- Ensure that half of your child's diet includes raw fruits and veggies
- Prepare some healthy munching meals at home like sprout salad
- Encourage outdoor activities in your children
World Obesity Day 2018 is observed on 11 October. Obesity is one of the leading causes of illnesses now and if you go by the estimates, by 2025 about 2.7 billion people globally will be obese and overweight. In this article, we will talk about ways to help curb childhood obesity and a healthy diet for your child. It is the responsibility of parents to ensure that children eat healthy foods and adopt a healthy lifestyle. Parents can do this by creating a healthy environment at home.
How to create a healthy environment at home?
Parents should stock the fridge and pantry with vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and other nutritious foods. Low-quality foods and drinks, like sugary soda, sweets, and super-processed foods should be kept to a minimum. Eating dinner together as a family; and nurturing kids' interest in food shopping and cooking, even gardening and planting organic veggies and fruits in the garden can all be really helpful.
Following is a list of foods which are rich in fibre and nutrition but low in calories to prevent childhood obesity:
1. Sweet potato- These are good to taste and also make for a perfect and light snack. Sweet potatoes are a good source of roughage and iron. They are great to make up for your child's daily needs.
2. Beetrot:Beetroot is a rich source of carotenoids. Beetroots can boost immunity in your child. It rich in antioxidants, and is also a good source of magnesium - which helps in stabilising blood sugar levels.
3. Nuts:Nuts like almonds and walnuts are very healthy and good for brain development and are a good source of fibre.
4. Fruits: Fruits like apples can be given as a snack to children. Apples are rich in fibre and vitamins and can also help in reducing belly fat.
5. Pumpkin: Pumpkin is another rich source of fibre with vitamin A. It can help boost immunity. It is low in calories and is thus good for weight loss.
6. Spinach:Spinach has a good amount of iron and roughage.
7. Flax seeds:Flax seeds are a rich source of omega 3 fatty acids and alpha linoleic acid, both of which are very good for brain development. Flax seeds are rich source of protein and fibre and can help prevent constipation. You could use flax seed oil or flax seeds. Ground seeds can be sprinkled on salads or cereals. Flaxseed oil should not be used for cooking, since it is not stable at high temperatures. It may be added to vegetables after cooking or used as a salad dressing.
8. Ensure that half the portion of a child's diet is filled with raw fruits and veggies (steamed rather than boiled) including peas, beans, carrots, cucumber, tomatoes, pumpkin, broccoli etc . Fruits can include avocado, pears, pappayas, strawberries, apples and pomengranate.
9. Prepare munching snacks at home like mix-veg sprouts , baked mix-veg cutlets, raw salads, fruit yoghurt, curd buttermilk, hummus, baked beans sandwich and sauteed veggies to name a few.
10. Use whole wheat flour, oats, quinoa and ragi and avoid refined flour.
11. Teach your child to eat food slowly as it aids better digestion. Also make them learn to have lots of liquids in a day.
12. Make sure your child eats breakfast every single day. While it seems like skipping a meal is an easy way to cut calories, skipping breakfast usually backfires when hunger comes raging back mid-day, often leading to overeating.
13. Check labels to make sure that products you buy don't contain high quantities of sugar, high fructose corn syrup or glucose. Avoid vitamin water, flavoured water and sports drinks also. Instead, serve your child fresh fruits, water, coconut water and low-fat or skim milk.
14. Keep a goal of exercising outdoors for your child. Engage him/her in activities like swimming, dancing, cycling etc. They will keep the metabolic rate going. Recommendation is at least 1-2 hours per day.
15. Meet your paediatrician on a regular basis to monitor growth and BMI (body mass index) to catch any growth faltering and to keep you well motivated to do better.
(Dr Gorika Bansal is a Visiting Consultant Pediatrician at Max Hospital, Saket and Rainbow Children's Hospital.)
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