Sunday 5 June 2022

Eating right to maintain weight or lose weight


Losing weight is tricky but maintaining it is trickier. Weight loss by giving up on foods is never a sustainable weight loss journey. Following a restrictive dietary regime in the bid to shade some pounds is not the major challenge but maintaining the achieved weight is. This is the reason it is essential to adopt a holistic behavioural change modification that involves both healthy eating and lifestyle changes are important before embarking on any weight loss journey. Eating a restricted or limited diet of 2 to 3 food groups can result in an inadequate diet and chronic fatigue. Instead, diversify your diet to include at least 5 classes of fruits comprising.

There are many reasons why lost weight is regained. This often related to feelings of deprivation and unrealistic expectations.

i.               Lack of sustainable mindset: focus on lifestyle rather than rules and base your diets on healthy habits rather than willpower.

ii.              Restrictive diets extreme calorie restriction of 800-1200kcal per day may slow metabolism and shift appetite-regulating hormones.

iii.            Wrong mindset: diet is not a quick fix but a life term solution to better health. If you think it is a quick fix, you are likely to give up and gain back the lost weight.


 While maintaining weight is impossible, following simple maintenance dietary tips will help you keep those lost kilos off for good.

1.     Create a Food Plan:

 Do not wait until you are hungry to eat this is because you are likely going to grab whatever food that is available while caring less about its nutritional quality. Instead, distribute your calories throughout the day. Distributing your calories in small frequent meals helps curb the physiological desire to overindulge in foods.

  • Create the concept of eating three meals with two healthy snacks in between comprising protein, grain, fruit, vegetable, and dairy at a meal. The more varied the foods you eat, the more vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients you consume.
  • Eat “clean.” This implies choosing minimally processed food rather than their refined versions. For instance, taking whole fruit rather than fruit juice. Minimally processed foods usually have more nutritional value and less sodium, trans fat, and other health-eroding ingredients. 
  • Eat-in moderation. While building the foundation of healthy ones, do not deprive yourself of enjoyable foods the watchword is “moderation”. Rather than classifying foods as being healthy or bad, aim for a diet that is majorly nutrient dense with fewer choices of energy-dense. In this way, refined or convenience foods can fit into a nourishing diet plan. Try to strike a balance in your choices.

2.     Eat Right and don’t just eat

  • The key to building a healthy diet is to diversify your diet by consuming a variety of nutrient-dense foods from the five basic food groups (fruits, vegetables, grains, lean protein, low-fat dairy and calcium-rich foods).
  • Eat rainbow. Strive to eat a varied colour of fruits and vegetables. Different colours offer different kinds of health-protective phytochemicals that are linked to reducing disease risk.
  •  Replace refined grains with whole grains until at least half of all the grains you eat are whole grains. Whole grains are excellent sources of carbohydrates, fibre, and B vitamins. They fuel your muscles, protect against needless muscular fatigue, and reduce problems with constipation. And despite popular belief, the carbohydrate in grains is not fattening excess calories are fattening. Excess calories often come from various forms of fat.
  • Increase your intake of fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products, such as milk, yoghurt, and calcium-fortified soy beverages.
  • Increase the amount and variety of seafood you consume by choosing seafood in place of some meat and poultry. That means more fish and less meat.
  • Choose a variety of protein foods, which include seafood, lean meat, poultry, eggs, soy products, legumes, and unsalted nuts and seeds.
  • Replace protein foods that are higher in solid fat with choices that are lower in solid fat and calories (such as chicken and eggs) or are sources of oils (such as fish and nuts).
  • Use liquid mono- and polyunsaturated fats (such as olive, canola oil, soy oil, and safflower oil) or soft fats to replace solid fat (such as stick margarine) where possible.
  • Stay away from partially hydrogenated oils (trans fats). These are found in commercially prepared foods such as crackers, cakes, cookies, chips, and pastries. Trans fat because it raises the bad LDL cholesterol and lowers the good HDL cholesterol.

