Greetings people! So, today is Children's day. Children - the most beautiful of god's creation. They are the athletes, the engineers, doctors, scientists or the leaders of tomorrow. They deserve the best care and nurturing. One of the very important aspect of their upbringing is - Nutrition. And no, we are not suggesting that a kid needs to go on a restrictive diet plan. That is the last thing a child should do, unless, there is a medical condition that calls for it. Unfortunately, in India, the awareness about child nutrition is still in a very premature stage. So, I thought - what better way to celebrate this day than spread some awareness and take a small step towards a healthier nation.
What’s the best time to learn healthy habits that can last? Childhood.Children now-a-days need a lot of energy at school, at play and what can help them achieve that? Healthy eating.It will not only provide enough energy, but they will feel good and it would impact the overall growth and development of a child. This is where it all begins!
There's a pattern, yes ...
Now, although, I am not a mum myself, I have witnessed and assisted 4 of my friends in raising their kids very, very closely. I have seen kids who are super high in energy, kids who are obese, kids who are under-weight. In almost all the cases, there is a pattern that can be traced back to the parent's life-style.
We will discuss more about these patterns, healthy practices and nutrition basics for kids and tips on how to seamlessly integrate this in their routine in the subsequent sections. Read on.
Let's get to the what before how
First step is to evaluate your child's current state and requirement. His pediatrician is the most ideal person to consult when trying to infer if your child needs to lose or gain weight or if he/she is suffering from some deficiency.
Now, once that is established, here are some general, healthy guidelines that will help your kid stay fit:
The better choices
Ideal choices for kids would include controlled portion of fat, protein and carbs. Along with portion control, cutting down on empty calories (calories that are derived from food containing no vital nutrients)is equally important.Make sure you have a wide variety of healthy food available at home all time and say no to soda, sugary fruit juices or chips or deep fried food.
Some of the very good choices for staple food would be:
- Low fat dairy products
- Poultry without skin
- Chicken breast/lean meat cuts
- Whole grain bread and cereals
- Low-fat paneer
Wait, all the above choices say low-fat or lean. What about fats? Isn’t it a very integral component? If you asked this question, I am glad that you are an aware parent. Now, fats requirement for kids is moderate and is mostly met with the cooking oil/butter/ghee that we use to cook and the small quantities found in every other food.
Vegetables and fruits are best friends. Fruits can easily pass as a very healthy snacking option. In addition to providing necessary fiber and vitamins, it can also be used to pep up your recipes!
Clean your plate – the classic mistake! - Let your child decide when does he/she want to stop eating. Kids usually listen to their body’s signals. If it is overridden too often, they will be confused and will start indulging in over-eating.
Fast food should be reserved for special occasions - Just because a noodle is easy to prepare, don’t use it as a quick fix.
Enough What. Let’s get to how …
Set example - Kids learn super fast. When kids watch you making healthy food choices and following a good lifestyle they will see and try to adapt the same. You are their role model and you are sending a message that good health is important in your family.
Food decisions - It’s you who decides what and where your family eats. But your child can choose from the options given to him/her and how much they want to eat.
Sharing knowledge of eating healthy - Teach children about the food they eat, what nutrients it contains, where it comes from and how is it grown etc.
Some help here buddy … - Ask your children to assist you while cooking and teach them simple recipes. When they are involved in preparing the food they will surely be interested in eating it and you wouldn’t have to struggle to make them eat.
The name game - Ask your kids to name the food they are eating so they remember what their plate consists of. It makes it fun.
Grow some vegies in your backyard - If you have a garden, a backyard or just a balcony with some pots, let your children have their own plants and nurture them every day.
BUT MOM, I DON’T LIKE IT …
All the mom’s in the house; raise hands! I know, you’ve gone through this. This is the most feared statement after you put in those long, tiring hours in the kitchen, cooking.
Don’t worry, there is a simple solution: Make the food interesting! While a regular potato curry and chapatti might be boring; a cutlet roll with some baked apple would be relished. Roasted chicken might be welcome on certain days as a change. Remember, when it comes to kids, change and presentation is the key. Resort to baking. It, not only keeps things interesting; but it also saves you time since you don’t have to stand in front of that pan, stirring the food. I am not saying stop cooking completely. What I’m saying is – introduce variety with baking.
Start following some food blogs, start trying new recipes. Have fun! Who knows, you might end up finding some healthy variations for yourself!
Electronics and kids
Now, I am not at all in favor of keeping kids away from electronics. Let’s admit it. Electronics is fun. It’s addictive. The latter part, sounds a little alarming to me. So, while your kid can learn, explore and benefit immensely from electronics; it is important that this time is limited. Make sure they spend at least an hour outdoors, playing with other kids. Enroll them for some sport coaching if it interests them. You might as well consider getting out and playing with them in the evening instead of spending that time in front of that television watching evening news. Their high energy will keep you engaged and you will get a good exercise.
Now, what has this got to do with nutrition? Everything. It is very normal of kids to binge on unhealthy snacks while watching their favorite cartoon. Also, when the child’s lifestyle is not active, the extra carbs that he consumes (which kids generally do), will not be utilized and will be stored as fat.
Oh, and yes, a good deal of physical activity would tire the kid. You will, most likely, end up getting more private time with your spouse. Just saying.
This, obviously, is a very small article, scratching the surface of an infinite topic. If you’ve read the whole thing, please share some of the creative ideas that you use to make your life easy at home or a story about your kid that is worth sharing (I personally feel every story around kids is worth sharing). Let’s make this thread a very useful resource for all the parents out there.
Article written by - Shraddha (CoFounder & CEO)