This summer vacations gives us a good chance to use the art and science of clever fine tuning to get our children to eat right without upsetting their natural impulses!
Every mom has the best of intentions as far as what to get the offspring to eat. However, many believe that kids would be ‘healthy’ if they if their diet is liberal with ghee, carbs, sugars, fatty foods. Many also feel that restrictions on nutrition is not relevant when kids are young. After all they are growing up aren’t they! – goes our normal train of thought.
But before you ping off with the above belief, we feel it would be really interesting for you to check the latest stats on obesity, nutritional deficiency and disorders in kids in our today’s liberal world. These things were unheard of 20 years back when you and I were umm… young tykes!
Nutrition starts becoming relevant even form the stage of conception of a child itself. Eating healthy for your kid is said to be important even in the third month of pregnancy itself!. After the child is born, mother’s milk is arguably the best source of sustenance and nutrition. As a child grows older, the nutritional requirements gradually change. Today’s parents, particularly our working moms find it a major challenge to cope with what the child is attracted to and what would be good for him/her! The child’s growth and wellbeing being the responsibility of the parents, the attraction of fast food options available in the market today, the easy accessibility and choices offered leads to a certain amount of anxiety. Is there the danger that the child would be bingeing on junk food?
So what do we do?
Upfront, let me tell you that ‘Nutrition’ is not a dirty word. It is not meant to conjure up a psychedelic view of veggies in all their raw, earthy glory and projects images of all kinds of salads. By ‘Nutrition’ we wish to refer to correct intake of food, related to the body’s dietary needs. Good nutrition – an adequate, well-balanced diet combined with regular physical activity – assures a solid foundation for good health of the child as he grows up.
Another clarification! Nor is all junk food avoidable or bad! Anyone who thinks that they are totally avoidable should live in a cave! All we, as conscientious Mommas need is to keep a check on the quantum of junk food intake and sneak into it a bit of nutritive value to restore balance in our kid’s overall intake.
Is it doable? Of course it is!
We can be sneaky, devious and very manipulative to get it right. I know those big soulful eyes of our kids tend to melt our resolve, but Mommas, it’s time for a bit of tough love!
We worked up a short guide on how to restore a bit of nutrition in a junk-centric world.
Cheat guide for Nutrition-centric Mommas
- Smoothies and shakes with a fruit.
- Cereals with fruits, nuts, honey and milk.
- If your young-un has a thing for paranthas, then stuff it with veggies. Missi roti kneaded with bottle gourd, grated carrots, boiled peas, spinach! And yo! Momma, go light on the ghee!
- Morning fruit juice is always refreshing and so is lassi.
- If sandwiches are on the menu, then include tomatoes, corn, lettuce, cabbage, diced apples, pears or a coleslaw with those fillings. Let the bread be whole grain.
- Go light on the mayo. Give a heavy hand to yoghurt.
- The sandwich patty needn’t be potato centric. Add diced beans, sprouts, carrots, mashed black-eyed beans, peas, leftover veggies… you have an entire arsenal of goodies here.
- Sneak in a vegetable with the fruit juice! I smuggle in a carrot, cucumber or a beetroot with the fresh orange. It doesn’t alter the taste and it goes down easy. Devious what?!
- Include yoghurt or yoghurt based salads. They are a breeze to make.
- If your tyke is a die-hard meatier, then smuggle some veggies in his chicken curry. And then there’s always my way to tweak those rotis.
- If your kid has a yen for noodles, then let the noodles be rice based. Chop the veggies so thin and fine that separating them is not an option.
- Ditto with pastas.
- For pizzas, add veggies to the red sauce base (your dicing skills are going to come handy here!). And let the base be multi-grain.
Cheat with all the fast food options than your young one can come up with.
Include soups. I know! I know it’s hard! But try small portions. Chilled watermelon soup with diced apples tastes great! So does cold cucumber gazpacho. Stick to the lunch menu but in smaller portions.
Raise the snack bar
I admit, I can’t come up with a substitute to a bag of chips (they taste insanely good!), but here’s me going out on a limb!
- For the Coke/Pepsi fan, try freezing the aerated drinks with a mix of fruit juice and a dash of lime.
- For the ice-cream fan, try fruit sorbets, gelatos and fruit granita.
- For the fried food junkie, try baked vegetables. Of course you need to disguise them!
- If you can (though I doubt it!) substitute that bag of chips for home-made nachos with salsa and beans.
- Let your kid indulge in sweets. But limit the extent of indulgence. Custard with fruit is good. So is fruit cream with yoghurt. Any dessert with fruits is preferable.
- Cakes can be whole wheat. So can pancakes.
I am sure you can deal with anything that your young one can throw at you. Food has to be fun. Tasty. Include your kids in planning their menu. Give them options. When they decide, it gives them a feeling of control and they are less likely to refuse eating! Don’t ban junk food; they are likely to have it on the sly when they go out. Once a week takeout with Pepsi and fries is fine.
But more than that?! No! Remember the tough love!