Eliminating food groups by trying to minimise food intake for your child during the month of Ramadaan may cause deficiencies.
With winter approaching, and given the current emphasis on physical and immune health, eating a nutritious, balanced breakfast is vital, as is getting 10-15 mins unfiltered sunlight per day, as well as eating fruit, vegetables, complex carbohydrates and proteins.
Kim Rutgers, registered dietitian and Association for Dietetics in South Africa spokesperson says that being stuck in the house for long periods can tempt children and even those with great resolve to replace a good meal with unhealthy snacks, such as crisps and chocolate. It is therefore important to limit our refined and high sugary food intake.
Children may need supplements and parents need to be more intentional about giving their children enough nutrition to sustain them through the fast.
Rutgers says: “Supplements could well be beneficial, but it is important to remember that vitamins and mineral supplements do not replace the need for nutrients, which are naturally found in whole foods. Supplements should be taken in addition to a healthy, balanced diet, not at the expense of it.’’
Vitamin C, Cod liver oil, Omega 3, iron tablets and garlic capsules are all vitamins and minerals worth taking, especially in the absence of aliments. Always check with your doctor before any new medication or supplement use.
When it comes to children on a half day fast, one should have an eating plan that differs from those following a full day fast in the home.
“Ideally, eating patterns should not change. Stick to an eating schedule that you can write up together. Involve the child in preparing food for the iftar.
Since the main focus is around food, this would be a great time to highlight the importance of a healthy plate, healthy food choices and healthy food prepping as a family”
Adding, observing the dictates of fasting during Ramadaan doesn’t necessarily mean that children have to sacrifice their health and well-being.
On the contrary, with just a little forethought and some prior planning and effort in preparation, Ramadaan can still be a happy, healthy and productive time for Muslim children and their families.
During this special month in the Islamic year, parents can easily ensure that their children are observant Muslims, whilst continuing to eat healthily, therefore increasing their chances of developing into healthy adults, says Rutgers.