GLOBAL CRISIS:THE MICRONUTRIENT DEFICIENCY

As African countries transition from low income economies into middle income ones there has been a rise in the number  of health challenges these economies are facing. Increasingly we are seeing a rising number of individuals with non communicable lifestyle conditions like heart attacks,cancer,diabetes and other respiratory diseases like asthma on the rise.

Individuals living in urban and peri urban areas are at risk as we have seen the mushrooming of convenience fast food stores that are selling energy dense foods high in trans fats,sugar ,salt and low density lipoproteins which contribute to high cholesterol levels .

These change in eating habits is not just an African problem but it is a global epidemic and health analysts are warning of an epidemic if we do not change our eating habits.The rise in the consumption of energy rich,protein dense foods in lieu of nutrient rich foods has affected about 2 Billion people globally who are affected by micronutrient deficiency.

WHO defines micronutrients as the “magic wands” that enable the body to produce enzymes,hormones and other substances that are essential for proper growth and development.

While emphasis has been placed on overnutrition and issues like obesity and the dangers of being  overweight have been discussed extensively ,deficiencies in micronutrients have not because very few people understand them.This lack of information on the health risks associated with micronutrients has fuelled a narrative where we have focused more on maintaining healthy weight while losing focus on emphasising the need for a more informed approach to the health challenges we are facing.

The lack of micronutrients especially among growing children,pregnant and lactating mothers and the elderly has been associated with risks such as lack of resistance to infectious diseases,blindness,lethargy,reduced learning abilities,death during childbirth,and impaired physical and mental development in children.

The WHO classifies Vitamin A ,,Iodine and iron as the most important in term sof global public health  and their deficiencies can cripple the affected populations.

Let us try to go through what the lack of these micronutrients results in and in our next article we will tackle how to ensure elimination of these deficiencies.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A plays a starring role in vision,bone growth,reproduction,cell division and differentiation and in growing children and pregnant women these processes are essential for proper growth and development in children and healthy pregnancy outcomes in childbearing women.

Vitamin A also plays a very important role in the promotion of a healthy mucous lining of the respiratory,urinary and intestinal tracts which make it hard for bacteria to enter the body and cause infections.

Vitamin A deficiency is the leading cause of preventable blindness in children and due to a weakened immune system as the body is more prone to infection individuals are more at risk of disease and even death from severe infections.

 

Iodine

Iodine is needed by the human body for the production of the thyroid hormone ,the body needs the hormone to aid it in metabolism.

Iodine deficiency in pregnant or nursing mothers has been associated with miscarriages,preterm deliveries and congenital abnormalities in babies.

In children iodine deficiencies is associated with cretinism which is exhibited by children having stunted physical and mental growth .

The most common symptom of iodine deficiency in the body is a swelling at the front of the neck which we know as goitre that results from the overexertion of the thyroid gland.

 

Iron

Your whole body contains about 4 g of iron .Iron is an important micronutrient and its role is in the body processes that involve energy release .Iron is a component of the oxygen carrying blood compounds like haemoglobin which is found in the red blood cells and myoglobin which is found in muscle tissue.

In a World Health Organization report titled The Global Prevalence of Anaemia 2011,it was found lack of dietary iron which results in anemia was prevalent across all sectors of the global economy from low to middle to high income countries.

 

“Anemia, defined as a low blood hemoglobin concentration, has been shown to be a public health problem that affects low-, middle- and high-income countries and has significant and adverse health consequences”

Iron deficiency  had adverse effects on the development of cognitive and motor functions and the result is  fatigue,low productivity,in pregnancy it was seen in children born with a low birth weight and was also associated with maternal and perinatal deaths.

 

Zinc

Zinc is involved in over 100 metabolic enzymes and specifically those that are needed for metabolism,cellular division and DNA and RNA synthesis and structure.

Zinc deficiencies are exhibited in a lack of appetite,retarded growth in children,poor bone growth,problems with  male and female reproduction,poor skin,hair ,nails and a poor sense of smell and taste.

