April 19, 2019

Kids Nutrition from an Indian Stand Point

The scenario in India as far as Kids nutrition is concerned is quite an area of grave concern. Most parents are in the dark about what to feed the child once the child is above two years old and off breast feeding.

We are just exploring what a kid should typically consume all day with emphasis on breakfast and lunch. Readers please note that ideally one must have four meals a day. We have covered below breakfast and lunch in detail.

Typically and nature wise, cows milk is not required for a two year old or above child. Now hang on, I know many would just jump and say how can I not give milk to my child?? The reason being is simple a mothers breast stops producing milk after say two years for the simple natural reason that milk is no more required for the child. Now, “Man” has become so super intelligent and powerful that he borrows or rather snatches milk from the cow which is actually meant for the calf.  Therefore if one has milk (in excess) which is meant for the calf, one would become like a cow in size i.e. overweight.

Having said, that milk has a good amount of calcium and easily accessible. Therefore it is fine and practical to consume milk in limited proportions. And its fine to consume in limited proportions till one is 18 years old, when one grows vertically more than horizontally. Post becoming adult, one can reduce the quantum of milk even further. To counter the argument of calcium in milk, there are other items which has calcium are green leafy vegetables like Spinach (palak), fenugreek leaves ( methi) , fish etc.

Palak is a wonder vegetable and a super food which has lot of calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc and other vitamins too. Remember Popeye who has been shown to consume spinach? That’s where we as parents and the kids should take the cue from. Also in addition one must also take seasonal vegetables like green peas and sweet potatoes in winter. And in case of fruit the super fruit is papaya which has Vitamin A,C E potassium, magnesium etc. all in one. Get married to palak and papaya. Simple and a very effective advice. In case of fruits the seasonal fruits are mangoes, litchi etc.

Kids primarily are more prone to junk food and parents in a bid to make kids happy succumb to it and give kids unhealthy stuff starting with chocolates

People do not realize how much sugar is in soft drinks like coke, pepsi, sprite etc. Amount of sugar in aerated or cold drinks is humongous. It’s about 7 teaspoons in a 330 ml bottle of any cold drink. This makes it a no brainer to decide in the negative about consuming cold drinks or not. As a kid the internal organs are fresh and newer and hence one won’t realize the damage earlier but would be obvious when one gets a bit older.

Also in items like bread there are a lot of sugar, salt and vegetable oil which one doesn’t realize. The further one stays away from all “packed items” the better.

 Examples of Junk Food

  • Soft Drinks
  • Burger
  • Sandwich
  • French fries
  • Pizza
  • Pasta
  • Crisps like lays etc.
  • Chocolates
  • Sweets
  • Chaat items and farsan
  • Pickle and papad

Most research has revealed that kids are not getting enough adequate nutrients. Therefore following are extremely important to bear in mind when planning your child’s diet. Children and adolescents do not get enough calcium, potassium, fiber, magnesium, and vitamin D & E. Sources of these nutrients are listed below:

Fiberwhole grains, fruits, egg yolk and vegetables. Most people consider potatoes as the vegetable that they ought to consume and that too potatoes cooked in a very unhealthy manner like french fries etc. We need to emphasize on green and green leafy vegetables plus seasonal vegetables like green peas and sweet potatoes for e.g. in winter. .
Vitamin E
nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils
low fat and fat free dairy products, spinach, green leafy vegetables like palak, and sardines
whole grains, nuts, pumpkin seeds, and white, black, navy beans
legumes, potatoes/sweet potatoes, dried apricots, greens, and dairy products
Vitamin D
sunshine, egg yolk, cod liver oil, salmon, tuna and mackerel
Teenage girls and boys especially do not get enough calcium in their diet.
• Most children do not get the required amount of fruits and vegetables.

Unlike in the twentieth century children hardly play in the open. Therefore they miss out on the easiest and cheapest access to vitamin D i.e. through sunlight. Most kids are so dependent on the phone gadgets for their entertainment that they lose out big time on health. Please encourage your kids to take up outdoor sports on a daily basis and the battle against vitamin D is almost won.

Breakfast: People, who can consume eggs, please note and make egg an integral part of kid’s daily diet ideally for breakfast with brown or multi grain bread or one wheat roti…which should be preceded by fruits. For others cereals with milk would be ideal preceded by fruits (like papaya or musk melon or water melon). Tip: Fruits can be topped with a spoon of organic honey to make it more nutritious and interesting too. Or try variety of steam idlis like moong dal idli/rawa idli , corn paratha, vegetable upma, methi tepla, nachni onion roti, jowar and tomato chilla which are extremely healthy options which can be opted for lunch too.

For Lunch/tiffin: One can have a simple wheat paratha filled with green vegetables minus any sauce with dal or roast chicken or say a multi grain brown bread vegetable or chicken sandwich accompanied by little raw salad.  Again this can be preceded with a non-greasy fruit (which is easy to carry while travelling) like an apple or an orange.

The emphasis should be on fruits and vegetables throughout the day. The reason being: The universe is made of more than 70 pc water (balance is land). Our body has more than 70 pc water. Therefore whatever food we consume should ideally contain more than 70 pc water content which is available in most fruits and green and leafy vegetables (the juicable fruits and vegetables)

An easy way to remember this is to serve a fruit and vegetable at each meal and one at snack time. I had actually taken a printout and stuck it on my living room wall which mentioned: “did you have fruits today?” to ensure the kid gets the habit of fruit consumption deep inside. Fruit and vegetable consumption has been shown to prevent certain forms of cancer and heart disease. They provide many nutrients and the necessary fiber that children need. Having your child fill up on produce will keep them from snacking on high- calorie, but empty nutrient varieties of junk food.

It is hard to binge on fruits and vegetables as the fiber has a satiating effect; kids will stop when they feel full. With junk food, the salt and sugar present cause an addictive eating response whereby the child continues to eat and eat, never feeling satisfied. The majority of children does not get enough vegetables in their diet and most certainly do not get the variety they need. The number one vegetable consumed is white potatoes and many times these are prepared in an unhealthy way, which takes away the benefits.

 The challenge is first to convince the parents about the above piece post which the kids can benefit. Hope this is useful.

Pic Credit: Wiki

About Chandrakant Kotian 10 Articles
A Chartered Accountant who is currently into practice and business. Has worked in institutions like Ernst & Young, Citibank and e serve. A person with extensive views on social and current events who has been writing to various news papers like Midday and Afternoon in the letters to editor column for the last two decades. Has a blog www.writerchandra.blogspot.com Has extensive knowledge about food and restaurants in Mumbai and has done restaurant reviews for the Times of India on several occasions. Has extensive knowledge of diet and nutrition and has helped many people lose substantial weight. A fitness fanatic who has been running the marathon (full marathoner) for the last 13 years.