Over 42 million kids under the age of five the world over are overweight or obese. Food education, says Jamie Oliver, is then the best defence against health disorders. Through cooking lessons in schools and local communities, and global campaigns, the chef-restaurateur is working to spread awareness about healthier eating habits. Excerpts from an interview:
What is wrong with the way children eat these days?
The availability of unhealthy food is abundant. Regularly eating junk food can be addictive and lead to complications like obesity, low self-esteem and even depression. The problem today is not accessibility to nutritious food, but accessibility to proper food education.
What mistakes do parents make while planning meals for kids?
To avoid any kind of mistake, I suggest you to cook from scratch. And use fresh produce. The majority of your sugar intake should come from fresh fruit and vegetables, and from milk. Opt for water instead of a sugary fizzy drink.
What are the essential facts that children must know about food?
Junk food may seem convenient, but it has been mapped for negative health issues. Make children aware of this. Parents should expose their child’s palette to new tastes and cuisines. Teach your kids basic cooking skills.
Why do you think it is important for children to learn to cook?
It could be a first step to make them understand the importance of freshly prepared home food. The more educated children are about food, the more likely they are to appreciate your suggestions to eat healthy. Cooking is an ideal way to boost self-worth and teach responsibility.
How do you keep your children away from fast food?
I have four daughters. My oldest is six and my fifth one is on the way! My children have been taught about nutrition from a young age. We don’t ban anything. Everything can be eaten in moderation.
What can Indian parents learn from the mistakes of parents in the UK and USA?
Don’t blindly follow the latest trends. The Indian genes and climate are different. Giving up traditional food for new kinds of food is not the way forward. Eat local rather than something which is imported from outside.
From HT Brunch, August 7, 2016
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