 

Micronutrient deficiency has become such a global public health issue that the World Health Organization has endorsed a policy plan which sees to address this issue by 2025.The plan focuses on maternal,infant and young children and it aims to :

 

1.achieve a 40% reduction in the number of children under-5 who are stunted;

2.achieve a 50% reduction of anaemia in women of reproductive age;

3.achieve a 30% reduction in low birth weight;

4.ensure that there is no increase in childhood overweight;

5.increase the rate of exclusive breastfeeding in the first 6 months up to at least 50%;

6.reduce and maintain childhood wasting to less than 5%.

Individuals raising children or those that want to take active charge of  their health as well as those of their families,staff members need not wait for governments to implement policies that will tackle these micronutrient deficiecnes.By seeking information healthy lifestyle choices and making more well informed food choices  s we can help reduce the risks associated with micronutrient deficiencies.

By tackling micronutrient deficiencies we also help reduce the crippling cost of public health as well as private health insurance costs that have been on the rise annually.

In our next post we will tackle how you can do this through making better and well informed lifestyle choices.

HOW TO PREPARE HEALTHY SNACKS FOR YOUR CHILDREN

Snacking for children

A woman wields the  greatest  power over her household as she determines what gets eaten in her house ,she determines how healthy her family will be and most of us forget the power we have.You solely can  set the course over what kind of eating habits your children will carry with them through out their lives and well into adulthood.

As a woman many times I have found myself  asking this very simple question- ” why am I  here?” .

I don’t know if many others struggle with the same question ?This   feeling  that even though I may be doing very well in my career,business,relationships….I am not yet quite there.

It feels like we are in some kind of waiting room,you know like the one at the docotrs where you have to wait out your turn?

Hospital waiting rooms and waiting rooms of any kind are interesting places to get to see what people do when they have nothing to do but wait their turn.

Some are busy on their phones,reading newspapers ,magazine or a book or just people watching.

When you have children and have to take your children to the paedetrician,it is a great time to meet other mother,fathers as well though they are pretty rare.As a nutritionist it is also a time to see the kind of snacks children carry with them.Snacks are a great way to keep children  busy,their  very short attentions spans (15 minutes with my kids)means that they get bored pretty fast.They have very creative ways of keeping you busy as a parent with their trips to the dispenser pouring out cup after cup of water or making repeated trips to the bathroom to wash their hands.

Snack time is an opportunity parents can use to teach children to pick the healthy option rather than the one that looks tempting.Whether it is a hospital visit or packing snacks for school ,whatever snacks we put into their hands should more often than not be a choice that feeds their bodies and their taste buds as well.

Snack time is an opportunity to meet our nutritional requirements and growing children require more micro nutrients which are the vitamins and minerals than adults do.Giving them  a choice of fruits,nuts as well as vegetables is a healthy way of meeting their nutritional needs.

The trick to getting children eat more vegetables and fruits is to present it in a very attractive manner.

After the last post on the building blocks of your child’s nutrition some readers asked if I could give some ideas on healthy snacks they could give to their children .

Just before I share the suggestions I have  prepared I thought I should say some things to every woman who is doing her best to raise her children to eat better and have healthier habits.

A woman yields the  greatest  power over her household as she determine what get eaten and most do not  know it.You are the one that sets the course over what kind of eating habits your children will carry with them through out their lives.

A woman has the power to determine the kind of lifestyle her children,grand children and future great grand children will live.

A woman determines what ends up on the plates of her children,by the choice of the kind of foods she chooses to wean her child on, she is developing her child’s taste buds for healthy food .

The reason why we are told to wean children on a variety of natural foods is to develop their taste for nature’s goodness and not food from little  jars or boxes that is filled with a lot of sugar,salt and other additives and preservatives.

As much as possible try and develop healthy eating habits in your children as early as you can.

And even when you may have missed the opportunity earlier on,as long as they live under your roof you still have the power to change the course of their eating habits.

Children who develop healthy eating habits from an early age have fewer incidences of disease and hospital visits.They are more likely to perform better in school as well as socially.

You may want to read a post I did on why you should be reading food labels as well.

