Child specialist advises parents to monitor diet of children in Ramazan

Says children at risk of dehydration and low sugar level while fasting

APP May 12, 2019
Dates are being sold at a market, ahead of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan in Cairo, Egypt. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: A prominent child specialist advised parents of those children who are fasting that they should monitor their children’s diet and ensure that they receive all the essential nutrients through a well-balanced diet of fruits and vegetables at Iftar tables.

Speaking to the the media Pediatrician Dr Abdul Ghaffar Billoo urged parents to monitor their children and watch for signs of distress, noting that children are at an increased risk for dehydration and may also experience low blood sugar as a result of fasting.

He recommended slow-digesting, fibre-rich foods such as dates fruits, and vegetables during Iftar adding, it is important for parents to encourage their children to drink plenty of water and limit stimulants such as sugary and soft drinks in their Iftar menu.

Dr Billoo said , children are at high risk for dehydration so it is important for parents to monitor their activity level, particularly when Ramazan falls during the hotter months.

It is also important for parents to monitor their child's diet, ensuring they eat sufficiently but do not overeat, especially on foods that contain high amounts of fat and sugar, he added.

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Parents should start preparing and educating their children early about healthy eating habits for schools as well,  he highlighted.

He mentioned , family gatherings during Ramazan is especially important for parents of young children and adolescents.

Children's early experiences of Ramazan are memories they associate with this blessed month throughout their lives, he said.

He advised that kids must avoid fasting without Sehri as it can make them weak. At the same time, they must avoid overeating.

Restrict your kids from high intensity exercises which may make them weak and thirsty, adding, it is most advisable to break the fast with dates and water.

Fried foods should be avoided as much as junk food. Intake of sugar rich foods and refined flour should be avoided. Homemade french fries also recommended for schoolgoing kids in their lunch boxes.

He said make Ramazan days enjoyable for them by involving them in different acts of worship like charity, feeding poor children and praying with family. For schoolgoing children, special emphasis should be placed on calcium intake. Getting children to drink milkshakes or yogurt-based smoothies is an excellent way to boost calcium intake. School children also need plenty of iron for making blood and lean muscle, he said.

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Doctor says parents and care givers should cut soft fruits such as grapes and watermelon, apple and bananas into small pieces before giving them to children, and make sure they are supervised while eating.

Encouraging your child to eat healthy food from an early age helps them to make healthy choices as they get older, he added.

He also said , green vegetables play a crucial role in growth and development and there are so many interesting ways you can spruce them up to make kids love them.

A breakfast consisting of milk, a little honey along with boiled vegetables, fresh fruits and dried fruits like peanuts, almonds and walnuts are best for sehri , he noted.

Both vegetables and fruit contain essential nutrients that are important for their health, growth and development.

After breaking the fast with dates, take a break from eating for 15-to-20 minutes. Then, consume other foods with vegetables or an olive oil dish Keep in mind that water consumption is very import during Ramazan.

“You should consume liquids along with your meal to make digestion easier,” he added.  

Published in The Express Tribune, May 12th, 2019.


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