As the new academic year begins, the most common question that worries the majority of the parents is, what should they keep in their kid’s tiffin box? The challenge is not just to keep the likes and dislikes of their child in mind, but also to ensure the nutritional adequacy of the meal.
Considering the 6-7 hours that a child spends at the school it becomes critical for mothers to plan a wholesome, adequate, and nutritionally balanced meal to maintain the health of their child.
A healthy tiffin is extremely important, as it helps the children to be more attentive and focused. When children eat healthy food, they perform better in school. An empty stomach could lead to lethargy, dizziness, and absent-mindedness in children.
A child taking a nutritionally balanced meal tends to fall sick less often. A wholesome meal not only provides all the vital macro and micronutrients but also helps to maintain optimum energy levels and to sustain long hours at school.
Children tend to eat and share more in the company of their peers and also try out more variety of meals. So, one can introduce a lot of new options and manage the portion size of the meal, keeping in mind the preferences of the child.
Planning a healthy meal prevents the child from bingeing on fast food or packaged foods available in the school canteen or the food shops at school. One needs to provide kids with healthy, nutritionally balanced diets, but also keep in mind the taste and preference of the kid at all times.
Keeping same food items every day becomes monotonous for the child. Always keep a variety of food, which would help the child develop taste buds for all kinds of foods and also would not limit a child to the few choices of his/her favourite foods.
Mothers should try and provide foods of different colours and shapes. Keep the food attractive and appealing to the kid. They can make parathas/chapattis in different shapes and sizes. The food can be coloured using beetroot, spinach, and other fruits and vegetables and that would also add to the nutritional value of the meal. Inculcate habits of eating fruits and nuts since their childhood.
Try and keep two tiffin boxes. One for their break time and the other for their journey back home, which could include nuts/fruits of different kinds, thus adding variety on each day.
Always plan the meals that can be easily managed by the kids, like packing finger foods, such as stuffed paratha rolls with different vegetables, idlis with grated vegetables, flavoured yogurts, nuts chikki, soya or veg cutlets, sprouts, cheese/vegetable or egg sandwiches, made in different shapes.
There are different food groups, such as dairy products, meat, pulses and eggs, vegetables and fruits, fats, nuts and oilseeds, and sugar. One must try and ensure that the meal consists of food items from at least two food groups on a regular basis. Keep changing the combination, so the child gets all the nutrients in a balanced way. It prevents any nutritional deficiencies in the kids.
A nutritionally adequate and diverse variety in the meal helps to develop a positive attitude towards food since childhood. It also prevents the development of either of the conditions of over or under-nutrition in the kids. Planning meals in advance would help the mothers to ensure their child’s health, and manage it on a regular basis.