The foods that are great and healthy alternatives are foods you can pick from your local kiosk or grocery shop and when it comes to fruits,the best choices are the fruits in season,these offer you a fresh as well as cheaper alternative than those that are out of season.

1.Fruits

Fruits are best eaten  whole not blended.

Blending a few fruits for juice may seem healthy on the surface but fruits contain fructose a sugar and drinking too much fruit juice means  children while enjoying nature’s goodness in a glass of juice are also taking in too much sugar.

2-3 fruits daily are enough to meet a child’s dietary requirements .

Instead of blending 2-3 fruits to make fruit juice have your children eat the fruit whole,if it is an orange,slice it and let them have the orange.If an apple let them crunch their teeth  through the skin of the apple or let them peel the banana .Peeling bananas is a good way to develop your child’s fine motor skills as well.

As we live in the tropics,Kenya is never out of fruits,we enjoy a wide variety of fruits all year round,be sure to have your child eat at least 2 in a day by packing them as a snack for school and having another as an after school snack.

3.Salads

Salads are a great way for getting your children to meet their dietary requirements for  vitamins and minerals .

Making salads is a fun and easy way to get children to eat more of their vegetables.

Better still is if you use your own dressing,forget the one you buy from the supermarket that is loaded with preservatives,sugar and salt.Home made salad dressing are easy and tasty.

Try making them with some olive oil,freshly squeezed lemon juice ,black pepper,pinch of salt ,honey and use that dressing to toss your grated cabbage and carrot,or lettuce tomatoes and carrots.

Salads can be served for dinner or over the weekend and are a great way to get kids involved in preparing healthy meals ,lessons that they will definitely carry with them through adult hood and when they bring up their own children as well.

4.Nuts and seeds

Before you start giving your children nuts and seeds,ensure they do not have any nut allergies.

Cashew nuts,macadamia nuts are   favorites with most children , we also have peanuts(some children have peanut allergies)  we also have almonds,hazel nuts that are not produced locally and cost more but are also healthy choices and are stocked in a variety of stores.

Before packing nuts and seeds as a snack for children ensure they are past the age of 4 years and can comfortably eat them in your presence as they are a choking hazard for younger children.

There are also nut butters available and these nut butters can be used on bread,on sandwiches as well and are healthier than margarine as well as most commercially produced fruit jams.

5.Dried fruits

Dried fruits like sultanas,dates  and raisins are also good but not too much though as sugar is used as a preservative to lengthen their shelf life.These you can mix in with your favourite nuts to create some variety or added to breads you make at home and to cakes as well.

Salads can be jazzed up with some nuts,dried fruits and seeds like sesame seeds as well.

6.Sandwiches

Everybody loves bread(at least I thought so until we started thinking gluten was evil)

You may want to read :WHY YOU MAY NOT REALLY BE ALLERGIC TO GLUTEN.

You can make sandwiches from left over chicken and add tomatoes and with a simple simple dressing of olive oil and lemon you will have  a really delicious sandwich.You can add some crunch to it by first grilling the bread,rubbing some garlic clove on it and what you will end up with your children will keep asking for every time you have left over chicken.

One of my favorites as well as my kids is placing a slice of bread on a plate and layering it with thinly sliced avocado pieces  ,slices of  tomatoes  and topping it with a slice of bread then slicing the bread  diagonally into 4 cute triangular pieces.

You can come up with as many sandwich varieties as you like depending on what your family likes and as long as it is a healthy.Make your sandwiches  irresistible  by cutting them into fancy shapes using cookie cutters,your children will love them.

The secret to  getting it right with  sandwiches is to buy sandwich bread which is denser in order to hold the filling(s )and pick a healthy filling as well.

Fillings for sandwiches can be anything from fruits like avocado,tomato  to salads like guacamole or left over roast beef,chicken,turkey or tuna.

6.Making your own fruit yoghurts

A lot of the fruit yoghurts available in the market have a lot of sugar in them,a great idea is to buy  plain yoghurt and it with a fruit of your choice and pack it for your child  which they can have  as a mid morning or after school snack when they come back home.