3.     Move more

  • Indulge 60 minutes of moderately intense physical activity a day in addition to activities of daily life.
  • Exercise reduces abdominal obesity and improves their blood pressure, insulin resistance, and cardiorespiratory fitness, regardless of weight loss

Sunday 29 May 2022

Weight Loss Strategies

Sustainable weight loss is not a quick fix. And no single food plan is magical, nor a specific food is included or avoided in a weight-management program. You must be open to small changes, moderate losses, and reasonable goals. Adopting a radical fad diet that involves one or two food groups restriction is not sustainable but consistently choosing a nutrient-dense food and engaging in regular physical activity that enables you to lose 1 to 3 kg per month or a 10% reduction in six months are much more likely to maintain the loss and reap health benefits.

A modest weight loss involves a slow, steady reduction in calorie intake while maintaining an adequate nutrient intake and increasing physical activity. A modest weight loss not only makes you keep that extra kg off but also can reduce the risks of heart disease by lowering blood pressure and blood cholesterol and improving your control of diabetes.

In designing your plan, consider foods that you like or can learn to like, that are available, and that are within their means. The major characteristic of a weight-loss diet is that it provides less energy than your need to maintain your present body weight. If food energy is severely restricted, sufficient nutrients may not be received which leads to losing lean tissue and fluid, and which effect is rapid weight gain afterwards.

Behaviour and attitude play important roles in supporting efforts to achieve and maintain appropriate body weight and composition. Focus on how to change your behaviours to increase energy expenditure and decrease your energy intake. To this effect, you must first identify all the behaviours that created the problem. Identify stressors that trigger the urge to overeat this will help you begin to respond appropriately to internal cues of hunger rather than inappropriately to external cues of stress. Keeping a record will help to identify eating and exercise behaviours that may need changing.

Tips to a slow and steady eating plan

  • Eat small portions: pay less attention to external cues of using large or big plates to eat and more attention to internal cues of hunger and satiety. Eating with larger plates subconsciously makes you consume larger quantities than you should. Go for smaller plates and try to chew your food slowly before swallowing. This would leave you feeling satisfied—not stuffed to feed your hunger cues.  A sweet treat of  1 to 2 pieces of low-fat cookie or 2  to 3 slices can be included in a weight-loss plan.
  • Aim for nutritional adequacy: following a restrictive diet plan of 1200kcal or less per day does not provide an adequate intake that supports a healthier and more successful weight loss but rather,  creates feelings of starvation and deprivation, which can lead to an irresistible urge to binge. A careful nutrient-dense food selection that emphasizes vegetables,  fruits,  whole grains, lean meats or meat alternates, and low-fat milk products diet plan of 1300 to 1700kcal depending on your age and gender would allow you to lose weight and still meet your nutrient needs.
  • Go for low-energy-dense foods: weight loss depends on a low energy intake—not the proportion of energy nutrients. Foods rich in fibre, low in fat and high-water content increase fullness, reduce hunger and consequently reduce energy intake. Pay close attention also to sugar and alcohol as they provide additional calories which can sabotage weight-loss efforts.
  • Take water liberally: water is the only thing consumed without calories and drinking water fills the stomach between meals and satisfies thirst without adding calories. Replacing nutrient-poor, energy-dense beverages with water could save you several kgs in a year. Water also helps the GI tract adapt to a high-fibre diet.
  • Regular physical activity: to support your weight loss journey, a moderately intense physical activity of 60 minutes per day is recommended in addition to activities of daily life. Regular physical activity not only increases the loss of more body fat and retain more muscle, but it also reduces abdominal obesity and improves blood pressure, insulin resistance, and cardiorespiratory fitness.


Adopt a lifelong “eating plan for good health” rather than a “diet for weight loss” to permanently keep the lost weight off.

Consult our dietitian or any dietitian for an adequate weight loss diet plan.

Saturday 21 May 2022

Dietary supplements-how much do you need them?


