Great Health Guide



- Regina Tilyard

Childhood is a critical period for growing and developing, so naturally it can be concerning if our little ones aren’t growing at the rate that’s expected. Perhaps the GP or paediatric­ian has mentioned something about your child’s growth rate, or you’ve noticed their height and weight charts aren’t tracking along the path they should be. With the help of a paediatric dietitian, encouragin­g childhood growth in four easy ways with these four nourishing food suggestion­s that are most likely to please even the fussiest of eaters.

1. Dish up some dairy

Dairy foods are a fantastic source of protein, calcium and complex carbohydra­tes. Children need between 1-3 servings of dairy per day depending on their age in accordance with the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating. It’s worthwhile making the switch from low fat to full fat milk if growth is the priority.

• Add cheese to pasta and mince dishes, sandwiches and scrambled eggs.

• Serve yoghurt by offering it with fruit as a snack, blend into smoothies or milkshakes, and use as a topper for cereals and porridge.

• Don’t be afraid to utilise cream or sour cream as an addition to soups, mashed potatoes and hot dishes.

• Make the most of milk drinks such as flavoured milk or homemade smoothies with frozen fruit, ice cream and yoghurt.

2. Get creative with proteins

Meat and meat alternativ­es are another protein powerhouse, with added benefits of iron, B12 and zinc. Cook different cuts of fish, chicken, beef, pork and lamb in a variety of dishes to keep things interestin­g. Don’t be afraid to trial eggs, nuts, seeds and legumes. We’re looking for 1-2 serves per day depending again on age.

• Most kids prefer their protein easy to eat and digest, rather than chewy or grisly meats. In this case, mince dishes, rissoles and slow cooked or wet dishes are a great option.

• Incorporat­e eggs on sandwiches with avocado or mayonnaise, scramble eggs with cheese and vegetables, or cook up mini quiches to be served as meals or snacks.

• Give legumes a trial by cooking beans in bolognaise or nachos, or lentils and chickpeas in a tasty patty or fritter.

• Offer nut bars and peanut butter on crackers or as a vegetable dip.

3. Trade out junk foods for healthier high calorie foods

A poor growth rate isn’t a free pass to dish up sugary junk foods on a regular basis. While these foods provide lots of calories, they lack important nutrients and may reduce your child’s appetite for nourishing whole foods. Keep junk foods to occasional treats and look for more nutritious high calorie foods such as avocado, dried fruit and plant-based oils, like extra virgin olive oil.

4. Make snacks and drinks count

For children with a limited appetite or a

history of refusing large meals, make the most of easy-to-eat snacks and midmeals.

• Liquids are easy to digest and are less exhausting to eat, so they might be a great addition to a meal or snack that doesn’t always get finished.

• Stock the fridge and pantry with small, calorie dense snacks that are easy to eat and might not be as off-putting as a full meal. Kids love to snack on homemade bliss balls (blend nuts, dried fruit, seeds and oats in a food processer before refrigerat­ing), nuts, yoghurt, cheese cubes and roasted chickpeas.

Encouragin­g childhood growth in four easy ways by using these nourishing high protein, high energy nutritious foods while still satisfying their tastebuds. However, if you notice that something is astray with your child’s growth, then a paediatric GP, dietitian or medical profession­al should be the first point of call.

Regina Tilyard is a paediatric dietitian specialisi­ng in fussy eating and children’s feeding behaviours. She is passionate about helping families develop healthy mealtime habits. Regina is contactabl­e via her clinic website.

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