Wondering what to pack?
Food is the most important and confusing thing for every Parent and a caregiver. But the simplest thing is when a child comes to school, they open up to new experiences at their own pace. Helping children to make a choice to eat healthy and nutritious food is a foundation for healthy eating habits for life. As a community, we can work together to nurture healthy choices and natural development.
Things to consider:
1. What you eat is what your children will eat- Children’s food choices are influenced by their family, friends and their environment. So if you are eating healthy, you are more likely to see your child eating the same.
2. Nutrition is easy if you pay attention to what food your child consumes during a period of 7-10 days rather than on daily basis.
3. Appetite – We are humans, so is our child. Respecting the quantity they like to eat, the hunger time and also their tastes and preferences are important. Do away with your worries. A happy child eats when he is hungry and as much as he can eat. They can overeat if they like it may eat less if they don’t like it or depends on how hungry they are. A sick child is recovering and the immune system is fighting hard, so offering simple digestible food and lots of fruits, cooked vegetables and water is essential. Always remember yourself and your love for food, be reasonable and logical and then work with children on eating habits.
4. Allow independence – A child has all the time now to learn to eat on their own. A child encouraged to eat and drink on their own as much as they want is a child who has been truly helped. Children as old as six months starting from tiny finger food till normal home food of all textures, sizes and complexities guided with patience can eat any kind of food. Imagine three year olds being able to eat fish after discarding the fine bones in them. I appreciate all parents who have guided their children to be independent.
5. Avoid Wastage - It’s ok if a child skips a meal than have so much variety that they waste food as a habit. Avoid television, tab, phone, so on in order to get food put into your child’s mouth. It is important that children know how much to eat, how to eat and what they are eating during these early childhood days.
Here are some ideas that I have gathered from food that children are bringing to school. Snacks – dry fruits, cooked beans, raw vegetables and fruits are usually offered at school. Children learn to make juices, salads and sandwiches or anything simple at times. In fact many children prefer to eat those during their snacking urges than what’s in the box. They are happy to share and eat with laughter. If the child has missed breakfast or needs to bring lunch to school, here are a few simple practical ideas.
1. Roti’s and any Sabzi
2. Rolls 3. Paratas 4. Dosa with chutney/potato/chutney powder 5. Uttappam 6. Onion dosa, Ragi dosa, Millet Dosa etc 7. Idli with chutney/chutney powder/ tossed and fried 8. Pongal, Tomato Rice, Lemon Rice, Puliogare, Upma, etc 9. Veg Pulav with raitha
10. Poori 11. Rava idlis 12. Pasta with any type of home made sauce 13. Vegetable salad with bread 14. Bread sandwiches 15. Cutlets, Toasts, fruits
16. Meals for families that can have meals ready early
Tired and need quick fixing in the mornings?
1. Methi parata, rotis’ made the previous night
2. Bread Sandwich 3. Corn flakes, fruits & nuts 4. Boiled corn 5. Boiled sprouts 6. Pasta 7. Fruits 8. Steamed veggies 9. Cutlets 10. Dry fruits and nuts
Please avoid the following in children’s boxes: Food high in Sugar, processed food and food that cannot be eaten when not hot. Example: Biscuits, cakes with cream, chocolates, chips, Sweet Egg omelette, sweet milk toasts etc
Why avoid sugar? Sugar deters the body from absorbing required nutrients and also easily converts into energy which also increases hyperactivity. Please talk to any sensible pediatrician, who will clearly explain that Sugar is more dangerous than fats for children. It’s addictive and disrupts natural immunity and causes most chronic diseases and illnesses.
Having said that all, I know the challenge of being a Parent as I myself have these challenges day in and out. The only thing that helps me make better choices is remembering that this body needs nutrition and I am responsible for my child’s well being.
Good luck friends, please do share more ideas and pictures of your adventures with food and children to make this page more interesting, practical and useful.