Dietary supplements have become astoundingly popular. Most people take a multivitamin and mineral pill for mistaken reasons, such as to make up for the dietary shortfalls, boost energy or build up a muscular physique. Other invalid reasons include the belief that extra vitamins and minerals will help cope with stress, the belief that supplements can build lean body tissue without physical work or enhance athletic performance and lastly, the desire to prevent, treat, or cure symptoms or diseases ranging from the common cold to cancer. On a fair note, supplementing is a costly but harmless practice and sometimes, it is both costly and harmful to the health.

As a healthy person, why take a supplement when you can get the nutrients you need from food? Supplements cannot substitute for a healthy diet; however, certain nutritional supplements may be desirable in certain situations.

The effects of these supplements when taken depend on several factors such as the level of nutrients already being absorbed from the diet, as well as factors that influence nutrient absorption and metabolism.

Reasons why nutrients should be consumed from foods rather than supplements

  • Foods rarely cause nutrient imbalances or toxicities, but supplements can. The higher the dose, the greater the risk of harm. People’s tolerances for high doses of nutrients vary, just as their risks of deficiencies do. The amounts tolerable to some may be harmful to others, and no one knows who falls where along the spectrum.

  • People who use, are more likely to have excessive intakes of certain nutrients—notably iron, vitamin A, niacin, and zinc. The toxicity level is often not recognized as the effects develop subtly and progress slowly.

  • Some dietary supplements are contaminated with pharmaceutical drugs, such as steroid hormones and stimulants. Other substances that have also shown up in a wide variety of dietary supplements include toxic heavy metals, bacteria, and toxic plant material.

  • Lastly, supplements are likely to interfere with one another’s absorption or with the absorption of other nutrients from foods eaten at the same time. For example, zinc hinders copper and calcium absorption, iron hinders zinc absorption, and calcium hinders magnesium and iron absorption. Among vitamins, vitamin C supplements enhance iron absorption, making iron overload likely in susceptible people.

Are there people who need supplements?

Yes, some people need supplements as some conditions such as illness, drug and/or alcohol addiction may limit food intake making them suffer from marginal nutrient deficiencies.  People who may benefit from nutrient supplements in amounts consistent with the RDA include:

  • Pregnant women and women of childbearing years require extra folic acid to help prevent birth defects.
  • Older adults, especially postmenopausal women, may take calcium and vitamin D. Vitamin D plays an important role in the absorption of calcium and in boosting bone health.

  • People over 50 may benefit from vitamin B12 supplements.

  • Young women with anaemia may benefit from iron supplements.

  • People on very restricted diets or with many allergies.
  • People who have diseases, infections, or injuries or who have undergone surgery that interferes with the intake, absorption, metabolism, or excretion of nutrients may need specific nutrient supplements.

  • Those at risk for age-related macular degeneration such as an eye problem may benefit from antioxidant and zinc supplements.

  • If you fall into any of these categories, ask your doctor about appropriate doses. In general, though, it’s best to get your vitamins and minerals from food rather than pills.

The kind of vitamin and mineral supplement to use when in need

  • If you are selecting a supplement yourself, a single, balanced vitamin-mineral supplement with no added extras such as herbs should serve. Choose the kind that provides all the nutrients in amounts less than, equal to, or very close to the Recommended Daily Allowance(RDA).
  • For women of childbearing age who need supplemental folate choose a supplement with just the needed nutrient or in combination with a reasonable dose of others.
  • Lastly, take your health care professional’s advice if it is offered.



Friday 6 May 2022

Vitamin E


Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin and/or lipid-soluble antioxidant and plays a fundamental role in protecting the body against the damaging effects of oxidative stress formed in the environment. Like the other fat-soluble vitamins, its use depends on the presence of dietary fat. When deficient in this important vitamin, one is prone to impaired eyesight, infections, and some forms of skin diseases. Be it as it may, vitamin E is found in most of our food sources and one only becomes deficient except in cases of impaired absorption.

