Your baby grows very fast during his first year of life. He needs to eat nutritious foods to grow strong and healthy.
In this chapter, we suggest what foods to give your baby, how to prepare them and what age to introduce them to him. Remember that each baby is different and will develop his own daily feeding pattern. The amount of food, as well as the time of day for feeding will vary.
Birth to Four Months
Milk is the first food your baby takes. Until he is four months of age, your baby may be given only breast milk or formula.
Breast milk is the perfect milk for your baby. It contains everything he needs to keep him healthy. Most babies determine the amount of milk they want and when they want it. Babies usually want to be fed every two to four hours. The more often your baby nurses, the more milk your body will make for him. If you feed your baby when he wishes, you will always have enough milk for him.
The only acceptable alternative to breast milk is infant formula. Do not use powdered milk for adults – use only for infants. There are different types of prepared formulas on the market that are safe for you to use.
Powdered cow’s milk or fresh (boiled) cow or goat milk are not recommended for an infant less than 1 year old.
Do not add sugar or honey to the milk and do not mix fruit juices with it.
Do not use raw or pasteurized milk as it contains bacteria, fungus or viruses. Yogurt, buttermilk, cheese, milk pudding or custard should not also be given to babies below 1 year of age.
Introducing New Foods
From the age of four months you can start introducing new foods to your baby. Here are some tips to help you:
As your baby grows, he needs more than milk. Solid foods that have been pureed must be added to his meals. Solid foods should not be put into the bottle, but rather given to the baby with a spoon.
At the beginning of spoon feeding (at the age of 4 months), your baby may refuse the spoon and push the food out of his mouth with his tongue. Usually it is not that he dislikes it, but simply that he is not used to a spoon and the texture of the food. He only knows how to suck.
Begin feeding him slowly, in small amounts of very liquid-like solid foods, and increase slowly as the baby gets used to this new way of feeding.
Try only one new food at a time. Some foods can cause an allergic reaction. If you start your baby on only one new food each week, and your baby develops an allergic reaction, you will know which food is to blame. The only food you can introduce at 4 months of age is baby rice cereal.
Symptoms of food allergies include vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, skin rash, diaper rash, irritability and hyper activity. If your baby develops any of these symptoms, stop the new food and talk to your doctor.
Some foods which may cause an allergic reaction are:
• Cow milk
• Orange juice
If your baby refuses a new food; try mixing a little of it with the food he likes and gradually increase the new food and decrease the food he already eats.
If you are using commercially pureed baby foods, never feed your baby directly from the jar. Open it, take out the amount you need to feed your baby, cover the jar, put the date of the opening on its lid and keep it in the refrigerator immediately. It will remain safe for three days in the refrigerator. After three days you should throw it out.
Do not add salt, pepper or oil to the food.
As you add more foods to your baby’s meals, you may find that he is taking less milk. The following are suggested amounts of formula for the rest of the first year of your baby’s age:
Age Amount Feedings/Day
5-6 months 120-180 ml (4-6 ounces) 4 or 5
7-8 months 180-240 ml (6-8 ounces) 4
9-12 months 240 ml (8 ounces) 3 or 4
Suggested Feeding Schedules:
Four months: It is the right time to offer your baby cereals. Iron fortified baby rice cereal
is recommended. Mix a small amount of it with warm formula. Do not add sugar. At first, your baby will eat one or two teaspoons of cereal. As he grows, increase the servings to 3 to 4 tablespoons. You may gradually make the cereal thicker as he becomes accustomed to solid food and eating from a spoon. Do not add dry cereal to a bottle. Remember that your baby’s stomach is small. He is usually happier to be able to eat the food he requires in several smaller feedings than in three large feedings.
Teeth: Your baby’s teeth may start to come in as early as four months. To protect his new teeth from decay, it is best to not give him a bottle to take to bed or a bottle of juice or milk to carry around during the day.
Wipe the baby’s gums with a wet cloth after every feeding. When the baby’s teeth first appear, use a soft toothbrush without toothpaste.
Five months: Your baby is also ready to eat strained cooked vegetables. You may use pureed and strained:
Cooked frozen vegetables
Prepared baby food vegetables
If you strain and puree the food yourself, do not add sugar, salt, pepper, spices or butter.
The best vegetables to feed your baby are squash, carrots, green peas, beets, and spinach.
Raw vegetables or large amounts of cooked greens, cabbage, onions,
peppers, corn, turnips, tomatoes, broccoli, or okra are not good for
After vegetables have been introduced, begin feeding pureed and strained fruits to your baby. Some of the best fruits are: applesauce, pureed apricots, mashed bananas, mashed peaches or pears. You may also make a thick, unsweetened apple sauce yourself, or mash a ripe banana. Be sure to throw any seeds or skins.
Your baby will eat 2-4 teaspoons of pureed fruits and vegetables each
day, gradually increasing this amount to 4 tablespoons per day.
Six months: Encourage your baby to drink from a cup. This is a good time to begin giving him juice (such as apple juice). Always use unsweetened juices – do not add sugar or honey and do not give orange juice before the age of one year.
You may also begin feeding your baby hard egg yolk. Begin with just one teaspoon of hard cooked mashed egg yolk. Be careful not to give him the white of the egg. You can mix a small amount of the yolk with other foods, such as pureed vegetables until he develops a taste for it.
Make sure he does not develop a rash, indicating he may be allergic to eggs. If this happens, stop feeding him egg until you see the doctor.
