Ask Nilani

Ask Nilani

Got some questions about your child’s health and nutrition that needs answering? Nestle’s resident nutritionist Nilani Sritharan has all the answers!

Staying Healthy

Q: We all know that there are days when it can get really hot and humid, but kids  still love to play outdoors under the sun. How can I make sure that my kids don’t get dehydrated during this time?

A: During hot months, the most important thing to do is have your children drink enough water. Children should drink 4 to 8 ounces of liquid before an intensive activity. During play, they should drink about 4 ounces every 20 minutes, especially when they are outdoors. Avoid giving them energy drinks as these contain caffeine and other supplements. If your child is overweight, watch him more closely for signs of heat-related illness because excess fat traps heat in the body.

8 ounces = half a pint = 1 cup

Another way for you to keep them cool is to dress your kids in light colored and loose clothing made of light fabrics. Cool them down with fruits and vegetables like ripe mangoes, lettuce, cucumber sticks, watermelons, corn, squash and bananas. And remember to have them bring water every time they leave the house. You can fill it with ice and wrap the bottle in a towel so it will stay cold longer. Or, try filling the bottle with water and freezing it overnight so that it remains cool by the time they have it during their morning break.

Q: School’s out and I’m sure my kids will be out and about, playing their active games and expending energy the entire day. How can I support their nutritional needs? What foods can I give to make sure they remain healthy, strong and active?

A: For added energy, the trick is to eat foods that are high in complex carbohydrates and low in excess fats and to re-fuel the body within 30 minutes of exercise. Veer away from candy bars or soft drinks that give you a quick but temporary boost of energy.

Iron and protein rich foods are also key. Ever wonder why so many cereals and infant formulas are fortified with iron? That’s because iron is a nutrient that’s needed to make hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying component of red blood cells.

Protein, on the other hand, is an important component of every cell in the body and aids in the growth and repair of muscles, bones, skin and other tissues.

Here are some examples of foods that contain iron and protein:

  • Whole grain cereals
  • Lean red meats, including beef, pork and lamb
  • Seafood such as tuna, salmon and shrimp
  • Vegetables like broccoli, spinach and asparagus

Hydration is really important too so try and send them off with something to drink and a snack to enjoy after exercise. Some great options for snacks on the go are a small bag of whole grain cereals, chopped fruit or vegetables, unsalted nuts or dairy foods like low fat milk shakes.


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