I’M sick!”, “I don’t want to eat”, “I don’t have time to eat!”. These are excuses most parents face when a child does not feel like eating or drinking. Yet it is important that the child has something. As the ward sister commented this morning, “Ms Rekha, the children are so ill they do not want to eat and drink.” My immediate response was “give them what they like but supplement the food.”
A good example – children love jelly. So one way of getting some extra calories is adding extra glucose or sugar into the jelly. Make them in different shapes and colours, then discuss the objects with the children before they are eaten. Parents and carers should try some creative ways to sneak the calories into children’s food.
Children also love ice-lollies, so make your own by using diluted fruit juice or flavoured glucose. Help the children make their own drinks with glucose, especially if they are playing sports or doing Pendidikan Jasmani (PJ).
The glucose drink will provide extra energy to the muscles and help prevent dehydration. Show your children how to make a milk shake and sneak in some extra glucose to increase the energy content.
A tip: Teach children beforehand the reason why energy is needed for the body so that when they are sick or doing activity, they can appreciate why parents are doing their best to have them eat or drink sometimes.
Petrol and glucose – energy sources
Children realise that they need energy, so by making the comparison with a car needing petrol, they may appreciate why it is important to have sufficient energy foods. As petrol is used by the engine and combusted into energy to move the car, your child should be told that carbohydrate foods have to be digested and broken down into small molecules called glucose.
It is glucose which is then used by the body to make energy that helps us move, walk, play, think, etc.
As the saying goes: “Glucose the energy molecule” is what everyone needs. Children love to ask questions, so let them know that it is important to have enough glucose in the blood so that the brain and the body are able to work properly.
Feeding the child during illness
Often, one of the indications of illness is when a child has poor appetite. In cases of fever, vomiting and diarrhoea, one of the most important factors is to ensure adequate fluid intake. If symptoms persist, contact the doctor immediately as the child can become very dehydrated, which can be life threatening.
Most children can manage without food for one to two days, but encourage your child to eat and drink her favourite foods whenever possible.
Try and ensure that at least one glucose or milk-based drink is taken first, followed later in the day by congee, rice or oat porridge.
Fortify the porridge or congee by adding a spoonful of milk powder or glucose and add butter or margarine to the rice to give extra calories.
Offer small portions of food or a drink every two to three hours even if it is only a few spoonfuls.
Alternatively, try giving your child cereals and milk. Do not be too concerned if the same foods are consumed a few times a day. Once your child is feeling better, slowly reintroduce the normal food pattern.
Below are a few quick and easy recipes to tempt the fussy eater or give an extra energy boost for a very active child.
Melting moments 170g flour 170g margarine 60g cornflower 60g glucose
Mix margarine into sifted ingredients and knead into dough. Make into small balls and place, well spaced, on a greased baking tray. Flatten balls with a fork to also give a pattern. Bake in a small oven at 150°C for 10 minutes.
Biscuits 170g flour 45g glucose or flavoured glucose 85g margarine ½ egg or 1 egg yolk
Rub fat into dry ingredients. Mix to a dough with the egg and a little water if necessary. Roll out on a well-floured board. Cut into shapes or add one tablespoon of water and pipe into shapes on a greased baking tray. Cook at 180°C for 10 minutes. Vary shapes and ice with glucose icing
Glucose icing 60g glucose or flavored glucose 30g margarine Water to mix
Cream margarine and add glucose to form a stiff dough. Add water, drop by drop, to give a creamy icing; add vanilla essence or cocoa if desired. Spread and smooth on cakes and biscuits with a knife dipped in hot water.
Oatmeal biscuits 115g flour ½ tsp baking powder ¼ tsp salt 85g margarine 85g glucose 85g oatmeal 1 egg
Sift flour, baking powder and salt. Beat egg. Rub fat into flour mixture. Add oatmeal, then glucose. Mix to a stiff dough with egg. Knead on a floured board. Roll out thinly. Cut into shapes. Bake on a greased tray for 10 to 15 minutes at 180°C.
Reference: Diets for Sick Children – Dorothy Francis