Dr Jinan Harith Darwish is a paediatric allergy specialist and clinical immunology fellow at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Center. Each month she answers your parenting questions.
Q: My seven-year-old daughter seems to be always hungry. She has three meals a day – a breakfast at home in the morning, lunch and a family meal in the evening – and eats well at all of these. She will often ask for snacks in the meantime, which I try to ensure are healthy such as yoghurt, fruit or chopped veggies with hummus. But, come bedtime, she always says she is hungry. However, if I offer a piece of fruit she doesn’t want it and I find myself giving in and allowing biscuits or sweet things to get her to bed. I’ve noticed that she is putting on weight and, while I don’t want to make an issue of this, I’ve struggled with my weight all my life and don’t want her to have the same difficulties. Do you have any advice for me?
ARegulate Volume: Replace her three main meals with six smaller portion meals and two snacks to keep her blood sugar stable.
Emotional hunger, rather than physical hunger: If your child has emotional hunger, you may help by asking ‘How do you feel?’ Your child may have trouble naming the feelings. Try suggesting a few: bored, lonely, sad, excited; then talk about it.
Guilt trip: Never say: “Clean your plate, did you see all the children in Africa who are starving to death while you waste food.” Don’t force her to eat. Left alone, most children self-regulate and will only eat when they need to.
Don’t use food as a reward: You don’t want her to learn to eat when she is not hungry.
Be a fabulous role model: If you curl up with a bag of buttered popcorn on the sofa to watch TV, your daughter will imitate you in a heartbeat.
Allow Treats: But get a small or child-size portion.
Q: I’ve been trying to get pregnant for two years now. Tests have shown there is nothing wrong and my mother-in-law has suggested I try acupuncture, which she has used to treat various ailments. Is this something that could help?
AThe definition of infertility is usually the failure to conceive after one year of unprotected intercourse (European Society 1996). Infertility can be primary, in women who have never conceived, or secondary, in women who have previously conceived.
The jury’s out. As the research swings both ways, and the treatment itself is harmless, it’s by and large accepted that acupuncture for fertility could be worth trying if you’re looking to boost your chances of success. The British Acupuncture Council claims there’s evidence to show acupuncture increases sperm motility (how fast the sperm swim), as well as increasing levels of the male sex hormone testosterone and lowering the temperature of the scrotum (where sperm are stored), creating a better environment for keeping sperm healthy.
Research has shown acupuncture may help in the treatment of infertility by:
Most clinical trials to date suggest that acupuncture may be useful in the embryo transfer stage of in vitro fertilisation, and results in an increased pregnancy rate and a greater number of live births.
If you have a question for Dr Jinan, please email firstname.lastname@example.org