Fruits that will give you a really great flavor when blended with yoghurt are strawberries,bananas,avocado,blueberries and just  one fruit per serving of yoghurt at a time .

A few years back I bought a popsicle maker and would often make popsicles with fruit yoghurt. The kids loved it especially when the weather was hot.

You may want to read :BENEFITS OF YOGHURT

A great way to ensure you do not have to push your children to choose healthy snack options is to always have a fruit bowl in the house,make sure its filled with fruits like bananas,oranges,apples ,grapes and by keeping a jar of nuts and seeds as well so that when the hunger pangs strike then they know where they can refill from.

If this post helpful,we would love to hear from you.It is readers like Wambui and everyone else who sends in their questions that keep us writing.

We may not always get it right all the time but when we can get it right 75% of the time when we pick a fruit over a packet of crisps then we are doing the right thing.

See you in the comments section and thank you Wambui!

YOUR CHILD’S NUTRITION:THE BUILDING BLOCKS

 

monday inspiration (1)

If you were to ask my children what would make a perfect way of spending the weekend if left to themselves,it would be to sit in front of the TV for most of the day .

Do you know other children that are like mine ?

Being a parent,I get my greatest joy by telling them what is good for them in  very few words and more action like switching off the TV and asking them,ordering them outside to go and play.

It would be easier to let them watch TV all day but what fun would there be in that  and what childhood memories am I creating when I am letting them spend the whole day in front of the TV.

I was thinking about the fights we have over the TV over the weekend when I  read in the Saturday Nation that among the top 2 ailments that children over the age of 5 years in Nairobi have is malnutrition.

It took me aback because Nairobi being the capital city should be doing better than that,we seem to live in apparent affluence and food seems to be readily available for most residents of the capital city ,that should result in an above average nutrition status for most children but it does not.

What should we do to stem the rise in the incidences of malnutrition,be it over-nutrition or under nutrition ?

What can we do to stop the increasing number of children weighing in at more than they should?

I hope that this is the start of a conversation of how many more mothers and father can ensure that their children are having more of the right foods and less of the foods that come in cartons and tins.

1.Making healthy eating a lifestyle choice

Over some weekends I accompany the medics team at my church for medical missions around our neighborhood and as a nutritionist  I spend time listening as well as  talking to mothers about nutrition.

Apart from the normal complaint about how fast children get bored with certain foods,it is apparent that most mothers in the capital city no matter their economic status know what is good for their children.They know what their children should be eating and what their bodies need.

The challenge comes in turning the information that we have into  life long lifestyle habits that our children can carry through out their lives .

No matter what stage children are in we can help them form healthier eating habits and we start at home with what we serve.

Start them on healthy eating habits while they are still very young.Let them know the joys of eating food made from fresh ingredients.

Start taking them grocery shopping as early as you possibly can.Let them know how to choose the freshest fruits and vegetables and let them have a feel and look at how fresh really looks like.

“To create really great food,you do not have to make complicated meals,the tastiest foods are the ones made from fresh ingredients.”

A secret to the question as to “how to know  what is fresh ?” is that fresh is always  what is on season and fresh is always cheaper.

Kenya is blessed with an abundance of food,vegetables ,fruits are in plenty and we have no reason not to ensure children are eating at least 2 servings  of fruits and  3 servings of vegetables every day.

Fruits and vegetables are the source of micro nutrients which are essential for the proper functioning of a growing body’s functions.Children with the demands that growth puts on their bodies,we need to make sure they are meeting their dietary requirements.

For many parents who have a problem getting their children to eat fruits and vegetables,a few ideas to try in order to get them to eat more of these foods are .

  • Making fruits are easily available at home,get a bowl which you ensure is always filled with some fruit of some kind.
  • Let the children go shopping with you and let them choose the fruits and vegetables themselves.They are more likely to eat the fruits and vegetables they enjoy .
  • Get creative in how you serve your fruits and vegetables.For vegetables apart from cooking them for short period of time under high heat,try grilling them,serving them in salads sliced or grated.
  • Include fruits and vegetables as a part of every meal. Vegetables come in  such colorful colors hat there would be no excuse not to have them on your plate,they add such lovely color to a meal.
  • Add chopped or blended  fruits to plain yoghurt .
  • Eat fruits rather than blending them to make juice as fruits contain natural sugars and drinking large amounts of juice is likely to lead to a child being overweight because of all the sugar it contains.

