How to make a healthy-yet-appealing lunchbox for your kid
Packing lunch for kids can be challenging. Though the focus is on a healthy diet and balanced nutrition, due to lack of time or the finicky attitude of the child, we tend to fail in our endeavours. Healthy lunches and snacks help with their concentration and learning. Remember, food preferences vary and children need to be enchanted each time.
. Be patient. Ask for their choice before cooking. Encourage children to be involved in the preparation process, and praise them when they choose healthy foods.
. Make the food attractive by giving variety in colour, texture and flavour.
. Encourage them to drink a lot of water.
. An active school-going child's iron requirements are high. So, include iron-rich foods along with food rich in vitamin C to improve absorption. Foods high in iron include mussels, lettuce, cauliflower greens, lotus stem, broccoli, raisins, dates, watermelon, spinach, black-eyed peas and chickpeas. Including fresh fruits with meals also help improve iron absorption.
. Do not bribe them with desserts and crisps. This will give the feeling that healthy foods are not enjoyable. Desserts should be just part of the meal.
. Encourage them to eat breakfast. It helps enhance the child's basal metabolic rate and remain active throughout the day. A bowl of cereal with milk and fresh fruit can be a great starter.
. Avoid fizzy drinks high in simple sugar. Substitute with fresh fruits and juices, vegetable juices and coconut water.
. Include foods rich in omega 3 fatty acid, such as salmon and tuna, olive oil, flaxseeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, soybean and walnuts in the daily diet to enhance the immune system.
. Make energy bars a part of the diet as they are not only deliciously energy-dense ,but also high in fibre, low in fat and multi-vitamin packed.
. Lean protein like baked chicken, deli meat, hard boiled eggs, beans and nuts should be included.
. Avoid packed snacks as they lack important nutrients and are high in sugar, sodium and saturated fats.
Some lunch ideas:
. Veg rolls/egg rolls with hummus and fruits like kiwi and pineapple.
. Sprouts/baked beans mixed with greens, whole wheat egg noodles and grapes.
. Chickpeas and salmon salad with whole wheat bread. Plus, a granola bar.
. Whole wheat muffin with smoothie.
. Sprout pulav/yoghurt rice with green veggies like spinach and orange juice.
. Egg cutlets with ranch and baby carrots.
. Vegetable idlis with green coriander chutney and one cup pomegranate.
. Vegetable/cottage cheese stuffed parathas with cup of yoghurt and blueberries.
. Pancakes stuffed with dry fruits like apricots, raisins and dates and honey and some kale chips.
. Falafel with Arabic bread and greens with apple or banana slices.
. Almond butter with flax seeds bagel and a hard-boiled egg.
. Cheese quesadilla with guacamole and salsa with strawberry yoghurt.
. Whole wheat macaroni with veggies.
It is important to keep an eye on the quantity; do not over-fill the lunch-boxes. Encourage them to bring any uneaten food home, so you get an idea of how much they are eating. Remember you are the role model for your child. Be the first one to eat nutritious food.
I suffer from constipation and don't feel hungry. What should I do?
Constipation is mainly due to bad dietary habits like irregular meals, inadequate intake of fluids and lack of exercise. Even emotional stress can cause temporary constipation. Adopt a proper diet pattern with at least five small meals a day. Increase water consumption to at least three liters per day. Have a normal diet, but increase fibre and fluid intake. High-fibre foods, like whole grain cereals, whole pulses, green leafy vegetables and fibrous fruits like apple, pear, peach, orange and sweet lime, should be eaten in large quantities. Avoid juices, have the whole fruit, instead. In the morning, drink a glass of lukewarm water with lime juice and one fig soaked overnight. Exercise regularly for 30 minutes.
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