As parents, we want only the choicest options for our children. Be it education, clothes or toys, we seek out the best that we can provide for them. This care definitely stems from natural love and affection. But a cause for concern is their healthy growth, especially when it comes to consumables.
The common marketplace today is flooded with snack options that are high in fats, salt, and sugar. They contain harmful preservatives, added to increase shelf-life. Enticing advertisements made with the aim of luring children towards these foods make it tougher for them to choose healthier options. These eatables provide minimal, if any, nutrition and are harmful to children’s health. They lead to obesity, diabetes, water retention, and high blood pressure, to name a few. Such prolonged lifestyle illnesses rob children of their precious childhood and hamper their growth later on.
Nudging your child to choose a healthy apple over a shiny, attractive packet of salt-filled chips may not be the easiest thing to do. So what can we, as concerned parents, do to ensure that our children do not compromise health for taste? Children may find their parents ordering around their food habits annoying. They may find ways to sneak around, so it is not a sustainable solution. A better alternative is to cultivate the habit of making better choices. If children are taught to choose the right things for themselves, by themselves, they feel responsible. This positive feeling associated with their new sense of autonomy, keeps them coming back.
Dear parents, innovation in your approach will only help your cause. Fruit by itself may not be very appealing to a child. But putting a spin on the mundane snack may make it a more obvious choice for your little one. Nothing beats home-cooked meals when it comes to wholesomeness in nutrition value. It prevents your child from resorting to fast-food for meals or snacks. Pack their lunch boxes creatively so that they look forward to it. At home, involve them while you are cooking. This shall make them feel like they are a part of the process and enjoy the food that they helped to make. It shall also teach them self-sufficiency from a tender age.
When it comes to snacks, finding healthier alternatives to the fat-high, off-the-shelf products is not as difficult as it seems. Switch out the salty potato crisps for chips made from ragi, quinoa or tapioca. Choose the baked variety over the fried ones. Look for snacks seasoned with tamarind powder, mango powder, rock salt, black salt instead of white, bleached salt.
Children’s favorite sweets like chocolates and candies are high on processed sugar. They not only lead to weight gain, but are also bad for dental health. You can offer your children bars made only with chocolate and dry fruits, date bars or peanut butter bars instead. Using natural sweeteners like honey, agave, maple syrup or stevia, instead of refined sugar is a good way to go. They give an interesting flavor to home-made sweets while being much healthier. Fruit pulp can be frozen with yogurt to make a quick and tasty snack. It can also be used to make jam or marmalade with a natural sweetener. Switching to multi-grain flour instead of refined wheat flour adds much-needed fiber to the children’s diet.
These food options are not only healthy but tasty too. So even if your children remain unconvinced about their nutritional value, they will definitely fall for the flavor. Expansion of your child’s culinary spectrum introduces them to foods that give them essential nutrients for optimum growth. And when they learn to make these choices for themselves, it becomes a sustainable, lifelong habit.