2.Letting children play

Children need play as much as they need food.

Play helps children develop physical strength and it is also important as part of healthy brain development.Play is how children learn to interact with the world around them.

The American Academy of Pediatrics in a 2007 paper titled The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bonds by Kenneth R. Ginsburg had this to say :

Pediatricians should emphasize the advantages of active play and discourage parents from the overuse of passive entertainment (eg, television and computer games)

 

With access to internet connectivity we are seeing fewer children venturing out to play,they are  spending more time on their mobile devices than outside  with other children or even their parents.It is now becoming more common to see children especially those in urban centers who weigh more than they should for their age and height.

Kids need to be more  physically engaged ,this will reduce the incidences of child obesity that are on the rise.Children with a healthy weight have been shown to be healthier,more socially competent as well as more able to concentrate in school.

3.A parent is the best role model

A parent is the best role model of what healthy living should be like.

Children are not very good at following instructions but they are great at being perfect imitators.

When we make healthier choices with what we put on our plates,what we stock in our kitchens our children carry these habits they have watched us practice with them when they grow up and in turn they will influence their own children.

We can change the future of generations to come just by the simple decision we make of what we eat.

Make sure it is the right one.

Was this article helpful,we would love to hear from you.Head over to the comments section with comments or questions about what we just talked about.

 

DO YOU KNOW YOUR GAP?IT’S WHERE EVERYTHING HAPPENS

Life is lived .IN THE GAP (1)

What do you do when you have tried every diet on the planet,even your friends diets and still have not lost weight?

What do you do when the diet and lifestyle you started in January does not work in February?

What do you do when going to the gym becomes a drag and you have stopped trying?

What do you do when you are stuck in the gap between where you are and where you want to be ?

You move forward.

Because life is lived in the gap,where the  challenges and battles to eat healthier every day is a battle between what you feel you want and what your body really needs.

It is lived in the gap where being faithful to your daily exercises is a battle.

You may want to read:WHY YOU ARE NOT LOSING WEIGHT

But let’s go back to the beginning shall we and allow me to tell you about myself.

In order to keep writing,even when I do not post a daily bog post I have to write,in my journal or on a slip of paper or somewhere.Whenever I have kept off writing I have seen my creativity take a slump and it becomes harder each day to write the more I keep off it.

Same thing applies to keeping and staying faithful to the decision to eat healthier as well as exercise,it is hard and it is a choice you have to make every day.

And everyday you wake up to that gap that exists between where you are and where you want to be.That GAP is not an easy thing to wake up to everyday but it is a reminder that there exists within it the opportunity to grow as well as challenge yourself.

Even if you have  tried everything under the sun and you feel  you are  not there yet,do not give up.

That gap you see is a friend,an ally and a  source of  the  energy as well as the motivation to keep going at it,towards your goal.

Now,you may be asking,since you know what your goal is,how do you start towards making this goal a reality,a reality you are aware of everyday and one that keeps you motivated enough to stay the course ?

1.Knowing how you got there.

Real change is achieved when we know where we are and how we got there.

When we understand where we are then we are better prepared to start the journey towards creating the kind of future we would like for ourselves.

Maybe we started having pizza for lunch as well as dinner once too often or it could be that we started  neglecting a regular exercise regime or gave up on the second week of going to the gym when we thought we would die from the muscle aches(muscle aches are actually  a good sign that your muscles  are working as they should).

2.Know what is on your plate every day.

Keeping a food diary for a week of what you eat is a good way of tracking your eating habits.

A food diary will help you see what you are eating more or less off and what you should cut out altogether.You may just find that it is the 4 cups of coffee or tea with sugar that are contributing to all the extra calories your body is storing up as fat.

Maybe it is the extra glasses of wine every weekend that are making it hard to lose the weight .

A food diary is a good way of tracking whatever it is you eat and will give you an idea of how much you are consuming versus what your body really needs.