When your baby begins to cut his teeth, good snacks are:
Chunks of ripe banana
Eight months: Introduce pureed, strained meat, such as beef, lamb, chicken or fish. You
may use either prepared foods or puree and strain the food yourself. Begin feedings with 1 to 2 teaspoons of these foods each day and gradually increase the amount to 2 to 3 tablespoons or ¼ jar of commercially prepared baby meat. At this age, your baby should be eating well balanced meals consisting of:
Breast milk or formula
Vegetables and fruits
Nine months: You may begin giving him finely chopped, home prepared foods. As he is not used to chunks, he might choke on too large a piece. Watch him closely as he learns to bite and swallow. Do not add salt, butter, sugar or seasonings to the food.
A good way of introducing chopped foods is to add a small amount to a serving of strained food. Gradually increase the amount of finely chopped food and decrease the amount of strained food until the baby is eating all chopped food. You may also introduce spoon mashed fruits and vegetables.
Ten months: Begin offering your baby the same food as the rest of the family, including vegetables and rice. The food should be well-cooked, not seasoned and not greasy. Throw away any seeds and skins.
Twelve months: You may add vegetable stew and soup to foods. They should not be seasoned, not greasy and prepared from meats and vegetables he is used to.
In small amounts, offer your baby whole, pasteurized a long life cow’s milk from a cup. Do not give any raw cow, goat, or camel milk. It is a good time to let your baby use a spoon, he will be very awkward and very messy — so be prepared!
If egg yolk was well tolerated by your baby, you can start offering him whole egg at one year of age. You can also start giving him other starches, such as boiled plain potatoes; spaghetti, noodles, etc., continue offering finger foods, including slices of peeled, ripe apple, pear and peach.
Put the child on a feeding chair or a high chair at meal time and protect his neck and chest with an apron.
One year and older
As he grows, your child needs to eat foods from the major food groups, which are:
Dairy Products – including milk, cheese and yogurt. Give him three servings per day from this group.
Protein Foods – including meat, fish, chicken and eggs. Your child should have one egg and 2 ounces (60 grams) of meat, fish or chicken daily.
Fruits and Vegetables – your child should consume five servings of fruit and vegetables every day. Include one citrus fruit for vitamin C.
Bread and Cereals – give your child four servings of bread and/or cereal every day. Cereals are preferred to be iron fortified.
Sample feeding schedule for an 18 month old child, selected from the major food groups:
Milk (½ cup)
Cereal (4 tablespoons)
Chopped fruit or unsweetened fruit juice (½ cup)
Boiled egg (one)or full cream cheese (one slice)
Milk (½ cup)
Milk (½ cup)
Chopped meat or chicken or fish (3 tablespoons)
Rice (4 tablespoons)
Chopped vegetables (4 tablespoons)
Fresh fruit, peeled and cut into pieces (½ cup)
Milk (½ cup)
Fresh fruit peeled and cut into pieces (½ cup)
Full cream Laban or yogurt or milk (½ cup)
Chopped meat chicken or fish (30-60 grams)
Chopped vegetables (4 tablespoons)
Whole bread (one slice) or rice (4 tablespoons)or plain macaroni (4 tablespoons) or mashed/cut steamed or baked potato (½ piece)
Unsweetened fruit juice (½ cup)
Milk (½ cup)
Your child needs iron to keep him healthy and strong. Be sure to give him plenty of foods which contains iron, such as iron-fortified cereals, egg yolk, liver, green leafy vegetables, and red meat. Vitamin C food sources (fruit juice as orange juice) enhance iron absorption. Milk contains no iron except the fortified formula.
There is a natural decrease in appetite at one year of age as your baby’s growth rate slows down. Do not worry if your child seems to eat less than he used to. He does not need as much food as he did before. If he is full of energy and is growing normally there is nothing to worry about.
Do not force your child to eat if he is not hungry. A child’s appetite is self-regulating. If he hungry, he will eat. He will not refuse food that his body needs unless he is sick. If your child refuses food for more than two days take him to the doctor.
From 1 to 5 years:
Small children like cut or sliced foods such as pieces of cheese, fruits and vegetables, toast, crackers, meat balls and sliced mea or chicken or fish. Raw fruits and vegetables must be washed well.
Your child is still developing his chewing abilities and still at risk for choking or suffocating by some food, such as whole grapes, hard candy, popcorn, nuts, corn, olives or raw carrots. Do not give small pieces of any hard food until your child has enough teeth and is able to chew very well. Cut his meat into bite-sized pieces or use ground beef or lamb or chicken or fish.
Offer your child small servings in child-sized plates and cups.
Give him five to six small meals a day rather than three large ones.
Include 3 cups of milk per day to provide adequate calcium for the growth of the bones. The milk should be vitamin D fortified.
Keep mealtime relaxed and calm.
For snacks; give him fruits, vegetables, un-sweetened juice or cheese. Avoid colas, coffee, tea, sweet rolls, and donuts. It also keeps him from being hungry at mealtimes. The snacks should be planned so they do not interfere with appetite at mealtimes but will be part of the daily meal plan.
Snacking should not be discouraged, but modification of food choices may be necessary to avoid dental caries and obesity. Avoidance of excessive intake of sugar is recommended.
If you notice that your child is not gaining weight or becoming overweight, speak to the doctor.
Encourage your child to be active. This is important for his physical, mental, and social development.
Highly seasoned or fried foods may not be tolerated. Children usually prefer mild flavor and simply prepared foods that are soft in texture and easy to chew.
Foods at moderate temperature are usually better accepted than hot or cold foods.
