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Jan 02

Old folk’s wisdom versus modern medical advices

I observed that some of our old folk’s wisdom like avoiding certain foods because it is ‘windy’ or can cause coughing and phelgm do agree with modern medical findings. For e.g. it is recommended that children below one year are not to given citrus fruits like oranges because citrus fruits are some of the common foods that may trigger allergies. Some children do get tummy aches due to bloatiness because of food intolerance. Therefore, it is wise to pay careful attention when a child is extra fussy and observe if it is due to food intolerance. Other foods not advisable for children below one year of age are honey, egg whites and whole wheat.

One has to be alert if one’s child shows signs of food allergies like swollen eyelids, rashes, coughing and phlegm after taking some food. Some old folk’s advice is to keep giving the food to the child until he is ‘used’ to it. However, doctors have often caution parents to seek medical consultation if such signs appear because food allergies can cause major problems if not handled with care.

Recently, I got hold of a book on nutrition and learnt some new things like not to adopt the ‘Love me, love my food’ attitude and the term ‘pouching’. Now, I often remind myself not to get too frustrated when my baby refuses to eat the food which I had lovingly prepared. If he refuses it, I will just go to the sink and wash it down without taking it personally as if I was rejected. He just hates the taste of the food, that’s all. Secondly, I learnt that the term used for toddlers who kept food in their mouth is ‘pouching’. A lot of emotional stress and battle of wills are involved and I would make sure that I leave my baby to decide on how much he wants to eat and not how much I want him to eat.

Often, we see grandmas, maids and mothers following their toddlers around the whole housing estate with a bowl during mealtimes. Personally, I hate this routine as it is time wasting and a bad habit too. A local paediatrician mentioned that this is called grazing and not a good idea to allow a child to do that. She recommended ‘active feeding’ and that means talking, singing, playing or reading to the child while he is eating. Every one of us is so familiar with the plane and hangar tactic where we pretend the food is the plane and the child’s mouth the hangar. However, one has to refrain from putting the child in front of the TV and keep stuffing the food into the mouth while his eyes are glued to the show. Mealtimes are meant for enjoying the taste of well-prepared, nutritious food and not a routine to fatten up a child.

As I have children age from teenagers to baby, I have learnt through experiences that a simple routine like mealtimes can either be nightmarish or enjoyable. Children are capable of turning mealtimes into negotiation strategies and using it as a tool to test limits. I will accommodate simple requests but will deny them if they are unreasonable. Often, I will tell my older children to go and starve themselves if they like and ignore their demands. For e.g. “If I finish this plate of rice, you have to buy me that toy.” Of course, I bear in mind that children usually eat as much as their bodies need and are not likely to be deprived off any important nutrients if they eat poorly occasionally.

Generally, people deem plump children as the ideal size. I have two scrawny sons who look like some war refugees. I would get remarks and suggestions from people implying that I am not giving them enough to eat. On the other hand, I also have a 13 yrs old son who wears large men size clothings. With such a varied sizes and shapes, I have to surrender to the fact that all children grow at different rates and as long as they are healthy, eat a balanced meal and have active lifestyles, there is nothing to worry.

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