You will be surprised by what you see after keeping it for at least 2 weeks.

Sharing the details of your food diary with a nutritionist or dietitian will help them create a meal plan that will cater to the kind of lifestyle you are living.Each and every person is different and what diet  works for one person may give very different results to someone else.

By having a diet personalized for you,then you are more likely to stick to it as it incorporates food you can actually eat and not gag over.

Any weight loss program will only be sustainable when you eat food that you enjoy.

3.Knowing what your body needs

In school children are taught the basics of good nutrition ,most people actually know how a good meal should look like. It just seems easier to ignore all the good advice that we know and just eat the food we feel like eating at that particular time.

Every individual is different and a construction worker will not require the same kind of food as someone sitting in the office the whole day.

A woman needs her  food intake  to meet some dietary requirements that a mans body does not require.

The body’s nutritional needs are determined by age, gender,genes,occupation and any medical conditions we may be having.

This is where I would like to challenge anyone reading this to know how your body works and  what your body needs.

When you  know how your body works,what it needs you will know what to give it as fuel in the form of the food you eat.

In case of any medical conditions you may be having with,please see a qualified medical doctor.

4.Know who to seek advice from

The nutrition sector in the country is pretty much unregulated and one should be careful about whom they take advice about weight loss,a change in diet and living healthy from.

Mot public and private hospitals do have resident nutritionists and there are nutritionists like myself who give counselling services to individuals.It is prudent to do some research as well as background checks of people who claim to give out advice on what you should and should not be eating.

And read up as much as you can before you make a visit to your nutritionist or any medical provider.

5.Remember the gap

This gap,this seemingly huge gap that we seem to see before us, that is between where we are and where we want to be is all a matter of perspective.

Always remember that.

That gap can either be the source of a lot of frustration or the starting point towards real change.

Be easy on yourself and celebrate each milestone,even those that seem little,like eating an extra serving of vegetables or fruit or spending an extra half an hour at the gym.

 

When you are grateful for how far you have come ,you are giving yourself the energy and push to keep on running towards the goal of where you want to be.

Was this helpful?

We would love to hear your comments and any questions you may have as well.

ARE YOU REALLY GLUTEN INTOLERANT ?

Bread gluten

Have you recently met someone who has sworn  to you that they are off eating  any wheat related products ?

Thousands of Kenyan women are going off wheat and for some brief period of time they have gotten rid of the bloated feeling that comes after eating bread.

At the moment we even have producers of  gluten free baked  products for consumers that have celiac disease which is the an autoimmune disorder where the body attacks the protein we call gluten,found in most products made from wheat,barley,rye.

What is gluten you may ask ?

Gluten is a protein found in cereals like wheat,oats and rye and when consumed results in inflammation of the gut and specifically the small intestines .It is estimated to affect 1 out of every 100  people world wide is a hereditary condition. Read more about it at Celiac Org.

Gluten is the “glue” that helps baked food and other products made from cereals that contain this protein retain their shape.Some foods that you may not think of but contain gluten include beer,food coloring,salad dressings and commercial soups and sauces.

You may consider getting a doctors or nutritionists advice and counsel before you confirm an intolerance to gluten.

To confirm a  gluten intolerance you may want to keep a food diary for a period of 2 weeks and even after you confirm that bread is the culprit,remember that bread  is made with yeast which helps bread rise.You already have some good bacteria living in your gut  which in the presence of refined  sugars multiplies and when you add bread that contains more yeast into your gut,it causes the yeast to multiply,producing gas and causing that  bloated feeling you are now familiar with.

This  explains the relief you feel when you keep off wheat products especially bread.

If you really do feel you have to cut bread off from your diet,there are many healthy breakfast options available-boiled arrow roots or sweet potatoes .You may want to read the post we did a couple of years back on Kenyan food classics .

So are you really gluten intolerant ?Keep a food diary and keep a track  of all the foods you eat and you will easily pin point the ones to  blame for the bloatedness. You will be surprised to find fruits among the list ,especially if you skip lunch and have nothing but fruits instead you will get bloated as well.

