Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Encouraging healthy food habits in children

‘‘My Sweetu eats only burgers and pizzas and keeps sipping cola! Such first world choices!’’
“My Princess eats everything like French fries, aloo subji and also aloo palak! Imagine! Such healthy choices no!”
“My Sonny boy eats green beans but only after having his share of chocolate cereal and juice! Am very particular about his diet you see!”
I can really go on! These are not concoctions from my imagination, but actual quotes by parents I know! I shudder each time I hear such phrases, all full of praise for the child! I had cousins who ate only potatoes for lunch dinner each day just because that is the only ‘subji’ they liked!
After having baby A I realized what important responsibility has been entrusted up on us new parents, of bringing up a child! Nurturing and nourishing their brains, bodies and souls!

Am sharing a couple of delightful yet effective measures for ensuring that your child eats the right stuff and the healthiest stuff!
1.       Read all labels: In today’s hectic times, convenience foods are really dominating all grocery lists, world over. It’s very tempting for young mothers to grab ready to eat food packets and feed their families in a jiffy. What we need to be aware of is the quality of ingredients that go in to making these food products. A simple rule of the thumb is if you begin reading the ingredient list and it exceeds more than 5 chemical sounding names of items you do not know, well shun it! There is a chemical storm brewing in it! Beware especially of the healthy sounding choices like fully natural, fat free, for fit and healthy etc More often than not these are misguiding appendages used to attract customers. A good example would be fruit juices. If a pomegranate juice packet’s ingredient list begins with apple juice, filtered water, corn syrup, sugar…well you know well for yourself that ITS NOT what you seek! Simple!
2.       Buy smart to eat smart: We often hear parents complaining that the child eats only a particular brand of junk food, or particular type of unhealthy food, pray! May I ask who fed this to the child for the first time! I know parents who routinely feed their kids with junk food and then rue the fact that they cannot get them to eat home cooked meals! Make grocery lists beforehand, now a days the grocery apps make life so simple! Add a variety of vegetables and fruits to the list, cut down on processed foods and make healthier choices as a family.
Once you have cleared your own home of all tempting junk, the children are obviously less tempted to make unhealthy choices.
3.       Homemade treats: Internet is such a boon for all time pressed parents, with a little planning and creativity, homemade treats can be prepared and stored in advance. Be it whole wheat cookies, chocolates, fruit yogurts, preserves! Even homemade ice cream tubs and kale chips will ensure smart and healthy snacking options for your family. If pressed for time, chop a few cucumbers and carrots and boil a few corn cobs, voila snack is ready!
4.       Kiddie chefs: Involve the children, even toddlers in the whole process of cooking, be it just playing with some dough, to actually peeling veggies, to cutting out cookies, once children witness the fun in cooking, they will look forward to eating their own creation! Also across genders it is such a wonderful life-skill that children learn, to feed themselves and make healthier choices.
5.       Goodie bowl: In all rush, how to ensure complete nourishment for the children each and every day? A simple idea is to fill out bowls for each child at home, even adults can have their own bowls. Small bowls filled with 2 almonds, 2 cashew nuts, few raisins, jaggery, dried fig and a walnut. You can soak all the dried fruits overnight and keep the lump of jaggery in another plate separately. Throughout the day, the children can keep munching on these goodies as and when they wish to! The only rule is to finish the goodie bowl before dinner. You can create variations by adding dates, pecans or even dried apricots. The seemingly costly food is actually cost effective, more on this in the next blog!
6.       First mover’s advantage: As parents, we have to be proactively offering healthier choices to our babies from their birth, be it breast milk, full fat ghee, lesser grains, more protein rich food, more leafy vegetables, fruits and real food! After all we are what we eat, so offer real food to your child, and nurture a real human being!
There are various diets and health trends which we adults tend to ape at various times in our lives. But if we create a healthy frame-work of food and exercise for our family, especially young ones, we are helping them immensely for their entire life. Avoid over processed foods, high sugar content and complex chemical laden products. We may leave a huge inheritance for the child, but bestowing a child with positive body image, healthy food choices and balanced body n mind, will indeed be the greatest gift ever! Happy parenting!


  1. Love the goodie bowl idea ! - pavana

  2. Very well written... I so very agree to we are responsible for introducing junk to our kids n complain later.