What do you offer to your growing kids?
How do you manage their nutrition? What is it that you swear by – Horlicks, Complan, Milo, Bournvita, and Pediasure? What goes into the glass of milk – white or brown mix? Sounds familiar, isn’t it? This is often a topic of discussion among mothers. A very common household scenario – the struggle is real. (lol) Many of us have grown up drinking milk with one of these drinks on a daily basis 1-2 times a day for years. We had our favourites, isn’t it? These malt-based products were introduced to us in early 1940s. Fast forward to 2019 and India is claimed to be the world’s largest consumer market for malt-based drinks.
Malt-based products are marketed as “health drinks” in India and are specifically targeted at growing children to impart flavour to their “not-so-loved” plain milk. The current Indian market is flooded with captivating advertisements of these malt-based drinks which claim to be “essential nutritional mixes” to be added to milk, making specific and tall claims. Thus, making us feel assured that these “healthy drinks” are the right choice, adding to growth and development of our children. Plus, they make the work easier – Scoop. Stir. Drink. Done. As a parent we always wish to give the “best” to our kids. Our kids agree upon drinking milk with these flavours added into it as they are alluring to the palette and we happily give these health drinks to our kids with a sense of contentment – “chalo doodh to pi leta hai roj.”
The primary ingredient of these health drink mixes is malt – a barley or cereal derivative, and subsequent almost always sugar. Complan claims it is “clinically proven” to aid “2x faster growth” in children. While Horlicks claims it is “clinically proven to help kids grow taller, stronger and sharper”. Bournvita says the product contains “inner strength formula” that helps develop muscles, bones and brain. Pediasure says it’s a “complete, balanced nutrition for the kids”.
But are these beverages really needed? Are they “healthy”? Do they deliver what they promise in terms of nutrition?
Decoding the ingredients list of these health drinks –
|Product||Ingredients||What it really consists of|
|Horlicks (taller stronger smarter)||Sugar, Malted barley, malted wheat, milk solids, minerals, protein isolate, emulsifier, acidity regulator, vitamins, salt, natural colour||
|Complan||Milk solids, sugar, vegetable oil, maltodextrin, caramel, cocoa powder, vitamins, inositol, taurine, minerals, L-carnitine|
|Bournvita 5 star magic||Malt cereals, sugar, milk solids, maltodextrin, cocoa solids, emulsifiers, vitamins, minerals, salt, raising agents|
|Boost||Malt, skim milk powder, maltodextrin, sugar, cocoa, vegetable oil, vitamins, minerals, flavouring agents|
|Nesquik||Sugar, cocoa solids, salt, soya lecithin|
|Horlicks growth plus||Milk solids, sugar, vegetable oil, glucose syrup, emulsifier, stabilizer, maltodextrin, minerals, acidity regulator, salt, stabilizer, amino acid, vitamins|
|Pediasure||Skim milk powder, sugar, vegetable oil, maltodextrin, cocoa powder, MCT, FOS, flavouring agents, minerals, vitamins, inositol, taurine, l-carnitine, lactobacillus acidophilus|
As per the regulations, ingredients need to be listed in order of maximum composition, beginning with ingredient that weighs the most and ending with the least.
The prominent ingredients are milk solids, sugar and fat. Yes, you read it right. The growth products like pediasure and horlicks growth plus consist of ingredients like arginine, inositol, lactobacillus acidophilus which can be obtained from food sources as well. So why supplement? Also, the products’ serving size recommended for a day is a lot. Ingredient like inositol is used for treating PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), OCD (Obsessive compulsive disorder), nerve pain, ADHD, psoriasis etc. Is there really a need to add this to the kid’s diet? A well balanced diet can provide all the necessary nutrients required for growth and development of the child.
Macronutrients and sugar
|Per 100 gm||Complan||Horlicks (taller, stronger, sharper)||Horlicks growth +||Bournvita (lil champs)||Bournvita (5 star)||Boost||Milo||Pediasure||Nesquik|
|1 serve (gm)||33 (2 scoops)||27 (2 scoops)||48 (3 scoops)||20 (2 scoops)||20 (2 scoops)||20 (1 ½ scoop)||30 (5 tsp)||18 (2 scoops)||14 (1 scoop)|
|Recommended consumption||2 serves||No reco||2-3 serves||2 serves||2 serves||2 serves||No reco||2-3 serves||No reco|
|MRP per 500 gm pack||280/-||222/-||650/-||283/-||226/-||227/-||350/-||638/-||375/-|
Complan recommends one serving of 33 g which contains 8 g of sugar. Bournvita recommends 20 g of one serving making it 7.4 g of sugar. Pediasure recommends a 18 g serving, which makes one serving contain 3.9 g of sugar. Horlicks doesn’t recommend serving sizes. Milo recommends a 30 g serving making it 12 g of sugar.
WHO recommends 5% i.e. 100 calories in a 2,000 calorie diet coming from sugar. A gram of sugar provides 4 calories. So at 8 g of sugar, Complan provides 32 calories; at 20 g, Bournvita provides 80 calories; at 18 g, Pediasure provides 72 calories and at 12 g, Milo provides 48 calories.
