Getting children to eat a balanced and healthy diet is a challenge for most parents. From limited food preferences, developing tastes and tantrums to being plain restless, there are several reasons why children struggle to finish a plate of healthy food.
While the basics of a healthy diet remain the same for all age groups - eat mostly fruits and vegetables, followed by carbohydrates such as whole grains, then dairy and fats - children need more calcium for their growing bones, protein for increasing muscle mass and antioxidants to enhance their immunity. Children grow about 2.5 inches (6 to 7 centimetres) each year and gain about 2-3 kg per year until puberty starts, which means they need plenty of nutrition.
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Prakriti Poddar, spokesperson, RoundGlass Living, recommends four Indian ingredients that can give your child the extra edge to grow and live with health and happiness. As a mother of three young children, she is more than familiar with the challenges of getting children to eat healthy and how their diet can be optimized to provide adequate nutrition. Include these ingredients in their regular diet and see your little one bloom into a healthy young adult.
This bright-coloured sour fruit grows mainly in the Western Ghats, and is a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients with anti-inflammatory properties and even anti-cancer activity. The fruit is packed with anthocyanins, antioxidants that give it its rich colour and anti-inflammatory properties. It helps in boosting the immunity of children and keeps their gut healthy.
How to use: Consume it in form of a juice prepared by soaking kokum overnight and then extracting its juice. Add kokum to curries and dals for a dash of sourness and health.
2. Mango Ginger
This unique ingredient looks like ginger, tastes like raw mango and belongs to the turmeric family. It is a rich source of antioxidants and nutrients and is used in traditional medicinal systems as an appetizer, anti-pyretic, emollient, expectorant and laxative. This means it can help with common health challenges faced by growing children, such as frequent coughs and colds as well as constipation. Called aamba haldi in Hindi, mango ginger also has anti-inflammatory properties that help in healing skin injuries and skin diseases.
How to use: Mango ginger is mostly used as a pickle. Its juliennes can be added to soups and salads or used to prepare the salad dressing. Or prepare a chutney using mango ginger and other complimentary ingredients.
3. Tulsi or Holy Basil
This flowering plant from the mint family is an integral part of Indian culture and holds religious and culinary significance for many communities. But its nutritional properties make it an essential ingredient to include in the diet of children. For instance, tulsi contains powerful nutrients like vitamin C that help boost the immune system of children. Eugenol, an antioxidant, helps fight skin disorders such as acne that frequently affect adolescents. It also helps in reducing cold and congestion in the chest. Its anti-inflammatory properties make it a soothing ingredient for the seasonal fevers that commonly afflict children.
How to use: Add some leaves to boiling water to make herbal tea and offer it to your child daily to help maintain immunity. Rub tulsi oil on the skin of your child to keep her safe from mosquito bites when she goes out to play.
4. Anantamul or Indian Sarsaparilla
This relatively less-known root grows in the Himalayan region, as well as in coastal areas. It has many skin-healing properties that can be handy for managing teen acne and other skin disorders. It has blood-purifying properties that can prevent the appearance of pimples. In addition, it could potentially also be used to manage blood sugar in children with co-morbidities.
How to use: Dried roots can be brewed in hot water to make herbal tea which can be consumed as per requirement. Your child may initially find its herb.
Author Bio: Prakriti Poddar is Global Head, Mental Health and Wellbeing, RoundGlass, a global Wholistic Wellbeing organisation where she is actively involved in creating an integrated platform for Wholistic Wellbeing.
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