Food and your Child
Excerpts from the book ‘Your Child is Your Parent’ by Manoj J Lekhi.
The one thing that most parents are almost paranoid about when their child is small is his diet, or the food he eats.
They are forever worried whether their child is eating enough, even if the child is eating well, or whether the child is eating too much for his age!
Personally speaking, we have not been worried about our child’s food. In the first place, we never got worried about the hygiene aspect, in the sense that if she dropped something she was eating and picked it up and put it in her mouth, it didn’t worry us unduly. Our child has probably picked everything off the ground and eaten. I have always allowed it unless it was something that could be poisonous.
I never bothered about germs, because I know that the body automatically takes care of any germs that enter it, thereby making the body’s immune system that much stronger.
When you are pregnant, you must have lots of fruits so that you inculcate the ‘fruit habit’ in your child from that time itself. It’s important for the mother and child to have fresh vegetables, fruits and nuts.
The quantity of food a child eats depends upon his individual body constitution and is different for each child. One needn’t unnecessarily worry about the quantity the baby eats, especially, if he displays an optimum energy level. If your child has a medium-to-high energy level, and is very bright and playful, then there is no need to worry about any other parameters like his weight, height etc. As long as the child is healthy, strong and energetic, the child is eating right.
However, there is cause for concern if your child is dull, listless and lacking in energy. Then you need to take some action (maybe, take him to a doctor).
Another thing that worries most parents is ‘fun food’. They are most upset when their child eats pre-packed potato chips, pizzas, chocolates, sweets, ice creams etc. Note the use of the words ‘fun food’ instead of ‘junk food’ which has a very negative flavour.
I would say that it’s not such a bad idea to allow the child to have these in controlled, limited quantities every day, like a sweet or a piece of chocolate every day, than to suppress his craving, which may compel him to indulge in it on the sly.
If your child is of the age when he has begun to understand the days of the week, Monday to Sunday, then you can easily set up a timetable for him to fit in such ‘fun food’, so that he has something different for each day.
This will help him grow up without craving the same, or else there will be a major ‘outburst’ one day. Allow him to satiate himself with this fun food while he is still young, or else he will start hogging it when he grows up.
When he is a young child, his body can metabolise such fun food much more easily than it can when he is older.
Fun food is not all that bad. For generations, we have all eaten fun food in some form or the other. So, don’t cut it out totally and immediately from your child’s food schedule. In fact, I would say that a little bit of fun food is healthy food.
When we totally cut out the fun food, we tend to become boring and serious in that aspect of life. I myself had stopped the chocolates, ice-creams etc. and become a so-called fanatic of healthy food.
However when my daughter Vedoci was growing up, I realised that I need not be so rigid and so resumed having the fun food once in a while. This was another excuse to celebrate with Vedoci the little beautiful aspects of life and thus enjoy the gift called ‘life’.
BE the change you want to see in your child.