Fruits contain fructose,a sugar and as we said yeast which is present in low amounts in your gut thrives on sugar,more sugar,more yeast growth more gas hence the bloated stomach.

As soon as you pin point the foods that are the cause of your bloated feeling,try eliminating them over the course of 2 weeks and afterwards try including them into your diet one at a time and in reasonable  amounts .

Does this post help?

Do you think a food diary would help you point out the foods that are the cause of your bloatedness and discomfort?

Do let us know,we love feedback.

INTRODUCING YOUR BABY TO SOLIDS

Weaning is a really exciting time for both mother and baby.

After 6 months your baby’s nutritional needs cannot be adequately catered for with just breast milk or formula.

That is why a careful choice  of first foods is important

Your little bubba at 6 months is  ready to be introduced to solid foods….gradually.

Breast milk should still remain the main source of nourishment for your baby but she needs some extra nutrients which is why t is very important to make informed choices on what the best foods for weaning your baby are.

You will find a lot of   ready made baby food,ignore them.

Jar of ready to eat baby food
Jar of ready to eat baby food

Nature provides some of the best foods for baby,remember too that you are also setting the foundation for  future food choices.

Always follow the lead pattern of your child when it comes to introducing solids to your baby,introduce a  teaspoon or two of just one kind of food at a time.

Sauteing  or steaming your baby food are the best methods when it comes to preparing your baby’s food.

Here is a guide on foods that are perfect starter foods for your baby.

Cereals

When introducing cereals to a baby when introducing baby porridge always make sure it is of a thin consistency and should be mixed with your breast milk/formula as cereals do tend to be pretty bland.

Cooked green baby bananas not the matoke variety are also a very common and easily accessible first food for babies within the east African region.

Because they are low in calories ,once cooked puree them and add some breast milk till you have a thin consistency your baby can swallow.

With time you can mix your bananas with vegetables like pumpkin ,peas,carrots in order to increase their nutritional value.

There is no need to add any sweeteners to your baby’s cereal at this point.

 

Fruit

This should be added when baby is already used to solids,most babies take to fruits like fish to water.

Fruits like pawpaw,bananas which should be really ripe then mashed  with a  fork and some breast milk/formula added to thin it out,also do try avocado.

Stay away from citrus fruits till your baby is one year.

Other fruits like apples and pears  can be introduced after 8 months need to be steamed to make it easier for your baby digest them.

 

Vegetables

Peas,pumpkin,carrots and even sweet potatoes are a great source of nourishment for baby during the  first months.

Cook then then strain or blend making sure you add milk to ensure your baby is able to swallow them.

stay away from strong tasting vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli till a little later when your baby has formed a consistent eating pattern.

Watch the  stool pattern of your baby  when you start them on vegetables and in case of any loose bowel movements or mucus in their stool omit it and try again after a month.

For further assistance i  can be reached  here.

NUTRITION IN YOUR 3RD TRIMESTER

Finally it is week 28 and you have kicked into your third trimester.

What do you eat….?

Food guide during pregnancy....
Food guide during pregnancy….

Find out if you have been eating well during your first and second trimesters.

First let us get to understand what happens during this time.

Your body is storing fat to help in your body’s growth as well as for production of breast milk.

Your baby during this trimester will gain a layer of sub cutaneous fat giving them a chubby appearance.

It is important to continue with your intake of healthy and nutritious food as both you and baby need it.

Because your uterus is pressing on your stomach,you may find you feel fuller sooner,scatter your meals through out the day and have smaller portions .

Ensure you are covering all your nutrition basics that are necessary for a healthy pregnancy.

Your 5 nutritional needs that should be covered in all your meals are protein,calcium,folate,fiber and fat  which is not only an energy source but a transport medium for vitamins  A,D,E  and K.

 

 

NUTRITION IN YOUR 2ND TRIMESTER

pregnancy inspiration...
pregnancy inspiration…

Amazing things happen to your body body in your second trimester which covers week 13-week 28.