Benefits of vitamin E

  • Vitamin E inhibits processes related to the development of atherosclerosis and protects the body against free radicals and conditions related to oxidative stress such as ageing, arthritis, cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, infection, and some cases of Alzheimer's disease.
  • It has antiproliferative effects in the eye that are seemingly protective against conditions

such as glaucoma. 

  • It protects red blood cell membranes from destruction, especially in the last 2 months of gestation.
  • It helps lessens the appearance of scars and deal with dry skin.

Rich sources

The richest sources of vitamin E are vegetable oils such as canola, soybean, safflower etc. Other food sources of vitamin E include nuts (almonds, cashews, peanuts etc), seeds (pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds), and fortified cereals. It can also be found in fruits such as avocado, mango, blackberries, raspberries, and other types of berries.

PS: Because vitamin E is readily destroyed by heat processing and oxidation, fresh or

lightly processed foods are the best sources of this vitamin

Friday 22 April 2022

Honey vs Sugar, which is a healthier sweetener?


Honey is a natural, sweet, thick liquid obtained because of the nectar collected by bees from flowers. It can range in colours from pale yellow to dark brown and consists primarily of water and simple sugars (glucose and fructose). It consists of various organic acids, vitamins, proteins, enzymes, antioxidants, and nitrogen elements. The antioxidants found in honey are known for their antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. Due to the higher levels of fructose when compared to that of sugar, the former is denser, sweeter and contains more calories than the latter.

Sugar is derived from sugar beets and sugar cane plants and involves a lot of processes making it lack vitamins and other nutrients. It may come in three different forms-raw sugar, brown sugar and whites sugar. Though based on the form (e.g. brown sugar), some traces of nutrients can be found

Both honey and sugar are carbohydrates, and both contain two primary sugars: fructose and glucose, with white sugar being 100% sugars (50% fructose and 50% glucose), while honey is about 85% sugars (fructose and glucose ratios varying with each honey variety). The remaining 15% of honey is water, pollen, and trace minerals. Because of this difference in their makeups, white sugar is absorbed into the body and blood at a faster rate than honey.

Some benefits of honey over sugar

  • Raw honey is honey that has not been heated, pasteurised, clarified or filtered in any way, and this form typically retains more of the health-promoting nutrients that can be lost to the standard processing methods.
  • Honey contains antioxidant compounds called flavonoids which are reported to have antibacterial, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, and anti-allergenic properties.
  • Honey has a lower GI value than sugar, meaning that it does not raise blood sugar levels as quickly. If you are diabetic or trying to manage your blood sugar levels, there is no real advantage to substituting sugar for honey as both will ultimately affect blood sugar levels.
  • Honey is a proven cough suppressant and also relieves sore throats. For many people, raw honey helps to moderate the sinus and throat irritation caused by pollen allergies.

While honey does provide more nutritional value than table sugar, when consumed in excess, both honey and sugar can have negative effects on metabolic health. If you are reaching for honey, it is best to reach for local and raw honey to benefit from its antioxidant, antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties, and health benefits.


Saturday 16 April 2022

Velvet Tamarind


Velvet tamarind is a seasonal tropical fruit ripening between January and May with a peak yield in March and April. It is consumed in West Africa including Nigeria. It is one of the versatilely consumed wild fruits in Nigeria, and it is called different names by each tribe; popularly called “Icheku” by the Igbos, “Awin” by the Yorubas, and “Tsamiyar kurm” by the Hausas. It is loved by many probably because of its sweet and tangy taste. It can be taken as a fruit snack, or soaked and juiced into a fruit juice and/or the juice added to a smoothie.

Some of the nutritional benefits include.

