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How to keep your school kids healthy

health-and-fitness Updated: Dec 18, 2012 18:16 IST

Hindustan Times
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Handling the tantrums of school-going kids and ensuring that they get complete nuitrition in their daily diet are two tasks that seem impossible to manage. Dr Anjali Mukherjee gives tips on hoow to manage the kids and their diet.

My daughter often has white patches on her face. I’ve been told it is probably vitamin C deficiency or ringworms. What can I add to her diet?

Firstly, consult a dermatologist or physician to rule out the possibility of any fungal infection. Having a well-balanced diet — rich in antioxidants, calcium, B-vitamins and proteins — ensures that there are no deficiencies, and reduces the chances of getting any white patches.

As for her diet, ensure that she eats almonds, black sesame and pumpkin seeds daily. Also, give her a glass of tomato, carrot or beetroot juice every day.

What is the most nutritious breakfast for school children?

Breakfast is an important meal for the whole family, more so for a child. Fruit juices are rich in antioxidants and an ideal way to begin your day. Cheese and tomato slices on whole grain bread or whole-wheat khakra serves as a tasty and healthy breakfast food.

Green mung sprouts mixed with chopped cucumber, tomato and carrot, dressed with grated cheese and curd, rice kheer/porridge made with milk, almonds, sesame seeds and jaggery, milk and muesli, eggs with roti or wheat bread are a few nutritious options for your child.

My son often complains about experiencing pain on his thighs, calves and knees — unrelated to any wound. Is it a calcium deficiency?

The cause for his pain could be strained muscles, due to over exertion (excessive jumping / playing / exercise) or inadequate calcium and magnesium in his diet.

Although the easiest way to giving kids the calcium they need would be through a glass of milk, a cup of curd or a grilled cheese sandwich, not every child likes dairy products. Calcium can then be supplemented by adding dark, leafy vegetables, legumes like chickpeas, nuts (almonds), soybean, sesame seeds (til laddoos), whole grains (naachni) and carrot juice in your child’s diet.

Childhood obesity is a major health issue these days. How does one stop the child from overeating?

It is important to understand the difference between hunger and appetite. Hunger is a physiological need while appetite is the psychological desire to eat a specific food and is ruled by taste buds and social situations. When your child begins to eat what his body needs for balance, he will be in tune with nature.

Even a balanced diet like a fresh, green vegetable with whole wheat roti will fully satisfy him. It is also important to be a good role model. A parent who does not eat vegetables can’t expect his child to do so. Obesity runs in families and spreads due to wrong habits inculcated during childhood. Cut out the junk and watch your child’s weight return back to normal.

My daughter has a hectic schedule — school, tuitions, basketball practice, dance class and then studies — due to which she has no fixed time to have her meals and usually eats whatever is available. How do I introduce some specific nutrition in her diet?

Your daughter has special nutritional needs as she has an active life. Make sure she has adequate protein in her diet as she is in the growth phase of her life.

Include eggs, two glasses of milk and about 150 gm of chicken or fish a day in her diet. Focus on consuming complex carbohydrates like rice, whole wheat, jowar and naachni chappatis, which can provide the necessary energy for her hectic schedule. Fruit juices will provide her with antioxidants and instant energy.

Ask her to carry a mixture of raisins and almonds as an in-between snack.

(Dr Anjali Mukerjee is a nutritionist and the founder of Health Total, a nutrition counselling centre.)