Tengku Puteri Raja Tengku Puteri Iman Afzan Receives Honorary Degree


We would like to express our heartiest congratulations to  Her Royal Highness Tengku Puteri Raja Tengku Puteri Iman Afzan binti Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shahwas.

On November 17, she was conferred an Honorary Degree, ‘Doctor of the University’, by Heriot-Watt University Malaysia at the Putrajaya Marriott Hotel today.


HRH Tengku Puteri Raja Tengku Puteri Iman Afzan is the eldest daughter of His Majesty Seri Paduka Baginda The Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah Ibni Almarhum Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah Al-Musta’in Billah.

She is a well-known and well-respected mental health activist and advocate in Malaysia as well as the international stage.

Just a few of her recent accomplishments and advocacy milestones are:

  • Appointed as World Federation for Mental Health Representative to the United Nations in New York in 2021
  • Appointed by WHO as the International Patron of World Mental Health Day for 2020-2021
  • Co-founder of the mental health awareness and advocacy platform Green Ribbon Group (link opens in a new tab)

Heriot-Watt University presented the Honorary Degree to HRH Tengku Puteri Raja Tengku Puteri Iman Afzan in recognition of Her Royal Highness’role as an inspirational, purpose-driven leader committed to championing mental health in Malaysia and globally.


“The Honorary Degree from Heriot-Watt University is a win for my noble cause of championing mental health,” Her Royal Highness Tengku Puteri Raja Tengku Puteri Iman Afzan said during the ceremony. “I am pleased to be recognised for the positive impact of my efforts, and this momentous occasion has reminded me once again of why I decided to champion the mental health agenda. I am dedicated to continuing my efforts to have a positive impact on mental health and to create an environment that is filled with compassion, love, and encouragement, especially for those who feel alone in their battles.”

She reiterated that pushing the mental health agenda forward will set in motion actionable steps towards breaking negative cycles and habits, and their transmission between the current generation and future ones.

“I would like to build a world where our youth are supported to become the very best version of themselves, so they are able to contribute to society and become even better parents to their children. This is my hope for my children, Zayn and Aleya, too,” she said.

Empowering Pharmacists to Better Serve The Nation


Chief Pharmacist
Alpro Pharmacy

For the longest time, the role of a pharmacist has been seen by many, even among those in the profession, as retailer of supplements and other healthcare products. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the general public have come to recognize the values community pharmacists bring.


Very often, patients with multiple non-communicable diseases (NCDs) were prescribed with medications by different doctors, they might not be aware of possible medical contradictions. They brought these medications to community pharmacists like me, and we helped them review and explain the dosage and possible side effects of each medicine. Most importantly, pharmacists ensure the safety of patients from medication errors.


Pharmacies are usually open for long hours and pharmacists offer informal, appointment-free consultation. At the height of the pandemic when clinics and hospitals required COVID-19 screening prior to consultation with doctors and patients avoided going to high-risk places, community pharmacists filled the gap by offering advice on COVID-19 and other health related matters including basic health screening and re-filling much needed chronic prescriptions through collaboration with telemedicine providers.


In recent years, many product-based retail pharmacists have transited to community pharmacists with solution-based services, such as wound-care, smoking cessation service, and diabetic-care.


It is high time for the Government to endorse community pharmacists as an integral part of community health and wellness by allocating funding for programmes in support of the Government’s efforts in creating a smoke-free generation, battling against NCDs and providing preventive care for the ageing population.

The inclusion of community pharmacists in the Government’s outreach plan will benefit the country as a whole, as it will ultimately reduce medical costs, improve population health, increase the quality of healthcare in Malaysia and contribute to the country’s GDP.

This year, The International Pharmaceutical Federation announced the theme of World Pharmacist Day 2022 as “Pharmacy United in Action for a Healthier World”. This theme invites comrades from all sectors of the pharmacy profession to take part in the campaign. Regardless of culture or point of view, the core duty of every pharmacist remains—to safeguard medication safety for everyone.

