Strategies for Better Child Nutrition

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We all realize that recently that there has been a spurt in lifestyle disorders. The alarming thing is that earlier these disorders like diabetes, hypertension were reported in adults only, but nowadays more and more children are also being diagnosed with digestive malabsorption, acid reflux, pediatric – inflammatory bowel syndrome (P-IBS). Obviously, this is not a happy situation to be in.

Peer pressure, easily availability of processed foods and TV commercials for junk food are constantly making it difficult to ensure that children eat healthy. Meal-times look more like war zones with mothers and children pulling in opposite directions.

Studies have shown that nearly 15-20% of children in India are overweight and another 30% are at the risk of developing obesity. It is now dawning on us that these are being caused due to bad eating habits and sedentary lifestyle. Parents need to realize that fat and chubby kids are not always cute and they could be showing early signs of childhood obesity.

So, why should childhood obesity be such a disturbing thing, one mind wonder? It is just baby fat and would disappear soon! That is what our normal thought process is. One would be shocked to know that childhood obesity often stays through adulthood, leading to a high risk for developing diabetes and cardiovascular problems.

It is high time that parents become aware of the adverse effect of their child’s lifestyle and make suitable alterations to their food habits. By ensuring that we serve healthy, nutritious food and by being a role model, we would help them develop a happy relationship with food.

Strategies to keep childhood obesity at bay – /optimizing nutrition for children

  • Focus on overall diet rather than specific foods – Children should be eating whole, minimally processed food—food that is as close to its natural form as possible. Balance the day’s meal by applying the simple mantra of 5 colours a day from various combination of fruits and vegetables both.

  • Eat locally available – This is a firm belief of DietCareNutrition. The wholesome nutrition that one would get from foods that are locally available according to season, beats any exotic, imported fruit or vegetable.

  • Be a role model – The childhood impulse to imitate is strong, so it would be unfair to ask our children to eat vegetables while we gorge on potato chips. What we stock at home and serve on the table is what the children will eat.

  • Cook meals at home – Restaurant and takeout meals have more added sugar, salt and unhealthy fat. Cooking at home can help cut out these excesses and have a huge impact on your kids’ health. If you are busy, engaging a cook or making large batches, cooking just a few times in a week is still better. Also, try and be innovative with what you cook.

  • Make healthy snacks available – Keep plenty of fruits, vegetables, sprouts, roasted chana/wheat/jowar/soyabean and healthy beverages like water, milk, pure fruit juice at hand so kids avoid unhealthy snacks like soda, chips, and cookies.
    If required, a day can be fixed when packaged foods can be opened. This will restrict the intake of junk food, but still satify the craving.

Sometimes all this might seem too daunting, but then as the saying goes, ‘a stitch in time saves nine’. Every little step will ensure that your child grows up to be a healthy person who can make the right food choices.

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