All these are well within the upper allowed limit of 100 calories from sugar. But, these drinks leave very little room for other sugar sources in the diet. For example, someone consuming Bournvita is allowed only 20 additional calories to stay within the prescribed limits; this rule out even another serving of Bournvita which is recommended on the drink box. Some people add sugar with Bournvita making it even worse. Plus, today’s modern lifestyle with changing/ crash/ deficient diets are jam-packed with sugary junk food and these malt-based health drinks add on to the already exceeding sugar limit.
Micronutrients are essential elements required in trace amounts. As WHO states, they are the “magic wands” that enable the body to produce enzymes, hormones and other substances essential for growth and development.
Hidden hunger – micronutrient deficiency will lead to absorption of these tiny amounts of micronutrients present in the health drinks proving beneficial to children who are deficient, not for otherwise healthy kids. There are many other better sources rather than these which provide minimal supplemental value.
What is recommended by all these health drinks is consuming the “nutritional” mix with a glass of milk. Milk is basically the source of nutrition and not these health drinks. The excessive sugar contribution from these beverages can affect your child’s oral health and can contribute to other future health risks. Also, kids start associating milk with a sugary chocolaty taste.
A study conducted by department of consumer affairs showed that several beverages over or understated the actual nutritional information in their labels. DHA is an important nutrient for the brain. The study states that Bournvita Li’l champs and Complan Nutrigrow claimed to contain DHA but none of them actually do at all.
Sugar, oils and fillers, synthetic micros, fake flavourings and processed protein are far from being beneficial and supporting growth and development and better avoided.
So next time when you plan to buy these health drinks ask yourself – Do we need a quick fix for our ‘not-so-fussy-eaters? Are the kids missing their growth milestones? What’s the purpose of including these health drinks in the kid’s diet?
Believe me; I know how busy you are. Mornings are often chaotic. Hence, breakfast is often a miss. A nutiritious, quick drink may serve the purpose. Since the available health drink mixes in the market aren’t as healthy as they claim, why not go homemade. Here are a few homemade options which are nutrient dense, delicious, made with simple ingredients and under 10 minutes. Love is homemade!
Here are a few home made healthy alternatives to commercial health drinks
- Ragi badam malt
Just homemade shares a filling and perfect recipe with little jaggery, cardamom and a teaspoon of ghee.
- Kharik / dry dates powder in milk
- Sattu nut booster
Luke’s homemade protein booster is a must try.
- 1 cup Roasted sattu flour
- ½ cup almonds
- ½ cup walnuts and pistachios
- 2 tsp Dry ginger powder
- ½ tsp Nutmeg powder
- ½ tsp Cardamom powder
- Saffron strands
- 1 tsp Turmeric powder
- ½ tsp fennel powder
- Lightly dry roast the nuts
- Add sattu flour, dry ginger powder and other ingredients
- Roast till a fine aroma is released
- Grind them coarsely
- Store in an airtight container
- Homemade hot chocolate mix
A sweet pea chef’s kid friendly recipe of a comforting hot chocolate
- ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/3 cup coconut sugar
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp vanilla powder / pure vanilla extract
- 1/8 tsp cinnamon powder
- 4 cups unsweetened milk
- Combine all the dry ingredients. Stir well.
- Heat a sauce pan and add the dry cocoa mixture.
- Gradually add milk while whisking constantly. Mix thoroughly with the dry cocoa mixture.
- Simply heat it just below a simmer. Do not boil.
- Nut powder
Dry roast cashews, almonds, pistachios. Let them cool down. Pulse these together with nutmeg, cardamom. Store in an airtight container. You can add saffron while preparing the drink.
- Kesar badam mix
Sharmis passion’s has a decadent recipe of kesar badam doodh mix.
- ½ cup Almonds
- 1/3 cup palm sugar candy (Panankarkandu)
- Saffron strands
- ½ tsp cardamom powder
- ¼ tsp turmeric powder
- Boil a cup of water and add almonds to it. Let it cook for 2-3 minutes. Switch off the gas and rinse it in cold water.
- Peel off and toss them in a pan over medium heat till the moisture leaves and they are slightly golden. Let them cool down.
- Dry roast saffron strands for a few seconds.
- In a mixer jar, take the sugar, cardamom powder, saffron and turmeric powder and grind to a smooth powder.
- Add toasted almonds to this and grind for a few seconds (do not overgrind else the almonds will release oil and get sticky)
- Cool it down and store in an airtight container. Mix 2-3 tsp with hot or cold milk.
- Almond cocoa powder
Unsweetened cocoa and roasted powdered almonds together give you a chocolaty healthy drink. Mix 2 tsps with a glass of milk along with jaggery or sugar or organic honey.
Similarly, makhana (foxnuts) can be used instead of almonds.
- Dates and figs (soaked overnight)
Blend these with almonds in a glass of milk.
- Milkshakes or fruit smoothies or fruit and nut parfaits
- Kerala banana powder
- Thandai masala powder
- Adding seeds like sunflower, chia, pumpkin, flax seeds to various preps.
Take home message – Read the food labels before buying, check the list of ingredients and make informed choices. Go local, go seasonal, offer variety and eat balanced. Eat homemade.
Eat. Live. Love. Nourish.