The Best Dietary Tips for Kids with Congenital Heart Disease to Stay Healthy

A congenital heart defect is a concerning condition that affects several kids and people worldwide. It is a condition where a heart defect or disease is present at the time of birth of the child. Congenital heart disease represents an array of birth defects that affect the normal functioning of the heart and that prevail since birth. Every year, the 14th of February is recognized as International Congenital Heart Defect Awareness (CHD) Day to raise awareness about CHDs and their impact on individuals and their families. It’s an annual campaign held to honour and remember everyone who is born with a heart defect and all of the families and friends touched by children born with heart defects. It’s challenging for every child/individual born with congenital heart disease or defect to lead a healthy life. There are various types of CHDs. Some of them are simple and do not need intensive treatment; while some of the CHDs are quite complex and call for medication and surgery. If a child has congenital heart disease, the kid should lead a healthy life and stay active and fit. And, if you are wondering how it’s challenging for a child with CHD to stay healthy and which dietary and lifestyle modifications can help the kid lead a better life, think no further. Learn everything about it below.


Why Congenital Heart Disease Increases the Risk of Obesity in Children?

Kids having CHD are at a high risk of turning overweight and obese. Here are some prominent reasons for the vulnerability of kids with CHD to obesity.

Requires Greater than Normal Calories in Early Life

Babies born with a CHD happen to have a hard time gaining a healthy weight because they happen to burn greater energy than normal by breathing faster and eating the food. For their healthy growth, they are provided with high-calorie supplements or formulas. However, post-surgery or over time, despite the child’s symptoms happen to alleviate and his health experiencing improvement, parents continue using the same high-calorie feedings. As a result, the child may turn overweight or obese.

Exercise Restrictions 

For kids with CHDs, the doctors used to recommend limiting physical activity in the past. Unfortunately, the children who began to lead an inactive lifestyle happen to continue leading that type of lifestyle. And, this increased their risk of turning overweight or obese. Of late, health experts consider that exercise and play activities for kids have health benefits and many of them are also safe for kids with CHDs. However, even when doctors recommend appropriate activities for kids, parents continue to be concerned about their child’s health if they do some exercise and restrict their kids’ physical activities. This contributes to unhealthy weight gain in CHD patients.

Certain Risk Factors

Medical studies have revealed that certain groups of children are at risk of turning overweight and obese. These include children with CHD:

Having a family history of obesity with one or both parents being obese.
Having a BMI (body mass index) in between the 85th and 95th percentiles
Have excessive weight gain in teenage
Initially were quite active but have turned inactive now
Gain weight at a greater speed than the growth of their height at a young age OR have BMI that increased quickly before they turned 7 years old.
Are inactive generally, particularly in adolescence.

Children with CHD falling in any of these groups are at risk of turning overweight or obese.

How Kids with CHDs can Maintain a Healthy Weight?

The health experts or paediatricians will monitor your child’s growth and weight and ensure that the weight stays in the healthy range. If your kid is gaining weight quicker than normal, the healthy expert may recommend some healthy lifestyle modifications. Consulting certified nutritionists and dieticians can help your child have the right diet to maintain a healthy weight and enjoy improved health and immunity. Here’s a list of healthy diet tips that can help children and teens with CHDs have a healthy weight.

Increase Your Kid’s Intake of Dietary Fibre

Making your child’s intake of fibre to a minimum of 14 grams per 1000 eaten calories can help promote and maintain a healthy weight. So, include fresh vegetables and fruit in your kid’s diet. Also, add whole-grain foods, such as brown rice, peas, whole-grain pasta, and corn, to the diet.

Reduce Your Kid’s Intake of Fats

To help avoid excess weight gain and help your child stay in a healthy weight range, make sure that his consumption of dietary fats is less than 30% of his daily calorie intake. Some easy yet effective ways to ensure this by cutting the fats include:

Choosing low-fat or fat-free foods, such as low-fat yoghurt, low-fat cream, low-fat gravy, herbed cottage cheese, and low-fat salad dressing.
Prefer lean meat, such as fish and skinless chicken. Avoid red meat.
Opt for healthy oils, such as olive oil and canola oil, in your child’s diet. Go for vegetable oils that do not have any sort of trans fats.
Choose fat-free cooking procedures, such as grilling, steaming, and baking.

Restrict Cholesterol Intake

While your child with CHD relishes his/her favourite foods, make sure that you limit cholesterol to less than 300 mg daily. Limiting fried foods, processed meat, and full-fat dairy to a minimum can help avoid excess weight gain and enjoy better health.

Reduce Sodium

Restricting the intake of sodium to less than 2000-2500 mg daily or even less than that can help prevent weight gain and promotes good health.

Limit or Avoid Sugary Beverages

To prevent weight gain in children with CHDs, it is advisable to avoid or restrict the intake of sugar-sweetened beverages. If you can’t avoid it, limit it to less than four ounces daily. Instead, encourage your kid to drink plain water.

Manage Your Serving Sizes

Pay attention to the serving size when you serve your kid. For this, learn actual serving sizes. For instance, a piece of bread amounts to one serving size and not two. Consulting a dietician can help you learn more about serving sizes and offer your child all the necessary foods in the right serving sizes. This will prevent your kid from overeating and help them have a healthy weight and enjoy good health.

Read the Labels

If anytime you need to buy any packed food items, read the nutrition facts labels and prefer to buy foods that have less saturated fat in every serving.

Along with these dietary modifications, help your kid follow the necessary exercise recommendations and have adequate sleep that the health expert or doctor would recommend for children to help lead a healthy life without excess weight gain.

So, let’s spread the word this International Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Day and motivate kids and individuals with CHDs to follow these healthy dietary practices and enjoy good health. Consulting nutritionists, such as health experts at Health Total, will help you have a customized diet plan for CHD that will not only help your child manage weight but also improve your kid’s overall health, immunity, and nutritional status. So, hurry up, get in touch with us at Health Total, and step up to help your kid with CHD enjoy good health with a personalized diet.

Sign up for a FREE consultation with Health Total experts to get more tips on improving your child’s health with diet or for managing any other health condition. Call toll-free at  1-800-843-0206 and book an appointment!

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