Eat, love and pray : My mantra with my children
Created by Neha Gupta Mittal Updated on May 24, 2020
Eating healthy is by choice, not by chance. From early on, I continuously made my first child, Jia, aware of good eating habits. I realised as she was growing up that I cannot impose very high ideals on her when it comes to food, for instance saying a complete no-no to junk and insisting that she has her daily salad, soup, milk and juices. I believe I am raising her in a cosmopolitan space, with unlimited access to fancy, processed fast food. Also a child never learns from parents alone, s/he also gathers from the surroundings – when all of Jia’s friends are eating burgers, pizzas and what not, I cannot make her feel deprived all the time. So what do I do? Here are some strategies or experiments that have worked well for me…
I satisfy her cravings by alternating not-so-healthy and fruit/soup/salad meals. I ensure she drinks a glass of milk everyday with Horlicks- it adds a power punch, is tasty and gives her nutrients a growing child like her needs. In this ‘age of junk’, I feel that such a health food is necessary!
So when she is done with my side of her diet plan, I give her what she enjoys the most ‘without her asking’. I ensure that she eats the one thing she likes, be it a pastry, ice cream or waffle, once a day.
Exercising, be it playing outdoors or cycling is an integral part of Jia’s evening routine. It builds up her appetite, and when a child is hungry, you can experiment with healthy stuff! I’ve seen this work with Jia. Also exercising aids digestion and improves a child’s metabolism.
Some of my other practices or experiments are:
- I try and give sugary stuff such as pastries and ice creams in the first half of the day. That way she has enough time through the day to burn all the calories (read sugar).
- Every snack I serve Jia has a good spattering of vegetables – be it pancake, uttapam, rice, parantha, pasta and so on. Since a young age if we expose the child’s taste buds to vegetables, they develop a taste for it, eventually! You will need to be patient though.
- On weekends because she does not have school, I make sure that I give her at least two extra filler meals of fruits and salads.
- I avoid giving her meals in front of the television or mobile so that she is conscious of every morsel she takes, enjoys the taste and is not distracted while eating. The relationship with food needs to be built early on – and like all relationships it needs time and nurturing.
- Heavy to digest seasonal fruits like mango are best given as a single meal and not with food. Jia loves to eat that one full mango of hers.
- For her small food cravings, I give her khakhras, bhel and corn flakes that are filling as well as nutritious.
- Many a times I substitute routine lunch or dinner with snacks like quesadillas, south Indian cuisine, Frankie and others. That way she can enjoy the variety and not see food as ‘punishment’.
I have realised that motherhood is an art which involves time, effort and innovation! And it need not be tedious. With some planning, you can become a ‘smart mom’ – one who attends to a child’s needs without compromising on the taste. The key is to make an early start so your child is habituated to a healthy lifestyle.
Did you find the tips and strategies shared by Neha useful? Do share (in the comments section below) if any of these tips worked for you and your child – we are eager to hear about your experiences and experiments!
Disclaimer : This is an awareness drive powered by Horlicks to emphasise the importance of micronutrient’s in a child’s diet.
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