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What are some of the misconceptions parents have about eating healthily?

Some common misconceptions parents have include:

  1. Misconception: Healthy meals have to be ‘proper’ meals consisting of rice with meat and vegetables, and then they get anxious when their child prefers eating noodles to rice.

    Truth: Noodles, pasta, potatoes, chappati and even bread can be consumed instead of rice, as these are food sources of carbohydrate. Carbohydrate provides a source of energy for the body.

  2. Misconception: Healthy meals have to be cooked without adding any oil.

  3. Truth: Oil/fat is a concentrated source of energy, providing calories to fuel the growth and activity needs of young children. Fat is also necessary to aid in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E and K), as well as provide essential fatty acids. 

    “So long as a healthy oil is used, (i.e. monounsaturated and polyunsaturated oils e.g. olive, canola, rice bran, sunflower, sesame, peanut, corn) parents can add oil to pan-fry or stir-fry foods rather than boiling everything in a soup,” says the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital​, a member of the SingHealth​ group. By varying the cooking methods, the tastes and flavours of the food can be enhanced, which may help to stimulate appetite in children.

  4. Misconception: Wholegrain foods like wholemeal bread, oats, brown rice must be given for all meal​s.

    Truth: Whilst wholegrains are important for good health, too much wholegrains can affect a young child’s appetite as wholegrains are high in fibre.

    So, if your child has a small appetite, you may wish to give only a quarter to half a serving of rice and alternatives as wholegrains.​

  5. Misconception: Fruit juice is as nutritious as fresh fruit.

    Truth:  Avoid giving fruit juice for the first two years of life as far as possible.Fruit juices, including those with ‘no sugar added’, can still contain a high amount of sugars, and exposure to sweetened beverages can lead to a development of taste preference for sweet foods and drinks. It is still best to give fresh fruit as that can encourage the intake of some fibre. Fibre is important for regular bowel movements, and also for satiety and weight control. Excessive juice consumption is also associated with diarrhea, flatulence, abdominal distention, and tooth decay.

See previous page for a gu​​ide on feeding children between the ages of 1-12 years​.

See next page for​​ 3 common feeding problems in children​.

​Ref: O17