  • Velvet tamarind is an excellent source of vitamin C. Vitamin C reduces the duration and severity of colds, improves the body’s immune system, and protects against cancer of the oesophagus.
  • A good source of potassium: potassium plays a major role in maintaining fluid and electrolyte balance and steady heartbeats. It also helps to correct and prevent hypertension.
  • A great source of calcium: calcium plays important role in blood clotting and helps maintain normal blood pressure and is essential for maintaining steady heartbeats. 
  • Also a great source of magnesium: magnesium is one of the crucial minerals that help regulate normal blood pressure and heart rhythm.
  • Velvet tamarind is also an excellent source of antioxidants: Antioxidants are powerful components that may help protect the body from disease. They protect the body against inflammation diseases and certain forms of cancer.
  • It is a good source of soluble dietary fibre:  soluble fibre helps lower blood cholesterol, and glucose levels, promotes gut bacteria and helps achieve a healthy weight.
Velvet tamarind is currently in season, do well to take advantage of it while it is still easily accessible.




Thursday 31 March 2022

Health Effects of Sugars


When it comes to health, sugar has a two-edge sword reputation. They occur naturally in carbohydrate-containing foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy, legumes etc. Consuming foods with minimal processing contain healthy sugar. Aside from the healthy sugar contents of these foods, they also have high amounts of fibre, essential minerals, and antioxidants, and dairy foods contain protein and calcium. A high intake of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains also has been shown to reduce the risk of chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers.

Added sugars and concentrated sweets such as soft drinks, cakes, pies, etc contribute discretionary calories to the diet with little or no other nutrients should not form a major part of one’s food intake.

Moderate amounts of sugar pose no major health risk, but in excess, can be detrimental in two ways. It can contribute to nutrient deficiencies by supplying energy (calories) without providing nutrients while contributing to tooth decay. High intakes of sugar have also been shown to increase the risk of obesity.

Sugar and nutrient deficiencies

High energy foods contain lots of added sugars such as cakes, candies, and sodas that provide the body with glucose and energy, but few, (if any) other nutrients, compared to naturally occurring foods that contain natural sugars and lots of starches, protein, vitamins, and minerals. 

For instance, spending 240kcalorie of a day’s energy allowance on a 500ml(50cl) soda gets little value for those calories. In contrast, a person using 240 calories on three slices of wheat (unfortified) white bread gets 8 grams of protein, 3 grams of fibre, plus several micronutrients.

Sugar and dental caries  

Any carbohydrate-containing food, including fruits, bread, or milk, as well as sugar, can support bacterial growth in the mouth. These bacteria produce the acid that eats away tooth enamel. Of major importance are the length of time the food stays in the mouth and the composition of the food, how sticky the food is, how often the food is eaten, and especially whether the teeth are brushed afterwards.

 How do you recognize sugars?

People often fail to recognize sugar in all its forms and so do not realize how much they consume. To estimate how much sugar you consume, treat all the following concentrated sweets as equivalent to 1 teaspoon of white sugar (4g of carbohydrate);

·       1 teaspoon honey brown sugar, jam, corn sweetener, syrup, molasses, or maple sugar

·       A 50cl of soft drinks contains 60g (15 teaspoons i.e. 5 tablespoons) of sugar which is equivalent to 240 calories.


For other food-related consultations, consult us today!





Tuesday 29 March 2022

Managing some breastfeeding challenges


Breastfeeding can be challenging whether as a first-time mom or an experienced mom. But remember, the benefits it offers to your newborn and you out-ways the challenges. Many women face different breastfeeding problems while others do not and each breastfeeding journey is quite different from another. In any of the challenges facing, remember you are not alone.

Some of the challenges include;

Low milk production

This is when your breasts do not make enough milk to meet the nutritional needs of your baby and a range of factors may be responsible for this challenge.

What to do

  • Make sure your baby is latched on and positioned well.
  • Breastfeed often and let your baby decide when to end the feeding.
  • Offer both breasts at each feeding and have your baby stay at the first breast if he or she is still sucking and swallowing. Offer the second breast when the baby slows down or stops.
  • Avoid giving your baby formula or cereal in addition to your breastmilk in the first few months of life. Your baby may lose interest in breastmilk which can decrease milk supply.

