Celeb mums Alesia Raut and Amrita Raichand on how to make your kids eat right
On the eve of Children's Day, two yummy mummies from Mumbai tell you how to tackle food tantrums, and cook and eat right when it comes to the little ones
model, mother to 10-year-old Mark
Start your child's day with a glass of water. I follow it up with nuts, fresh fruit, milk, and finish it off with cod liver oil. If your child's school serves food, pay attention to their menus and check if it's healthy. Once Mark is back from school, he has eggs for protein, vegetable juice, and a light chicken dish for dinner. The way you start your day is what really matters. My mother recommended having at least one meal at the table, with the family. It's necessary to connect with each other and food is a great way to do it.
Good cop, bad cop
Sometimes, I have to be strict with my son to help him see merit in why he's asked to eat a certain way. If your child is throwing a food tantrum, sit down and have a conversation once they cool down. Unlike us, today's generation prefers dialogue over following commands. Children like to have their opinions considered, no matter what their age.
The game plan
It's not easy for me to spend a lot of time preparing meal plans because of my work schedule. My mother sees to it that he eats right. When busy, keep in mind the basics — a mix of fruits, vegetables (juices or otherwise), nuts, roti (if your child isn't gluten intolerant) and dal for protein. These are easy to make, and the ingredients are accessible.
Slow and steady
It takes time to adopt good habits. It took me almost a year to get Mark into the habit of eating almonds in the morning. I started with just one almond, then two. Now, he eats five without a fuss.
Set an example
You have to be a role model. When you are trying to make your children eat, eat with them. The more information you share about what is on their plate, the more they will understand. I make use of videos and information on the Internet to educate Mark about the benefits of what I am trying to make him eat. It works most of the time. He has a weakness for pizza and burgers from fast food chains. We had reached a point where he wanted to eat out every second day. I showed him videos designed for kids that explain how fast food harms the body. I indulge him once a month now. I also give him baked and multi-grain pizza, so he still gets what he wants but it's done the right way.
chef, mother to 10-year-old Agastya
I have believed that no matter how hard you try, it is difficult to make children understand the advantages of eating healthy. Hence, I am constantly working on alternatives to unhealthy food, and it is made such that the taste is not compromised. Make exceptions, like birthday parties. Like adults, even kids need their binge days. Just strike a balance.
Good cop, bad cop
I am strict with my child. It's good to have your family at the same wavelength as your parenting methods, so it becomes easier to control tantrums, if any. Children should not be allowed to cross a certain line on the pretext of treating their parents as friends. Encourage them to taste what's made and then make the decision to eat it or not.
The game plan
As much as I detested this earlier, I have finally realised the importance of a menu, more so because being a working mom, sometimes it's impossible to plan a meal, on the spot. For a growing body, balanced meals with nutrients to help develop muscle strength; provide a boost of energy for sporty activities and facilitate overall growth are important. Planning in advance helps immensely. My mother, despite being a single working mom, always cooked and fed me fresh food. I follow this too, for dinner or packed meals for school.
Sleight of hand
I believe in the magic of presentation. When something looks nice, children will be drawn to it. However, presentation will go for a toss if the food does not taste good. So, cook keeping your children's palate in mind. Never compromise on healthy ingredients in a quest to make something tasty. A little cheating goes a long way. For example, if you are making pizzas, try a cauliflower base, giving it fun shapes, and serving it with home-made tomato sauce topped with their favourite ingredients. If your child likes milkshakes, sneak in some fruits with a sprinkle of chocolate chips on it.
This for that
Sugar can easily be replaced with jaggery or dates, which are healthier. Replace maida with oatmeal, nachni or chestnut flour. Chapatis can be made with nachni flour for extra nutrition. Serve it with a dollop of ghee; they will love it. Cheese is not unhealthy. Unless you eat too much of it, it can provide a healthy dose of calcium and protein. If a child is lactose- intolerant, then replace it with tofu. Many hard cheeses are lactose-free due to their processing. Focus on the child's happiness and health quotient; they are interdependent.
Read up from the expert
* A five to six-year-old will eat about 60 to 70 per cent of what an adult does.
* A child aged seven to nine will eat about 70 to 90 per cent of what an adult eats. Estimate your servings accordingly.Extracted from Eat Delete Junior, Pooja Makhija