Reflections of a Pharmacist on Solidarity, Price Wars & Public Service



The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own. They do not reflect the opinions of his colleagues, associates, employer, and organizations he is affiliated with.


The official theme of the year is ‘Pharmacy united in action for a healthier world’.

The aim of this theme is to showcase the positive impact of pharmacists on health around the world and to further strengthen solidarity among the profession.

The keywords here are ‘united’ and ‘positive impact’.


In today’s healthcare landscape, pharmacists find themselves playing a new role, bestowed upon them by the public: they are the fact checkers and encyclopaedia for members of the public when it comes to everything and anything related to health. In other words, pharmacists are the new Alexa or Siri whenever someone has a question about health!

Pharmacists didn’t necessarily ask for or want this role, but it is one thrust upon us by a public that not only view us as the most accessible healthcare professionals in our society—members of the public also develop a trust in our knowledge after forming a rapport with us.

Our clients usually just walk into our outlet and obtain valuable health advice easily, with low or no cost at all.

With the advent of social media, we tend to become THE go-to person they talk to whenever they want to verify a health claim or ask about the latest health fad.

How pharmacists can step up for this role

To perform this role well, pharmacists need to be competent in their core field of pharmacotherapy, as well as to know a bit of everything in the realm of healthcare.

This is not a small feat to achieve, but it’s one that we need, to be able to guide our clients, or at least point them to the correct direction when there is no direct answer to their queries.

Having good research and analytical skills and keeping up with current updates are the 2 main paths for a pharmacist to become a good source of information.

Apart from pharmacists taking the initiative to do the necessary, our universities play a big role in instilling these skills in our pharmacy undergraduates, to enable them to cope with this new demand. So perhaps our fellow academicians can put more emphasis in this aspect.

Does it make a difference though, if we play this new role well?

Yes. Immensely.

In this world of information overload (or rather the age of misinformation), any Tom, Dick, and Harry can broadcast ‘health advice’ on social media.

As a result, members of the public are bombarded with equal amounts of information and misinformation.

Not everyone will be able to separate fact from fiction, even after googling for the answers, perhaps due to a lack of understanding of the information they found or to use the information to make an informed conclusion.

Pharmacists with years of training and experience will be in a better position to help members of the public digest complex terms and ideas into simple statements that they can more readily absorb. Even more so for the elderly and uneducated.

So, being a trusted point of reference is of utmost importance for our society right now. Apart from carrying out our core duties of being the custodians of medications, this new role positions us to impact the health of the world most significantly, positively.


Then we arrive at the other key aspect of this year’s theme: unity.

Unity is not something we commonly see among retail or community pharmacies. The supposed fellowship and camaraderie had eroded more substantially in the recent years, mainly due to the intense competition between big pharmacy chains as well as price wars.

Competition was originally thought to be a positive force in keeping market prices low for the benefit of the consumer. However, when competition goes too far, it becomes unhealthy to both the profession and the consumer.

‘Tribal war’ among pharmacists?

Pharmacists have become more and more hostile to their counterparts from another ‘tribe’, due to the aforementioned competition.

They view each other as adversaries or even enemies, instead of colleagues.

This hinders cooperation between pharmacy groups. Even in times of medication shortage, a pharmacist is less likely to seek cooperation/help from other ‘tribes’, which in turn negatively impacts their clients’ welfare and the image of our profession.

Furthermore, smaller pharmacies not belonging to any big ‘tribes’ sometimes face unnecessary hostility from bigger tribes when these tribes migrate and open next to them en masse.

Almost in every town you can see 4 to 5 different pharmacies opening in the same stretch of shop-houses, and price wars inevitably make it near impossible for a stand-alone pharmacists to practice their trade professionally.

Still, price wars are good for the consumer… right?

Unfortunately this is not always true.

With drug prices being sold at cost or below cost, businesses have to to obtain profits through alternate channels. These channels can be additional sales of legitimate products or from some other less-ideal methods.