Plugged ducts

They are common in breastfeeding mothers. A plugged milk duct feels like a tender and sore lump in the breast. A plugged duct happens when a milk duct does not drain properly. Pressure then builds up behind the plug, and surrounding tissue gets inflamed. A plugged duct usually occurs only in one breast at a time.

What to do

  • Breastfeed on the side with a plugged duct as often as every two hours. This will help loosen the plug and keep your milk moving freely.
  • Massage the area, starting behind the sore spot. Move your fingers in a circular motion and massage toward the nipple. 
  • Use a warm compress on the sore area.
  • Wear a well-fitting, supportive bra that is not too tight, since a tight bra can constrict milk ducts. 
  • If you have plugged ducts that keep coming back, get help from a lactation consultant.

Nursing strike:

 A nursing "strike" occurs when a baby suddenly refuses to nurse for no apparent reason. It occurs most often in babies older than 3 months of age.  Do not stop breastfeeding because self-weaning is more gradual than sudden and baby-led weaning rarely occurs during the first year. During a strike, a baby is trying to let you know that something is wrong. A nursing strike usually lasts just a few days but may persist for a week or two. This usually does not mean that the baby is ready to wean (stop breastfeeding totally). Babies react to different things that can lead to a nursing strike. Some babies will continue to breastfeed without a problem. Other babies may just become fussy at the breast. And other babies will refuse the breast entirely. Do not wean during a strike, most babies can be coaxed back to the breast with some patience and determination. 

What to do

·       Keep trying: You might try feeding your baby when he or she is very sleepy. If your baby is frustrated, stop and try again later.

·       Deal with distractions. Try feeding your baby in a quiet room with no distractions.

·       Change positions: Try different breastfeeding positions. If your baby is congested, it might help to suction his or her nose before feedings.

·       Cuddle your baby:  Skin-to-skin contact between you and your baby might renew your baby's interest in breastfeeding. 

·       Address biting issues:  If your baby bites you during breastfeeding, stay calm and slip your finger into your baby's mouth to quickly break the suction.

·       Evaluate changes in your routine: Think about any changes in your routine that might be upsetting your baby. Are you stressed? Are you taking any new medications? Has your diet changed? Are you using a new perfume or fragranced soap? Could you be pregnant? Focus on taking care of yourself.


It is soreness or a lump in the breast that is caused by obstruction, infection and/or allergy. It is most common in the first 2-3 weeks postpartum but can occur at any stage of lactation. As a lactating mother, you should regularly check your breasts for lumps that indicate a blocked duct. If found, ensure the baby feed effectively on that side, adjusting in positioning and attachments, and use hand expression to massage the area starting behind the sore spot to unblock the duct.

Symptoms are similar to the plucked ducts with pain/heat/swelling being more intense and red streaks extending outward from the affected area.

What to do

  • Breastfeed on the infected side every two hours or more often. This will keep the milk moving freely and your breast from becoming too full.
  • Gently massage the area, starting behind the sore spot. Move your fingers in a circular motion and massage toward the nipple.
  • Apply heat to the sore area with a warm, wet cloth.
  • Wear a well-fitting, supportive bra that is not too tight, since a tight bra can constrict milk ducts.


Engorgement occurs when the breast gets hard, tight, and painful with full of milk. It can lead to plugged ducts or a breast infection, so it is important to try to prevent it before this happens.

What to do

  • Breastfeed often after giving birth and allow to feed for as long as he or she likes.
  •  Ensure your baby is appropriately latched on the breast and sucking well
  • Breastfeed often on the engorged side to remove the milk, and to prevent the breast from becoming too full.
  • Hand express or pump a little milk to soften the breast and nipple before breastfeeding.
  • Massage the breast.
  • Use cold compresses on your breast in between feedings to help ease the pain.
  • Wear a well-fitting, supportive bra that is not too tight.

For more tips on overcoming breastfeeding challenges, consult a breastfeeding consultant or a dietitian.

