Monthly Archives: August 2016

Girl Child Needs More Health

While in most developed countries, there is little, if any discrimination between the girl and the boy child as far as nutrition is concerned, a very large proportion of female child population in developing and economically weaker countries suffers from malnutrition. This is a fact corroborated by statistics, the result of researches of various agencies. But here the factors are completely cultural, in Asian, Latin American and some African cultures, a premium is placed on the baby boy and his upbringing is better monitored than a girl’s. An extreme result is female infanticide or even killing of female fetus in the womb itself. In basically agrarian societies, no one wants to be burdened with an unproductive member in the family. In partially agrarian cultures, no one wants to have a girl whose social status is far below that of the boy and in marrying her off, the family is often crippled by debt. So, infanticide or feticide is a better option. But more on that later.

The point here is, even in societies where there is no such inferiority hoisted on girl children, do parents, family or even the health services, place greater emphasis on the nutrition provided to a young girl? She is the mother of the next generation and hence, her basic nutrition should far outweigh the boy’s. A female body needs more calcium, iron and other nutrients in its formative years, to be able to bring forth healthy children and also keep their own bodies intact. No, this is not about considering procreation as the only activity that nature meant the woman to do. This is about the biological structure of the female. Whether or not she opts to become a mother, her chemistry and hormonal conditions change around mid-life and unless she has been well fed during her childhood and adolescence, the onset of middle age can bring in umpteen complications. How many doctors warn the parents of young girls about this? For them, food is not only about building and maintaining, but also about reserving for the time when bones will begin to thin and allow crippling diseases like osteoporosis to set in, or menopausal side effects due to certain deficiencies, or even recovery post childbirth, when the body’s stores have been all but depleted.

The first thing to do is to follow a health regime strictly. Aiming for a fit lifestyle (always place your needs before the family’s demands, because if you are down and out, who takes care of them? Worse still, who takes care of you?) Secondly, it is important for a woman to maintain an optimum body weight. Right from childhood, the parents should take care that her BMI and weight is proper, or else things may be dangerous. This is the primary reason why anorexic women may be everybody’s idea of beauty but they are nobody’s idea of fitness. Keeping a regular exercise regime will help, so will sticking to the good food pyramid recommendations for a good diet.

Here are some guidelines for women to follow a good health regime in their early years, pre-puberty, puberty and childbearing years…so they may not suffer the results of self-neglect in later years.

Parents of a girl should instill these values in their child early, preferably before puberty, so the routine can become a healthy lifelong habit. While binging and obesity have to be avoided, staving and anorexia are to be avoided too. So a good guidance from elders (parents or whoever they will listen to), is essential. Here, a lot of psychological factors are important too. The girl child must be taught the value of confidence, faith in one’s abilities and also that beauty is not about a thin body or a particular type of skin. This is definitely an onerous task, what with the regular bombardment of impossible idols for the young generation in media of every type. But a sustained, caring and intelligent guidance from elders who care can help instill the sense of “I Should be HEALTHY First…”in the girl. It goes a long way in fighting peer pressure for confirming to social (read POP) idols, when she feels she is good enough, even BETTER than Twiggy.

There are also certain sociological changes over the last few decades that have affected the way we eat… and the way kids want to eat. Changes in the traditional family pattern have encouraged teenagers to shop for groceries, where their decision-making powers get a free hand. Single parent or both parents working families may opt for a healthy food buy, but what is actually eaten is still not very determinable, in the absence of one or both parents. Teen food choices are influenced by too many factors, only one of them being health. Their concern is primarily to “look good” or “stay thin” or “build muscles”.

The sad part is that the American Diet isn’t designed to take care of the essential requirements of the growing body, it has the wrong kind of fats and proteins and is deficient in some essential nutrients like zinc. It relies very strongly on dairy products for its calcium and protein intake, which is in itself not a very healthy idea. Today nutritionists recommended smaller helpings of the All American Diet or low fat (or leaner) versions, at least for the growing up generation.

Remember, food grains and fresh fruits and vegetables are a MUST for a woman’s body, she needs more folate in her system, her childbearing capability demands it (even if she chooses not to bear children). Fresh fruits and vegetables are a MUST in every meal, and no, meat is not a substitute for fresh fruits. The intake of sugars and salts should be regulated as also oil and grease. This will also result in a glowing skin, a GREAT confidence booster and hence a really good incentive to eat healthy.