Either way, the interest of the client is not going to be the main focus anymore. Instead, sales, incentives, and targets take precedence over the client’s genuine needs.

This is NOT what most pharmacists want, but the nature of the industry is forcing more and more of them to sing to this tune. Furthermore, the end game for many price wars is monopolistic in nature, where absurd profits are to be reaped after a dominant force appears.

But what can pharmacists do about this? How do we unite?

Needless to say, it is going to be a gargantuan task, but we have to start somewhere.

Stay professional. Always be a pharmacist first, retailer or businessman second. I’m not asking you to go on strike or forego profits. Just be sure to put our client’s needs first in our every consideration.

From here, build bonds with your fellow pharmacists. Meet more pharmacists outside your workplace, so that you can find solutions to each other’s weaknesses. Cooperation not only benefits our customers in the long run; it also changes our views on competition.

Maintain mutual respect and keep competition healthy. Compete with each other to be the better pharmacist, to see who elevates our healthcare to a higher level. Don’t just compete in terms of profit and loss.

It’s up to us to create the future we want to live in. I always say I don’t want to grow old one day and have to doubt the advice given by my pharmacist for the fear of being ripped off or being coerced into buying something.

Talk to your management. Voice out what you feel is right or wrong whenever you have the opportunity. This doesn’t have to be confrontational, if we do it the right way. Only when there are enough voices saying the same thing, will things start to change.

Lastly, do actively support our professional body. With enough support and the right mindset, our profession can be more united to under this body, and we can all serve the public better.


Cherish and support any pharmacist that gives you more value for your health rather than your wallet.

Granted, price is a big deciding factor when making any purchase, but as long as the difference is not too big, always support the one that truly cares for your health.

Hopefully with changes in the mindsets of both pharmacists and clients, the big divide caused by price and competition will slowly narrow and allow pharmacists can be more united in serving the public positively.

Superdads, Assemble!

Superdads, Assemble!

May 8, 2022   Return


Cathie Wu

MA Coun Psy (CAN, USA)

Director and Counselling Psychologist



Just like mothers, fathers are irreplaceable. Traditionally the father is viewed more as a breadwinner, but the truth is, he has just as much significant impact on the emotional development of a child. Most children view their father as a superhero, the protector and the bedrock who fixes all problems in their lives. Perhaps paradoxically, a father also tends to fixate on his role as a breadwinner, sometimes to the point of being emotionally absent from the child’s life.

This month, we join counselling psychologist Cathie Wu as she takes a look at how a father can be a superhero to his child without having to  develop literal superpowers. After all, the true strength of a father isn’t measured by whether or not he can fly or hold up a bus with one hand—it lies within his heart.


“I try to live my life like my father lives his. He always takes care of everyone else first. He won’t even start eating until he’s sure everyone else in the family has started eating. Another thing: my dad never judges me by whether I win or lose.”

American footballer Ben Roethlisberger

Much has been said about a father’s responsibilities. He is a breadwinner, just like Mom. He is a pillar of strength and a bedrock of support. He teaches life’s valuable lessons, but he allows his children to learn from mistakes. The list goes on and it may seem intimidating especially to first-time fathers.

However, being a father is not about following a set of rules. It’s about living out the experience, appreciating the ups and learning from the downs of fatherhood.

Cathie Wu offers a few tips on getting the hang of a father’s responsibilities.

Work as a team with your partner. Fathers and mothers often have different roles within and outside of the family.

Being responsible as a parent will always mean that the parental team must be  united. For a father, this will include a commitment to communicate to his wife and children, and to have discussions on how to share parenting roles.

Resist making promises that sound good but can’t be delivered. It’s okay to proceed slowly and steadily in demonstrating responsibility and reliability.

Being a father is never about solely providing for the family. It’s also about providing enough love, attention and support to make a positive difference ina child’s life.

According to 2017 statistics from the US Census Bureau, children in the US raised in a household without a father are

  • More likely to have behavioural problems (including committing crimes) and substance abuse.
  • Twice more likely to drop out of school.
  • Four times more likely to live in poverty.

