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Eat Right: 13.5 crore people in India have obesity-related diseases, healthy eating habits are a must

Parents and children need to figure out a middle path on how they can make small changes in their diet and eat healthier options



Editor’s Note: Giving your child a well-balanced meal is a must for overall development and growth. Eating different foods gives the body the nutrients it needs to be healthy and provide energy. This is part II of the series. Read part I on: 5 must-have nuts to incorporate into a growing child’s diet

All kids love to eat everything that is junk, Chips, pizza, burgers, and pasta are the mainstay for teenagers today. Making them eat healthy food meets with frowny faces. Their mantra: Healthy food can’t be tasty. But this is a myth. Did you know that some of the healthiest choices can be extremely tasty?

According to Sheena Ahuja, a Home Science teacher at Apeejay School, Faridabad it is wrong to assume that just because a dish is healthy it will be tasteless. “Take trail mix for example. It has all things good – almonds, cashew nuts, raisins, and peanuts. Add a bit of spice, sugar, and a few sprinkles of chocolate chips and it is an addictive mix that few teens will be able to stay away from,” Ahuja said.

Given that three in four adolescents in the country don’t get an hour of prescribed physical activity in a day, it is all the more important that parents and students make health their priority from a young age. What is even more alarming is that 93 per cent of children between the ages of 10-15 eat an unhealthy packaged snack of the meal more than three times a week.

What is it that teens and parents can do to change this? Ahuja has some simple tips that can go a long way to make the switch that is simple and easy to follow for parents and for teens to eat without creating a fuss.

“It would be incorrect to say that teens are oblivious to the importance of healthy eating. They do realise the need to be healthy. Take the students in my Home Science class. Each one understands the need to incorporate healthy eating,” Ahuja said.

While it is easy to do so in a class with peers, the same may not always be possible to do so at home where the mother may feel it is too much work and prefers to feed the child what is already been cooked rather than make something special that the child will eat

However, simple modifications can help, she said. Instead of telling the child to have daal and sabzi, why not change their form? Make a daal/sabzi parantha which the child will eat with relish. Make cutlets of the veggies and give them a shape like a heart or a smiley face. Toddlers will love it. Instead of ordering a milkshake from Keventers, make a fruit smoothie at home.

“A good breakfast option for kids could be a chia fruit salad on a Sunday morning. Soak the chia seeds, and add cornflakes, and fruit with a sprinkle of nuts and you have a tasty and healthy meal”

Sheena Ahuja, a Home Science teacher at Apeejay School, Faridabad

Add some chocolate sauce to the glass and pour the smoothie and offer it to the child. This way the child gets to drink the milk and a daily portion of fruit. “If a child requests for a cake, instead of baking a chocolate one, add some grated carrots/zucchini and walnuts and you have a cake that is tasty and healthy,” Ahuja stressed.

She also said it is not always possible for parents to plan a healthy plate for their children. “We must be practical. But parents need to understand the importance of providing their children with proper nutritive food. They do have the ingredients at home. A couple of changes here and there can make a vast difference in a child’s diet and develop the habit of healthy eating from a young age,” Ahuja said.

Of course, forcing a child to eat something is not possible. “Psyche the child to eat healthy options. Make a beetroot puri and say it is red puri or add spinach and say it is a green puri. Forcing him/her to eat beetroot/spinach on its own is never going to happen to begin with. It is better to spread awareness among children about why they must eat nutritious food rather than a parent. Tell the child that instead of eating just cookies, why not make a sundae right at home? Layer a glass with whipped cream fruits, and cookies and you have a child who is willing to eat the fruits,” Ahuja said.

A good breakfast option for kids could be a chia fruit salad on a Sunday morning. “Soak the chia seeds, and add cornflakes, and fruit with a sprinkle of nuts and you have a tasty and healthy breakfast. Both parents and children must understand why it is necessary to eat healthily and take baby steps in this direction,” Ahuja said in conclusion.

Shalini is an Executive Editor with Apeejay Newsroom. With a PG Diploma in Business Management and Industrial Administration and an MA in Mass Communication, she was a former Associate Editor with News9live. She has worked on varied topics - from news-based to feature articles.

Poetic गुफ्तगू – With हुमेरा खान @poetsofDelhi