Read more on pre – pregnancy nutrition and your first trimester here and here.
Your blood flow will increase by at least 50 % ,that is why you need extra iron.
The 300 extra calories you need daily……that is for the rapid growth  spurt you and your baby are in.

Baby will be be four times bigger than they were when your first trimester ended.

You need to amp up not only your calorie  intake but to also ensure you increase the amount of protein,iron,folate and calcium to cater for the extra nutritional needs your body demands.

And the constipation and heart burn that characterizes this period…..well it is because the pregnancy hormone progesterone  has slowed down your digestive system.

By ensuring your meals are smaller,snacking on healthy foods when you are hungry and making sure you take your  water between your meals rather than with your meals your digestive system should be pretty happy.

To ensure you are meeting your daily nutritional requirements during this time,your meals should be composed of foods from all food groups,make your plate a colorful one.

During your snack time,eat healthy foods like fruits,vegetable sticks with your yogurt,nuts and seeds or carry a healthy sandwich with you to work.

HEALTHY SNACKING

You meet a lot of great people  on social networks and i have met a couple of amazing people blogging,one of them is the author of Mummytales.

Maryanne is as beautiful as her name sounds,she  is a great writer and i have been lucky enough to be a guest writer on her blog.

She recently  asked me to write about  healthy snacks we can pack for school kids.

I am often to be found along supermarket aisles  reading the labels of packets of potato crisps before i buy them.

Some brands have more artificial flavorings than others,so you may want to watch on that.

But how many of you have tried snacking on nuts?

Macadamia nuts are especially nutritious ,here is their nutritional code cracked.

Out of Africa has a wide array of  nuts and here is a pack of honey coated mixed nuts i devoured on a cold Easter Sunday as i read the paper.

Scrumptious pack of nuts i devoured....
Scrumptious pack of nuts i devoured….

Things to remember when buying any snack from the supermarket shelf  are…

1.You want the ingredients to be as natural as possible,none of the artificial flavorings and food coloring that seem to be the ingredients of choice for most junk food manufacturers.

2.Always always read the labels,know what you are putting into your body.

3.As much as possible make your own snacks at home,most of them are fairly easy to make from home.

4.Always check the expiration date .

5.Children under 3 years of age should not snack on nuts unsupervised .

And while you are preparing healthy snacks for your family as a mum or dad or caregiver,do not forget that you need to take care of yourself as well,loved this post by health writer Helen Sanders on  10 Light and Healthy  afternoon snacks that you can have on the go .

What I loved about this post was that all of them are packed full of nutrients that are good for your body ,they are readily available and can be easily packed and carried along.

Share with us some of your favourite snacks in the comments section,we would love to hear from you.

OATS

Oats have been cultivated for about 2000 years which is pretty young in grain years.

They were  a weed beforethey were domesticated.

They became very popular in Scotland and Ireland  as a food before their use spread to the rest of the world,interestingly in England oats were given to …livestock!

I was looking up ideas to help with breastfeeding when someone mentioned oats boost breast milk production and i decided to do some more research on their health benefits, to humans ofcourse.

Oats are great for breastfeeding moms as they boost milk production but they are also an awesome cereal for anyone looking to eat and live a healthier  life.

Immediately I went and got myself a pack of quick cooking oats which you can find in any supermarket

Here are the ones i got.

The oats…..

Cooking oatmeal porridge is fairly easy  and the pack I got had a recipe on its side ,after  modifying it to make a small bowl of oatmeal porridge, Emma was one well fed baby.

Read  some more about  the  benefits of oats here.

 

Oatmeal porridge

Ingredients

5  heaped tablespoonsfuls  of oatmeal(1/3 of a cup)

1 cup water

1/4 teaspoon salt

some milk/cream

sugar/honey to taste

Method

1.In a small saucepan on medium high heat  bring the cup of water to boil then add the quarter teaspoon of salt.

2.Once the water comes to a  boil add the oats and stir then let simmer for 5 minutes  on medium low heat.

3.Remove from heat and cover for a further 5 minutes then add cream or milk  and honey/sugar to taste.

Alternatively slices of fruits like bananas,a tablespoon of some dried fruits would be great too.

Bon appetito!

.