Monday 21 March 2022

Formula Feeding

Breast milk is the optimal milk feed for infants because it is nutritionally adequate and reduces the risk of illness in infants. But in a case where breastmilk let-down is delayed, infant formula should be given until breastmilk is produced. While doing so, always ensure to properly and correctly sterilize the feeding tools to prevent bacterial contamination which can cause gastroenteritis.  The feeding must be frequently on-demand until breastmilk is produced. Infant formula is nutritionally adequate but does not provide the same protection against illness as breastmilk. Exclusively breastfed infants have a reduced possibility of being hospitalized for diarrhoea or respiratory tract infections in the first 6 months of life.

The standard formulas are made from skimmed cow’s milk with added fats and nutrients to replicate the nutrients composition of breastmilk. There are different brands of infant formula in the market with each brand having different additions of milk proteins. Always check carefully to make sure you are buying suitable milk for your baby.

For a start, it is recommended that formula with a greater proportion of whey protein be used as this is easier to digest and closer to the protein composition of breast milk. The Whey dominant infant formula is often labelled with a ‘1’ and is promoted for newborn babies. The ratio of proteins in the formula approximates the ratio of whey to casein found in human milk (60:40).

Follow-on formula: Follow-on formulas are only suitable for infants over 6 months as they are higher in protein, iron, and vitamin D than infant formula. The follow-on formula is a Casein dominant infant formula often labelled with a ‘2’ and promoted as suitable for hungrier babies. Although the proportions of the macronutrients (fat, carbohydrate, protein etc) are the same as in the whey-dominant formula, more of the protein present is in the form of casein (20:80). The higher casein content causes large relatively indigestible curds to form in the stomach and is intended to make the baby feel full for longer. When your baby is up to 1 year of age, other kinds of pasteurised milk such as whole cow’s milk, sheep’s or goat’s milk can be given.

PS: There is also a range of specialised infant formulas for infants with certain medical conditions and they should only be used on the advice of a doctor or dietitian.

Monday 14 March 2022


Complementary foods should be introduced at the right time, delaying beyond six months of age increases the risk of nutrient and energy deficiencies. As new complementary foods are introduced, infants accept and enjoy the new tastes and textures. At times, they may be fussy when new food is introduced, do not panic as it is very common even as an adult, we tend to refuse foods that are new to our taste buds. When a certain food is rejected, try other alternative, and try to identify if the refusal is due to the texture or the food itself. Try several food mixtures to know which suits your baby the most. Do not forget to introduce each food item singly, and wait for about 2 -3 days to watch out for any allergic reactions. Occasionally, give the previously refused foods to check the level of acceptability. Research has shown that food can be given 5-10 times before it can be adequately accepted by an infant.

Begin with a smooth puree or mashed food for the first few tastes. Foods can be offered from a shallow teaspoon or plastic spoon. Some infants may prefer soft finger foods for a start but do not restrict to finger foods only as that would not provide adequate amounts of nutrients needed.

Foods to offer

You can introduce any food for a start, but it is always encouraged to begin with mashed or pureed low allergic foods like cereals, root vegetables (carrots, potatoes etc) and fruits, often mixed with a little of either breastmilk or infant formula. One of the disadvantages of starting with fruit is that the infant may likely grow a ‘sweet tooth’ afterwards.

Other foods to include are iron-rich foods such as red meat, prawns, fish, eggs, peas, beans, and other suitable meat alternatives as well as iron-fortified breakfast cereals and green vegetables. To increase absorption of iron from plant-based foods,  give food rich in vitamin C at the same meal.

 Hard and crunchy foods should be avoided as infants at this age can bite off lumps but not yet chew them properly, which could lead to choking.