Introduce new foods slowly. It may help to accompany a new food with a familiar one.
Check with your doctor and nutrition expert about the nutritional needs of your child for normal growth and development.
Encourage good nutritional habits and be a good model to your child.
Children’s nutrition is important for their over-all health, now and for the future. Healthy and well-balanced meals preventing medical problems such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and osteoporosis (weak bones). In addition, proper nutrition supports children’s growth and development for their bodies and brains.
Tips for Proper Children Nutrition
Consume varieties of foods including lean meat, seafood, eggs and skinless poultry, fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, cereals and legumes, low-fat milk and its product and healthy oils. Well-balanced and varied foods ensure providing the children with their nutritional requirements such as calories, protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, fluids and fiber. These foods will ensure the children well-being and health.
Consume moderate amounts of salt and reducing the intake of salty foods such as olives, pickles, sauces, dressings and ketchups.
Consume moderate amounts of sugar and reducing the intake of sugary drinks and sweets. It’s recommended to consume sweets in moderation and to make them healthy by mixing fresh fruits with them and prepare them with whole-wheat flour. Sweets are recommended to be served in small portions and to be replaced by fresh or dried fruits.
Consume low fat or nonfat milk products in adequate amounts for proper growth of bones. Three cups of milk, laban or yogurt are recommended per day. Two slices of low fat cheese or 2 tablespoons of labnah are equivalent to 1 cup of milk.
Consume foods rich in fiber such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, cereals and legumes. Fiber helps children feel full and regulate their bowels.
Consume healthy oils in moderation such as corn oil or canola oil or olive oil or sunflower oil rather than butter or ghee or animal fat. The amount of the oil added to food is decided by the caloric requirements of the children.
Divide the meals into three main and 2 to 3 snacks. Children are encouraged to consume their meals and snacks regularly.
Consume foods rich in iron such as lean meat, eggs, green leafy vegetables, lentils, dried beans, and fortified cereals. These foods help children avoid iron deficiency anemia and improve their immunity, activity and school performance.
Encourage children to drink adequate water and reduce their intake of coffee or tea or sweetened drinks. Power drinks should be avoided.
Encourage children to consume healthy food early in life and adopt healthy eating habits.
Encourage children to chew foods well and not to eat fast.
Balance food intake with physical activities. Children are encouraged to practice regular activities for one hour per day and to limit their television watching or computer games to one hour on weekdays and two hours maximum on weekends and holidays.
Nutrition Tips for Teenagers
The communities of the Middle East are growing where the youth represents one of the highest rates in the world. But as in the rest of the world, teenagers have difficult times in meeting their nutritional needs and they tend to consume more refined carbohydrates, sugary drinks and less lean protein or milk products.
The fast foods restaurants are increasing in an alarming rate in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Gulf region in addition to many countries of the Middle East, where the teenagers are subject to fast food advertisements, which further steer them away from consuming healthy and nutritious meals. This has resulted in increasing the obesity and osteoporosis prevalence within the teenagers of the Middle East, in addition to iron deficiency anemia among the girls.
Teenagers grow fast and need more calories and protein for their
growth spurts and physical transitions into adults. Healthy eating
habits for teenagers have positive impacts on their academic
achievements, families, and self-image and in preventing many nutrition
and lifestyle connected diseases. The teen years are very important in
human development and future generation and leaders, as what they eat at
the teen years will impact their well-being and health in the years to
Importance of Consuming Well Balanced and Healthy Meals
Teenagers need a lot of calories, carbohydrate, protein, vitamins and minerals. The “My Plate” approach can be used as a guide for their healthy eating. The meals should include whole grains and cereals, fruits and vegetables, low fat or nonfat dairy products, lean proteins and healthy oils.
Teenagers are advised to consume five servings of fruits and vegetables per day to provide them with the needed carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Fruits and vegetables are superior to their juices, and more filling. Sugary fruit drinks are fiber free, poor in vitamins and minerals and are not good options for teenagers’ health and nutrition.
The meals are recommended to be distributed over three main and 2 to 3 healthy snacks to satisfy their hunger and meet their growth needs.
An early breakfast is the most important meal for teenagers for the day and should include whole grains or unsweetened cereals, lean protein such as eggs, low fat cheese, or low fat labnah, or cooked lentils or Hummus or beans, low fat or nonfat milk, healthy oil, such as olive oil or corn oil, fresh or dry fruits or unsweetened fruit juice. Zaatar bread made of whole-wheat flour and olive oil, consumed with tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce, olives, an egg-vegetable dish provide good sources of calories, carbohydrates, protein, fiber, antioxidants and essential fatty acids.
Most of the fast-foods in the Middle East are fatty, salty and lack may essential vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants. Teenagers are encouraged to demand healthier options of fast-foods and limit the fried options and super-size burgers and sugary drinks and sodas. Grilled burgers made with whole-wheat bread, low fat cheese, lean meat and fruit juice are good options. The fatty fast-foods have contributed to the obesity prevalence among the teenagers of the Middle East, in particular, in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Gulf region, which has increased the risk of diabetes type 2 and heart diseases among them, in addition to increasing the risk for some types of cancer.
Teenagers need more calcium and vitamin D for their bone growth to avoid osteoporosis. Three cups of low fat and nonfat milk or buttermilk or yogurt are needed daily. Most of the Middle Eastern countries fortify their milk products with vitamin D except the home and local made products. In addition, they need to expose themselves to the Sun for 15 minutes a day for fair skin people and longer for dark skin people. Milk pudding, custard and fruit yogurt made from low fat or nonfat milk are also good options for calcium, vitamin D and protein.
