- What are your go-to foods to boost a little one’s immune system?
Anything that promotes gut health will help to promote a healthy immune system. Fermented foods like yoghurt, sauerkraut and kefir contain good bacteria, which help to grow the good bacteria in our gut, promoting a strong immunity. Foods that are high in antioxidants and Vitamin C help to fight off viruses and bacterial infections. Berries, broccoli, cauliflower, citrus fruits, kiwi fruit, capsicum, Brussels sprouts and papaya are excellent foods for this. Kiwi fruit, papaya and pineapple also contain enzymes, which may help to promote healthy immunity as well.
- Are there any foods that should be an absolute no-go for kids? What should I avoid putting in their lunchbox?
I recommend steering clear of packing highly processed foods and high-sugar foods in the lunchbox, as a child will tend to fill up on these foods and ignore the healthier foods. Some examples of foods I would not recommend packing in the lunchbox include poppas (juice boxes), lollies (especially lollies with artificial colours and flavours) and soft drinks.
- How can I use food to aid the brain development of my little one?
A diet rich in healthy fats, especially omega-3, is optimal for good brain health. Foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, tuna, hemp seeds, chia seeds and walnuts. Other foods that contain healthy fats that help to promote healthy brain development include avocado, nuts and seeds.
- What are some common nutritional deficiencies in kids? What should I look out for?
Iron and magnesium are two very common nutrient deficiencies in children. Iron deficiency can show up in children presenting as fatigue, pale, dark circles around the eyes, missing milestones, slowed growth, reduced concentration, poor behaviour, and poor sleep. Magnesium can present in children with hyperactivity, cramping, twitching muscles, reduced concentration, poor sleep, poor behaviour, fidgeting and restless legs. If your child is presenting with any of these symptoms I would recommend speaking with both your doctor (General Practitioner or Paediatrician) and a Nutritionist or Dietician.
- What’s the best way to determine portion sizes for my little one? I’m scared they’re eating too little/too much?
There are two really helpful resources that I would recommend looking at if you’re worried that your child isn’t getting the right portion size. These links show how many services each age group requires of each food group. I would recommend following these guidelines but remember that each child will have a varying appetite depending on whether they are going through a growth spurt, are not well or going through a fussy phase. Sometimes children will eat more than what is recommended and sometimes less, and most of the time that is ok. I would seek further help if you are worried about your child’s growth or if they are not hitting milestones.