December 13, 2023

Conversation With Manisha Bhavana: Early Childhood Diet, Diabetes & Psychotherapy

Conversation With Manisha Bhavana: Early Childhood Diet, Diabetes & Psychotherapy
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About The Expert

Manisha Bhavana is a seasoned professional who blends her passion for health and wellness with a deep understanding of nutrition and fitness. With an inherent instinct for these areas, she has dedicated herself to promoting mental health and well-being, always approaching her work empathetically and consistently. As a qualified Nutritionist, Manisha's counseling is driven by raising awareness, ensuring that her clients are not just following advice but truly understanding the importance of their health choices. Her journey in the wellness space extends over 11 years in yoga and fitness, underlined by her certification as a Yoga Trainer. Manisha specializes in yoga and meditation, particularly focusing on mindful breathing techniques, which form the cornerstone of her training approach. Manisha also holds a Master's degree in Business Administration, which has honed her skills in quickly grasping business ideas and market trends.

Livest Health caught up with her for a quick chat on the importance of early childhood nutrition, diabetes awareness, and psychotherapy.

The Interview

1. How do nutritional needs vary among children of different ages, and what are the critical components of a balanced diet?

Nutritional needs of a human start from the womb. Health is a combination of many functional, environmental, and genetic conditions. Their nutritional needs must be carefully considered from the day a baby is born.

There are different age groups in children, starting from infants, toddlers, early adolescence, puberty, and late adolescence. Every group is different in their physical and mental growth. A toddler’s response to food changes every fortnight, and this age group needs a balance of carbohydrates, fats, and protein.

An adolescent might need more protein and calcium in their diet. Once puberty, girls and boys have different body compositions and must be careful of what goes into their system. 

2. What are the early signs of diabetes in children, and how can parents and caregivers best manage it through diet and lifestyle changes?

Parents must stay alert about their child’s milestones, like their weight and height. Type 1 diabetes is commonly found in children above the age of 6, and this is majorly genetic. You may observe sudden weight loss, fatigue, lack of interest in daily activities, and mood swings.

Type 2 diabetes in children has increased in the last few decades. You may observe these children are generally obese or have a BMI on the higher side.

Weight gain, lack of energy, frequent urination, extreme hunger, and extreme thirst are some signs not to miss out on. It is a tough job to keep children from eating junk and palatable carbohydrates.

Parents can set an example by practicing healthy eating patterns and educating their children on sustainable food habits. 

3. How do psychometric tests contribute to understanding a child’s cognitive and emotional development, and what are their limitations?

Psychometrics is a way to analyze the functioning of the human mind. There are 8 billion people with a billion models of thinking patterns. How people interact with the world is understood by personality testing. Psychometric assessment can be done at any age.

If you want to understand why and how your child picks up a certain unexpected trait in response to a situation, psychometrics can be a helpful guide for you. Some kids are logical, some are kinaesthetic, a few are emotional, and others are explorative and risk-taking.

An assessment or counseling will help the parent understand not just where their child stands in their cognitive processing but also help them understand how to react to their child in the right situation. 

4. What are the most effective psychotherapeutic approaches for children with emotional and behavioral issues?

Children with behavioral and emotional issues are more sensitive and might have unanticipated responses to situations. Understanding the reason for their behavior should be the primary focus. Psychological interventions like cognitive behavioral therapy, Dialectical behavioral therapy, and Trauma-informed care help protect the child from their emotional consequences.

Choosing the right professional care and establishing trust with the therapist should also be a consistent goal. Therapy helps in reacting, responding, and rebounding healthily and building better people.

5. Can you discuss the role of nutrition in managing common pediatric conditions like ADHD and Autism?

Deficiencies in both cases are personal, and each child might have different nutritional goals. Autistic children can be picky eaters, and some might also have gut complications, so keeping an eye on allergic reactions is a must for caregivers. Hydration is essential in both ADHD and ASD (autism spectrum disorder); healthy fats and omega supplements are a must for a better functioning nervous system. Foods rich in protein should be preferred to heavily starchy food.

Apart from fruits and vegetables, antioxidants, vitamin D, and vitamin C supplementation can benefit the child, and complex carbohydrates are always a better choice.

photograph of a boy covering his eyes
Photo by Mikhail Nilov on

6. How does a chronic condition like diabetes affect a child’s psychological well-being and social interactions?

Children with specific health conditions like diabetes (both type 1 & type 2 DM) need emotional support as much as they need medical support. These children often feel outcasted within their environment as they withdraw from social interactions.

Most of them lack confidence, and they often tend to hide their personal lives. This affects not only their friendships but also a child’s daily routines, like playing with other kids, meeting new people, mood swings, erratic eating, and sleeping patterns.

Lack of motivation is one more reason for diabetic distress from a younger age leading to depression.

7. In what ways are psychometric assessments used in educational settings to support children with special educational needs?

Psychometric assessments can benefit both children and teachers/parents to understand the child’s potential and work on it personally.

If there are 40 children in a class, each child will have a way of grasping the subject. Kids who are dominant thinkers are good with numbers, and kids who are dominant sensors are good with practical knowledge and learn much more with assignments and projects.

Similarly, we have dominant feelers who are mostly social and are good with arts, theatre, and language. Dominant intuitors are full of new ideas and hyperactive. Both the child and the parent are unaware of the child’s potential traits.

Psychometric assessments help them understand how to bring out the best of their strengths while working on their weaker spots. This helps them accept their flaws and feel less stressed about peer pressure. 

8. How can psychotherapy be effectively integrated into overall pediatric care, especially for children with chronic illnesses?

I have always believed that children are the economic future of the country. A mentally strong child has a stronger base to a better future. Mental endurance is equally important as much as their physical stamina.

The phrase “survival of the fittest” best describes how mental endurance impacts one’s life.

Childhood trauma in some form, emotional or physical abuse, bullying, malnourishment, and lack of proper parental guidance all have a heavy impact on how the child progresses as an adult.

Psychotherapy improves cognitive thinking and emotional intelligence and helps them work on themselves with professional guidance. 

9. What are some common myths about children’s nutrition, and how do we address them with evidence-based information?

Nutritional myths start from the infancy stage when breastfeeding mothers are asked not to eat curd, not to eat dal and beans, and not to eat cruciferous vegetables like cabbage or cauliflower, assuming that would cause indigestion in their lactating babies.

This is untrue; every lactating mother should have a well-nourished and balanced diet, including all fruits, vegetables, meat, and dairy. Lactating mothers should also hydrate themselves throughout the day.

Kids need shorter and more frequent meals than three heavily portioned meals in a day. Quality sleep (10-11 hrs) and reduced screen time are essential to get them focused on their appetite. 

Toddlers don’t listen to what parents say, but they observe what parents do, and hence, parents need to stand as an example to develop healthy eating habits right from childhood. Pediatric nutritional counseling should always be considered for both parents and their children. 

10. How do family dynamics influence the effectiveness of psychotherapy in children, and what role do parents play in this process?

Family plays a key role in therapy. Without the family’s support, it is very tough to maintain consistent progress in the child’s mental well-being.

The child’s needs must be communicated to the immediate family members, and the required support must be arranged for. In some cases, family is also included in therapy to gain maximum benefit.

Children with a healthy family environment have healthy thinking patterns and have greater endurance during stressful situations. With the help of psychotherapy and family support, we help children understand how they interact with the rest of the world during a crisis.

Get In Touch

Do you have any questions for Manisha Bhavana? Write to [email protected] to get personal advice from our experts.

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