Complex Carbohydrates for Energy
Teenagers need to have 50% of their calories from carbohydrates that are preferred to be complex as these are filling, satisfying to them and nutritious. Examples of complex carbohydrates are whole grains and cereals, pasta, legumes, fruits and vegetables. Complex carbohydrates provide fiber that helps in preventing constipation in addition to many vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Teenagers need protein for their muscles growth. The sources of the protein are animal and plants. The animal protein are refereed to be low fat, such as lean meat, skinless poultry, seafood, eggs and low fat or nonfat milk products. The plant proteins are legumes such as lentils, beans, soy, nuts and hummus. Animal proteins provide a good amount of iron except for milk and its products, while the plants provide iron, fiber and antioxidants but with a lower quality of protein. Salmon, tuna, almonds and walnuts provide a good amount of protein in addition to omega-3 that is needed for mental health and boosting immunity.
Teenagers are advised to consume heart friendly foods, such as low fat and nonfat milk products, plenty of fruits and vegetables, in particular the ones with bright colors, whole grains and cereals, legumes, lean meat, skinless poultry or seafood and healthy oils. These foods provide them with fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that are needed for their heart health. They are subject for heart diseases due to consuming full cream and fatty products, salty foods and sauces, dressings, refined carbohydrates, pastries, sweets, sugary drinks, butter and ghee. All these unhealthy foods increase the teenagers’ risks for obesity, high blood pressure and heart disease at their early age due to the high contents of calories, cholesterol, saturated fat, trans fat and salt, and also to the poor contents of fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Teenagers are advised to shop for healthy foods at the grocery stores, restaurants, and schools’ canteens. They are advised to read the food label when shopping, limit their intake of chips, fatty pizza, greasy burgers, sugary drinks, crackers, creamy biscuits, fries, sausages, and chicken nuggets. The healthy options are grilled or baked or steamed foods. They can use healthy oils in food preparation, such as olive oil, corn oil, canola oil or sunflower oil, rather than butter, ghee, animal fat, palm oil or coconut oil. Fresh fruits or low fat fruit yogurt or low fat fruit milk are good alternatives for creamy sweets and chocolate.
Teenagers are encouraged to resist the temptation for smoking and avoid passive smoking. They should be engaged in regular sports and activities and maintain their body weights within a healthy range.
The heart health guidelines are helpful for teenagers to reduce their risks for high blood pressure, stroke and cancer.
Importance of Iron
Iron is needed for both teen boys and girls and they grow, to add more muscles and have expanded blood volume. The teen girls need more iron than the boys.
Teenagers are advised to consume iron rich food such as lean red meat, skinless poultry, seafood, green leafy vegetables, and cooked legumes, such as lentils, beans and hummus. The absorption of iron from the animal sources is better than plant sources. But eating vitamin C rich foods such as citrus or drinking orange juice with the iron sources of plant food improve its absorption from the intestines. Teens are advised to consume iron fortified food such as fruit juices and cereals.
Consuming iron rich foods help the teenagers avoid iron deficiency anemia, improve their activity level and immunity, and help them avoid tiredness and fatigue.
Teenagers need to drink a lot of fluids for hydration and other vital functions for their bodies.
Water is the best option and they are advised to drink plenty of it. Feeling thirsty and having low volume of urine and changing its color to brown or dark yellow are indications for dehydration.
Other healthy fluids are low fat or nonfat milk, buttermilk or yogurt, flavored and unsweetened milk, unsweetened fruit juices, vegetable juices, decaffeinated coffee or tea, and low fat grain or vegetable soups and broths. Fresh fruits, vegetables, low fat milk puddings or low fat fruit yogurt provide good amounts of fluids and other necessary nutrients.
Teenagers should not consume excessive amounts of diet drinks, in particular the ones with caffeine, as caffeine in tea, coffee and some kinds of diet drinks deplete the water from their bodies. While regular sodas, cream soups, sugary drinks, power drinks, strong coffee or tea is not good options for fluids, excessive intake of these unhealthy options replace the healthy fluids such as milk that is needed for bone health and contribute to obesity, dental cares and other health problems.
Teenagers need to consume 2-3 snacks per day to satisfy their hunger and meet their nutritional requirements. The healthy snacks include:
Low fat or nonfat milk and its products, such as buttermilk or yogurt.
Low fat fruit yogurt or low fat unsweetened fruit milk.
Fresh or dry fruits.
Raw or cooked vegetables.
Unsalted nuts, such as almonds and walnuts.
Fat free air popcorn.
Low fat cheese mixed with fruits or vegetables.
Sandwiches made with whole grains, stuffed with low fat labnah, low fat cheese, skinless poultry or tuna or lean meat or peanut butter or eggs.
Low fat grain or vegetable soups.
Pasta dishes mixed with tomcats’ and other vegetables.
Cooked legumes such as lentils, beans or hummus.
Nutrition Tips for Men
Specification of Men’s Meals:
Well-balanced that contains all the nutrients they need, such as complex carbohydrates, lean protein, fruits, vegetables, low fat or nonfat milk, and healthy oils.
Moderate in salt content.
Rich in fiber that is provided from whole grains and cereals, fruits and vegetables, and legumes such as lentils and beans.
Low in refined and simple carbohydrates, such as sugar, jam, pastries, sodas and sweetened drinks.
