We all know that in India malnutrition among children is a big problem. We tend to think that malnutrition as a poor people’s problem. That is not actually true! Indian children, even from rich families have high rate of anemia due to iron deficiency, vitamin D and calcium deficiency which impacts their bone growth, vitamin A deficiency and even protein deficient diets. So do not take your child’s nutrition for granted.
Balanced diet and sleep hold the key. Memory booster and immunity booster, including proper iron level in the body go a long way in helping to stay focused. If a student becomes anemic, it can result in lack of concentration. So it is important to take iron rich food long with protein and vitamin-c for the absorption of iron in the body. The electrolyte like sodium and potassium and food with omega-6 fatty acids are vital for good metabolism. Keeping hydrate is very important by drinking plenty of water. While preparing for exam, they should find time to even sleep and relax along with studies.
Ensuring the intake of the following healthy foods would help Indian kids get enough of all nutrients
- Give at least 500 ml milk with reduced fat.
- Encourage change of non – sprouted gram to sprouted, maida to wheat, white rice to hand pound rice, fried food to steamed food, unhealthy to healthy snacks etc.
- Per day- one teaspoon of ordinary salt in cooked food, salad etc.
- Make them to eating all kinds of vegetables like root and tubers, green leafy, orange red and other vegetables and variety of fruits.
- Dhal and green leafy vegetables along with lemon juice or other source of vitamin C improve immunization.
- Eggs and animal protein or soy products such as tofu, soya chunks or granules can be given.
- Try to avoid Health drinks from market, instead prepare at home.
- Adequate exposure to sunlight is must (Expose face, neck, arms every day at least for 10-30 minutes)
Important considerations for planning a healthy diet for Indian kids:
- Children need more protein/kg body weight than adults, all through childhood and adolescence, therefore special care should be taken so that they get enough proteins.
- Children need more fat than adults because fat makes the food energy dense without increasing the bulk of food, but care has to taken.
- Not to exceed limits for saturated fat, which should provide only up to 8-10% of total calories, therefore children should not be given too much butter or ghee (up to 2-3 teaspoons/day may be alright but not necessary).
- Make sure children get enough omega 3 fatty acids through fish and seafood, at least two times a week. So that child may get long chain omega 3 fatty acids – DHA and EPA. Vegetarians should consume omega-3 rich oil, flax seed, walnut, tofu, soya, fenugreek leaves (Vendaya keerai), broccoli etc.
- Monitor the weight and BMI of your child periodically, so that excess weight gain can be spotted early, in which case child should get lesser fat.
- Children are at risk for deficiency of calcium, iron, iodine, zinc, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin D and vitamin B12. So children need these nutrients in significant amounts for adequate growth and if the diet fails to provide for these adequately, impairment of growth and increased chances of infections may occur.
Forming healthy eating habits include – preference for healthier food choices, portion of food control etc. should be focused on, because children form likes and dislikes at this age that continues throughout their lifetime.
- Limit foods with added sugars and saturated fats such as soft drinks, chips, cakes, ice cream etc. Do not store these things at home and allow them rarely from outside.
- Introduce healthy substitutes such as frozen yogurt for ice cream, flavored carbonated water for colas, nuts for chips.
- Try to give less processed food rather than processed ones, such as brown rice, whole wheat or whole grain bread, whole fruits instead of fruit juice etc.
- Regarding unhealthy food stuffs, don’t deny absolutely instead, restrict the amount of intake which children like. For e.g. limit juices to 150-180 ml/day and butter to 1-2 tea spoons.