PARENTING TIPS 4: A healthy Diet

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There is an old saying “Health is Wealth” and perhaps this saying was never more important as today. With the world shrinking to a global village, fast food has become a household name. Earlier it was only the Saturday nights but now, it’s every day. Be it at work or school or college, everyone is just ‘grabbing a bite’. No time for a healthy meal, everyone is just on the run. And, subconsciously, this is what as parents we are modelling to our children. One may argue that fast food may not be ‘junk’ always. Well, may be. However, most of time it is only one type of food that we are consuming repeatedly.
A full meal with a perfect balance of all types of food – carbs, proteins, vitamins, minerals in the right portions is a distant dream for many. A healthy diet is important to maintain good health, to prevent chronic diseases, and for an overall sense of well- being and vitality. More importantly, spending the right amount of time with the food that we take along with a warm conversation with our family members definitely has far reaching benefits in the later years of our children’s lives. 

What exactly is a good diet?

Going by the books, “A good diet is naturally a proper proportion of all kinds of vegetables, fruits, cereals, proteins and dairy products”. Such a diet helps in the intake of important nutrients and roughage which are very crucial for the body and mind to function. Rising standard of living has surely given us more purchasing power and a well-balanced meal is not a luxury anymore. But, there is a problem it has posed. The super markets are loaded with “super foods” packed in glamorous wraps with a comprehensive description of the ingredients, so small that even with magnifying glasses, they are difficult to decipher. Never mind, these processed food are a life saver. Starting from mayonnaise 
and peanut butter, to ginger-garlic paste and now, peeled and cut vegetables, money can buy anything. Yes, everything, the carcinogenic preservatives, the brewing bacteria and the loads of calories. 

We all know the benefits of a healthy meal. In fact, in all the gyms mushrooming in every aisle of our neighbourhood, the trainers relentlessly tell us “it is 70 % diet and 30 % exercise” that helps us get the perfect BMI. Our mothers were very generous to cook us wholesome meals and often, became the antagonists when they discovered that we had “the humble maggi” in our neighbours’ house.

In this age, making your kids eat healthy is no less than an irksome challenge! Today, it’s every mother’s nightmare.

A few tips from our side will certainly help reduce your struggles and worries.
Encourage your kids to eat slowly: A child can detect hunger and fullness better when they eat slowly. Ask them to eat their food slowly so that they are able to chew it properly. Doing so, allows them to mix the right quantity of saliva to initiate the digestion process and absorb more nutrients from their food, helps them maintain a healthy weight, allows for easier digestion leading to fewer digestive issues like bloating.
Cut back on junk: You are in charge of the food that enters your house. By having fewer junks around the house, one can encourage the kids to eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grain and dairy products. Remember, the packaged fruit juice is devoid of fibre, necessary to clean up our digestive system. It is not only fried food which is considered junk, but also all processed food with preservatives such as ‘ready to eat mix’, pureed fruits and vegetables, bread spreads, confectioneries etc.
Be a role model: Be honest with yourself about the kinds of food messages you're sending. Trust your body to tell you when you're hungry and when you're full, and your kids will learn to do the same.
Offer choices: Provide your kids with an array of healthy food choices to pick from instead of forcing them to eat only specific foods. Give them the option of choosing what they’d like to eat (with given limits) before you cook for them. Restricting the foods the kids like from their diets will only make them crave for the forbidden foods more.
Indigenous food: Restrict the use of white sugar, use jaggery instead. Reduce the use of cooking oil and add a couple of teaspoon of “ghee” instead. Ayurveda says “ghee” is the food for the brain. Have more high fibre carbs such as millets rather than wheat.

Apart from these tips, it also helps to form a strict meal-time (and snack-time) routine and stick to it. Doing this will bring about discipline and prevent the kids from grazing pointlessly. Realize that what the kids eat over time is what matters. As long as you balance these times with indigenous food choices and physical activity, your children will be healthy citizens tomorrow.


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