Parental supervision and dietary modifications are important for children fasting during this Ramadan, especially since the holy month coincides with class days and term examinations, according to Dr Alaa Takidin, Clinical Dietitian / Nutritionist, at Canadian Specialist Hospital, one of the leading private sector hospitals in the UAE.
“Children should start with partial fast and increase the duration gradually so that their bodies can adjust. During this gradual fasting parents should closely monitor their children to make sure they get all the necessary foods and calories,” Dr Alaa Takidin said. Children under 10 should ideally fast from breakfast until lunch, added Dr Alaa Takidin.
“Put your children to bed early to ensure they wake up on time at Suhoor. It will also prevent them from being sleep deprived and help them stay attentive in classes. High intensity exercises that make children thirsty and weak should be restricted, Dr Alaa Takidin reminded.
During Suhoor, children should consume a lot of proteins, such as peanut butter, low fat cheese and labnah, as well as yoghurt or milk. Beans, lentils, lean meats, nuts, oatmeal, eggs and dairy products are also good sources of protein. Children should increase their fiber intake and eat a lot of vegetables, whole wheat bread, legumes, wheat cereals and dried fruit.
Carbonated drinks as well as spicy, salty, sugary or fried foods, which negatively affect digestion should be avoided during Ramadan. “Let your child drink at least eight glasses of water in addition to fruit juices, milk and yoghurt. Likewise, fruits will provide them with all the nutrients, keeping them refreshed and energetic throughout the day,” Dr Alaa Takidin said.
Parents should not force children to eat too much as overeating can lead to bloating, indigestion and discomfort, added Dr Alaa Takidin.
“The best course would be to split Iftar into two separate meals, thus avoiding a large meal. It is very important that children break their fast with dates, soup and milk, juice or water, as well as salads. Dates and Salads will provide them with dietary fiber, mineral and vitamins. Soups will hydrate them, and save them from constipation.”
Canadian Specialist Hospital has launched a Ramadan campaign with six special packages and awareness programmes across their facilities, website and the social media to support healthy fasting. Visitors to the hospital’s website – www.csh.ae – can find videos in which specialists provide fasting tips for different groups, including children and those suffering from lifestyle diseases. The hospital will also join the Ramadan Night Market at the Dubai World Trade Centre 1-10 June to build awareness on heathy fasting among the public.