Heart friendly (low in salt, low in cholesterol, low in saturated and trans-fat) and rich in antioxidants and fiber.
Rich in calcium and vitamin D that support maintaining their bone health and density and reduce their risks for osteoporosis.
Distributed over three meals and 2-3 snacks.
Moderate in caffeine.
These specifications reduce the risks of obesity, heart diseases, stroke and some types of cancer. Men are advised to practice regular and moderate activity, such as jogging or biking or swimming. Eating well-balanced meals support men to be active, productive at work, or achieve satisfactory academic results, support their bone health and immunity. The meals also support mental health for men as they contain all the necessary nutrients for brain that make them focused and concentrated and reduce their level of stress. Eating well for men will be beneficial for their long-term health benefits. It will impact their aging in a good way and reduce their risks for many chronic diseases and improve the way they feel and look.
Death of men from heart disease is a big concern, where consuming unhealthy food, smoking (active or passive) and drinking alcohol are the main causes. The contributing factors to death from heart disease are:
high cholesterol level, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, smoking and a sedentary lifestyle. But all these can be reversed by following an appropriate meal plan in addition to practicing regular activity and avoidance of smoking and alcohol.
Well-balanced and Healthy Meals for Men
1 cup of low fat or nonfat milk.
1 serving of fresh fruit (such as one banana or one orange or apple or three dates) or ½ cup unsweetened fruit juice.
1 cup of vegetables such as slices of tomatoes/cucumber/green pepper/ carrots.
1 cup unsweetened whole grain cereals or 2 slices of whole-wheat bread.
2 slices of low fat or nonfat cheese or 2 tablespoons of labnah or 1 egg (limit egg yolk to 4 per week to reduce the intake of cholesterol) or ½ cup of hummus or cooked beans or lentils.
1 cup of tea (preferred green tea) or 1 cup of light coffee (preferred without creamer). Nonfat milk can be added to whiten the tea or coffee.
Lunch or Dinner
1 cup of low fat soup such as vegetables or lentils or oat.
1 cup of low fat or nonfat laban or yogurt.
1 cup steamed rice (preferred to be mixed with vegetables or lentils) or 1 cup pasta with tomato or 2 slices of whole-wheat bread or 2 medium potatoes (baked or steamed or grilled).
4 ounces (120 grams) of baked or grilled fish or skinless poultry or lean beef or lamb or 1 cup of cooked lentils or beans.
1 serving of fresh fruit or ½ cup of unsweetened fruit juice.
1 cup vegetable salad.
1 cup of tea (preferred green tea) or 1 cup of light coffee (preferred without creamer). Nonfat milk can be added to whiten the tea or coffee.
1. Portion control is necessary for the above food items to avoid excessive intake of calories that can lead to obesity.
2. One teaspoon of corn oil, canola oil or olive oil can be added to each meal. Limit palm oil or coconut oil.
3. Avoid adding excessive salt to food.
Foods to Limit at Meals
As these provide a lot of fat and calories and increase the risks of many nutrition related diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart diseases, stroke and some types of cancer.
Pickles and salted olives, ketchup, sauces and dressings
Full-cream milk and its products
Commercial cookies or fatty sweets
Liver and other organ meats
Canned fruit in syrup
Creamy biscuits, chips
General Health Guidelines for Men
1. Checking blood sugar regularly and reporting to doctors in case of noticing symptoms of high blood sugar (such as frequent urination or feeling thirsty or hungry or blurred vision).
2. Checking blood pressure regularly and reporting to doctors in case of feeling dizzy or fatigued or with numbness of face or arms.
3. Checking blood cholesterol and reporting to doctors in case of feeling chest pain.
4. Maintaining the body weight within normal ranges.
5. Avoidance of smoking and alcohol.
6. Reporting chronic constipation to doctors.
7. Consuming three cups of low fat or nonfat milk, laban or yogurt per day (fortified with vitamin D), in addition to Sun exposure for 15-20 minutes a day. This will help them avoid osteoporosis and bone fractures. Vitamin D is important for reducing the risks of osteoporosis, heart disease, diabetes and cancer. It is also important for mental health.
8. Practicing regular activities such as brisk walking or jogging or swimming for 30 to 45 minutes a day. Men are advised to listen to their bodies and stop exercising if they feel fatigued or chest pain and report to their doctors.
9. Consuming adequate fiber. Fiber is found in whole grains, cereals, fruits, vegetables and legumes. It makes them feel full and reduce the risks of constipation and colon cancer.
10. Consuming five servings of fruits and vegetables per day to provide their bodies with many vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants.
11. Consuming foods rich in antioxidants, such as olive oil, canola oil, salmon, tuna, almonds and walnuts. Antioxidants fight aging and reduce the risks of heart diseases and cancer and improve immunity.
12. Eat with mindful (eating with awareness). This includes eating only when feeling hungry, stop eating when feeling full, avoidance of eating too fast, chewing food well, enjoying the taste of food, not eating in front of the television or computer, not eating food as a treat and avoidance of large portions.
Nutrition for Women
Well balanced meals provide you with your nutritional needs and support you through all your life stages.
Benefits of Consuming Healthy and Well-balanced Meals for Women
Support your immunity.
Maintain your healthy weight.
Support your heart health.
Support your bone health and reduce your risk for osteoporosis.
Reduce your risk for cancer.
Reduce your risk for diabetes.
Boost your brain functions.
Boost your fertility.
Meets your pregnancy and lactation nutritional needs.
Improve your skin, teeth and hair.
