"You are what you eat" -- A popular proverb that holds for all age groups, especially regarding children's health. Healthy food for kids is important for their overall growth and brain development.
Their initial experiences with healthy food help to establish their eating patterns for the rest of their lives, and so the best time to inculcate healthy food habits in kids is during their early years. Healthy food for kids has many benefits for children's health, like:
- Please provide them with the energy required during the early years
- Improve their intelligence
- Even out their behavior and mood
- Help them maintain a healthy weight.
- Prevent mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, and ADHD
- Boost children's immunity
- Ensure their normal development
- A healthy diet is fuel for the brain that helps kids focus easily and perform well at school
Unhealthy Food and Children's Health in Modern Times
We hear about children being susceptible to several health problems, allergies, and lifestyle disorders, and the root cause of all this is unhealthy food patterns. Childhood obesity is becoming an increasing concern for parents and pediatricians across the globe. It has a long-term effect on not just physical health but the social and emotional well-being of children.
The concept of children's healthy food has dramatically changed over the last few years. Most kids prefer junk foods like chocolates and chips, high in fat, sugar, salt, and homemade healthy food, leading to nutritional deficiencies. Some of the symptoms of poor diet and nutritional deficiency in children's health include:
- Being either underweight, overweight, or obese
- Irregular bowel habits
- Being lethargic or feeling tired all the time
- Tooth decay from an early age
- Poor physical growth
- Behavioral issues
- Sleep problem
- Problems with emotional and psychological development
- Poor concentration
The best food for children and path to improved health
Healthy eating habits are more likely to stay when learned as a child. That is why you must teach your children good food habits early. Providing the best food for kids will boost their immunity and help them avoid developing chronic diseases as a child or adult.
There are many ways you can take care of your children's health and encourage them to eat healthy food. It includes:
- Start with their breakfast: Mornings can be hectic and balanced breakfasts with protein can help your child stay fuller for a long time. Poha, Upma, Boiled eggs, Roti-sabzi -- are great options for homemade healthy food for breakfast.
- Make mealtimes a priority: No matter how busy you are, make sure to eat one meal together as a family, sitting down at the table away from the tv, computers, and phones.
- Homemade healthy food: Start eating homemade healthy food as a family as much as you can. Satvic Foods has a variety of easy-to-use and 100% natural, homemade masala powders like Rajwadi Garam Masala, Delhi Pav-Bhaji Masala, and others to help you prepare easy, healthy, and tasty meals for your family.
- Get kids involved: Take your kids for grocery shopping and teach them how to read food labels before buying items, so they understand the nutritional content of the foods. This will help them understand and make healthy choices when they grow up.
- Limit sugar intake: Sugar is present naturally in many fruits, vegetables, grains, and dairy products. So, we get all the sugar our body needs from these foods. All the extra sugar we eat adds empty calories to our diets, contributing to chronic conditions like hyperactivity, obesity, type 2 diabetes, etc. Sugar is often added to those foods we would not think have sugar, like bread, canned soup, ketchup, frozen meals, and fast food. It is best to avoid or limit the intake of these foods from your kid's diet.
- Be smart with the fat: Healthy fats are important for children's health. They help to stay full and also in improving memory and mood upliftment. The key, however, is to be smart about the fats you consume.
Opt for Healthy and unsaturated fats, like:
- Monounsaturated found in olive oil, avocados, nuts (almonds or pecans), and seeds (pumpkin or sesame).
- Polyunsaturated found in flaxseed, walnuts, or omega-3 fatty acids like in fish (salmon or sardines).
Exclude unhealthy, trans-fats, like:
- Vegetable shortening
- Fried foods
- Baked goods
- Processed foods made with "partially hydrogenated" vegetable oils
- Packaged foods such as crackers, cookies, etc.
Introduce Children to Diverse Vegetables and Fruits
Adding a variety of vegetables and fruits to your menu at home is important, especially for improving children's immunity after COVID-19. Moreover, eating the same food every day may not provide them with all the necessary nutrients needed for optimal growth and development.
Introducing unfamiliar textures, colors, and flavors as a part of children's healthy food diet will help them be open to trying new foods and developing a healthy relationship with food.
Children's healthy food as per Ayurveda
Ayurveda has some simple rules for eating that must be inculcated in children early on and those are:
- Eat fresh, organically grown, seasonal and local food.
- Avoid food combinations like fruits with milk, milk with salt, cooked food with fruits, etc.
- Eat warm, freshly cooked food as much as possible.
- Avoid stale and oily food.
- Eat Salads first- they lubricate the intestine and cause secretion of digestive juices required to break down foods.
- Next, eat Proteins and carbohydrates like beans, pulses, cooked vegetables, grains, etc.
- End your meal with Sweets as they have a satisfying effect and reduce pitta (fire) in the body. Opt for natural sweets like jaggery, palm sugar, etc.
Following foods must be included in your child's everyday diet:
- Fruits and Vegetables
- Include millets, protein-rich, and calcium-rich foods that help with proper growth.
Important Vertical that Family Should Consider
There are numerous tips available on healthy food for kids. However, our focus is on children's health and development as a whole. Hence, we want families to incorporate the following tips as well:
Be a role model to your kids:
Children often pick up habits from their parents. Develop healthy food habits as a family to encourage your child to eat healthily.
Focus on their overall diet:
For children's health, every meal is important. Instead of focusing on specific foods, make a diet chart to ensure they eat healthy throughout the day.
Please do not force them to eat when they do not want to:
Although it is good to teach your kids not to waste food, it is also important to understand how much to eat. So instead of forcing your child to finish everything on the plate, allow them to stop eating when they feel full.
Avoid the food reward:
Sweets and chocolates are often used to reward good behavior or good marks in exams. When food is used as a reward or to show affection early on, children often start using food to cope with their emotions when they grow up. Instead of food, give them hugs, praise, attention, or time together as a reward.
Put limits on screen time:
Please encourage your child to sit at the dining table when eating and pay attention to the food they consume.TV, computer, video game, phones should be completely avoided when eating.
Please encourage them to take up physical activities:
Instead of spending time playing video games, please facilitate your child to take up physical activities like swimming, yoga, or go for a jog with them. Regular physical activity helps children and adolescents improve cardiorespiratory fitness, build strong bones and muscles, control weight, and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Why Indian Meal is Important for Your Children's Health
Families today have busy schedules. They do not get the time to sit down and enjoy homemade healthy food every day. Moreover, whenever they have the time, they prefer having outside western foods instead of homemade healthy food. Yet, these foods are unhealthy and can adversely affect children's health.
An article in Indian Express has mentioned how an Indian meal is rich in all the essential nutrients required for the child's overall development and is easy to digest, rich in carbs and fiber, and contains all the good fats. We hope this article helps our readers develop healthy food habits as a family, which can help improve their children's health. Always consider your doctor's advice before starting a homemade diet for your children.