One mum tells EVELINE GAN how she transformed her sickly kid’s health with just a change in diet.
Eager to resolve her threeyear- old’s repeated bouts of bronchitis, Sheeba Majmudar had initially followed the doctor’s orders unquestioningly. But when strong medication did not improve her son’s wheezing and more potent drugs were prescribed, Sheeba decided that “enough was enough”.
“I was horrified when the doctor said to start Aman on steroids. None of it made sense to me at the time, as he wasn’t getting better and was constantly sniffling, despite taking so much medication. “Moreover, young children are known to be more vulnerable to side effects from steroid medication,” says the 42-year-old (pictured right, with her family).
Formerly in customer relations, Sheeba’s motivation to find an alternative treatment for her son’s condition opened her eyes to a whole new world of nutritional science and naturopathy, which is a form of alternative therapy focusing on natural healing methods. Now a trained nutritionist practising in Singapore, she has written a book titled Edible to Incredible (And All Things Between), which is available on Amazon.com. In it, she details the techniques that have transformed her family’s health.
“When a child is unwell, parents often feel helpless. Through this book, I hope to open more doors for people who are looking to support their health, as well as their loved ones’. No one should ever be made to feel like they are at a dead end with no options when it comes to improving their health,” she says.
Eating clean One of the things Sheeba did for Aman’s health was to clean up his diet. Besides including more natural whole foods, she also cut down on gluten-based food products, and omitted dairy and sugar from his meals. “My original intention was to get Aman off his numerous medications.
But as I implemented the changes, I noticed that he wasn’t falling ill as frequently. We never went back to that particular doctor, because all those troubling symptoms eventually went away,” she shares. Sheeba has another child aged 13. Now 16, Aman no longer suffers from breathing problems.
Besides the occasional bout of sinus congestion, he is generally in good health and hardly falls ill. Encouraged by the positive results, Sheeba gave her lifestyle and dietary habits an overhaul to see if it would improve her own health issue of psoriasis, a skin condition that causes red, weepy rashes and flaky patches.
It did, and she claims that her skin rashes, which have plagued her since childhood, began clearing up. “My skin is all clear now. At my last appointment, the doctor couldn’t find any signs of psoriasis. Along the way, I ended up losing weight from eating clean, too,” she shares. According to her, good nutrition is an oftneglected aspect in today’s fast-paced society.
“As parents, we are the architect of our children’s health. Yet, many forget that investing wisely in their health is just as important as spending on education,” she says. She believes that having access to knowledge will help parents make informed choices when raising healthy children, but adds that it is also important to seek professional advice due to the overwhelming amount of misinformation on the Internet.
Dishing out some food for thought for parents, Sheeba quips: “Whatever we put into our children’s mouths ultimately dictates their health. It is like building a house; those built on poorer quality materials probably won’t last in a storm.”
“My original intention was to get Aman off his numerous medications. But as I implemented the changes, I noticed that he wasn’t falling ill as frequently.”
Food for thought
Nutritionist Sheeba Majmudar shares common nutrition mistakes Singapore parents make, and how to fix them.
• MISTAKE 1
You think that a chubby kid is a sturdier kid. Compared to their Caucasian peers, Asian children are naturally smaller in size. But this does not mean they are less healthy. A better indication of whether your child has a robust immune system is how frequently he falls ill. “If your child is not falling sick despite changes in weather, or exposure to other kids, then this is what I’d call robust health,” she says. Instead of “fattening up” Junior, focus on serving healthy meals at home. Those who cook at home will almost always have healthier families.
• MISTAKE 2
You feed your toddler and primary schooler the same vitamins. The right type of dietary supplement for each child depends on his immunity make-up, age and other factors. That is why parents should get professional advice before starting their child on supplements. While some kid-friendly vitamins taste good, they may also contain a lot of sugar to please young taste buds and are not necessarily helpful to the child.
• MISTAKE 3
You think fruit juices are healthy. Whether fresh or bottled, fruit juices are considered “liquid sugar” that raises the body's sugar levels rapidly. Not only do they damage the teeth, the sugar high can also make your kid hyperactive. Stick to real fruit, which releases sugar slowly.
• MISTAKE 4
You binge on junk food, but nag at Junior to eat healthily. If you want your child to like broccoli, you have to eat it with him – not just place it in front of him. As with all forms of child-rearing strategies, parents must lead by example.
• MISTAKE 5
You avoid serving food that your picky eater won’t touch. Research shows it can take up to 20 attempts before your kid starts to accept certain flavours. So don’t give up. Try giving small portions of the food at first, or use different cooking methods, so that it is less off-putting to your fussy eater. You could also serve it together with another food he likes (no sweets or junk food, please). “Tell him that he can have a bite of that after he samples a small amount of the food he dislikes. This helps him gradually get used to the taste,” she says.