The objective for vegetable and fruit intake should be :

• At least three daily servings of fruit

• At least four daily servings of vegetables, with at least one-third greens or with carotene.

• Six or more daily servings of grain products, with three or more whole grain

Anemia (or deficiency of iron in the body), is a major cause of deaths in the childbearing category of females in most underdeveloped countries. A more serious charge is that it is also the cause of most deficiencies, malnourishment and mal-development of children in these countries. But anemia is not a poor man’s disease. It can follow even well fed children of affluent backgrounds, if they do not eat carefully. Specially during their reproductive years, women need extra iron (they lose almost 20 to 40 mg every month by way of menstruation). The absorption of these nutrients needs more nutrition, a good amount of folic acid as well as Vitamin B 12.

Calcium is another nutrient that is required in large quantities for growing girls, if they are to enable their bodies to fight back the onslaught of osteoporosis in later life. Adolescents (specially girls), need at least 1300 mg of calcium in their food everyday. It is a good idea to scan the food labels to know if the nutritive value of your food is what it should be. For instance, a glass of milk gives about 450 mg (almost 30%) of calcium while a cup of yogurt does a similar amount. Green leafy vegetables and calcium fortifies grains and juices can contribute the rest. Remember, women start losing bone mass at the age of 35, so the earlier you start, the better it is.

The health of a girl child should become every National Health Service’s priority if the country wants its future citizens to be strong and healthy. On a smaller scale, families should be taught this too, only then will the change in attitude be brought about.

Tips to Keep Your Child Healthy

Happy little girl at the doctor for a checkup - being examined with a stethoscope

It’s a common misconception that growing kids can eat anything and everything they want, and will still stay healthy because they’re naturally active. Genetic factors are a consideration, but many children are imitating bad habits they see in their parents. This includes a poor diet, with a reliance on fast foods or processed foods, and not exercising. Until a few years back, parents found it hard to believe that children need a diet and fitness plan. They thought it was something only the grown-ups needed―grown-ups that weren’t in shape. After all the awareness child obesity statistics created, parents have now understood the importance of a healthy lifestyle for their kids.

The average child today spends around 24 hours a week watching television. The increased popularity of computer and video games means kids may spend even less time engaging in physical activities. Just like overweight adults, overweight children are at a greater risk of illness and disease.

What You Can Do

☛ Don’t criticize or blame your child of being overweight. Talk with him about your concerns regarding his weight and health. Teach him to accept and feel good about himself.

☛ Do a reality check and see if your lifestyle needs any changes. Be a role model by paying attention to your own diet, fitness regime, and lifestyle; not being obsessed with it at the same time. Show him that you are confident about your body.

☛ Get moving and make exercise a family affair. There are plenty of activities that you can enjoy together. Plan family outings that include physical activities, such as biking, trekking, or swimming.

☛ Practice healthy eating. Families today are busier than ever, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up on nutrition. Many cookbooks feature fast, healthy recipes. Provide nutritious snacks and teach your child to make healthy food choices on his own.

☛ Just a few habit changes in your family can make a big difference. Discourage him from eating in front of the TV or the computer. More often than not, kids get so lost in front of their T.V. sets (like we all do, from time to time), that they tend to eat in excess. Eat together as a family as much as possible, encourage him to eat slowly, and learn to enjoy good food. Invite your child to participate in food choice and preparation.

☛ For more information on healthy eating and exercise, talk to a registered dietician or a professional trainer, particularly one who has experience of dealing with children. If you feel that your child’s weight might cause serious health problems, consult a physician/pediatrician immediately.

It’s never too early to start a healthy diet and fitness regime for your child, and never too late for you to make the switch to a healthy lifestyle. Eat healthy and eat right!

Mental Health Therapist

Mental health therapists are trained professionals who counsel individuals, families, and groups to identify and work through the problems that a person is facing. These professionals help their patients deal with stress, substance abuse, addictions, low self-esteem, and grief. Some of them even specialize as marriage counselors and career counselors. These professionals work with other mental health specialists like psychologists, psychiatrists, clinical social workers, and school counselors to promote emotional and mental health of their patients.

