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Frequently Asked Questions

Dietitians are the most credible source of nutrition and food knowledge when you need to apply it to health and disease in New Zealand.

This page contains answers to many frequently asked questions. If you have a query please feel free to contact us, as the answer to your question is sure to help others too.

46 frequently asked questions found

In the winter-time I find it really hard to get motivated to go to the gym in the morning because of the cold and then when I come home at night it is dark and I’m too tired. What can I do to shake off this lack of motivation?

You need to have a goal to make exercising more fun. So decide on at least 240-300 minutes of exercise per week and work at it steadily throughout the week.

On sunny days try to get away from work for a 20-30minute walk during your lunch breaks. Set designated days for the gym and have your gear ready in the morning so that you can jump straight into your things then without too much thought you’re soon on your way.

If you prefer to exercise at night then make sure you have a snack prepared to eat around 4pm so that you have the energy to exercise and take a banana in the car to eat on the way home. Doing some Swiss ball exercises at night or hoping on an exercycle or treadmill in front TV can soon turn those winter evenings into decent work outs. Above all keep a training diary from Monday to Sunday night and ensure that by Wednesday you have clocked up at least 2-3 hours or exercise. If not then it is time to get cracking. Asking a close friend or family member to help you monitor progress and offer encouragement can also help.

Our 11 year old boy is always tired and grumpy but always seems to be eating so I don’t think it can be his diet. What should we do?

It’s not always how much that matters, but the quality of the food eaten, that is important. Most boys go through a growth spurt between 12-17yrs during which time his energy requirements will seem to have no bounds. You need to offer plenty of low GI carbohydrate rich foods such as wholegrain breads and cereals and fruits and vegetables. But in addition to these you should try to include small amounts of low fat protein rich foods at every main meal. For instance breakfast as well as offering cereal, fruit and toast should also include protein such as  a pottle of yoghurt or and egg or cheese slice. Replace high fat, high GI snacks such as biscuits and cakes with lower GI foods such as fruit, muffins, scones, pikelets, rolls or sandwiches. Make sure that after school he also has a trim milkshake as the zinc in milk will help his height growth.

Our 16 year old girl won’t eat tea with the family and insists on eating in her room. What should we do?

You need to work this one out as a family because isolated eating has been found to be associated with the development of eating disorders. On a more positive note a survey carried out by Watties ®and Tegel ® in New Zealand found that families that shared meals together reported enjoying the opportunity of comparing their day’s activities and sharing experiences. All of which helped them to feel more connected as a group.

Our children often bring home their lunchboxes untouched and I worry that they won’t be able to concentrate at school. What would you advice?

Talk about why this is happening. Usually children just get distracted over their lunch breaks with sports practice or wanting to play with their friends. Encourage your children to talk about the foods that they would like to have for lunch and involve them in its preparation if you can.

While academic achievement is improved by eating a healthy lunch so also is growth and development. If children can learn that eating well can also help sports nutrition they may be more interested in regular meals. Also talk to your child’s teacher as this problem may be affecting other children and could be something that your school could address as a whole.

We have two boys aged 6 and 9 years and neither of them will eat breakfast. Should we be worried?

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Particularly for growing children as it breaks the fast from the night before. Research has found that children who skip breakfast are more likely to graze throughout the day and to feel tired and hungry leading to snacking later when they are less active. This can lead to unnecessary weight gain and difficulties with learning, memory and concentration. Try offering some cereal, fruit and yoghurt and a muffin for morning tea or if all fails ensure that they have a protein filled sandwich to have for morning break. Also try to set a good example and make breakfast important for all family members, by having it too.

Our 15 year old daughter wants to be a vegetarian but we worry about her iron levels. What can we do?

You could make an agreement to the vegetarian diet contingent on her having a blood test to check her iron status. A vegetarian diet can be a very healthy option provided that it is well monitored. Iron, protein and Vitamin B12 are usually the nutrients most affected by less meat in the diet. Iron has the important function of transporting oxygen around the body and a lack of it can impact negatively on learning, memory and concentration. At a time when academic achievement will be gaining importance for her it is important that her iron intake and body stores are adequate.

Young menstruating women lose iron each month and also those involved in running or contact sports can be at risk. This is because the jarring action of running on a hard surface causes red blood cells to breakdown increasing iron losses through their urine and breathing. If as a family you do decide that your daughter can go onto a vegetarian diet then encourage her to help with finding recipes and with the food preparation. The protein from the meat can be replaced with cheese, eggs, beans, tofu, falafel etc.

Our 9 year old son won’t eat his tea claiming to always be full. We are concerned that he won’t grow.

If you can get him to help you keep a food diary for a few days you will soon see where the problem is. Often children eat large afternoon teas or snacks when they are out with friends. Also he may be drinking fluids too close to tea time thereby reducing his appetite for solid rich foods. If you are worried about his growth rate then keep a note of his height and weight over the next three months and if there is no change then discuss this with your doctor or dietitian. Act sooner if his feelings of fullness are also impacting on his bowel function.

My 12 year old daughter has coeliac disease and I worry that she may be lacking dietary fibre. What would you advice?

Dietary fibre is essential for bowel health and wheat is an important source but it can be successfully replaced with other foods. Rice bran cereal can be used for breakfast or included in baking. Also there are now a number of ancient grains available such as millet, sorghum, quinoa, soy flour etc that are making their way into new bread varieties. Unpeeled fruit and vegetables are also a good source.

Our 9mth old daughter has very flushed cheeks. Is this only likely to be related to teething?

During their first year of life children often show signs of fever and flushed cheeks. While teething is often blamed as well as exposure to infections or viruses, it can also be a natural reaction to the introduction of certain fruits. Some food allergies can also result in skin irritations. Discuss this with your GP or Paediatrician and if symptoms persist talk to your local dietitian.

My 4 month old baby wakes at night. Should I introduce solids now?

Often mothers lose confidence in their ability to produce sufficient breast milk to meet the needs of their growing baby but they shouldn’t. Breast milk is the very best start you can give your baby so continue to feed on demand until your baby is 6 months old. Then slowly introduce cereals and fruit offering one new food at a time every 4-5 days. (see Kids Section for more details).

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