Hence, a father’s love and affection is arguably as important as—or perhaps even more important than— his ability to provide for the family.

Cathie Wu has some advice for fathers on being the best daddy they can be to their children:

Develop an individual relationship with each child. With multiple children this may be harder but learning about each individual child will help strengthen the parental bond and make each child feel more included.

Learn to understand your child on a deeper level. When an emotionally safe relationship is built, a good father is interested to know their child better.

Understanding has to come before problem-solving. Teach children to be resilient (help them learn how to meet obstacles, address or cope with issues openly, not be demoralized by “failures” but retain a sense of motivation, etc) via good communication as well as leading by example. Children often learn more through observation of others.

Cultivate a good strong marital relationship. Parent can teach kids many valuable lessons about love, respect, loyalty, interpersonal skills, overcoming obstacles, etc through their marital relationship. On the other hand, when the marital relationship is experiencing dissatisfaction, it will invariably affect the kids. So, communicate regularly with loved ones. Show affection through words or physical touch. Make quality time (quality over quantity).


An undervalued trait of fatherhood is a sense of humour. A good sense of humour doesn’t just teaches a man to laugh, it sometimes can help one better cope with the hard knocks in life. A sense of humour also allows the father to view life through different and even unusual perspectives, which in turn helps him become more spontaneous and adaptable.

When balanced with a good sense of responsibility, a father who doesn’t take life too seriously is a steadying presence to the family during a crisis, and a brightening source of joy to all during happier times.

Furthermore, research shows people with a sense of humour tend to have a lower risk of falling into depression. There are also studies that suggest they are better equipped to manage stress, which in turn can have positive benefits to blood pressure, heart rate and possibly the immune system and digestion.

Therefore, it’s fine to be silly and have a laugh now and then. Whether it’s blowing soap bubbles to make a baby laugh or using gentle humour to reassure older kids when they experience failure, it’s all good.

Cathie Wu has some advice on this for fathers.

Look at the big picture. Let go of the concept of perfection and focus on your strengths. Admit that you can and will make mistakes, and so will the people around you— nobody is infallible, after all.

Learn to have a laugh over the trivial stuff. Find your favourite comedian and learn how and when to use a lighthearted perspective on things. HT

“Becoming a father increases your capacity for love and your level of patience. It opens up another door in a person—a door which you may not even have known was there. That’s what I feel with my son. There’s suddenly another level of love that expands. My son is my greatest joy, out of everything in my life.”~ actor Kyle MacLachlan


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May 8, 2022   Return


Q: My children are spending a lot of time at home lately. How do I keep them healthy?

The best way to make sure your child stays healthy at home is to give them proper and balanced nutrition. 

Parents should also allow their children to get adequate amounts of exercise and exposure to sunshine. Physical activity helps children build up their bones and muscles. Furthermore, I would recommend parents to organize fun activities that can stimulate the mind and encourage interaction among family members at home.

Q: Can you recommend some food and nutrition tips for my child?

All children require proper nutrition, and that refers to an adequate balance of proteins, carbohydrates, and vitamins. There is no single food or vitamin that can fulfil all your child’s nutritional needs.

Some children may have iron or vitamin D deficiency. These children might need some additional supplements. That said, as general rule, most balanced meals will contain all the nutrients a child would need. Just remember to not to give your child too much junk food and sweets. 

Q: How can I teach my young children to practice hand hygiene?

Children should be taught how to wash their hands the right way, and this can be taught very easily. A good indicator of how long you should wash your hands is to sing the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice. The best part is, when you teach children the correct technique of handwashing, they will likely remember it for the rest of their lives.

Q: Should parents use hand sanitizers on their young children?

Most hand sanitizers contain 70% alcohol in order to be effective. I wouldn’t recommend exposing a child to hand sanitizers, unless it is unavoidable. The best method of hand hygiene for babies and young children is to use soap and water.