Ease menopause symptoms.
Support your activities and work performance.
Well balanced and healthy meals include whole grains and cereals, fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy oils, lean meat or skinless poultry, seafood, low fat or nonfat milk and its products and fluids. All these will provide you with energy and make you look and feel the best at all your age stages.
General Nutrition Tips for Women Health
Support your bones. Dairy products, preferred low fat or nonfat are the best sources for calcium, which is the main building nutrient for bones. You need to consume 2-3 cups of low fat or nonfat milk or Laban or yogurt per day. This amount should be increased to 4 cups per day in case of pregnancy or lactation. Milk products are fortified with vitamin D that helps calcium to be deposited in the bones. Other sources of calcium are sardines with bones, broccoli and green leafy vegetables. Exposure to sunlight for 15 minutes a day will help your body make vitamin D. Other sources of vitamin D are sardines with bones, egg yolk, fortified cereals, and salmon. Regular exercise supports your bone health and provides your body with many health benefits.
Smoking, alcohol, excessive of intake of salt, lack of activity, excessive of intake of caffeine and meat, all decrease your bone’s density and increase your risks for osteoporosis.
Include fiber rich foods in your daily meals, such as fruits and
vegetables, whole grains and cereals and legumes, such as lentils, beans
and hummus. Fiber makes you feel full, reduces your hunger, prevents
constipation, lowers sugar and fat absorption from your intestines and
reduces your risks for heart diseases and some types of cancer. In
addition, fiber rich foods provide your body with many vitamins,
minerals and antioxidants.
Get enough iron. Iron is needed for women nutrition and health as they lose it during menstruation and delivery. Iron is found in red meat, legumes, such as lentils and beans, green leafy vegetables, egg yolk and fortified cereals. The absorption of iron for plant sources is not optimal. Vitamin C rich food such as citrus helps plant iron to be absorbed. Caffeine reduces iron absorption. Accordingly, it is recommended to consume caffeine containing beverages in moderation such as tea, coffee, coco and cola. Decaffeinated beverages are good options as they are caffeine free and contain antioxidants.
Consume your healthy meals and snacks regularly. This will help you maintain your health; avoid weight gain and other nutritional problems. The meals should contain low fat or nonfat dairy products, whole grains and cereals, lean proteins, plenty of fruits and vegetables and healthy oils. This pattern will provide you with the necessary complex carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. The meals also should contain less sugar, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol and salt to reduce the risks of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis and cancer.
Boost your meals with complex carbohydrates. These provide your body with many nutrients that regulate your blood sugar, make you feel full and provide you with long lasting energy. Simple carbohydrates such as sugar, sweets, jam, white rice, pies, and white flour, make fluctuations in blood sugar level, don’t support your immunity, don’t satisfy your appetite or maintain your healthy body weight and may lead to obesity. Simple sugars also don’t contain valuable nutrients that support your health and lower your risks for cancer, stroke and heart diseases.
Get enough healthy oil in your meals. Healthy oils such as corn oil, canola oil, olive oil or sunflower oil provide your body with the essential fatty acids and fat soluble vitamins and energy. Healthy oils are good for heart health; brain health, skin health and hair health. Nuts, such as almonds and walnuts, salmon, avocado and tuna provide your body with antioxidants such as Omega-3 that help in reducing the risks of heart disease and cancer in addition to its benefit for mental health. Healthy oils will help balance your meals and make them flavored and tasty.
Unhealthy fats should be limited, such as animal fats, butter, margarine and ghee, as they increase the risks for heart disease and stroke.
Consuming excessive calories for meeting pregnancy nutritional needs is a misconception as only 300 calories are needed for pregnancy compared to pre-pregnancy stage. Many women in the Middle East gain more weight than recommended during pregnancy due to the wrong belief of “Eat for Two” and the lack of activity. Pregnant women need to have 4 cups of low fat or nonfat milk per day to meet their calcium requirement. This amount will provide them with protein and vitamin D. Two slices of low fat cheese are equivalent to one cup of low fat milk. Fatty free diet is not recommended during pregnancy as healthy oils are needed to meet the requirements of pregnant women and their babies.
The meal should be divided into six small portions, rich in fiber and iron and to be limited in caffeine. Pregnant women are encouraged to walk regularly with the advice of their doctors, practice safety, consume only safe food, avoid smoking (active or passive) and alcoholic drinks.
Adequacy of fiber and fluids help pregnant women to avoid constipation. Regular walking will support a healthy pregnancy and avoidance of excess weight gain and constipation.
Gestational Diabetes is common among the women in the Middle East, where the increase in the blood sugar takes place mostly during the third trimester of pregnancy. It is important for all women who have risks for diabetes to ensure they maintain their healthy body weight, consuming well balanced meals and practicing regular activities.
Monitoring the blood sugar before pregnancy and during all its stages is important; in addition, blood sugar should be strictly controlled during pregnancy and monitored frequently.
The meals for gestational diabetic women should be divided into six small meals, include all the necessary nutrients for normal pregnancy, rich in fiber and fluids, moderate in fat and salt and include five servings of fruits and vegetables at a minimum. The meals should also include lean meat, fish or skinless poultry, healthy oils, low fat or nonfat dairy products and complex carbohydrates. Examples of complex carbohydrates are whole-wheat grains and cereals, rice, pasta or potatoes, and these should be distributed over the six meals. Simple carbohydrates such as sweets, sugar, white flour and pastries are not recommended.
