Chan.

To give her chil­dren a good start in the morn­ing, Chan pre­pares a healthy break­fast each day. Their break­fast menu is var­ied for it’s also im­por­tant that her kids like their meals, too. Some of their favourite break­fast dishes in­clude scram­bled eggs, cheese sand­wiches, oats and pan­cakes.

For Mar­cus’ school lunch, she packs cheese sand­wiches or home­made buns, and makes sure he has fruits, too.

Her younger chil­dren are sent to a babysit­ter’s home af­ter school.

“I’m lucky to have a trusted el­derly cou­ple look af­ter my chil­dren. They cook with min­i­mal oil and use or­ganic veg­eta­bles. Their meals usu­ally have a good bal­ance of pro­tein, car­bo­hy­drates and cal­cium. I usu­ally cook din­ner every night, rather than eat out. This way, I am in con­trol of the amount of salt, sugar and oil used in the dishes,” says Chan who plans her meals and weekly grocery shop­ping.

It re­quires ef­fort and time man­age­ment to pre­pare meals for her fam­ily but Chan is a firm be­liever in feed­ing her young chil­dren well.

Nu­tri­tion plays an im­por­tant role in chil­dren’s phys­i­cal growth and men­tal de­vel­op­ment. Con­sum­ing a bal­anced and nu­tri­tious diet which sup­plies im­por­tant and es­sen­tial nu­tri­ents will go a long way to­wards sup­port­ing your child’s de­vel­op­ment dur­ing this cru­cial time.

In its 2016 re­port Over­com­ing child­hood obe­sity and mal­nu­tri­tion in Malaysia, the United Na­tions Chil­dren’s Fund (Unicef ) states that Malaysia is one of sev­eral Asean coun­tries fac­ing si­mul­ta­ne­ous crises of over- and un­der-nu­tri­tion. Some chil­dren are over­weight while oth­ers suf­fer from stunt­ing and wast­ing.

Sta­tis­tics from the Na­tional Health Mor­bid­ity Sur­vey (NHMS 2015) states that 8% of chil­dren in Malaysia (un­der five years old) suf­fered acute mal­nu­tri­tion.

On­line par­ent­ing web­site par­ re­ports that every child should have suf­fi­cient pro­tein (poul­try, tofu), car­bo­hy­drates (rice, po­tato), iron (red meat, liver), fo­late (lentils, spinach), fi­bre (multi­grain ce­real, seeds), Vi­ta­min A (car­rot, sweet po­tato, egg yolk) and Vi­ta­min C (citrus fruits, tomato) in their daily diet. Vi­ta­min A keeps skin healthy. Vi­ta­min C strength­ens blood ves­sels and helps the body heal wounds.

Most chil­dren at­tend preschool be­tween the ages of three and six years old. Their first years in preschool are ex­cit­ing, filled with many ac­tiv­i­ties, in­clud­ing phys­i­cal, social and men­tal. These fun-filled ex­er­cises help to con­trib­ute to chil­dren’s emo­tional de­vel­op­ment. It also ce­ments the foun­da­tion for a life­time of learn­ing.

While learn­ing through fun and play are in­volved at this stage, in­tense amount of brain­work goes on as chil­dren learn their ABCs and 123s. Sev­eral nu­tri­ents have been ex­ten­sively stud­ied and deemed ben­e­fi­cial in child­hood de­vel­op­men­tal growth.

Do­cosa­hex­aenoic acid (DHA) is a fatty acid found in the brain and eyes. DHA is said to have ben­e­fi­cial ef­fects on chil­dren’s brain de­vel­op­ment. How­ever, many chil­dren do not ob­tain suf­fi­cient fatty acids from their daily food. They may not con­sume suf­fi­cient amounts of seafood and liver that are ex­cel­lent sources of DHA.

Lutein is an­other vi­tal nu­tri­ent. It is a pre­dom­i­nant mac­u­lar pig­ment in the retina. Vi­sion is be­lieved to con­trib­ute to up to 80% of learn­ing. There­fore con­sum­ing suf­fi­cient lutein for eyes is help­ful. Lutein is found mainly in fruits and veg­eta­bles.

In preschool, chil­dren learn through play. From swing­ing on monkey bars to bead­ing works, these ac­tiv­i­ties help de­velop mo­tor skills to aid chil­dren’s phys­i­cal de­vel­op­ment.

Sev­eral nu­tri­ents play an im­por­tant role dur­ing chil­dren’s for­ma­tive growth years. Cal­cium helps build strong bones and teeth. Vi­ta­min D is nec­es­sary for the ab­sorp­tion of cal­cium and phos­pho­rus by the body. It is also vi­tal for a child to con­sume suf­fi­cient iron too. Par­ents try their best to give their chil­dren good meals, but they must also be mind­ful of the nu­tri­tional con­tent of the food to en­sure their chil­dren’s op­ti­mal growth. — Photo: WYETH NU­TRI­TION

Iron is a com­po­nent of the red blood cells which carry oxy­gen to the body. Zinc, an­other mi­cronu­tri­ent, is also es­sen­tial for growth.

In Malaysia, eat­ing out is com­mon as it’s con­ve­nient and af­ford­able. Chil­dren may have a meal out­side the home at playschool on a daily ba­sis. When eat­ing out, par­ents have less con­trol over their chil­dren’s nu­tri­ent in­take.

Some chil­dren may also dis­like and avoid cer­tain food groups which con­tain the re­quired es­sen­tial nu­tri­ents.

A study found that in­takes of cer­tain im­por­tant nu­tri­ents such as zinc and iron were be­low rec­om­mended lev­els in chil­dren tran­si­tion­ing to an adult-style diet.

Dur­ing this stage, it is help­ful for chil­dren to con­sume for­mula milk tai­lored to the needs of their age group. Milk should con­tain im­por­tant nu­tri­ents for men­tal and phys­i­cal de­vel­op­ment too.

At this stage, it’s vi­tal for par­ents to be mind­ful of their chil­dren’s nu­tri­ent in­take, and not just the amount of food they have.

Af­ter all, the preschool years are the most cru­cial time for learn­ing, and good health is a pre­req­ui­site to help­ing chil­dren achieve their po­ten­tial. This ar­ti­cle is brought to you by Wyeth Nu­tri­tion.

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