Job Description

These therapists work though observation, interviews, and tests, to gather information and identify the problems of a person. Based on their observation they decide the right type of therapy for the person. These professionals counsel their clients and help them make informed decisions about themselves, their lives, and their relationships. They help their patients to analyze their problems and address various issues. These therapist also carry out mental health evaluation and risk assessment of their patients when required. They also monitor the treatment of their patients by maintaining accurate records and documents.

Mental health therapy is a holistic approach that takes into account a person’s external and societal influences, while also considering his physical and emotional health. To fulfill the requirements of the job, one first needs to get a master’s degree in mental health counseling with a certification or license in a specialty like:

  • Educational, school, or career counseling
  • Rehabilitation counseling
  • Marriage and family counseling
  • Substance abuse counseling

Most of the master’s degrees are a two-year program. Apart from this, the person is also required to complete an internship during this period. This internship involves, working with people and gaining hands-on experience in the field. For better career opportunities, one may get a doctoral degree in mental health counseling or related field.

Choosing the Right Therapist

Mental health problems often stem from deeply personal and often painful episodes. Due to such a personal nature of the problem, it is very important that one is careful while looking for the therapist. Refer to your physician first to confirm that the symptoms are not caused due to a medical problem. Getting referrals will be a great help in finding the therapist. Ask your friends, family members, or medical health professional for reference. While you consider a therapist, be sure to check his certification. Also, confirm if he has relevant experience in treating people with problems similar to yours. Go to him only if you are satisfied with the findings.

Health Tips for Kids

Healthy habits are always instilled in a person during his/her childhood days. The importance of a healthy diet is one of the first things parents should always strive to explain to their children. A healthy habit, when infused in a child from the early years, only helps in the overall child development and turns him/her into a responsible individual. With time and care from your side, children are bound to understand the importance of healthy habits. Here is a basic compilation of tips related to kids’ health, with which kids can learn to look after themselves during their growing years.

Tips to Keep Children Healthy

  • Teach your child the importance of a healthy routine. The day should always begin with a healthy breakfast. Help the child to understand why breakfast times are important for the day. You can make a chart of different breakfast recipes and tell him/her the importance of the many vital nutrients for one’s body.
  • Fruits and green vegetables are important for a healthy diet. Your child should know why fruits score over packaged foods. You need to include fresh fruits during breakfast times or slip one in the lunchbox. Make it interesting by having fresh fruit juices or salads to break the monotony.
  • Children are not aware about many things that are very important for their growth. As parents, you must ensure that your child has plenty of water and fluids during the day. Fluids should include fresh juices. Make sure your child carries a bottle of fresh juices to school.
  • Kids should know the importance of exercise at an early age itself. Teach kids a few basic exercises that can be done at home. An exercise routine that incorporates walking or swimming can help children to manage these activities on a daily basis. As they grow up, these routines will naturally form a part of their life.
  • Children should also be aware of hygiene-related issues. Youngsters should learn things such as the need to wash hands before and after meals. For young kids, you can simply use a singsong routine to get them into the process. Children will then surely make this a part of their routine once they understand the importance of personal hygiene.
  • Dental care should begin at an early age. Brushing teeth twice daily is needed to keep them looking healthy and clean. You can promise to read a bedtime story for a kid that does not really enjoy a brushing routine. Make it seem enjoyable rather than making the child feel punished.
  • As your child grows older, you can help him/her maintain a chart on foods to be avoided on a regular basis. It is important that the child knows that indulgence in foods high in sugar is fine once in a while, but should not be done on a regular basis. Avoid being too stern if your kid wants to enjoy foods such as french fries and ice cream, simply teach him/her how to be smart and consume such foods only occasionally.
  • Your child may require a daily dose of vitamins if the diet does not include the required amount. Make sure you check with your doctor about the vitamin intake to give the right amount of doses. There are many vitamin tablets packed in attractive containers.
  • Generally, kids believe they eat candy instead of medicines due to the innovatively packed products that are available these days. There can also be alternative ways to include food items rich in vitamins in your kid’s diet. Your doctor would be the best judge to decide upon the diet plan.
  • Parents also need to make sure their children get the appropriate amount of sleep. The child needs a healthy balance of activities and play. Sometimes, children take a long time to fall asleep. You can read a bedtime story or simply speak to the child softly, which will help him/her fall asleep naturally. This will help children to stay in good health and remain active during the day.

Children need plenty of love and care right from their early years. Along with loads of love, these health tips will help to keep your kid fit and smiling throughout the day.