May 8, 2022   Return




“Folic acid is very important for pregnant women. It can prevent abnormalities of the brain and central nervous system,” says Professor Dr Nazimah Idris, a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist.

She recommends to start taking folic acid at least 3 months before getting pregnant, and to continue for at least 3 months into pregnancy. 



Infections such as rubella can also produce structural abnormalities in the baby. However, with vaccination programmes in place, incidence of this is now very much reduced.

Diabetes though is a condition that, according to Prof Nazimah, is of great concern. Diabetic embryopathy refers to abnormalities in foetuses caused by high sugar levels in pregnant women and can cause abnormalities in the brain, gastric system, heart, skeletal system, and even the renal tract.



Women with diabetes that are planning to have a baby should get their blood sugar levels under control. “High sugar levels are toxic to the baby. This is especially detrimental to the foetus in the first trimester, when it is developing and when organs are forming. If you are exposed to ‘toxins’ or teratogens when you’re forming, you won’t form very well,” says Prof Nazimah. 

It is imperative for someone who has diabetes, heart disease or hypertension to seek a doctor’s advice before getting pregnant, according to Prof Dr Nazimah.

Nonetheless, even for women that have no existing medical condition that they are aware of, Prof Dr Nazimah still urges them to visit a doctor, in order to examine any existing pregnancy risk factors and to get advice on how to ensure a safe delivery of a healthy baby. 



May 8, 2022   Return





Scoliosis happens when the spine forms an abnormal sideways curve—usually in a C-shape or S-shape. People affected by scoliosis are most often diagnosed during their growth spurt years, usually between the ages of 10 to 17.



As scoliosis is usually diagnosed in a child’s schooling years, many parents mistakenly believe that heavy school bags are the cause of scoliosis. However, Dr Lim Sze Wei assures that this is only a myth.

He explains, “Research and medical reports have noted that there are no associations between the occurrence of scoliosis and heavy school bags.”



In most cases, the exact cause of scoliosis is not known. That said, scoliosis is more common in people with genetic conditions such as cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy. It is also more common in girls than boys, and in children who have siblings or close relatives with scoliosis.



One of the most common signs of scoliosis is uneven shoulders, shoulder blades or hips. This can be observed if one shoulder or one side of the hip looks to be drooping below the other side.

“The head not being centered with the rest of the body is another common sign of scoliosis,” Dr Lim adds.

Parents can also do the Adam’s Forward Bend Test to check if their child has scoliosis. They can do so by asking their child to bend forward with both palms between the knees. Any imbalances in the rib cage or along the back could be a sign of scoliosis. If signs of scoliosis are observed, it is best to consult a doctor as soon as possible. 



Treatment for scoliosis can range from non-surgical to surgical treatment options. A doctor would recommend a treatment plan according to the severity of scoliosis and the age of the patient. 

“For mild scoliosis cases, non-surgical treatment methods such as exercises or a wearing a scoliosis brace can help slow down or stop the progression of scoliosis.”

“However, these methods cannot fix the curvature in the spine. Patients will need to be monitored throughout their lives to ensure their condition does not worsen,” Dr Lim concludes.



May 8, 2022   Return





One way to reduce your child’s separation anxiety, Dr Yong advises, is to let them know in advance what being in a classroom will be like.

“Make it sound exciting instead of fearful,” she says. “Use phrases such as ‘You are so lucky’ to reduce your child’s worries.”



If you drop your child off at school, do so at the same time every day if possible.

Also, Dr Yong advises being there early when picking up your child, so that they won’t have to wait all alone in a strange environment.

The same applies if your child takes a bus or private chartered vehicle to school. Send off your child when the vehicle arrives, and be there with a smile when your child gets out of the vehicle at the end of a school day.

This routine will let your child find comfort in knowing that Mommy or Daddy will always be there for them no matter what happens at school.



You can ease your child’s separation anxiety at the start of the day by developing a simple goodbye ritual, such as a kiss on the cheek or a hug.

