Get­ting off to a great start

SOME SIM­PLE GUIDE­LINES ON NUTRI­TION, GOOD HABITS AND HY­GIENE CAN EASE THE TRAN­SI­TION BACK TO SCHOOL

The Gulf Today - Panorama - - FRONT PAGE - By Man­jula Ra­makr­ish­nan

brand new school year is just round the bend with par­ents and wards get­ting ready for busy times ahead. Dr Sarah Rizk and Dr Rouba Ab­den­nour, pae­di­a­tri­cians at Shamma Clinic, Dubai, speak about a re­newed ap­proach to safety and health when em­bark­ing on a new aca­demic year. “When back-to-school guide­lines fo­cus on nutri­tion, good habits and hy­giene, it is easy for par­ents to keep their chil­dren healthy through­out the school year.

This will in turn lead to a pro­duc­tive en­vi­ron­ment while main­tain­ing a bal­anced life­style, be­sides promis­ing a seam­less shift from sum­mer break to school rou­tines,’’ ob­serve the pae­di­a­tri­cians speak­ing to Panorama.

Vac­ci­na­tion

It is ad­vised that the whole fam­ily should get vac­ci­nated as early as pos­si­ble prior to the start of a school year. Con­tract­ing the flu can mean a long cy­cle of ill­ness for the whole fam­ily, with house­hold mem­bers fall­ing ill in tan­dem, which can be eas­ily avoided with an an­nual flu vac­cine for ev­ery­one six months of age and older.

Bed­time cur­fews

It is es­sen­tial for chil­dren (and adults!) to get a healthy amount of sleep each night to stay fo­cused through­out the day.

Lack of sleep can lead to a de­te­ri­o­rat­ing im­mune sys­tem, mak­ing chil­dren more sus­cep­ti­ble to class­room-borne ill­nesses. Chil­dren and ado­les­cents typ­i­cally need eight to 10 hours

of good sleep. To avoid the morn­ing fuss on school days, con­sider mak­ing their bed­times a lit­tle ear­lier each night for a week or two be­fore school starts.

Good hy­giene habits

To help chil­dren avoid get­ting sick and pre­vent them from bring­ing germs home, it is im­por­tant to show them how to main­tain good hy­giene. Teach them to wash their hands af­ter us­ing the re­stroom and be­fore go­ing to lunch or eat­ing a snack. It may be smart to pro­vide chil­dren with on-the-go hand sani­tiser to use when wash­ing their hands isn’t con­ve­nient and/or baby wipes.

Fin­ger­nails are a breed­ing ground for bac­te­ria. The germs that live un­der your child’s nails can eas­ily trans­fer to their eyes, nose, and mouth. In­vest in a good nail brush and help your child scrub the dirt out from un­der their nails be­fore bed­time. At home, wash hair reg­u­larly and teach your chil­dren never to share per­sonal ob­jects like combs, pil­lows, and hats, to avoid con­tract­ing lice from other chil­dren.

Pro­mote healthy eat­ing

It might be easy to pack lunches with pre-made snacks, but a healthy diet is of the ut­most im­por­tance, and junk foods do not fit into the equa­tion. Par­ents can make it eas­ier for them­selves by stock­ing up on healthy foods like fruits, veg­eta­bles, whole-grain bread and lean pro­tein like tur­key. Par­ents can also add more va­ri­ety to lunches by get­ting a small ice pack and an in­su­lated lunch bag. Such foods make for a healthy gut, as well as pro­vid­ing the right nutri­tion and en­ergy to keep kids fu­elled through the school-term, avoid­ing ill­ness and fa­tigue.

It is not just enough to eat five fruits and veg­eta­bles a day — it is very im­por­tant to eat five or more colours ev­ery day. Dif­fer­ent colours have dif­fer­ent health ben­e­fits so more colours mean more ad­van­tage. Buy your chil­dren a cool wa­ter bot­tle as an ini­tia­tive to get them to drink more wa­ter. Juice and sweet drinks need to be kept as “some­times food,” but drink­ing wa­ter should be en­cour­aged and re­in­forced con­stantly.

Stress man­age­ment

While back-to-school sea­son is stress­ful for chil­dren and par­ents alike, too much stress can lead to a range of health is­sues such as in­som­nia and slug­gish im­mune sys­tems. Par­ents can help man­age stress by en­cour­ag­ing their chil­dren to dis­cuss their emo­tions, an­tic­i­pa­tion and needs. Par­ents must also take care to not over­load any­one’s sched­ule, in­clud­ing their own. School­work and af­ter-school ac­tiv­i­ties are im­por­tant, but it is also es­sen­tial to take time to re­lax, play and spend time as a fam­ily, strength­en­ing fam­ily ties.

Ex­er­cises

Young peo­ple (aged 5-18) re­quire three types of phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity to stay healthy or to im­prove health. Th­ese are aer­o­bic ex­er­cises and ex­er­cises that are tar­geted at strength­en­ing bone and mus­cles. At a ba­sic level, young peo­ple re­quire 60 min­utes of phys­i­cal ex­er­cise a day, rang­ing from mod­er­ate ac­tiv­ity, such as cy­cling and play­ground ac­tiv­i­ties to rig­or­ous ac­tiv­ity such as run­ning and tennis.

Ad­di­tion­ally, on three days a week, th­ese ac­tiv­i­ties should involve ex­er­cises for strong mus­cles and bones, such as swing­ing on play­ground equip­ment, hop­ping and skip­ping, and sports such as gym­nas­tics or tennis.

Pae­di­a­tri­cians at Shamma Clinic, Dubai, Dr Sarah Rizk (left) and Dr Rouba Ab­den­nour.

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