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5 tricks to introducing a balanced diet to kids in 'Big School'
As parents, we constantly worry about whether our children are eating enough of the right foods. With a full day of school and extracurricular activities, meals will be consumed on the run. Let's try and make sure our children eat more balanced home prepared meals, instead of fast food choices.
Dr. Anoma Chandrasekara, Vice President of the Nutrition Society of Sri Lanka, advises that all three main meals with two snacks should be consumed by all growing children. The meals should be balanced and comprise “quality-driven rather than quantity driven” foods.
Here are few tricks to consider when planing your child's balanced meals for the day.
Balanced Diet Tricks
1. Paint your meals with colour
Children thrive on seeing a variety of foods and colourful foods will definitely perk up their interest. Since fruits and vegetables are important for children to get an adequate source of vitamins and minerals, Dr. Chandrasekara advises to accentuate the colour of the produce -orange for pumpkin, red for beetroot, colourful shapely fruit salads - all could be choices to be looked into.
2. More variety, more choice
Different foods offer the same nutrients, so instead of serving one particular type of food each day, change the choices whilst focusing on the nutrients. For example, Dr Chandrasekara, suggests replacing dhal curry with green gram or chickpea curry.
3. If you make it, you eat it!
Children love to cook. Get your child to plan the meals and help with some of the preparation occasionally. Our nutritionist advises that children should get at least three cups of raw vegetables a day; you could get the children involved by allowing them to assist in cutting the fruits or vegetables. This will motivate them to try some foods which usually get rejected.
It goes without saying that not all children like their fruits and vegetables but these foods can still be disguised in the form of dips, or pasta sauces or even accompanied by other foods, like a yummy salad dressing on vegetables.
5. Don't demand
The moment you say “eat your vegetables”, children being children will not! So try and hold back on your demands; instead be an active participant of eating certain nutritious foods, your children will see you enjoying them and also want to try them. Allow treats on certain occasions, for the forbidden foods are most sought after. Getting your meals balanced is also about setting a balanced attitude to healthy lifelong living.
Dr. Chandrasekara advises that children should get a balanced diet full of carbohydrates, proteins, pulses and of course plenty of fruits and vegetables. From a nutritionist's point of view, she also suggests children indulge in salads and pickles. They could have guavas, mangoes, ambarella, green apples, starfruit, Ceylon olives and rose apples, which could be eaten as snacks instead of fried food like murrukku, chips and sweet products such as toffees, chocolates, chewing gums and cakes.
Expert Advice provided by
Written by Mayuri Jayasinghe based on an interview with Anoma Chandrasekara, Vice President of the Nutrition Society of Sri Lanka