Summer holidays are just round the corner. And while you’re glad that your kid is getting that much-needed break from school, you are also probably thinking that the vacation will perhaps get them addicted to watching television all day. At the same time, you’re also worried about them indulging in unhealthy or excess food. A nationwide health and fitness survey conducted in 2012 suggested that one in four schoolchildren in Indian metros is overweight, as is one in six kids in non-metro cities. If you are worried your child might fit that brief, then keep these things in mind.
Be the guardian
Nutritionist Mitalee Doshi believes that letting your children make bad food choices says a lot about your parenting skills. “With many working parents today, it’s all about making things easy. They let kids go for ready-to-eat products and order in food too frequently. What they don’t realise is that those decisions will reflect badly on the child’s health,” she says, adding, “Be strict with them and force them to go out and play. Enrol them in workshops or swimming classes and keep them engaged.”
What to eat
During the summer, especially, it is important that children consume foods that are succulent. “This includes fruits like water melons, oranges, grapes (black ones are richer in fibre and antioxidants), musk melons and veggies like cucumber, pumpkin and bottle gourd that will keep the child hydrated and reduce the danger of infections and fevers,” says nutritionist Nupur Krishnan. “Also ask them to wash their hands often with an antiseptic soap as infections spread even more easily during the summer,” she explains.For picky eaters, Doshi suggests snacks that are tasty as well as well-balanced with nutrients. “Make them wraps which are loaded with fresh veggies and herbs. You can add non-fattening sauces like mustard, or green chutneys in limited amounts as well. Fruit salads without cream, sandwiches and baked snacks are good food options and can replace their favourite burgers and fries,” she says.
How to deal with picky eaters
Bring out the sensory qualities of the food. For instance, say “This kiwi is sweet like a strawberry” or “These radishes are very crunchy”. This will encourage kids to try new kinds of food. Avoid phrases that lure your child to eat for love or approval, like, “Eat this if you love me” or “If you don’t take another bite I will go mad.” Make your kids feel like they are making choices. Ask questions like, “Do you like that?” or “Which one is your favourite?”. This will make them feel independent and help them choose the right thing. Avoid phrases that make foods seem like comfort. Like, “Stop crying and I will give you a cookie.” This can cause over eating. Choose phrases that help your child recognise when he or she is full, like, “Is your stomach telling you that you’re full?” or “Is your stomach still making a hungry growling noise?” or “Has your tummy had enough?”
These statements can help prevent overeating.