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Healthy Eating for Toddlers Eating an Asian Diet

Toddlers should eat a healthy balanced diet along with all the family. Good eating habits are established early in life and you should encourage your child to eat a variety of foods including fruit, vegetables, lean meat, fish, chicken, pulses (e.g. lentils, beans etc) and wholegrain cereals. 

Parents bringing up their children as vegetarians should make sure that the diet contains enough milk, cheese, yogurt, nuts and pulses - to provide what meat does – protein and iron. 

Too much fat should be avoided as it can lead to a problem of obesity, weight gain and heart disease in later life. Too many sugary foods should also be avoided as these can lead to tooth decay and weight gain. 

Many children go through phases of not eating or being ‘faddy’ eaters. Usually they grow out of it, but some of the following ideas may be useful: 

• Offer food only at meal times / snack times 
• Resist giving sweet food if savoury food is rejected 
• Fatty foods such as pastry, sev and ganthia should only be included occasionally 
• Don’t offer sweets, chocolate, biscuits, crisps and sugary drinks e.g. coca cola, lemonade, fruit squash, especially between       meals 
• Give a drink after a meal, rather than before, but avoid giving tea directly after a meal, as this stops the absorption of iron 
• Encourage your child to eat with other children, as they often copy each other 
• Try to sit down as a family to eat 
• If possible, the whole family should eat the same food at a meal time 
• Avoid arguments over meals – it will make the situation worse 
• Lack of sleep may cause your child to be too tired to eat properly, so make sure that they go to bed early 

“Finger foods” can be useful if your child is refusing to eat conventional meals. Meals can also be more fun if food is colourful or made into shapes and pictures. 

IRON: This is an important mineral to consider at this age. 
During the first 6 months of your baby’s life breast milk or infant milk provides all the nourishment needed. 

A toddler needs a varied diet to provide a balanced range of nutrients, particularly iron. Iron is essential for healthy blood and normal growth and development. Toddlers grow very quickly and insufficient iron may slow down these important processes. 

Iron and iron Absorption 
The sort of iron found in meat, fish and poultry (known as haem iron) is better absorbed than that found in other foods such as vegetables, pulses and cereals. So foods containing haem iron, particularly red meats are the best sources of iron.
Foods rich in vitamin C increase the amount of iron absorbed if taken during the meal. Vitamin C is found in fresh fruits, vegetables and fruit juices (dilute 1 part juice to 10 parts water). Try to have some at every meal. 

Some high fibre foods like unprocessed bran contain substances which reduce iron absorption, therefore high fibre cereals should only be given in small quantities. However, foods such as fine grain wholemeal bread are suitable. 

Tea and coffee reduce iron absorption too. They are best avoided at this age. 
Look out for foods that are fortified with iron: 
• Breakfast cereals and rusks 
• Tinned spaghetti shapes 
• Toddler drinks (milk based) 

The best sources of iron in the diet are: 

Meat All red meals such as lamb, beef and pork, and particularly offal, liver, kidney and tongue. Because of its high vitamin A content liver should be eaten no more than once a week. 

Fish Especially tinned salmon, sardines and pilchards (be careful of bones in fish). 

Eggs These may be given from 7 months of age and cooked until both yolk and white are firm. 

Nuts and Seeds Especially cashew nuts, sesame seeds (see nut advice). 

Other good sources of iron are: 

Dried Fruit Raisins, dates, apricots and prunes. 

Pulses Peas, beans, lentils, dhals, chick peas, hummous, baked beans.
 
Vegetables Especially dark green leafy vegetables e.g. spinach, broccoli, peas. 

Breakfast Cereals Commercial Many breakfast cereals are fortified with iron - check the labels on the cereal packet. 

Foods Look out for iron fortified foods, for example iron fortified pasta shapes, e.g. Thomas the Tank Engine, Moshi Monsters, Bob the builder and Peppa Pig. 

Try to include a variety of foods in your toddler’s diet. Aim to include 2 servings of the best sources of iron each day, along with 1 or 2 servings of other good sources of iron. Remember to help the iron to be absorbed encourage vitamin C containing food or drinks at each meal.

Source : http://www.lnds.nhs.uk/Library/HealthyEatingToddlersAsiandietAugust13.pdf

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