Parents guide to preventing Child Obesity

Pic by - Clare Bloomfield‘Chubby cheeks’ may be cute, but not necessarily signify being healthy for kids.

Parents, especially mothers are constantly working round the clock to give their children the best of nutrition be it at home or school (in their tiffin box). But with the constant bombardment of junk food commercials – instant noodles, burgers, french fries and fizzy drinks, it does at times become a daunting task to control a child’s love for junk food and lose the battle towards nutrition and good health.

But there’s always hope, wellness guru and fitness expert Mickey Mehta, shares some wonderful insights that can help parents to plan out healthy meals that are both fun and nutritious at the same time.

How to encourage healthy eating in kids? 

Food plays a crucial role in improving concentration and serves as fuel for the brain. Dietary and lifestyle habits play a significant role in long term implications. Encourage children to have healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, cow’s milk, nuts etc and avoid caffeine, carbonated drinks, chocolates and junk foods which can cause hyperactivity and insomnia.

You as a parent can promote good nutrition by setting a good example. Healthy eating habits and regular activities or exercises must be a part of your family’s daily routine. It is easier if everybody in the house follows these guidelines to ensure that your child grows physically, emotionally and psychologically to his/her full potential. Emphasis should be placed on encouraging your child to eat 4 to 5 well balanced meals of average serving size per day which includes proper proportion of nutrients like carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals and fibre.

Listed below are a few tips for inculcating good dietary habits in children:

  1. Use whole wheat or multi grain bread slices for sandwiches using peanut butter.
  2. Use healthy dips like yogurt dip, hummus, salsa with whole grain crackers and carrots as snacks in between studies.
  3. Non buttered popcorn
  4. Home roasted Kurmura or puffed rice as bhel
  5. Dry fruits, dates, figs and fresh fruits
  6. Chikkies made from peanuts or til and laddoos made with jiggery etc are healthier options than sugary sweets, cakes, chocolates, pastries etc.

Exercises and types of exercises

There is a myth that the children of today are overworked at school and they get their exercises by going to school and back.

Regular exercises and activities contribute significantly towards a healthier and more energetic childhood. Taking part in outdoor physical activity, swimming, cycling or walks, treks, games, field activities are ideal in alleviating the tension and stress build up in the children. I strongly recommend yoga especially during exam times to ward off physical and mental tensions, anxieties and fears. Encouraging children to take up activities enhances flexibility, strength, stamina, coordination, improves concentration alertness, self confidence and keeps them focused and mature.

Diets for kids – does it work

Eating healthy always works. As the child grows older, their nutritional requirements change dramatically. Parents wish to have physically, psychologically and emotionally sound children. It is the responsibility of the parents to instil a good attitude toward healthy and nutritious foods that will enable them to make proper choices and decisions about food. Studies have shown that aversions for certain foods are inculcated mainly at home and should be tackled appropriately before healthy foods become a phobia.

Water intake in children

Water is an essential component of the body and how much a child requires will depend on factors like one’s physical activity, climate etc. As a thumb rule 8 to 10 glasses per day is recommended. Proper hydration is required for muscular and cellular activity, digestion, regulation of body temp etc. Liquids can be given as buttermilk, coconut water, lemon juice etc and discourage them from having aerated drinks, processed fruit juices and other sugary drinks.

Effect of technology on kids and its direct effect on their health and weight 

Studies reveal that a majority of our children and adolescents are lacking in sufficient muscle strength, flexibility, other skills and cardio respiratory endurance. School overload, television viewing, excessive use of computers, sedentary habits, poor and inadequate eating are bound to create health problems and obesity in many young children and adolescents. Added to that is a common myth that parents are under the impression that their children are already getting all the exercise that they need with their hectic school life.

Parents actually need to pay special attention to the physical fitness of their children. Children should be given opportunities and should be encouraged to play sports and games (indoor/outdoor) without which lethargy can set in leading to an inactive and unhealthy lifestyle.Mickey Mehta - Wellness Guru

Mickey Mehta, is a holistic health guru and leading expert with over more than 25 years of experience.

Some clients who swear by his teaching include Mr. and Mrs. Shashi Ruia of Essar group, Mr. and Mrs. Kumar Mangalam Birla, A V Birla group and many more, Bollywood Actress and Models like Priyanka Chopra, Priety Zinta, Bipasha Basu, Lara Dutta, Smriti Irani and many more.

A philosopher, life coach, an author, a brand – an institution personified, he has revolutionized health with his interwoven philosophies of zen, tao, tantra and ved, and blended the disciplines of exercises such as calisthenics, functional training, boot camp, agility drills, tai chi, pilates, yoga and swimming.

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Tanya is a graduate in Sociology from Sophia College, Mumbai, a post-graduate in Communications and Media from SNDT Women’s University in Mumbai and holds a Master's Degree in Journalis & Mass Communications from Chandigarh University. A former writing mentor and a seasoned lifestyle writer, Tanya writes columns on The Lifestyle Portal of life and living.

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