- 16 June 2021
- Health and well-being
Some dietary advice for breastfeeding and feeding babies
Breastfeeding is the key stage in strengthening the bond between mother and baby and is the easiest and most natural way to nourish the baby. During this phase, the newborn baby is provided with all the necessary nutrients to satisfy his or her energy needs, so it is important that the mother's diet is balanced and guarantees the right nutritional intake for both.
The most delicate phase of food education begins after weaning. It is precisely during the infancy years that food habits and preferences are established, which will accompany us into adulthood.
For these reasons, we decided to interview Dr. F. L'Abbate, an expert in the field of nutrition. L'Abbate, an expert in post-pregnancy and school-age children's nutrition, so that she could give us the right advice for dealing with these two delicate phases of everyone's life in the best possible way.
- What foods are best suited to a woman who is breastfeeding?
During breastfeeding there is no need to follow a particular diet. Lots of fruit and vegetables are absolutely recommended, as are wholemeal foods, but also potatoes and pasta. It is important to increase the intake of lean proteins from legumes, fish or lean meat. Breastfeeding mothers need about 500 more calories per day than non-breastfeeding mothers. It is therefore important to drink to stay hydrated, ideally drinking 6-8 glasses of water a day. Beware of caffeine, which is secreted in milk, and limit or avoid its consumption, as well as caffeinated fizzy drinks and dark chocolate. Another tip: avoid alcohol.
- Is it possible to switch directly from breast milk to plant-based drinks?
According to the new indications provided by the American Health Eating Research guidelines, no vegetable milk for children under 5 years of age, the only exception being enriched soya milk (not valid for girls, only for boys). Why? Because they would lack the key nutrients found in cow's milk (protein, calcium and vitamin D). If they are added, the body is not always able to take them up as it does those found in cow's milk.
- What foods do you not recommend for children?
The foods that should be excluded from children's diets, and not only ours, are obviously sausages and salami, as they are rich in salt and preservatives; fried foods, and here I obviously include the very common and unfortunately very popular crisps in sachets; foods rich in sugar, including chocolate, which I would not give before the age of two because of its theobromine content (higher in dark chocolate), preferring milk chocolate. I would avoid white sugar, even in home-made sweets. There has been a lot of talk (with good cause) about palm oil, but I have seen biscuits and treats in shopping trolleys marked 'palm oil free' and more than one packet of butter next to it for home baking. Butter and palm oil are both saturated fats and equally damaging, as butter is still an animal fat. Beware of liquorice! It is best not to introduce liquorice to children as it affects blood pressure, so I would only allow it sparingly from the age of 10 years. Also watch out for fruit juices and fizzy drinks!
- What essential nutrients should be included in a child's diet?
To function properly, the child's organism needs 5 essential nutrients:
- proteins (animal and vegetable) 12% of the child's daily intake;
- carbohydrates (simple and complex) 60% of the child's daily requirement;
- vitamins (especially A,D,C,B);
- mineral salts;
- fats (important for the formation of the nervous system and the cell membranes of the brain and for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K) 25% of the energy requirement.
- What techniques do you recommend for getting little ones to eat foods they tend not to prefer?
After the first year of life, the speed of growth decreases and appetite may also decrease. You need to be patient, the adaptation period does not last long. Don't impose the spoon, don't be coercive or your child will experience mealtime as a nightmare! Leave him free to eat what he wants by suggesting healthy foods. Don't indulge him with crisps and snacks "as long as he eats", they reduce the sense of hunger, are harmful and do not solve the problem! Involve him in the preparation of the food, if he wants to play with it, let him get his hands and clothes dirty, he must enjoy mealtime.
- Is it necessary to include supplements in the infant's diet?
It is obligatory, not only necessary to supplement the infant's diet, which is based on mother's milk, with vitamins D and K. For infants taking formula milk, it is necessary to check among the ingredients of the various formulas to see if these are present and at what dosages. Why supplement these vitamins? Vitamin D is little affected by diet; its production is a result of exposure to the sun. Twenty minutes a day is enough to expose a little hand or foot to get sufficient vitamin D production without sun filters, but this is not always possible for babies. Vitamin K is mainly synthesised by intestinal bacteria. The intestinal flora of babies also varies according to the mode of delivery (caesarean or natural), or natural or artificial breastfeeding. It is necessary to supplement vitamin K for the first three months of a baby's life because of the risk of late haemorrhagic disease (not covered by the vitamin K injection given at birth). It is also possible to supplement with spirulina, according to certain indications, but not before the age of three. I do not consider spirulina suitable for healthy younger children as it is extremely rich in nutrients. If the child is malnourished or severely depleted, the introduction of this food can be considered with the paediatrician. In the case of older children, e.g. aged 9 and over, we can consider this supplementation. Spirulina strengthens the immune system and provides energy, taking care not to exceed 3 grams.
- Could you give us some advice on how to make children's diets varied?
After the age of one year, it is sufficient to propose a varied diet, in which all the food groups are present in a balanced way.
I recommend a cup of milk for breakfast, a yoghurt for a snack and a portion of cheese for dinner.
OK cooked ham or dried beef bresaola twice a week.
Meat: white or red, boiled, steamed, baked, NOT GRILLED, NOT FRYED.
3-4 times a week
3-4 times a week, NOT BREADED OR FRYED.
1 to 3 per week, NOT FRESH, preferably soft-cooked.
- CEREALS OR POTATOES
1-2 times a day, NOT FRESH. Potatoes are a good substitute for bread or pasta as they are rich in starch.
- FRUIT AND VEGETABLES
As much as you like! Juice, centrifuge, smoothies, every day, several times a day.
NO FRUIT JUICES!
- Could you suggest recipes for children to prepare with our products, following the various meals of the day?
- With your soya milk, I recommend custard for lactose intolerant people.
Ingredients: 1 litre of milk, 3 tablespoons of flour, 3 tablespoons of brown sugar, 3 egg yolks.
Method: mix the sugar with the egg yolks, add the flour and gradually the milk. Cook over medium heat, bringing to the boil for a few minutes.
- With your Wholewheat Superpasta I recommend a very easy and quick recipe, Pasta Salad:
Ingredients for 4 people: 300 g pasta, cherry tomatoes, oregano, oil, salt, parmesan cheese to taste.
Method: cook the pasta in boiling salted water, meanwhile cook the cherry tomatoes in a small saucepan with oil, salt, oregano and a little water. When the pasta is ready, stir in the sauce and serve topped with cheese.
- With your cous cous with 4 cereals I recommend the vegetable cous cous.
Ingredients: 300 g couscous with 4 cereals, 2 courgettes, 1 aubergine, 1 yellow pepper, 1/2 red pepper, 10 cherry tomatoes, basil, salt, extra virgin olive oil.
Method: Cook the couscous in boiling salted water: add oil when ready. Cut all the vegetables into equal cubes. Heat a little oil in a pan, add aubergines, peppers, courgettes and basil in order, then salt, parsley, cherry tomatoes, oil, add the cous cous and serve.
I recommend your juices and snacks (in the morning and afternoon).
- With your Nocciolata I would make delicious pancakes:
Ingredients: 6g yeast, 125g flour, 15g sugar, 2 eggs (or 4 tbsp potato starch), 200g milk (cow or soy).
Method: mix all the ingredients to obtain a batter. Heat a frying pan and pour in two tablespoons. Wait a couple of minutes, turn the pancake over and wait until it is covered with numerous bubbles. Serve spreading the Sottolestelle Nocciolata without milk.
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