Parenting is a challenging process. To ensure your children eat well is just one of the difficulties faced by parents on a daily basis. Due to the rise in COVID-19 cases in children and the paucity of vaccines, it is crucial to take extra care of your child’s immune system.
Optimal health helps build immunity, reducing the risk of infection in kids. A simple way to promote optimal health is by encouraging your child to consume more whole foods than processed foods as they ensure that our bodies absorb and utilize nutrients more efficiently.
Providing your child with a nutrient-rich, balanced intake of food is the most efficient way to enhance their health and physiology, and in turn the strength of their immunity.
Foods to Include
Eggs: They are packed with nutrients, minerals like Selenium to keep the heart, muscle and skin healthy, and Vitamins like A, B2 (Riboflavin) that are essential for growth and development, D to ensure Calcium absorption and bone development and K to improve Blood clotting factors.
• Best time to include- Breakfast, Lunch and Snack
• Try incorporating colored Bell Peppers, mushrooms and other protein sources to eggs to make it interesting (viz. colors & shapes).
• Make your Eggs more palatable using Butter or Ghee.
• Use stainless steel pancake moulds to prepare your Eggs in different shapes as kids are more attracted to color and shapes.
Vegetables: Parenting can be a tedious process but it’s important to ensure you inculcate healthy behaviour when it comes to vegetable intake. Locally grown green leafy vegetables like curry leaves, drumstick leaves, coriander, palak etc. are rich in fibre and minerals like Iron and zinc.
• Add surplus amounts in different shapes to your kid’s plate.
• Include veggies as bite-size snacks with Hummus sauce/Home-made Cheese dip/Guacamole dip.
• Kids often imitate or learn from parents to build healthy table manners. Relish more varieties of healthy ingredients.
Yoghurt/Curd – Probiotics: Curds help strengthen the gut but also increase the intake of Vitamin B12 from probiotics, the good bacteria that fight and stop the colonisation of bad bacteria in the stomach thus, boosting immunity.
• Include curd in any form –plain curd, fruit yoghurt or vegetable raita. Eg – Shredded carrot in curd.
Dry fruits, Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, walnuts, cashews, figs, raisins, apricots – these are rich in nutrients like essential fatty acids and omega-3, which boost immunity and aid in brain development.
• Add Nuts/Nut Powders to Soups and rice preparations.
• Ghee, another immunity booster can be used to coat nuts to modulate the immune system.
Turmeric: Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin which has anti-inflammatory properties. Reports have shown the beneficial effects against allergy, asthma and various other conditions.
• The consumption of turmeric milk is preferred for kids rather than commercial milk products.
Other Factors to Consider:
• Maintaining good Sleep hygiene without gadget usage is mandatory.
• Inculcating sunlight exposure and exercise are important for improving bone health and immunity.
• A diet high in sugar suppresses immunity in children. Avoid/limit sugar-based foods like chocolates, sweets, sauces, fruit juices and packaged snacks.
Sr. Health Coach and Nutritionist