However, some children may take the opportunity to cry and act up when it’s time to be temporarily separated from their parents.

If your child does this, don’t cave in no matter how much your heart breaks to do so. Just calmly walk away once your child is safely in the care of their teacher.

Don’t worry—you likely won’t be causing great emotional distress in your child by leaving without fanfare. Dr Yong shares that some teachers had confided in her on how some teary-eyed children would quickly calm down and even get along well with other children shortly after their parents had left!



If you notice after a few weeks that your child still resists going to school, or acts in other ways to suggest that their time at school wasn’t going well, these could be warning signs that your child may be subjected to bullying by their classmates or harsh treatment from the teacher.

You should make some discreet enquiries or consult the school principal to look further into this matter.

Deal or no deal?

Deal or no deal?

May 8, 2022   Return

Negotiating with kids can result in a win-win situation.

Negotiations are part and parcel of the corporate world. A good discussion results in a win-win situation, an understanding that is mutually beneficial as it is binding. The benefits of bargaining can actually go beyond the boardroom, as something that can get moms and kids on the same page when it comes to things such as new purchases, homework and TV time.

Boardroom tactics

Ros Fajardo, mom to 9-year old Russ, put this into practice when they drew up a list of daily activities for the boy to follow during the school year. “We agreed that there will be no gadgets from Monday to Thursday. But, if he finishes his homework and [worksheets] before bedtime, he can have 30 minutes of playtime. I wanted to impress on him that time well managed means more time for play,” explains the key accounts manager.

She admits having an ulterior motive in asking for Russ’ help with the timetable. “Actually, there was no consensus really in the beginning. I just presented it so he’d buy into it. In my ranking of important activities, I prioritize academic performance, so I needed to put in place blocks of time per activity,” she shares.

Russ balked at the negotiation stage, grumbling about the chunk of time set aside for studying, but Ros held her ground. “Although a child may resent the [schedule], take away the routine and he’ll feel lost and out of his element. At this point of the negotiation, consistency is key. As a parent, you need to build your credibility,” she says. Her bottom line, more than getting high marks in school, was teaching a value. “I wanted to teach him, ‘Don’t expect life to be easy, so better be ready for it. Hard work will get you place. You cannot feel entitled to everything.”

What to haggle on

Opening the floor for discussion is encouraged by Winston Jerome Luna, vice president for academic affairs at St. Jerome School in Novaliches and St. Jerome Science Montessori in Caloocan, Philippines. “Involving kids [in] decision making [for] certain things that concern them gives them the ability to freely express and communicate their issues, feelings and dilemmas to the parent. In the long run, this open line of communication will serve as a solid foundation in the relationship between parent and child,” he says.

There are certain things that Winston says are non-negotiable: anything that concerns rules of law or health and safety are definitely off the table. “Leisure and rewards can be negotiated,” he adds, further stating that negotiable points include those that promote growth, challenge kids to be better people, make them productive and give them the energy for excellence.

Winston gives his own thoughts about creating a winning resolution when negotiating with a school-going child: “A win-win situation is a state where both parties are happy and agreeable. This can be achieved by setting the platform ahead of time. Kids should understand clearly what is [or isn’t] negotiable … Kids will understand and accept decisions that are non-negotiable and they would know as well when to ask for more or disagree on things.”

The bottom line is yours

Establishing open communication and boundaries at the same time can create a win-win setup. Maridel Saguil-Regala imprinted this fact early in her 4 children. “Even when they were toddlers, I would explain why I was doing certain things, like, I would put them on an elevated surface while I mopped the floors to make it clean enough for them to play on. I also told them that if they moved around too much, they will fall and hurt themselves,” she shares. This was her way of making them understand that what she does always has a reason – primarily, it’s to look out for them.

As they grew older, she says this openness has helped her set the tone for their discussions. She says, “If my 13-year old, for example, wants to go to the mall with her friends, and there are chores that need to be done in the house, she understands why those chores should come first.” Early training is important, because kids today have become experts at wheedling and cajoling, courtesy of what they see on TV. Parents have to listen to reason, but must stand firm on decisions, or else the kids will walk all over them.

