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Is my child at RISK

Ever wonder why the child gets sick very often?

The recent survey on the school canteen revealed that 46% of schools which provide food for children from their own canteen are unhealthy. On top of it, it is leading to several health disorders.

India has the second-highest number of obese children in the world, with 14.4 million reported cases, according to a new study published in The New England Journal of Medicine. However, with all this focus on overweight and obese children, many parents are still confused, especially when it comes to what children eat. How much does your child need? Are you consuming enough calcium? Enough iron? Too many fats?

Not to take any brands here, the sad part is all the big Schools which claim themselves as International schools are on top of this list that charges a bomb to the parents in terms of their school finances. It’s disheartening that why such big names schools making money out of keeping a child’s health at higher risk. I wonder is there any Standard operating procedure that they follow. Are there any audits going there? This sort of question made me write about this article today.

On another hand, we as parents are so busy just ignoring these issues, most of know what our child eats in spite we don’t raise the voice on management just because we are working parents and we don’t have time for home-cooked food is it so? Then let me tell you one thing, Diet and lifestyle during schooling plays a very crucial role in their future, it affects not just physically but also psychologically there are many things which are related to the food.

Whether you have a small child or a teenager, nutrition is important both for your mental and physical development. Young children and preschoolers grow in periods of abrupt growth and their appetite comes and goes in those periods so that all food can be eaten one day and next day almost nothing. This is normal, and as long as I offer them a healthy selection, they will get what they need.

Calcium, a fundamental part of the body, is necessary to develop healthy and strong bones and teeth. Children may not know or care that milk "makes the body work well," but it is the best source of calcium they need. There are also options for milk allergy sufferers, lactose intolerant or for those who are impartial to milk. Lactose-free milk, soymilk, tofu, sardines, calcium-fortified orange juices, cereals, waffles, and oatmeal are some calcium-containing options. In some cases the doctor may recommend calcium supplements, which indicate that fat restriction in some babies is adequate; In general, it is not recommended to restrict fat before two years of age because a healthy amount of fat is important for the development of babies' brains and nerves.

School day nutrition for the students

Do not be feel handicapped if your family is vegetarian. Animal tissue is not the only source of protein. Rice, beans, eggs, milk, peanut butter, all contain protein. So if your child "does not eat meat" for a reason, you can still get enough amounts of protein.

The areas where little is enough are sugars, fats, and sodium.

This is the time when children go to school for the first time and have more options regarding what they eat, especially if they choose the food in the cafeteria themselves. Cakes, candy, chips, and other snacks can become staple foods at lunchtime.

The body needs carbohydrates (sugars), fats and sodium, but they should be eaten in moderation because excess can lead to unnecessary weight gain and other health problems.

Pack your child's lunch or check the lunch menu and encourage him to select healthier foods to help him maintain control.

Water constitutes more than half of the children's body weight and is necessary to keep all parts of the body functioning properly.

There is no specific amount of water recommended for children, but it is a good idea to give them water throughout the day, not only when they are thirsty.

If your child does not like the taste of water, add a little lemon or lime to flavor it.

Fruits and vegetables are also good sources of water.

Children should drink more water when they are sick, when it is a hot day or when they do physical activity

I was been called to certify a food menu of one of the Big school in Mumbai, as usual, I went for it which made me feel so sympathetic towards the kids at that school, majority of the menu contains high fat, refined flour, processed, deep-fried like Bacon, cheese rolls, chicken hot dog, barbeque chicken, grilled fish I mean I was shocked to see this menu, to what extent their brains are working to serve a piece of bacon at school for small kids.
One thing I would like to say here to all the school managements we are here as a parent to take them out for Barbeques and hot dog, you serve what you are supposed to be on a healthy note. By giving this kind of processed food you are putting our children at higher risk, medically this is just putting more pressure on a child's digestive system which is also reducing their mental ability to concentrate in class.
I cannot resist myself being into this hence would like to suggest some healthy school menu ideas both for the schools and the parents. Remember, charity begins at home.

1. Use all styles of traditional preparations according to the local customs and habits, the seasons, climate, environment, lifestyle and most of all, your personal needs and tastes.

2. Adapt and incorporate all the different organic whole cereal grains, lentils, millets, unbleached flours, and sugar.

3. Use oil, spices, chilies and traditional herbs to make the preparations interesting and varied. (Only eliminate these if great health problems or as advised by your doctor)

4. SALT should become moderate. In India, most people’s problems come from an excess of salt and oil. If salt is slowly reduced at the same time as oil is being reduced in your recipes you will find wonderful results. The cravings for extra sweets and excessive eating will be reduced. Salt is an important key for health and is needed in moderation… Everything in moderation creates a natural balance and good health.

5. Use seasonal vegetables and all their various styles of preparation.

PLEASE NOTE: prepare crispy, crunchy and colorful vegetables as well as using leafy greens daily.

6. Incorporate the best quality packaged food by reading labels. Avoid processed foods. Avoid MSG (Monosodium Glutamate) and make sure the school chooses the food devoid of the long list of chemical flavor enhancer and preservative.

7. Enjoy natural desserts sweetened with natural local sweeteners and fruits as often as possible. Example: You can make lovely loaves of bread with Atta (whole wheat flour) and Soya milk, ripe sweet fruits, dates or walnuts as well as jaggery, shakkar or date palm for sweetener.

8. Savor local nuts, seeds and whole fresh fruit in season. Inculcate the habit of eating fruits rather than juicing it.

9. Incorporate in your home and daily life a COMMITMENT for you and your family to prevent any unnecessary health problems by and for yourself through a more conscious way of moderation, awareness and a desire for a better quality of life.

10. Be aware of the foods that cause excessive weight gain. Excessive weight creates unnecessary health problems. Balance and moderation are the keys that can be applied by each and everyone who really wants more out of life.

11. Please be open-minded and incorporate any new foods with a positive attitude and with a desire to change your life. Be patient and acquire new cooking techniques, new foods, new tastes and flavors to be adapted with all your wonderful traditional recipes.

If you wish to know about child nutrition or how to plan the menu for your child, feel free to drop the message either on facebook or on the blogsite, an we will get back to you.

DT. Pranathi Bollapragada