Food Safety and Other Issues
hildren who sample a wider array of food tend to develop a more adventurous palate when they grow up and are more likely to enjoy different cuisines. This greater variety also means they take in more nutrients, says Susie Rucker, a nutritional therapist from Body With Soul, a holistic health-care centre.
If you make exploring these foods a family activity, it becomes a great way to bond with your children – kids like it when they eat the same things as Mum and Dad. You can also teach them about the origin or cultural significance of a dish, how it’s prepared or served, and so on. Susie says that while it’s good to start your kids early on a variety of foods, remember that they also have delicate tummies – you might want to save exotic, spicy or uncooked items for when they’re a little older.
Food quality and safety are also big issues, says Dr Benita Perch, a naturopathic physician from the Integrated Medicine Institute in Hong Kong. Tuna, for example, is high in mercury, while farm-raised salmon is high in toxic chemicals called polychlorinated biphenyls – so if your kids like these fish, limit their consumption to no more than a couple of times a week.
Also make sure the food is properly prepared. If it’s raw (for example, sashimi or carpaccio), the ingredients must be very fresh (an “off ” smell or a dull colour are signs that it isn’t fresh).
If you’re worried about your child suffering from nutritional deficiencies as a result of eating these foods, don’t be, says Dr Perch. “As long as their diets are generally healthy and balanced, and include plenty