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Helping kids to enjoy food

Dietitians can provide expert advice to help people form healthy relationships with food and enjoy eating, according to Dietitian Karman Liu.

Karman is a Paediatric Dietitian at Peninsula Health. In the below blog post, she explains how she worked with a young client to expand her diet and make mealtimes a more positive experience.

Amy*, an 18 month old girl, was referred to me by her paediatrician with poor weight gain due to very limited variety in her diet. Amy had a cow’s milk protein allergy and had also been diagnosed with cyclic vomiting (a syndrome with unknown cause where a person experiences episodes of severe vomiting, nausea and dehydration which can be triggered by certain foods, anxiety and infections) which can result in hospital admissions.

Because of her medical conditions, Amy had become an extremely fussy eater with very limited food variety. When I first met Amy, her diet consisted of only Weetbix, bananas, apples, rice milk and pureed bolognaise from a food pouch. Her diet was not adequate to meet all her nutritional requirements. Mealtimes were very stressful for Amy and her Mum.

Because Amy’s growth was compromised from the lack of variety in her diet, I recommended a nutritional supplement that was free from cow’s milk protein to assist with better meeting her energy and protein needs. I also provided Mum with information on foods high in protein & dairy-free (such as eggs, legumes and lentils) to assist with growth and provided meal ideas to increase Amy’s acceptability of these foods.

Three months later, I saw Amy and her Mum in our clinic. I was pleased to hear the variety in her diet had increased, particularly with the inclusion of protein foods such as baked beans, small amounts of tuna and egg. Mum reported that she did not have to use food pouches as regularly thanks to these new foods. As a result, Amy’s weight gain had improved.

By the time she was two years of age, Amy was retested for cow’s milk protein allergy. The results came back negative and Amy was permitted to reintroduce dairy into her diet. Mum was very anxious about doing this though; as she was worried it would trigger the cyclic vomiting. I provided Mum with information on the ‘milk ladder’ approach and stepped her through how we would very gradually reintroduce dairy back into diet.

At two and a half years of age, Amy had made terrific progress, she had gained a good amount of weight, was enjoying a varied diet, tolerating all forms of dairy and no longer required a nutritional supplement.  Most importantly, Mum was now less stressed at meal times and Amy was enjoying her food.

12-18 February is Smart Eating Week, which encourages people to take a step towards better health by improving the nutritional value of the foods they eat.

To book an appointment with a Community Health based Dietitian at Peninsula Health contact our Access department on 1300 665 781. For Paediatric Dietitian advice call the Nutrition Department at peninsula Health on 9784 2660.

*Note Amy is not the patient’s real name.