Build your child's immunity

Build your child's immunity

Build your child's immunity

Mothers are alchemists in the kitchen, always on the lookout to build their child's immunity, strength and bone health. As parents, we believe that sustainability begins at home and therefore everything we prepare and serve our children becomes a part of their blood chemistry. Our food choices either compliment or hamper the growth of our child's cells, tissues, and organs.

Let's take a look at the dos and don'ts when it comes to children's nutrition. Here are the first three things you need to include in your child's diet plan:

Whole grains: Most children don't have the habit of eating breakfast, and many mothers replace a hearty breakfast with a glass of milk. Which is why, whole grains need to be a part of at least two meals every day. Whole grains contain energy-rich carbohydrates, which nourish the body and mind, helping kids to take on their hectic mornings. Whole brown rice, barley, millets and amaranth are excellent sources of carbohydrates. Broken grains like wheat dalia, barley dalia and steel-cut oats contain essential vitamins, minerals and fibre that improve digestion. Your child's third meal can be a delicious pasta, bread or chapati made from unadulterated flour instead of refined flours and sugars.

Beans & lentils: Who doesn't love rajma chawal? But did you know that  kidney beans actually help in the proper functioning of the kidneys? Lentils and beans stabilise blood sugar, support heart health, provide proteins and energy. To make the menu interesting and appetising, you can serve hummus, dips, bean burgers, etc. which are equally nutritious and also taste yum.

Leafy vegetables & salads: It is often a task to feed children vegetables, let alone salads. But a consistent effort from the parents will ensure lifetime benefits for children . Children love colours, stories, and adventures. They will relish salads if the dressing is creamier and sweeter. Try a lemony peanut butter dressing or creamy tahini dressing. Vegetables offer healthy fibres, nutrients and enough energy to fulfil varying needs of a growing kid. Salads also improve digestion and blood circulation.

Now let's get to know about the three things you need to exclude from your child's diet:

White sugar: Recent studies have proven that white sugar is a slow poison and contributes to inflammation, acidic blood quality, and many lifestyle diseases. Replace commercial white sugar with jaggery, date syrup, organic unprocessed raw sugar (not brown sugar) etc. White sugar is highly acidic and leads to mineral depletion in the body.

Processed foods: No matter how yummy they look, processed foods such as chips, instant noodles, store-bought pickles, processed cheese, peanut butter etc. are loaded with chemicals and preservatives that can weaken the immune function and nervous system in the long run.

Dairy products: Avoiding or reducing commercial dairy products may be a tad bit difficult initially, but things will get better if we follow a simple rule of making just a few changes every week. These days, cows are injected with hormones and antibiotics to increase milk production. These chemicals adulterate the milk, commercially packaged cheeses and other dairy products. Commercial dairy also contains mucus-forming properties. They are filled with chemicals and preservatives that hinder the proper absorption of nutrients, clog the gut and weaken the digestive system. Replace dairy with calcium-rich foods like broccoli, beans, legumes, nuts, mustard greens and other dark leafy greens.

Practical and smart shopping skills, coupled with better cooking skills, will make the job of creating healthy and interesting meals for your child easier. Taking cooking classes and workshops with holistic nutritionists and practitioners goes a long way in understanding how to prepare the right food for your child. A common presumption is that a child won't eat healthy food, but he or she won't eat bland food or foods prepared without interesting textures and colours, either. The trick is to know how to combine certain ingredients that satiate their hunger and taste buds.

(Tarika Ahuja is a holistic nutritionist & parenting coach. Neeti Sarin is founder of Tiffin's Etc.)

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