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Is Your Child's Diet making him sick?

diet, children, health,diseases

Children nowadays live by few diet rules. Either they overeat, under nourish themselves or eat every little thing least beneficial to their health. And it is not just their health that’s taking the toll. It is affecting the way they talk, walk, sleep, think, feel and react to situations.

If your child is complaining about a frequent migraine, stomach ache, vomiting sensation or is just not her same chirpy self, maybe it is time for you to look deeply into her dietary habits and check if that is what is making her sick.

The habits to look out for
Some seemingly normal habits that lead to abnormalities in your child’s body system may be,
• Eating in a haste
• Paying very little attention to the kind of food being eaten
• Eating when depressed, frustrated, irritated or angry.
• Eating too much junk food on a regular basis
• Drinking high amount of colas and packed juices.
• Skipping breakfast, lunch or dinner regularly
• Eating a quantity much more or too less than recommended for the body type, age etc.
• Eating while watching TV, studying or traveling
• Eating snacks at any time, which are mostly fried, have high fat or high sugar content.
• Habitually eating candies, chocolates, ice cream
• Making any time a Dessert time.

Diet related problems
Unhealthy eating may lead to lot of complications in a child’s life. Sometimes even those ailments that we thought could only affect adults. Some problems may be,

Obesity–According to the USDA kids between the ages of 2 and18 are daily consuming more than hundred calories extra which is stored in their body as fat. This may lead to health problems like heart trouble, Blood pressure, body aches etc.

Heart Diseases –When your child consumes more of cholesterol rich food, the inner walls of the arteries develop a layer of fatty tissues. With time this layer may become so thick that it blocks the blood supply from the heart to the organs. This leads to a heart attack. So more of fatty food at a younger age means increased risk of heart problems very early in life.

Other blood circulation related problems – Arteriosclerosis is the term used when fatty layers start building inside the artery walls. Though this condition is present in almost everyone, those eating fat rich diet frequently are more at risk. When this happens, the blood circulation in the body is not proper. The passage of the blood flow becomes so narrow that the blood on the artery walls exerts more pressure, which is what we refer to as high blood pressure. Unhealthy eating has made children as young as 10 – 15 years showing symptoms of high BP.

Diabetes –Children usually suffer from type I diabetes in which their pancreas is unable to supply enough insulin needed to break up the sugar and send energy to different cells. The unutilized sugar thus remains in the blood and harms blood vessels, heart, kidney, eyes etc.

Osteoporosis – Bones need calcium for their strength and most children avoid having calcium rich food products like milk to supply this calcium to the bones. This leads to the bones becoming weak, porous and brittle, a disease called osteoporosis. Though the symptoms of this ailment are seen in adulthood it is especially in the teen years that bones gain their strength. So if at that age your child is not getting enough calcium, chances of osteoporosis become stronger.

Anemia – It is caused by blood iron deficiency and is mostly seen in teenage girls who consume less of iron rich food like red meat, spinach etc.

Vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation - Irregular food habits can cause a number of digestive problems in young children. If your teenage daughter seems to avoid eating or vomits frequently, chances are she is on a diet and conscious about her looks and body weight. Vomiting and diarrhea may also occur when the body cannot accept any more food or because of the irregular eating becomes too weak to digest the food.

Another important food product that children try to avoid are fibers that are needed to easily remove the waste products from our body and are found in fruits and whole grain The result of less fiber intake is Constipation.

Dehydration – Consuming lesser amount of water is what causes the body to become dehydrated, tired and weak. Dehydration may also be the side effect of diarrhea as the body looses a lot of water during that time. Children must therefore drink as much as 8 to 10 glasses of water each day to keep the body well hydrated.

Oral health – It has been seen that both overeating and under eating can cause many diseases related to the mouth like scurvy, tooth cavities and plaque due to too much sugar, gum diseases, loosing of tooth enamel due to too much intake of soft drinks etc.

Eating disorders – There are two main kinds of eating disorders that have become a cause of worry for parents of adolescent children. Anorexia is a self-imposed starvation where the child may feel hungry but refuse to eat. Even if they do eat, they try to vomit or take laxatives and diuretics. Bulimia is another disorder where teenage girls usually eat a lot i.e. binge and then purge i.e. vomit it out. Both disorders are life threatening if not controlled.

Remedy and precaution
Healthy eating has to start from home. If your child is not already into the fast food life make sure it stays that way by providing unlimited healthy food choices at home. Some of the things you can incorporate into your life are,
• Take guidance from the food pyramid.
• Make sure your child’s daily calorie intake is as per her age, activity level.
• Try new recipes, new products to add variety to the meals.
• Keep a daily count of her carbohydrate, protein, vitamins, mineral, fat, sugar intake.
• Limit fat consumption. Switch to oils instead of solid fats for cooking purpose.
• Choose healthy snacks like yogurt, carrot sticks, tuna sandwich etc.
• Limit cola, added sugar drinks consumption.
• Give them food at regular intervals so that their blood glucose level is balanced throughout the day.
• Introduce to an interesting physical activity.
• Be a role model. Let healthy eating be a part of your life too.

With a little care and conscious efforts from your side, you and your child can say good-bye to diet related problems forever.
Published: 2009-11-27
Author: Atula Gupta

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