Top kids’ nutrition tips from a UAE-based clinical dietician | Kids, Back To School


Back in the swing of the school routine? If meal times are causing you headaches, fret not as a healthy and delicious diet isn’t as hard as you think. Clinical dietician at India Gate, Dr. Dana Al Hamwi, shares her top tips on how parents across the UAE can provide their little ones with healthy and nutritious diet.

Breakfast truly is the most important meal of the day

Energy-packed healthy meals are the way forward, but the most important thing is to avoid high-processed foods, as they have a negative impact on the immune system. A well-balanced breakfast… will kick start their metabolism and provide them with much-needed energy and focus and it also reduces the urge to reach for unhealthy snacks.

To reap these benefits, you must make sure their breakfast has all the needed building blocks: from proteins to minerals and fibres, as well as carbs, ideally from fruits and vegetables.

While your little one’s morning breakfast should usually include milk, eggs, whole wheat bread and fresh fruits, here are some beneficial additions you should add to their breakfast:

• Start the day by giving your little one a tablespoon of olive oil. Olive oil is very useful in providing the body with healthy Omega-9, essential fatty acids as well as Vitamin E to boost body immunity. While having it in its raw form may be difficult for children you can add it to their breakfast. Try giving them an egg fried in olive oil or add it to their pancake mix or baked beans.

• Make yoghurt or preferably kefir a part of your child’s diet. The probiotics in yoghurt and kefir will enhance their digestive system and body immunity. Add a teaspoon of Manuka honey and a little bit of cinnamon and turmeric for more benefits.

• Along with fresh fruits and veggies, it’s essential to add seeds to your child’s morning meal and seeds such as chia and flax are loaded with benefits. While the tiny seeds of chia are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, fibre and antioxidants which help improve brain function, eyesight and focus, flax seeds help keep the nutrition balance in the body. A glass of warm water along with soaked chia seeds is ideal in the morning. You can add chia seeds to their milk or even make them a delicious chia pudding for breakfast. Adding ground flaxseed to porridge and purées is also a great idea.

Make the most out of lunch

The lunch box you prepare for your child should also have plenty of superfoods to help boost immunity. Some healthy lunch tips include:

• Quinoa is a go-to source of protein if you wish to avoid animal-based sources and it’s also a gluten-free substitute for wheat. You can have it as part of the main meal or a base for dessert and besides salads, there are a number of dishes that can be prepared with quinoa. From healthy wraps, tacos, and risottos to delicious biryanis, curries and baked dishes there are plenty of options.

• Also include beans and whole grains such as sprouted brown rice, which are a good source of zinc. Zinc helps reduce the duration of the common cold, and helps activate specific immune cells.

• Vegetable broth soup with veggies such as broccoli, celery, cauliflower, courgette, carrots, onion and garlic helps against viral infections. Serve it with basmati rice, legumes or sprouted brown rice.

• Sprouted brown rice has a high nutrition quotient value, is easy to cook and sweeter in taste.

• Serve a refreshing glass of laban with lunch. It’s a great source of vitamin D, calcium and protein, and helps keep the healthy gut bacteria in balance.

Snack time

While kids love snacking on quick bites, it is very important for mums and dads to plan what exactly goes into their little one’s snack box. Here are some tips on how can ensure your child has a healthy snack (and one they’ll actually enjoy):

• Homemade energy bars are always a good option. You can prepare them using quinoa, oats, nuts, dates and honey.

• Don’t stop your little ones from eating their favourite snacks, simply prepare the same dishes using healthier options. Opt for quinoa tortillas to prepare delicious wraps or quesadillas and add nuts and seeds to cookies.

• Kids love to be in control of things so try to make eating fun and involve your children in the cooking process. Let them plan their own snacks and get involved in preparing them. This will also encourage them to eat their snack and enjoy it.

Don’t forget water exercise and sleep

The final piece of the puzzle when it comes to strengthening the body and the immune system is sufficient water, exercise and sleep. Encourage them to drink water at regular intervals. While exercising at school may not be as simple as it used to be, make sure you plan some fun indoor activities, which include movement and exercise. Most importantly ensure your child gets sufficient sleep as this is the time the body recoups and repairs itself.

For your essential back-to-school guide in Dubai head here and for Abu Dhabi click here.


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