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Given that most growing kids are picky eaters and families are increasingly buying food from outside rather than cooking meals at home, is it possible to fulfil the dietary requirement of children without giving them supplements?

Ms Christine Ong, Senior Principal Dietitian, Nutrition and Dietetics Department, KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH), a member of the SingHealth group says, “With planning and appropriate food choices, it is possible for families (both children and adults) who consume foods bought outside the home to have a balanced diet. For example, if eating out, a family of 2 adults and 2 children can have:

  • Chicken sweet corn soup, steamed fish, stir-fried kailan and mapo tofu at a zhi char outlet
  • Steamed chicken (skin removed), stir-fried dou miao and shrimp dumpling soup with white rice at a chicken rice outlet
  • Grilled chicken or steak with baked potato and salad at a Western food stall

Although it is not easy to meet the recommended number of servings of vegetables when eating out, families can consider ordering vegetables to share, e.g. a dish of salad or stir-fried vegetables at a restaurant or a bowl of vegetable items from the yong tau foo stall at a food court as well as a plate of cut fruits at the end of the meal.”

Good eating habits should be cultivated from young

Dr. Han Wee Meng, Head and Senior Principal Dietitian, Nutrition and Dietetics Department, KKH, a member of the SingHealth group, says, “Remember that establishing good eating habits can help your children maintain a healthy weight and normal growth. They are also likely to maintain a healthy lifestyle when they become adults. Furthermore, eating unhealthily sets the children up for an increased risk of obesity and obesity-related conditions such as sleep disorders and metabolic problems such as diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular diseases.

Parents should set a good example for their children by practising good eating habits. Meals should be served at regular times with each meal lasting not more than 30 minutes. Always go for healthier food options when dining out as a family. Parents are usually the main decision makers in food choices – what to eat and where to eat. Moreover, children are great imitators, so they pick up the eating habits from their family members. To cultivate good eating habits and to fulfil the dietary requirements of children, parents should set a role model, in choosing a healthy balanced meal, where there are plenty of vegetables and a selection of non-fried items at each meal. Fresh fruits can also be offered as a snack, in place of calorie-dense titbits. Healthy eating should be seen as fun and pleasurable to encourage acceptance amongst children.”

Are there any limits to amount of supplements your child should take? Find out from our experts on the next page.

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