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3 Limit junk food intake. Studies indicate that around 15 to 17 per cent of Indian children are obese, which is a result of high intake of junk food and minimal physical activity. A recent study done by the Fortis Centre of Excellence for Diabetes, Metabolic Diseases and Endocrinology at the Fortis Hospital, in Delhi’s Vasant Kunj, found that school children are increasingly getting afflicted with diabetes, a lifestyle disorder that is not restricted to the adult population anymore. But it is also difficult to limit the influence of burgers and fried finger foods on your children these days. “Do not ban junk at once. Suppressed cravings can lead to binging and overeating later in life,” says Modi. Limit it to a once-a-week affair. Work out a deal with your child, make a list of all the vegetables and fruits you want him to have through the week. Tick them off one by one once they are eaten and then allow him to plunge into the chocolate mousse or satisfy him with his favourite fast food item.
4 Keep tabs on your refrigerator. If you are trying hard to teach your child to eat right, set the right environment. Don’t stack your refrigerator with chocolates and processed foods that are within reach. Instead, have fruits and nuts stored in quantity. Remember that your child’s metabolism is higher than yours; he is burning calories at a higher rate than you are. It’s natural for him to feel hungry. Keep healthy options like a sprout meal, whole corn or even tandoori paneer ready, that is easy to make, and gives your tot the requisite protein too.
5 Make meal times compulsory. Make your child have his breakfast, lunch and dinner at fixed times. Do not keep long gaps in between as that can lead to a binging habit from an early age. Having fixed meal timings helps the body to get energised at regular intervals and keeps the metabolism working throughout the day. Allow healthy snacking in between meals with a plateful of roasted nuts, low-fat cheese, grilled vegetables, sandwiches, soups or fruit salad.
6 Teach him to eat in moderation. This would help him avoid the habit of overeating in future. Check his plate while he eats. Give him a variety of food. A typical platter would comprise pulses, veggies, rice, roti and probably a chicken or fish side dish on his plate. He might asks for his favourite food the second time. But if he is requestin for just one food item each, you know he is overeating. Help your tot to enjoy his food. Ask him to eat slowly and chew the food before eating. Amazingly, you will find that this makes him feel fuller and helps him appreciate the food. It also helps him get a balanced share of nutrients from all the food groups.
7 Make eight glasses of water a day mandatory. Encourage him to have water over aerated drinks. “Your child is active throughout the day. What with schooling, playing, joining activity classes? It’s likely that his body gets dehydrated. Make sure he drinks water throughout the day to keep himself hydrated,” says Modi. Offer fruit juices if water becomes a mundane choice while you are eating out at restaurants. Avoid aerated drinks or synthetic flavoured syrups, as these would only make your child take in just empty calories.
8 Be a role model. No matter how many guidelines you set for your child to help him eat right, they’ll all fall flat if you don’t set the right example for him yourself. “Children learn from you. Also, they follow only those habits which they feel are best for themselves. So, it’s important to eat right and lead a disciplined life, so they pick up the right habits from you,” explains Modi. Avoid having alcohol or tobacco in front of your kid. M&B
An ideal breakfast should be a mix of carbohydrate, protein and small amount of fats. Pick: Get on your breakfast table a bowlful of cereal with milk or yoghurt and do not miss to give him fruit to help him get all the natural vitamins. Other options could be toast, brown bread sandwiches or poha, upma, dosa, idli, whole wheat pasta, macaroni, spaghetti, or anything that would keep him full till mid-day. Avoid: Chocolate doughnuts, burgers, pizzas or any such fatty foods at breakfast.
To help your child eat more veggies and salads, be innovative at your dinning table.
* Children loves colours. Raid the supermarket for various colourful veggies like cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, yam, broccoli, etc. Toss these veggies with some mushroom and baby corn in it. Add more veggies of your choice to make a healthy platter for him.
* Try stuffed parathas with fillings made up of mashed potatoes, grated carrots, mashed boiled beans to help him take in the veggies.
* Make sandwiches with a variety of raw veggies. Or make a frankie with vegetable fillings.
* Make vegetable dishes like stuffed bell peppers, tomato or even karela, which goes down well with children if the stuffing is interesting enough.
* Play food games. Ask your child to taste a vegetable and name it. This makes eating vegetables fun too.
* To limit junk intake, try different recipes at home. Make pav-bhaji with whole wheat pav and make a healthy bhaji by mixing all veggies together at home. Get whole wheat pizza bases to make home-made cheesy pizzas with veggie toppings, which your child will polish off without a fuss.
* To help him take a liking to salad, dress it up with yoghurt or low-fat salad dressing in a special colourful dish. Smart presentation can make all the difference.
Words Debjani Sengupta Arora
Visuals Mother & Baby Picture Library