This is a sponsored guest post.
In today’s fast-paced world more and more children are struggling with digestive issues. From gas to bloating and constipation to diarrhea, there are numerous digestive issues most people will have experienced in their lives. When it comes to children, there are a few simple steps you can take to try to help. In this post, we look at 6 of the most effective ways to help improve your child’s digestion and reduce digestive issues in the long-run.
How to improve my child’s digestion
Good nutritional health is vitally important. However, too much of a good thing can be bad. Too little of others can also be problematic. How and what we eat together is also an important concern. Here, we outline 6 tips to improve your child’s digestion.
- Portion Control
Everyone knows that sometimes our eyes can be bigger than our stomachs. Unfortunately, that means overeating can be a problem. As well as being bad for weight gain it is always one of the major causes of digestive issues for children. Whilst we can’t stop them from using their pocket money to choose supersize options at fast food outlets, we can control what we put on their plates at home.
Children are even worse than adults when it comes to knowing what an appropriate amount to eat is. As such, it can also be good to consume smaller plate sizes yourself to model the right behavior. It is easier to avoid overeating by starting with smaller portions and only going back for more if you’re hungry. This also slows down the pace at which children eat allowing them to recognize for themselves that they are full.
- Reduce meat & dairy consumption
It is important to ensure your child gets a varied diet. However, heavy foods like meat and dairy can be more challenging to digest. Meat also fosters the growth of certain bacteria that can cause digestive issues. Because of this, it is a good idea to cut down both meat and dairy.
Try being fully vegetarian or plant-based at least twice weekly. This helps the digestive system recover. Legumes are a good source of protein when avoiding meat, are full of fiber, and foster positive microbial growth in the gut. Promoting healthy bacteria growth can also improve digestion. Probiotics designed for children are a great way to foster these if they are particularly resistant to vegetables!
- Avoid processed foods
Ready meals are a great way to have a quick meal when you are short on time. However, it is important to choose none-processed foods free from things like trans fats and preservatives that can cause children digestive issues. As such, where possible, cook things from scratch with ingredients you control. That could mean choosing a can of tomatoes over a pasta sauce and flavoring it yourself with garlic and basil.
Processed foods are low on nutritional value and hard for children to process. Therefore, cutting them out completely or avoiding them as much as possible can help improve digestion whether you are a child or an adult. Natural foods the body knows and can use are the best way to go. They are also tastier and often don’t take much longer than their ready-made counterparts.
- Be careful with what you combine
As well as being careful about what you eat, it is also important to consider what you put together. Certain foods might be fine for digestion when eaten on their own but terrible when eaten together. For example, combining foods high in starch like bread, rice, potatoes, and pasta can cause digestive issues. Unfortunately, that means leaving the garlic bread in the freezer on spaghetti bolognese nights!
Other foods that it is best to avoid combining are different types of meat or other high protein foods. This is because meat, and protein generally, is harder for the body to break down. If you throw meat and chickpeas together that gives the digestive system a whole load of work to do. Obviously, doing this occasionally is okay. However, try to avoid combining the wrong food types regularly for improved digestion.
- Take glasses off the table for diner time
Whilst the classically laid table would always include a glass (and preferably a wine glass), drinking with food can actually be a cause of digestive issues. This is particularly true for children. When food and drink are combined, stomach acids become diluted. This slows down digestion and can cause discomfort.
Obviously, hydration is important, and making sure they drink enough is important if no liquids are available over dinner. You could try adding a pre or post-dinner drink into the daily routine to make sure you know they are drinking enough. Just make sure it takes place at least 15-minutes before, or 45 minutes after eating dinner.
- Eat around the table
As tempting as it can be to cave to the demands of your child to eat in front of the telly, it is best not to eat main meals whilst distracted. This is because the body will not be well prepared to digest food when distracted. Indeed, playing computer games whilst eating can be even worse for digestion. This is because they heighten anxiety levels that will divert energy away from digestion in the body.
Insisting on sitting around the table (and no glasses of water making there way there) will help to ensure focus. Even if the focus is short-lived and your child scurries back to their electronic device the moment their plate is cleared!
The tips above can be used in combination or one at a time. Whether your child suffers from excessive gas, a bloated tummy, or general digestive discomfort, any of these tips can be effective. However, if discomfort is prolonged or your child is experiencing any pain, it is important to contact your doctor. Ultimately, a regular routine, avoiding the wrong things, and adding in more of the good ones will usually do the trick.