It is important for the women to follow the normal weight gain
pattern during pregnancy and not exceed 10-11 kilograms weight gain to
the end of pregnancy.
Maintaining body weight within the healthy range and losing the excess weight after delivery are important to prevent gestational diabetes from happening in future pregnancies. Women at this stage are encouraged to breast feed their babies, and maintain their activity levels on a regular basis, consume well balanced meals and monitor their blood sugar regularly and to plan themselves for healthy pregnancy.
Breast feeding is beneficial and healthy for mothers and babies; medically, socially and psychologically. Breast milk is the best food for the babies. Mothers are encouraged to consume 4 cups of vitamin D fortified low fat or nonfat milk per day to meet their calcium requirement, maintain their bone health in addition to ensuring the growth of their babies’ bones. Lactating women need an additional 500 calories per day in comparison to non-pregnancy and non-lactating stages.
The meals should also be divided into six small portions, rich in fluids and fiber, contain all nutrients needed to maintain the health of lactating women and to nourish their babies. The meals should always be limited in caffeine containing drinks. There is a big similarity between the meals during pregnancy and lactation.
Lactating women should avoid smoking (active or passive) and alcohol, practice regular and moderate exercise such as 30 minutes of activity with the approval of their doctors.
Hormonal changes take place prior and during menopause that require nutritional management. Women in this stage are advised to pay attention to the following:
1. Adequate intake of calcium and vitamin D rich food such as low fat and nonfat dairy products. This will support their bone health.
Reducing the intake of caffeine containing beverages, avoidance of smoking and alcohol, in addition to practicing regular exercise will support their bone density and enhance their well-being and good health.
2. Limiting simple sugars and white flour will help reduce hot flashes. Reducing caffeine will help too.
3. Consuming healthy oils and nuts, such as almonds and walnuts, will provide essential fatty acids that are necessary for making hormones and maintain heart health, skin health and reduce flashes as well.
Fighting Breast Cancer
Proper nutrition and exercise play important roles in reducing the risks for breast cancer. Women should maintain their healthy body weight through consuming well-balanced meals and practicing exercise as obesity increases the risks of the breast cancer.
To reduce breast cancer risks, the healthy and well-balanced meals should include the following:
• Nonfat or low fat milk products.
• Whole grains and cereals.
• Minimum of five servings of fruits and vegetables, in particular the ones with bright colors such as oranges, sweet melon, watermelon, strawberries, red grapes, green grapes, grape fruits, squash, tomatoes, spinach, cauliflower, cabbage, carrot, green pepper and broccoli. This provides the body with antioxidants that reduce the risks of breast cancer in addition to other health benefits.
• Lean protein such as lean meat, seafood and skinless poultry.
• Healthy oils such as olive oil, canola oil, nuts (almonds and walnuts).
• Avoidance of alcohol.
• Limiting foods prepared at high temperature cooking, as high temperature increases the risks of cancer, in particular for the meat, fries and fried breaded dishes that are exposed to high temperature and boiling oils. Burned food should not be consumed.
• Limiting the excessive intake of red meat.
• Adequacy of vitamin D. Vitamin deficiency increases the risks of breast cancer. Women should consume low fat or nonfat dairy products that are fortified with vitamin D. Other food sources of vitamin D are egg yolk, salmon and fortified cereals. Direct exposure to sunlight for 15 minutes a day is encouraged to support their bodies meeting vitamin D requirements. Exposure to sunlight through glass windows, clothes or after putting sun block creams don’t help the body make vitamin D when exposed to sunlight.
• High fat intake from animal sources such as animal fat, butter, ghee, fatty meat, processed meats, full cream dairy products, and fried food may increase the risks of breast cancer.
• Some studies recommend consuming soy products such as soy milk and soy beans as they have a protective role against breast cancer. Other studies recommended adding curcumin spice to food for the same reason.
Seniors Nutrition at the Golden Age
The people in the Middle East live longer than before and the numbers of elderly citizens are increasing in all Middle Eastern countries due to better health care.
Nutrition is important through all life stages from childhood to adulthood and elderly. As the body ages, consuming well-balanced and nutritious meals is important to meet the needs throughout life.
Why most of our elderly people are don’t get adequate nutrition?
1. Poor appetite and eating small amounts of foods.
2. Decline in taste and smell acuity.
3. Poor dental status that makes food chewing difficult.
4. Insufficient digestion of food and absorption of nutrients.
5. Inadequate fiber and fluids intake that make dehydration and constipation.
6. Taking too many medications due to the presence of chronic illnesses. Many medications reduce appetites and nutrient absorption.
7. Intolerance of some food items with aging such as lactose that is found in milk and its products.
8. Limited exposure to sunlight that deprives their bodies from Vitamin D.
9. Inability to shop and cook food by themselves, in addition to the presence of many disabling diseases such as arthritis, walking problems, diabetes, etc.
10. Limited financial support that limits them from consuming well-balanced meals.
11. More sick days of elderly people due to poor immunity status that makes their bodies vulnerable for infection.
12. Weak muscles, joints and loss of brain cells that are not regenerated.
Eating for Good Health
Consuming well-balanced and nutritious meals, practicing regular activity and adopting healthy lifestyle are the keys to good health for all ages. Well-balanced meals ensure all the needed nutrients that are necessary for good health such as calories, fat, carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, minerals, fiber, fluids and antioxidants. Antioxidants are found in fruits and vegetables, walnuts and almonds, healthy oils and in salmon and tuna. Antioxidants help elderly people improve their heart health, reduce their risks for cancer and improve their memory.
