Healthy guide to plan your timetable to nourish children’s appetite

With the academic year about to begin and mothers's are almost finalising their food ideas for their little ones. What to make? What food my child should eat? What is ideal food in his tiffin? A number of questions must arising in their mind during this period? Don't worry, here's help

This academic year, keep children healthy with good food

It’s already June and we not only welcome monsoon, but also school reopening and mothers begin to wonder where the vacation has disappeared. We suddenly start looking at mid-June with a little anxiety — that routine of early hectic mornings, tiffin boxes to be prepared, lunches to be made and snacks to be kept ready. Our little ones can compete with master chef judges before they agree to eat meals.

Most mothers, especially working ones, are at their wit’s end on how to get their child to eat a whole meal. And not just eat, but eat well. How do we get them to relish their tiffin and snacks and finish their meals?

ealthy guide to plan your timetable to nourish childrens appetite
Ms.Vibha Hasija, Member of Indian Dietetic Association, Mumbai Chapter

IWell, there is a method we could use

Have you ever wondered how schools manage so much for their students? Well, they use scheduling. Everything that they want accomplished, is on their calendar, their planning and in their schedule which they follow very strictly.

That’s what we have to adopt. We need a daily and weekly timetable for nourishment. Scheduling is what would save time as well as energy expended into getting them to eat.

This write up discusses scheduling breakfast wisely. Let’s look at what that entails

Let us not forget that our children would be eating breakfast after a gap of around ten hours which means that he/she would be low on energy in the morning.

Since we expect them, in most cases, to rush to school and apply their intellect, be attentive, to concentrate and to be productive, it only seems fair that we must provide the fuel for it. That fuel is carbohydrates, in morning the children need carbohydrates — some of which would provide energy quickly for their immediate needs, while some others would help in generating the energy till their next meal.

Also, there is a vital need of some vitamins and minerals that would help glucose to metabolise. Some protein is essential in the morning to provide for amino acids which can produce the correct balance of neurotransmitters, so that they are able to perform various cerebral activities.

Remember, our agenda is nourishing the body for optimum performance not merely to fill the growling stomach

I am sure that questions arise in our minds, “Really, does it make so much of a difference. My child is anyway going to eat at 9.30 or 10 am or in case of an afternoon shift — a brunch can suffice”.

Such questions need to be permanently erased. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It has to deliver enough nutrients to kick start the day and allow for optimum performance. This is proven by research that children who eat a good, wholesome breakfast are the ones who are able to process information in a better way, are more alert, and can concentrate better in class. They are more physically active than others. There are many other benefits of having good food that the habit of a good, wholesome breakfast keeps overweight and obesity at bay, curbs food cravings and also help regulate ones’ appetite. It also helps in maintaining the immunity of the body. If breakfast is skipped or skimped, other meals cannot compensate in providing the days nutritional requirements, because children have rather smaller stomachs. They can eat only in accordance to that. Now, with so many proven benefits, how can we not afford to pay attention to breakfast – the first meal of the day?

So, how should we translate scientific nutritional information onto our child’s plate or into his/her dabba?

Let’s schedule a seven-day i.e., a one week nourishing breakfast:

What are essential to deliver protein, calcium and slow release carbohydrates, along with a host of other nutrients are milk /milk products. Eggs can be used too, but they are not very rich in calcium.

Combine it with some more carbohydrates, of course from whole grains as they are power packed — a roti/paratha/puri/toast/poha/upma/dhokla/idli/dosa /cereal. Some vegetables /fruit and/or a dash of nuts for the vitamins and minerals would also help.

Now let’s see if we can combine it together into a meal

Day 1: Nut Milkshake + plain paratha

Day 2: Chickoo smoothie + poha

Day 3: Palak/Red Pumpkin puri + dahi

Day 4: Milk+ idli and chutney

Day 5: Fresh juice +cheese veg toast

Day 6: Milk +cereal +fruit +nuts

Day 7:  Fresh juice + egg pancake

See, isn’t that easy? Once we know why and what to do, we can put in some time and effort and figure out how to do it.

You may have noted that the amount (food quantity) is not mentioned. The amount of food would vary on the basis of age and the appetite of the child. But remember, that younger children should be served a smaller amount of beverage/milk if you want them to eat the cereal too. They cannot guzzle one cup or glass of milk and be expected to eat a paratha too. That’s one of the things that overenthusiastic mothers go wrong and end up in traumatic early morning rejections of the meal. And harried mothers label their child as stubborn, naughty and being a picky eater.

The younger the child is, the smaller the portion of each item should be. Start with smaller portions, but serve them greater variety of foods and modify them as per your child’s likings.

So, go on, create your special timetable for breakfast in your special way that your children will relish. Happy scheduling!