Wed, 07 May 2003

Any healthy, nutritious food good for your child's health

Dear Dr. Donya, The problem I want submit to your kind attention concerns children's food. My daughter (2 years and seven months old) has recently and frequently suffered skin eruptions on her face. I have immediately made the connection with what she eats.

In this regard, it should be noted that her mother quite often, and in spite of my different opinion, gives her spicy foods. This seems a widespread Indonesian habit, because I have seen it both in remote villages and at very luxurious children's birthday parties.

At these feasts there are no special foods for children, except for some supplementary chocolates or candies, but the same kind of food used, for instance, at wedding or other adult parties.

I remember, however, that children should have different kinds of food to adults, not spicy and as healthy as possible. But perhaps I have a very old-fashioned way of thinking, and now there are new theories on the way children should be nourished, and on what is healthy.

I would like to know if, in your opinion, spicy foods (with sambal, ketchup, kecap, and other spices in general), and cabai (chili) can be considered healthy and, in particular, if they can be given without any problems to children of the age of my daughter.

The same question concerns fried foods, which in Indonesia I can see very often served to both adults and small children -- fried bananas, chicken, fish, nasi goreng, various kinds of pancake, krupuk, etc.

At the same time, I would like to know which kind of local foods are particularly recommended for children of the age of my daughter. Sorry if I've put too many questions at once, and again thanks once again for your kind advice and support.

Yours Sincerely,

-- Compa

Dear Compa,

Thank you for your letter.

I would rather say that each country is different in terms of culture and food, but children born in different parts of the world don't grow up that differently.

Nutritious food will make children grow differently compared with junk food or not enough food, but the taste of the food, I have to say, depends on each flavor. There is nothing wrong if you teach your child about nutritious food and what to eat. Of course, spicy food is not good for health, too much fried food is also not good and they shouldn't eat it every day anyway.

Foods that you mention have complete nutrition if you eat many different kinds. Fried banana has carbohydrate and fat. Chicken has protein, so does fish; nasi goreng is carbohydrate and fat. So now you have carbohydrate, protein, fat, vegetable and fruit, which make up the five groups of nutrition that you need.

Your daughter is 2 years old, with mixed parents, and it is a very good opportunity for her to get to know both Indonesian and Italian food. You can also cook for her sometimes. The most important thing is that you give her the five groups of nutritious food and she will be fine.

-- Dr. Donya