How a passionate mother in Sudan is learning to give her baby girl the best start in life. For Sarah Mohammed, the journey to motherhood was not an easy one. The 34-year old from El Obeid, Sudan, spent six years desperately visiting doctors and taking test after test to unearth any potential cause delaying her pregnancy. However, nothing concrete was discovered and doctors had concluded it was likely due to her husband having to travel much of the time for work. Though the couple eagerly wanted to start a family, his travel meant they were unable to spend long periods of time together. Sarah started to share her experience with me regarding the fertility treatment she sought, including one cycle of Intrauterine Insemination (IUI), which was unsuccessful. “To our amazement, after the IUI failed, I fell pregnant with my daughter naturally the following month. We were so happy,” Sarah beamed. When I first met Sarah in May, I was at a UNICEF-supported focus group discussion with young mothers, organised by the Ministry of Health in Al Kalakla, on the eastern bank of the White Nile in Khartoum.

The objective of the workshop was to gain better insight into the nutrition knowledge, habits and behaviours of first- time mothers and how these habits impact their child. The findings will be analysed and used to inform current programmes in the country, in addition to being published in a global UNICEF report focused on young mothers’ experiences. As she carried Ritag, her now 8-month-old daughter, in her arms, the joy in Sarah’s eyes was infectious and their bond hard to miss. As we talked, Ritag would playfully reach out to me while flashing a cheeky grin. Sarah, like her husband, used to work as an engineer but is now a stay-at-home mum and would not have it any other way. “Me and Ritag’s father are both very much involved in raising our daughter the best way we can. He is a very present father and helps me with her all the time,” said Sarah. UNICEF strongly believes that the first 1,000 days of a child’s life are critical and have lasting effects.

The involvement of a father in those precious moments of play and nurturing and their involvement in ensuring good nutrition, can positively affect the baby’s brain development. In addition, it paves the way for the child to have the best start in life. “Me and my husband usually scour the internet for as much information as possible to find the best parenting tips,” Sarah said. In Sudan, levels of acute malnutrition remain above the World Health Organization (WHO) emergency threshold in 11 out of the 18 states. Approximately 2.5 million children under five suffer from malnutrition annually, out of whom 700,000 suffer from severe acute malnutrition. Malnutrition is largely caused by poor water and sanitation conditions, high disease prevalence, increased food costs, poverty, as well as negative feeding practices and habits such as lack of food variety and essential nutrients. As the study calls for details regarding nutrition habits, Sarah then began to reveal the type of food they typically consume at home. “When Ritag was 4-months old, I used to let her taste soup and mulaah (a type of traditional Sudanese stew) with my finger. At 6 months I moved her to solids,” she said. Sarah’s objective is to improve their eating habits. She hopes to learn more, through workshops such as this and additional awareness-raising activities in her community, about how to improve her daughter’s diet to ensure she grows up healthy and happy.

  • Healthy Eating for Pregnancy
  • Stay hydrated
  • Eat at your table and cuddle on the couch
  • Slurred or mumbled speech
  • Suncreen use recommendations can be found here

When evening comes, your kids should be properly trained to know that it is bedtime and they should get ready for bed at that time. If your children do not sleep enough, they may be hard to deal with, have problems at school, and also may become behaviorally challenged. The bottom line is that children must have enough sleep to function, even if they don’t want to go to bed. You can help to get your kids into the habit of being physically active by planning family activities that are healthy and outdoorsy. Why don’t you go out for a walk after dinner, instead of just watching the TV? When going on weekend trips or vacation you should include activities such as cycling, swimming and hiking. This will be good and healthy for the adults, as well as the kids in your family. Being a good role model for your kids here is advised, as young children usually copy the things they observe. It’s natural for young kids to move about when they’re young, so making sure they do will mean there’s less of a chance that they’ll end up sedentary and overweight in their adult and teen years.

If a child is having lots of fun they will not be aware of any dangerous weather conditions. So it’s down to you to ensure they aren’t playing in temperatures that are too hot or too cold. In the winter children may like to sledge down a hill or mess about in the snow, however ensuring they have the proper clothes on, including a hat, some gloves and multiple layers is important. The same goes for very hot temperatures, over 90 F. In these circumstances you need to make sure that your kids are consuming a lot of water, as playing too hard in the heat can cause children to faint. Decision making is not always as easy as you would like for your kids. Although you are doing it for your child’s well being, you will often have to go against their wishes. Children choose what feels best at the time and do not look ahead, so keep this in mind. This is why kids like junk food and fast food, and are the best customers. Healthier choices are something you can help your child with, as you are the parent. For more information on free culinary school information, make sure you check out this article history of culinary arts.

None of the medical doctors I visited could figure out what was going on. Blood tests, physical exams, and even a brain scan all came back normal. Although I had recently been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, my symptoms continued even after I’d started on a medication that brought my thyroid levels back into the normal range. The digestive issues got diagnosed as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), but that didn’t explain the missing period or the other non-gut-related ailments. Clearly something was going on beyond my thyroid, but no one could tell me what. The quest for answers wore on for years, through a tangled forest of false diagnoses (gluten sensitivity, polycystic ovarian syndrome, insulin resistance). I was understandably frustrated, but I also became fascinated by the science—or lack thereof—on the conditions I thought I had. Around 2005, I started to focus my career as a journalist on food and nutrition, largely in an attempt to master my own unexplained health issues.

I believed that food was medicine, and that I needed to learn how to use it in order to heal myself—and to help others in the same boat. These mysterious health problems weren’t the only reason for my sudden interest in food and nutrition. Looking back now, I realize that my relationship to food and eating had changed dramatically ever since my junior year of college, when I became intensely focused on losing weight. I can trace it back to the summer of 2002 (a year and a half before those mysterious symptoms landed me in several doctor’s offices). Since then I’d been restricting my calorie and carb intake and overexercising in a never-ending effort to shrink my body. But pretty soon my daily calorie counting, obligatory workouts, and “sensible” portions of “healthy” low-carb food led to nightly binges on all the things I’d been denying myself—cookies, chips, bread, candy.

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