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Healthy fasting for children

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Bubur lambuk is a popular dish during Ramadan. It’s also a good dish to give your kids who have just started to fast.

Are you about to get your children started on fasting? Don’t worry, there’s a safe and healthy way to get your child to fast.

GENERALLY, children who have not yet hit puberty do not have to fast. However, as they get older, you may want to start preparing your child for this ritual. You can start encouraging your child to begin fasting at the age of seven by getting him to fast for a few hours a day and gradually introduce him/her to all-day fasting.

It is important to teach your child the correct way to fast in order to get him mentally and physically accustomed to the discipline. Since our weather tends to be hot, it is crucial that you take your child’s age into account so as to avoid illness and fatigue.

Given that your child is growing – developing bones and muscles – and needs more nutritious foods in proportion to his size, you must assess your child’s ability to fast.

Start with the basics. Before Ramadan, you can:

– Get your child to eat smaller meals throughout the day to help control the temptation to eat large meals.

– As Ramadan draws nearer, cut down your child’s number of meals a day so that his mind, body and appetite are all in tune for the coming fasting period.

– Gradually cut down your child’s consumption of salt and sugar as these increase thirst and cravings.

During Ramadan, you can:

– Gradually initiate your child into the fasting month. In the beginning, encourage him to fast until 10am.

This can be gradually extended to the noon prayer time (zuhur), and then until the time of the evening prayer (asar).

– Give your child a proper meal during sahur that will last him throughout the fasting period every day. Slow-digesting, fibre-rich foods such as wholegrain cereals, fruits and vegetables are an essential part of the meal.

– Don’t allow your child to overeat (this can cause bloating and indigestion) or eat spicy foods, which can increase gastric acidity.

The best way for your child to get all the energy and protein he needs is to include a variety of protein sources (e.g. milk, cheese and yogurt in meals and snacks). Carbohydrates like rice and potatoes are also an important source of energy.

Don’t forget to pack more colour into your child’s meals as these contain a variety of vitamins and minerals. Even white foods like garlic, onions, mushrooms and cauliflower contain allicin and quercetin – substances that may defend the body against inflammation.

To help you in your child’s meal planning during Ramadan, here are some suggestions for sahurbuka puasa, and moreh(a form of “supper” held either during the breaking of fast or after tarawih prayer and witr prayer).

Sahur

Food: Breakfast cereals, e.g. oats, wholemeal breads, pancakes (lempeng), rice with mixed vegetables, chicken porridge, tuna/egg/sardine sandwiches.

Drink: Milk, malted drink, plain water, fruit juice, tea.

Fruit: Bananas, papaya, watermelon.

Buka puasa

Food: Rice with kurma or chicken curry, laksa, mi goreng,rendangpulutlemang, traditional Malay cakes, roti jalanasi kukus with fried chicken.

Drink: Plain water, fruit juice, tea.

Fruit: Mango, watermelon, papaya.

Moreh

Food: Bubur lambuk, traditional Malay cakes – kuih lapis,dodolondeh-ondeh, curry puff, mi rebus.

Drink: Plain water, fruit juice, syrup juice, grass jelly drink.

Fruit: Watermelon, orange, banana.

Avoid carbonated drinks during iftar (time of breaking fast) as they can produce gas and cause discomfort.

It is good to inculcate fasting in your child from young. Just remember to ensure that your child meets his nutrition requirements at the same time.

Although it’s easier to allow your child to eat the same meals you eat during buka puasa, it is better to do some meal planning before or during Ramadan to ensure that your child will eat healthy and nutritious foods.

via Healthy fasting for children – Health | The Star Online.

Exercise sessions have ‘little impact on child activity’

Children playing on climbing frame

Children may spend less time outdoors at the playground if they go to after-school exercise clubs

 

Extra-curricular exercise sessions have little impact on children’s overall daily physical activity, research in the British Medical Journal suggests.

Researchers from Plymouth University found attending these sessions was only equivalent to doing an extra four minutes walking or running per day.

Children who attended did less physical activity at home afterwards, they said.

They looked at 30 studies, each lasting for at least four weeks, that monitored the bodily movements of the under-16s.

Eight studies involved overweight and obese children only, while the rest involved children who were a range of different weights.

Their results came from controlled trials that took place between 1990 and 2012.

The researchers looked at the effects of extra exercise sessions on total physical activity during waking hours as well as on overall time spent doing moderate exercise.

A PE lesson can be 10 minutes of running, 10 minutes of walking and 20 minutes of standing around…”

Brad Metcalf Plymouth University

Minimal impact

Despite the extra sessions, they found there were only “small to negligible” increases in children’s total activity and small improvements in time spent doing moderate or vigorous exercise.

They calculated this would have minimal impact on children’s body fat or BMI (Body Mass Index), equivalent to a reduction of 2mm (0.07in) in waist circumference.

“It could be that the intervention specific exercise sessions may simply be replacing periods of equally intense activity,” the study said.

“For example, after-school activity clubs may simply replace a period of time that children usually spend playing outdoors or replace a time later in the day/week when the child would usually be active.”

Brad Metcalf, lead author of the study and a medical statistician from the department of endocrinology and metabolism at Plymouth University, said extra-curricular PE lessons could often be far from energetic.

“A PE lesson can be 10 minutes of running, 10 minutes of walking and 20 minutes of standing in a queue waiting for your turn.”

Children may also end up eating or snacking more at home afterwards because they feel they have been more active – or parents may decide not to take their children to the park because they believe they have already had their exercise for the day.

‘Realistic’

Obesity is estimated to cost the NHS £4bn a year.

Mr Metcalf suggests any initiatives to combat obesity should emphasise diet and healthy eating, rather than relying solely on physical activity to solve the problem.

In an editorial in the same issue of the BMJ, Mark Hamer and Abigail Fisher, from the department of epidemiology and public health at University College London, said the devices used to measure the total activity of the children were a more reliable tool than questionnaires.

“The small effects reported by Metcalf and colleagues are probably more realistic and provide the best evidence to date on the effectiveness of activity interventions in childhood.”

But they added that the accelerometers could not measure activities like swimming or cycling.

Looking to the future, they said it was important to identify how best to promote exercise to children, “because a wealth of evidence supports the association between an active lifestyle and many facets of child health”.

BBC

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