Different local foods to be given

Staples: grains such as maize, wheat, millet, sorghum, and roots crops such as yam, cassava, and potatoes

Legumes, nuts, and seeds such as beans, Bambara nuts, pigeon peas, soybeans, groundnuts, almonds, cashew nuts, sesame etc

Vitamin A-rich fruits and vegetables such as mango, papaya, dark-green leaves, carrots, yellow sweet potato and pumpkin and other fruits such as banana, pineapple, avocado, etc.

Animal-source foods including flesh foods such as finely minced meat, dried meat powder, chicken, fish, fish powder, liver (1 small size per week) eggs, milk, and milk products

The small amount of oil or butter (not more than half a teaspoon per day) added to vegetables and other foods will provide extra energy.

Foods to limit

Sugar: it should only be added to homemade cooked fruits and puddings (if desired) in small quantities to reduce the tart flavour.

Salt and salty foods: most foods, breastmilk and infant formula naturally contain some sodium needed for infant growth. Exceeding the recommended sodium intake of 400mg (1g salt equivalent) per day may pose a health risk to the developing kidney.

Honey: it should not be given until one year of age to prevent Clostridium botulinum infection.  After 1 year of age, the gut is mature enough to prevent the botulinum bacteria from multiplying.

Liver: if offered, should be limited to one small serving per week because of the high levels of vitamin A.

Thursday 10 March 2022



The complementary feeding period, from 6 to 23 months of age, is one of the most challenging times to meet children’s nutrient demands. While children’s stomachs can only hold a small amount of food, their nutrient needs reach a lifetime peak, leaving them vulnerable to growth faltering.

Based on indicators established by WHO –in Low and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs- Nigeria inclusive), half of all children are not receiving the minimum meal frequency (the minimum number of meals throughout the day needed to meet their nutrient needs); more than two-thirds of children are not receiving the minimum dietary diversity (meals from a minimum number of food groups), and five out of six children are not receiving a minimum acceptable diet (both the minimum meal frequency and minimum dietary.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF recommend that infants begin consuming safe and nutritionally adequate solid, semisolid, or soft foods starting at 6 months of age but not earlier than 4 months while continuing to be breastfed until 2 years of age or beyond. The complementary food should be nutrient-rich, without excess energy, saturated and trans fats, free sugars, or salt.

Recommended practices include

  • Timely introduction of complementary foods at 6 months of age when the need for energy and nutrients exceeds that provided by breastmilk  
  • Appropriate portions sizes, texture  and meal frequency according to age
  • Diversity of diet: Should provide sufficient energy, protein, and micronutrients
  • Safe: Should be hygienically prepared, stored and fed
  • Responsive feeding cue: feed in response to a child’s appetite and satiety signals, and feed with care.
  • Encourage self-feeding despite spillage and feed under supervision in a separate plate to develop an individual identity.

When should complementary foods be started?

Complementary foods should be started when the baby can no - longer get enough energy and nutrients from breast milk alone when nerves and muscles in the mouth develop sufficiently to let the baby munch, bite, and chew. This period is between 4 and 6 months of age when their digestive system is mature enough to digest a range of foods. At 4-6 months of age, it becomes easier to feed thick porridges, purees, and mashed foods because children: can control their tongues better start to make up-and-down 'munching' movements start to get teeth like to put things in their mouths are interested in new tastes. 

Signs that a child is developmentally ready

  • At least 4 months old
  • Start to make up-and-down 'munching' movements
  • Interested in new tastes.
  • Receives frequent breastfeeds but appears hungry soon after
  • Not gaining weight adequately.

Why giving complementary foods too soon is not recommended:

The foods may replace breastmilk which is the most important food for them at that stage. If foods are given, it may become difficult to meet the nutritional needs as they fill the stomach but provide fewer nutrients than breast milk. 

Not developmentally matured to digest foods order than milk

Increases risk of diarrhoea because complementary foods may not be as clean as breast milk.

Starting complementary feeding too late is also dangerous because:

A child does not get the extra food needed to fill the energy and nutrient gaps a child stops growing or grows slowly the risk of malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies increases. The chances of refusal are very high as they are already accustomed to breastmilk taste.