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The eating habits for a child with digestion problems can vary considerably from what is considered normal for a healthy child without any type of disease, trying to accommodate the limitations that the sick child may have due to their circumstances and optimizing the benefits of what, in this case, is a healthy diet and balanced.
In the case of children with digestion problems or with diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, such as irritable bowel syndrome or Crohn's disease, your pediatrician will probably have already prescribed dietary guidelines for symptomatic flare-ups.
Unless more specific indications, we can generalize some common eating habits for children with digestion problems, especially for the stages, generally the majority, in which these diseases are latent and asymptomatic.
1. Ensure a frequent supply of food to avoid large meals. In these cases in which the gastrointestinal tract is not 100%, overeating is a risk added that we should avoid.
2. Divide the daily intake into 6 meals, thus avoiding stressing the digestive tract, making the child's digestion more bearable.
3. Forget the traditional three-course meal in favor of a unique, healthy and varied dish.
4. Combine foods trying to obtain the maximum benefit with the minimum digestive effort. Blue fish or meat with vegetables, legumes with rice or pasta with vegetable sauce are options that provide energy and micronutrients in a single dish.
5. Eat as a family, without distractions that can make the child eat more or less than he needs. It is extremely important that the child is able to listen and act on satiety signals, especially in these cases.
6. Respect the child's signs of satiety. If you normally force eating is completely contraindicated as it can lead to obesity, in children with digestive problems it can cause even more serious health problems, related or not to the disease they already have.
7. Offer a continuous supply of water between meals, trying to limit the amount water consumption during meals. Although water is an essential element for digestion, in these cases, the dilution of digestive juices in drinking water can slow down the digestive process, something undesirable for children with digestive disorders. A good glass of water - or two! - can be offered between 15 and 45 minutes before ingestion.
8. Offer raw fruits and / or vegetables between main meals. It is essential that these children consume small amounts of food in a relatively continuous way, and the contribution of fruit between meals is fantastic to collaborate in the provision of water for proper hydration.
9. Discard salty snacks and industrial pastries. Salt and hydrogenated fats are enemies to combat in childhood, but even more so in the diet of children with digestive disorders. Natural or roasted nuts are, however, an ideal option for snacking.
10. Control the fat intake. It is necessary for the child to receive foods with unsaturated fats: blue fish, nuts, seeds, but excessively fatty and difficult to digest foods should be avoided.
11. Pay special attention to the contribution of micronutrients, as vitamins and minerals. The fact that many of these diseases occur with episodes of diarrhea should keep us alert to possible deficiencies and, as a prevention method, we can choose foods with high nutritional density in the child's diet.
12. Emphasize the eating dishes with minimal amounts of animal foods, offering legumes, for example, as the main protein source. A routine can be established that includes “vegetarian days”, in which foods of animal origin are not consumed or their consumption is very limited, with others in which lean meats or oily fish are chosen as the main protein foods.
13. Limit meat consumption to three times a week, and always lean pieces. It is not necessary to completely avoid red meat, since it is a very interesting source of iron, but it is necessary to consume it with caution, favoring the consumption of white meats such as chicken.
14. Include egg in your diet. The egg is a superfood, an ideal nutrient cocktail for children, and they also love it. Not including the fried egg for its unnecessary fat content and for being more difficult to digest, both the cooked egg and the omelette in all its varieties are ideal foods to include in the diet of these children. In addition, they are ideal for dinner, due to their content in tryptophan, an initial amino acid precursor of melatonin, the hormone related to relaxation and rest.
15. Be careful with the fiber. Fiber is not always an ally in these diseases, being able to aggravate the symptoms in many cases, and exacerbating the loss of minerals and trace elements. It is advisable not to exceed the recommended fiber intake for the child's age, even limit its consumption if it is at a time when the symptoms are more evident - symptomatic outbreak.
16. Substitute yogurt for milk, especially in symptomatic outbreaks, in which avoiding milk is essential. During childhood, milk is a practically indispensable food due to its contribution of calcium and phosphorus for the growth of bones and teeth - so important at this stage - as well as vitamin D to fix calcium to the bones. By substituting yogurt for milk, in addition to providing these essential nutrients, we are providing lactic acid bacteria that help improve intestinal health.
In the case of gastrointestinal diseases, the contribution of lactic acid bacteria and / or probiotics is even more important, since the health of the intestinal microflora - the population of bacteria that line the large and small intestine - can be compromised by the course of the disease.
The doctor can prescribe, if he considers it beneficial and / or necessary, probiotics in pills, but in the meantime we can offer both yogurts (containing two lactic bacteria) and other fermented milk products. These products contain beneficial bacteria known as probiotics, generally accompanying the two bacteria in yogurt, and can be found on the market in solid and drinkable formats.
17. Avoid processed foods –Fast food and / or precooked-, using in their favor more natural foods, with less fat and additives that can cause additional digestive problems.
18. Forget about frying. Culinary processes should be chosen that ensure maximum micronutrient preservation and minimal fat intake, such as blanching or baking.
19. Keep a food diary, so that we can easily obtain a list of foods that the child tolerates more easily in symptomatic periods and which ones we should avoid. Each child and each disease is a world and, in this way, we can individualize and adapt the diet to the condition of our child.
20. We should not rely on asymptomatic periods and change the child's diet, since the disease of our little one is latent and can be symptomatic without prior notice. It is preferable to remain cautious and always take care that the diet is kind to your digestive system.
You can read more articles similar to 20 Eating Habits for Kids with Digestion Problems, in the Eating Disorders category on site.