School going period is one of the golden periods in life, hence, need to be tackled carefully. During this period, remarkable physical changes take place and food plays a major role in the overall growth and development. Malnutrition (over and under nutrition) in early childhood has serious, long-term consequences and affects motor, sensory, cognitive, social and emotional development. This adversely affects the scholastic performance and such individuals are at greater risk of disease and premature mortality in later life.
Benefits of proper exercise and balanced diet
- Improved energy levels, cardiovascular and other body system functions, mental well-being, cognitive performance, wound healing and recovery from illness or injury
- Reduced risk for diseases, like heart diseases, diabetes, stroke, cancer, and osteoporosis
- Skill based and general fitness
- Strength and aerobic sessions such as running or swimming
- Do not skip any of your meals
- Never skip breakfast. Breakfast gives children energy to carry through an active morning. Children who skip breakfast may not concentrate well at school or may lack energy to play
- Have small frequent meals
- Encourage your child to eat plenty of whole grain cereals, for energy purpose
- Milk and milk products, poultry, fish and are a must for the growth of child. They act as good sources of calcium that ensure healthy bones and teeth
- Offer your child a wide variety of healthy nutritious foods like green leafy veggies, fresh fruits, legumes, etc.
- Choose foods that are less salty and less spicy
- Limit fast food and junk food
- Have suitable foods available at all times eg. cereal bars, fruit, dried fruit, fruit buns, juice and milk in tetra packs
- It is important to follow pre and post workout meals to cope with increased energy requirements
- Drink well throughout the day
- Use pre-and post-weighing activities to monitor fluid losses during the game
- When it comes to cooking, prefer going in for cooking techniques like steaming, broiling, boiling and baking, rather than frying. Frying tends to involve extensive usage of oil, thus making the food item high in calories and low in nutrition.
- Offer water, health drinks and milk instead of sugary fruit drinks and sodas
Points to be considered in planning a packed lunch
- The packed lunch should meet one third daily requirement of calories and protein of the child.
- Include one serving of green leafy vegetables would take care of one third requirement of many vitamins and minerals.
- Some amount of good quality protein like milk and milk product like curd or paneer would improve vegetable protein combination of vegetable proteins like cereals and pulses can be given for better utilization.
- Make food more appetizing food like whole fruit or buttermilk in a packed bottle.
- Monotony should be avoided in packed lunch.
- Food should have the correct consistency. Too watery things may leak and too dry may not be appetizing to the child. Chapati can be covered in cloth to retain moisture.
Suggested Packed Lunches
- Vegetable pulao with paneer and one fruit
- Mix vegetable or paneer paratha with curd
- Dhal paratha with green leafy vegetables
- Cheese/paneer or brown bread sandwiches and one fruit
- Mix vegetable upma/idli or uttpam with coconut chutney
- Mix vegetable khicdi or omlet with one fruit
- Cake and 1/2 plate salad
- Pasta with green salad
- Mix veg noodles with fruit
- Dhal chilla with coriander leaves chatney
- Breakfast shake: Combine milk, fruit, and ice in a blender
- Frozen banana: Dip a banana in yogurt, roll it in crushed cereal. Freeze.
- Peanut butter snack: Spread peanut butter on whole-wheat crackers, a tortilla, apple slices, or jicama slices
Simple tips to encourage healthy eating
- Use cookie cutters to cut sandwiches into fun, interesting shapes
- Decorate lunch bags with colorful stickers
- Put a new twist on a sandwich favorite. Top peanut butter with raisins, bananas, or apple slices
- For color and crunch, use a variety of veggies as “sandwich toppers”: cucumber slices, grated carrots, or zucchini
- Cereal with low-fat milk is a good option, but sweetened cereal can have a lot of added sugar. Check the nutrition facts label before buying. Although the percent daily values on food labels are based on calorie levels for adults, they can still be used to select more nutrient-rich cereals (and other foods). Choose cereals with less than 10 grams of sugar and at least 2 grams of fiber per serving. If your child prefers a sweet taste, jazz up unsweetened cereal with sliced peaches or bananas, strawberries, or blueberries.