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Food Myth busters: Questions & Answers for parents

Does my child need fruit juice or alternative drinks?

The American Academy of Paediatrics recommends the use of fruit juice only above the age of 1 years old. This is because there are no nutritional benefits,it can cause tooth decay and encourage a child to feel full before eating the nutrient dense food provided at a meal. The British Nutrition Foundation recommends daily intake of water and milk but only occasional drinking of fruit juice, smoothies and tea. Rooibos tea is rich in antioxidants and does not contain caffeine and there can be given to children from 6 months onward. However it should not replace the child below 1 year of age usual milk.

Are fresh vegetables better than frozen vegetables?

Frozen vegetables are a healthy alternative to fresh vegetables especially when fresh is unavailable. Fresh vegetables can lose some of their nutritional value if not consumed shortly after picking where frozen vegetables can retain further nutrients during the freezing process. But remember all vegetables will lose nutrients if cooked too long… therefore the crunchier and brighter the better!

Should I encourage my child to finish all the food on his/her plate?

We need to teach our kids to be able to listen to their bodies and recognize their hunger. Forcing a child to finish what’s on their plate can be frustrating for both the parent and the child and often leads to negative eating behavior. Asking a child if their tummy is full or still hungry could be a way of establishing whether or not they still require more. Offer a variety of food, with at least one food that the child likes. Offer smaller portion sizes so that if the child is still hungry they can have more if they would like.

If my child rejects their food does it mean that they don’t like it?

It can take 12-17 tries of offering the same food until the baby doesn’t reject it… so try and try again! You can try offer the same food in different formats e.g. potatoes (mash, boiled, sliced) as your child may prefer one texture to another. You may find as the child gets older they will be more accepting or rejecting of certain foods.

Does my child need a multivitamin?

Whether your child eats all his leafy greens or only eats Bovril sandwiches each child is different, BUT they all require basic nutrition that they may not be getting in their daily diet. Therefore a supplement can be a ‘nice to have’ but not a necessity. There is no harm in giving a daily multivitamin but it is important to note that not all vitamins recommended contain the correct doses and some do contain sugar. We as dietitians may recommend a daily multivitamin if your child’s intake is restrictive or if there are potential signs of deficiency, Please contact us if you would like further information.

Does my child need snacks?

Every child is different and so are their appetites. Some children are satisfied with a routine of 3 meals a day. The recommendation is that children should eat small frequent meals and this is usually translated to snacks. But having a snack doesn’t mean the child needs to eat crisps, sweets, or ‘snack food’. A small meal could mean ½ slice of bread with peanut butter or avocado. A few slices of cheese cut up with some crackers or a mini bowl of pasta from the night before. Younger children often need 3 meals and 2 snacks per day where older children 3 meals and one snack should be sufficient but it does depend on sport and growth

If you are worried about your child’s intake or growth please contact us to assist with personalized advice to put your mind at ease!

Written by Megan Dimitriades RD(SA)

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