Elderly people need to consume small and frequent meals that contain fluids and fiber to improve their bowels and avoid constipation. Fiber is found in whole-wheat grains and cereals, fruits and vegetables and legumes. Some foods may contribute to constipation such as banana, steamed potatoes and yogurt. These should not be restricted without consulting the doctor and nutrition experts as constipation may happen due to other reasons. Nutrition experts can help the elderly people manage their constipation by consuming foods rich in fiber, drinking adequate fluids and performing some exercises
Low fat or nonfat milk products are necessary for elderly people to provide them with their daily needs of calcium and vitamin D, in addition to protein and other nutrients. Many dishes of the Middle East can include milk or buttermilk or yogurt, such as cooked yogurt with garlic, buttermilk mixed with dates, custard, milk pudding, flavored milk, fruit yogurt, and cucumber yogurt salad.
Elderly people are recommended to consume foods rich in iron to avoid iron deficiency anemia. Iron is found in lean meat, poultry, seafood, green leafy vegetables, cooked legumes and fortified cereals. Consuming foods rich in vitamin C, such as citrus, help iron to be absorbed from plants.
Using healthy oils in the meals prepared for elderly people such as olive oil, corn oil, canola oil or sunflower oil is recommended to provide them with calories, essential fatty acids and fat soluble vitamins rather than butter, ghee, animal fat, palm oil or coconut oil. Healthy oils should be used in moderation as they provide a lot of calories where their excessive intake may lead to weight gain and obesity.
Osteoporosis (weak bones) is one of the major health problems for elderly people, causing disabilities and increasing the risks of falls. Consuming calcium and vitamin D rich foods such as low fat or nonfat milk, yogurt, buttermilk, cheeses, labnah, soy milk, sardines with bones and salmon is recommended in addition to exposure to sunlight and practicing walking and other activities with safety precautions. Elderly people who experience milk intolerance can replace it with yogurt or buttermilk as these are more digestible than milk.
Using the “My Plate” approach as a guide for elderly people to consume healthy meals and snacks is recommended. They are advised to rainbow their plates by consuming fruits and vegetables with bright colors that are rich in antioxidants and other nutrients. These foods are nutritious and include oranges, carrots, tomatoes, spinach, green peppers, cantaloupes, bananas, strawberry, squash, cauliflower and broccoli.
Importance of Consuming a Healthy Breakfast
Elderly people are recommended to start their days with a healthy breakfast to fuel their brains and bodies with the energy they need. The breakfast meal may include whole-wheat grains or fortified cereals, low fat cheese or labnah, cooked beans or lentils, eggs, low fat or nonfat milk, fresh fruits or unsweetened fruit juice.
Importance of Lunch and Dinner Meals
Healthy sandwiches made of whole-wheat bread and stuffed with lean soft meat or tender chicken or fish can be prepared for elderly people, along with a cup of low fat grain or vegetable soup, a cup of low fat yogurt or buttermilk, sliced fruits and cut vegetables are nutritious choices.
Elderly people enjoy soft foods that contain liquids, fiber and protein such as lentils or beans soup that can be served with a cup of low fat fruit yogurt and a plate of chopped salad. They also like mixing cooked vegetables with rice or pasta dishes and adding chopped meat or chicken to their soups. These tips will make their meals tasty, palatable, flavored and nutritious.
Importance of Healthy Snacks
Healthy and nutritious snacks are part of the well-balanced meals for elderly people, this may include fortified cereals with low fat milk, cooked legumes, soups, sandwiches, low fat milk pudding, low fat fruit yogurt, buttermilk and fruit salads.
Foods to be Limited
Consume moderate amounts of salt and limit their intake of salty foods, such as olives, pickles, ketchup and salted sauces. Herbs, spices, garlic, onion, lemon or lime can be added to foods to enhance taste and flavor without adding salt.
Reduce their intake of caffeine containing beverages, such as tea, coffee, and cola. Caffeine is diuretic and depletes their bodies of water and may deprive them from good sleep. Caffeine also reduces the absorption of iron and may increase the acidity in elderly people’s stomachs and cause indigestion.
Reduce their intake of food rich in cholesterol and saturated fats, such as egg yolk, animal fat, organ meat, butter, ghee, full-fat milk and its product and fatty meats.
Limit their intake of fried food in order to reduce the caloric intake; in addition, fried food takes a longer time to digest. Fried food provides more calories than baked or steamed or grilled. Excess calorie intake leads to weight gain and obesity that increases the risks of immobility and other diseases.
General Health Tips for Elderly People
1. Consult their doctors before taking any supplements or herbs.
2. Limit alcohol.
3. Avoid smoking (active or passive).
4. Control their blood sugar, blood pressure and lipids.
5. Perform regular medical check-ups.
6. Practice safety at home to prevent falls or burn.
7. Practice regular and moderate activity.
8. Monitor their body weight and consult doctors and nutrition experts to avoid weight gain.
9. Take a deep breath several times a day to help oxygenate their systems.
10. Set a schedule for sleeping, activities, shopping, social functions, medications, etc.
11. Set a schedule for meals and snacks. Dinner meal should not be consumed before bed. Two hours apart from sleeping time is recommended.
12. Drink adequate water and other fluids such as low fat soup, unsweetened juices and milk is important to meet the fluid requirements of elderly people and avoid dehydration. Dehydration is common in many elderly people due to declining of the thirst sensation. Drinking 1-2 cups of water in the early morning before breakfast is a good habit to clean elderly people’s digestive system.