Winston underscores the value of teaching kids to operate within some form of family democracy. “Negotiation plays an important role in life. The best negotiators are often the one who can get the best in any of their endeavours. If parents practice this at home, kids will have a bigger chance to succeed, since they’re trained to analyze and give their input at a young age. Training them in this aspect allows them to practice critical thinking and expand their understanding and reasoning abilities,” he explains.
Dialogues are now taking place in modern parenting, where kids can express their views, and parents allow for negotiations – but still have the final say. Think of it as training your kids to deal with conflict resolution with an open mind and diplomacy.

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Getting Your Kids to Eat Right at School

Getting Your Kids to Eat Right at School

May 8, 2022   Return

Smart eating is all about eating right in order to lead a healthy lifestyle. It is also easier to do than most people think – even kids can do it with the right advice and support from their parents!

Now that the kids are off to school, parents should ensure that their children continue to eat healthily. You may be wondering, “My kids are in school! How can I watch over what they are eating?” Well, here are some tips to help parents like you get started.

Make time for breakfast

Breakfast recharges your children, restoring their energy and vital nutrients after a night of sleep. This means better learning and improved school performance. There is also less chances of them overeating during recess.

  • Prepare meals in advance using simple ingredients that can be refrigerated and re-heated, if necessary, e.g. sandwiches.
  • Stock-up some healthy breakfast food choices such as a cup of yogurt or small packet of milk, for a “grab and go” breakfast when your child is in a hurry.
  • Cook in bulk during weekends and pre-packing them for easy preparation and consumption throughout the week. It takes only a short while to reheat the foods in the morning.
  • If your children have problems waking up in time to catch their transportation to school, prepare their breakfast in a container for them to eat while on the way to school or before the school starts.

Help them get the most out of lunch

One of the challenges in shaping healthy eating habits among your children can be the type of foods being sold at the school canteen. Depending on the canteen, sometimes the foods sold may be high in fat and sugar content, for example fried foods and sweetened beverages. Soft drinks and sugary foods may also present an irresistible temptation to your children. You can help steer your children in the right direction via the following ways:

  • Prepare and pack healthy snacks for children to bring to school instead of buying food at the school canteen.
  • Teach them about healthy food choices so that they can select healthier options when buying canteen foods and choose the less healthy ones as an occasional treat. Some examples:
    • Cut down on deep-fried or oily foods as much as possible – instead of kari laksa, for example, go for meehoon sup.
    • Drink more plain water, and save sugary beverages for special moments.

Help them manage peer pressure

Ultimately, your children may end up eating unhealthily not because they want to, but because all their school friends are eating such foods. Here are some tips to help your children make healthy eating choices while still fitting in well with their friends. If you practice these tips early, your children may also find it easier to say no to smoking and other unhealthy habits when they are older.

  • Always be open and communicative with your children. This way, they will be more willing to talk to you when their friends are asking them to do things that they are not comfortable with.
  • Teach your children to say ‘no’ without feeling like the odd duck out. Instead of just saying no, have your child explain why he or she feels that way. It can be anything from a simple “I don’t like the taste!” to “Too much soft drink can make me fat.”
  • Help build up your children’s self-esteem, to give them the confidence to say no to things they are uncomfortable with.
    • Be supportive and encouraging. You can kill two birds with one stone by leaving feel-good notes inside your children’s lunch boxes – it makes them feel better and gets them more interested in eating what you have prepared for them!
    • Let your children understand that it is normal to be a little different from everyone else. Therefore, it is perfectly fine to do things differently (for example, eating food from home during recess instead of buying canteen food). Help them understand that true friends will accept these differences and still love them for who they are.
    • Lead by example, and be a positive role model to your children. If they view you as confident, supportive and positive, they will most likely adopt the same attitude when it comes to food as well as life.

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