An anonymous blogger and public school teacher called Mrs Q recently and embarked on a mission to draw attention to what children are eating at school in the US. She called her blog, ‘Fed up with Lunch: the School Lunch Project’ and vowed to eat what children in public schools did, for every day in 2010. Predictably enough, Mrs Q has had more than her share of fast food like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and chicken nuggets. “It’s very challenging to teach students when they are eating school lunches that don’t give them the nutrition they need and deserve,” she says.
Meals in school
With obesity on the rise, ensuring that children have nutritious meals in school is just as much of a concern in India. Steering your children to healthy eating habits should begin early on in childhood. Fried and fatty foods like; wafers, samosas, vada pav and noodles are quick to whip up — and more likely to be popular with kids — but they have poor nutritive value and can lead to health consequences in the long run. So, it’s important to include healthy foods that are also appetising in your child’s lunch box.
According to dietician Jyoti Lalwani, “Nutrition for children is top priority as it enables proper physical and mental development.”
Unhealthy eating habits could lead to the early onset of disorders like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and hormonal imbalances.
“The first six years is when the maximum growth of the brain takes place. Milk, fruits and vegetables, eggs, dals, vegetables and cereals are essential in a child’s diet”, says Dr Sushmita Gupta, paediatrician at Apollo Clinic and Fortis Hospital. “Biscuits should be avoided in infancy as they contain soda and white flour.”
Nishtha Waghela, mother of five-year-old Nirvan makes sure her child is eating right. “Being a vegetarian, I ensure he gets sufficient nutritional intake. To make his lunchbox more palatable, I grate either some vegetables, soya granules or paneer in the chapati dough to ensure that his meals is nutritious.”
Popular cookbook author Tarla Dalal, whose latest cookbook is called Tiffin Treat for Children, says, “On all the five school days, each meal should be different. Planning should be done beforehand, so that early morning preparations are quick and easy.”