You wake up in the morning. Get your child ready for school and drop them off. Or send them by school bus. Evening they come home. You have dinner and then you retire to bed.
Classic routing in any household who have school going children. And by this stage most parents are used to the routine.
Things go off when the routine breaks. Be it an unexpected one like the COVID pandemic where everyone is forced to stay indoors or be it summer vacation or holidays. When schools remain closed.
How do you ensure that your child’s nutrition and food intake patterns stay healthy?
With this lock down children remain at home. Earlier children would go to school and have lunch there and so do working parents. But now with children and almost all the family members staying at home due to lock down or be it vacation or holidays. The burden of cooking healthy meals 3 times a day + 2 snacks for all the members falls on the parents.
This coupled with working from home and pressures of work. Pushes many parents to look at meal options that are easy and ready to cook. And not many of these options are nutritious and healthy for a growing child.
Malnutrition is a problem faced by children all over the world. It affects the children’s health very seriously.
Lack of nutrition in a child is very dangerous. It leads to some serious sickness such as poor eyesight due to lack of vitamins A or being overweight or obese.
Malnutrition also affects other aspects of the child’s health. Such as it contributes to their stress level and tiredness not only that it also affects the growth and development of a child.
How to help your child overcome this challenge during Lock-down or when on vacation
- Prepare healthy meals each day. Healthy meals do not have to be expensive, simple fruits and vegetables are enough to make your child healthy.
- Always serve your child healthy meals so that they can avoid malnutrition. You can serve foods that are rich in vitamins such as eggs, carrots, squash, or fruits. Ensure you set up foods of different colours (a crude way to ensure balanced diet).
- Ensure these foods are taken as part of your kid’s everyday diet. 2 cups of milk. 8 glasses of water, 2 eggs a day and few fruits.
- Have a schedule/ timetable of meals to cook. This takes a lot of burden off from planning each meal and makes grocery shopping easy.
- Workout plan and schedule with your family to avoid resistance while eating.
- Have a habit of trying one new healthy dish or cooking method a week/ or once in two weeks. This will bring some newness and excitement. And will help you increase your options.
- Allocate 2 or 3 meals in a week for the rest of the family (including kids) to prepare to avoid burnout. They can slap in a simple sandwich. Or basic items.
- Have a cheat dinner once a month. So, it satisfies the craving and kids look forward to the day.
- Work out reward plans to make the whole healthy eating fun. It can be simple titles like Mr. Muscle of the week. For the kid who completed all the veggies portion served that week.
- Provide supplements for them such as vitamins. Consult a doctor before buying vitamins for your child.
Make sure as a family you follow a healthy eating lifestyle.
So, it becomes easy for the kid to mimic. To know more on how to get your family to follow such a lifestyle you can read the article All you need to know about kids’ nutrition.
While malnutrition is a problem on one end of the spectrum.
Binge Eating is another problem faced during these times.
Binge eating with a poor exercise regime will not only lead to obesity. But it will start affecting your kid’s self-image and self-esteem. Especially when they are in their tween and teen years.
You can refer to the blog How-To help build self-esteem in your teenager for more insights. So, I will not go deeper into this topic.
However, Due to this pandemic people spend a lot of time indoors. I find kids snacking out of boredom.
I find my kids just eating any edible things that are around the house. Packet of biscuit that in a normal day no one would bother. Today they just eat it because they want to munch something.
The first initial month of lock down I went about stocking snack boxes the way I would normally do. But once I figured out that everyone including my husband was binge eating. Just made it a point to stock the snack boxes differently.
How to help your child overcome this challenge
- Ensure that you stock your house with healthy foods.
- Have a couple of containers filled with nuts and dry fruits. Almonds, groundnuts, walnuts, Raisins, dates etc.
- Place fruits and veggies that can be eaten raw on table or accessible points. So, your kid starts to snack on them instead.
- Limit fast food intake. Fast foods are not nutritious in fact it is a main reason for poor nutrition. So, avoid letting your child consume fast food as much as you can.
- Strategically rotate the accessibility of these healthy foods. So, you can ensure your children get all needed nutrition in a months’ time. E.g. I keep the dates in the snack corner (the most frequented place) for a week and then move on to having cheese, yogurt etc. the next.
- Make buttermilk, rose milk, lemonade, or any type of healthy drink, and place it for people to consume.
- When you are free, try to make ‘junk food’ at home one or twice in a month. This not only satisfies the craving. It is still a healthier option than eating from outside. E.g. French fries, burgers etc.
The point of the matter is you do not have to force your children to have healthy food. Just ensure that you are making healthy food available and placing them at accessible points and let the boredom of staying indoors do the trick.
Just the way you have a plan for school days. It is important that we have a plan and a routine for off school days or crises like this lockdown. So, we can tide over these challenges smoothly.
About The Author
I am Thabitha David. I am a proud mother of 3 Kids. (2 Teenagers and 1 Tween). I also have a front row seat to observe my friends and my huge family member’s life and challenges with their kids.
I am a blogger and write articles based on my experience (my success and failures) raising my kids in my blog www.myshadesofyellow.com
If you like to know more about the blog purpose and about me you can visit our about us page.
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