The Biting Truth Answer Your Nutrition Questions!

15 Oct 2019

National Nutrition Week is from October 13th - 19th, and to celebrate we asked Anna and Alex from The Biting Truth to answer the nutrition questions you asked us on Instagram.

 

Q1. What dairy substitutes for milk, cheese and yoghurt would you recommend for children who are lactose intolerant?

Dairy is a very important source of calcium, protein and vitamins in a child's diet. Therefore, we would only recommend removing it from the diet if your child has lactose or dairy intolerance.

 

Fortunately for children who are lactose intolerant, there are a number of options available to them to ensure they do not miss out on the important nutrients found in dairy foods.

 

Milk

When it comes to milk, you want to aim for an option that has the most similar nutritional profile to cow’s milk. We recommend these options:

  • Lactose free milk

  • Calcium-fortified soy milk is also lactose-free and contains a similar amount of protein to regular cow’s milk.

There are also almond, oat and rice milks which are options you can consider; however, these tend to be lower in protein.

 

Yoghurts

Did you know that yoghurt is naturally quite low in lactose due to the fermentation? Therefore, many children who are lactose intolerant should still be able to consume small amounts of yoghurt. Other yoghurt options for your child include:

  • Low lactose yoghurts

  • Soy-based yoghurts

Cheese

Similarly to yoghurt, many cheeses are naturally lower in lactose and generally well tolerated. Cheeses that tend to be lowest in lactose include hard cheeses such as cheddar and parmesan.

 

Q2. How can I get my picky eater to eat more fruit and vegetables?

While a child’s refusal to eat certain foods may stress parents, picky eating is, in most cases, a completely normal part of development. Humans are biologically programmed to be cautious about new foods until they are validated as being safe to eat. Here are some helpful tips:

  • Offer fruits and vegetables in different ways for example cooked, steamed, baked, raw, diced, spiralized and pureed

  • When introducing new fruit or vegetables, try to do it alongside familiar foods that you know your child likes. This will avoid overwhelming your child with a whole range of new food at once

  • Be persistent! It can often take children 15-20 times before they might even take a bite of a new fruit or vegetable!

  • Lead by example - this is key when it comes to encouraging your child to eat more fruit and vegetables. Children learn mostly by seeing, not by being told what to do. The more they see you eating, and enjoying, fruit and vegetables on a regular occasion, the more likely they are to give them a go.

For more picky eating tips, check out our video here!

 

Q3. What are your nutritious snack recommendations for toddlers? 

Quick, delicious and nutritious snacks include the following:

  • Vegetable sticks with healthy dips e.g. hummus or mashed avocado

  • Tinned fruit in natural juice with yoghurt

  • Fresh fruit with yoghurt

  • Hard boiled eggs

  • Wholegrain rice crackers with sliced cheese

  • Cheese cubes

  • Whole pieces of fruit

  • Smoothies - simply blend yoghurt, milk and fruit such as bananas and frozen berries

  • Zucchini Fritters

  • Pikelets topped with chopped fruit and yoghurt

  • Banana Loaf

  • Fruit Oat Pots

 Please click on the links above for our delicious recipes!

 

Q4. When should I begin introducing my baby to solids, and what should I start with?

When a baby will be ready to start on solids varies from child to child, which is why the World Health Organisation and NHMRC recommend starting at ‘around 6 months’. Although there is some variability here, the introduction of solids is NOT recommended before 4 months. This is because babies are not developmentally ready. For example, their digestive systems, kidneys and immune systems are not mature enough to take on solids.

 

The first food to introduce to your child’s diet should be rich sources of iron, such as pureed red meat, chicken, fish, legumes and iron-fortified rice cereals. Following this, there isn’t a specific order that foods need to be introduced and you can look to introduce a range of vegetables, fruit and food from the other five food groups.

 

Q5. Do you recommend encouraging pre-schoolers to eat the same meals as their parents, or should I continue making separate meals?

Starting around the age of 24 months, it’s really important to try and offer your child the same meal as what you’re eating. If a child is refusing to eat certain foods, it’s easy to feel tempted to provide a separate meal, but that only gives in to their behavior. Giving your child too many options for meals only complicates matters! Remember, children are smart - if they know you’ll make them something else they like and refuse to eat family meals, they’ll never take the opportunity to try new foods.

 

If you’re struggling to get your child eating the same meal as you, try offering the same meal deconstructed on the plate. For example, the carbs, vegetables and protein components offered separately.

 

Q6. My child won’t finish their main meals but complains that they are constantly hungry. Should I persevere with making them eat more at meal times or should I introduce smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day?

Toddlers have small stomachs, so often it is a good idea to feed them smaller, more frequent meals and snacks. Ensure that you set some routine around meal and snack times so that your child knows when they will get their next feed. For example, they will know that they need to eat up at breakfast as they won’t get a snack until 10am.

 

It’s also important to consider the balance of foods in the meal you’re offering. Protein rich foods such as red meat, chicken, fish, eggs and legumes assist with satiety so incorporating a protein rich food at each meal is important to help your child feel full. Wholegrain carbohydrates and vegetables are rich in fibre which also helps with satiety.

 

A huge meal can be overwhelming for a child. You could try to cut down the size of the meals, without compromising on the balance mentioned above. Remember, they can always ask for seconds!

 

Q7. What are the signs of a food allergy or intolerance in young children?

It can be difficult to tell the difference between the symptoms of a food allergy and food intolerance. Usually, symptoms caused by food allergies develop very soon after consuming the food and are more severe. Food intolerance symptoms are generally less severe and are not always immediate.

 

Symptoms of food allergy can include:

  • Itching, burning and swelling around the mouth

  • Swelling of the face or eyes

  • Runny nose

  • Skin rash (eczema)

  • Hives

  • Diarrhoea, abdominal cramps

  • Breathing difficulties, including wheezing and asthma

  • Vomiting and nausea

Symptoms of food intolerance can include:

  • Bloating

  • Gassiness

  • Heartburn

  • Vomiting

  • Constipation

  • Diarrhoea

  • Headache