The most common question that worries majority of the parents is ‘what should they give their kids in tiffin the next day?’ The challenge is not just to keep the likes and dislikes of their child in mind but also ensure the nutritional adequacy of the meal provided in the tiffin.
Considering the 6-7 long hours that the child spends at school, it becomes really critical to plan a wholesome, adequate and nutritionally balanced meal for maintaining the health of the child.
Children become more attentive, focused and perform better in school when they are fuelled with healthy food as compared to children with empty stomach. Empty stomach could lead to lethargy, dizziness and absent-mindedness in kids. A child taking nutritionally balanced meal tends to fall sick less often and has a good school attendance. A wholesome meal not only provides all the vital macro and micro nutrients but also helps maintain the optimum energy levels to sustain the long hours at school.
Children have a habit of eating better in the company of their peers and also trying more variety in their meals. So, one can introduce a lot of new options in their tiffin box and also manage the portion size of the meal, keeping in mind the preferences of the child.
Planning a healthy meal prevents the child from binging on fast food or packaged foods available in the school canteen or the food shops at school. We need to provide the kids with healthy, nutritionally balanced diets but also keep in mind the taste and preference of the kid, at all times.
Never keep the same food items each day as otherwise it would become too monotonous for the kid. Keeping a variety of food which would make the child develop taste buds for all kinds of foods and also would not limit a child to the few choices of his/her favourite foods.
Foods of different colours and shapes should be provided and the food must be really attractive and appealing. Parathas/rotis with different shapes such as , moon, half moon, star, etc can be made. Colours can be added by using beetroot, spinach and other fruits and vegetables that would also add on the nutritional value of the meal. Inculcate habits of eating fruits and nuts since their childhood.
Try and keep 2 tiffin boxes for the kids. One for their break time and the other for their journey back home, which could include nuts/fruits of different kinds, thus adding variety on each day.
Always the meals planned should be the ones easily managed by the kids, like packing finger foods, such as stuffed paratha rolls with different vegetables, idlis with grated vegetables, flavoured yoghurts, nuts chikki, soya or veg cutlets, sprouts, cheese/vegetable or egg sandwiches, made in different shapes.
There are five main food groups, milk and milk products, meat, pulses and eggs, vegetables and fruits, fats, nuts and oilseeds and sugar. One must try and ensure that the meal consists of food items from at least 2 food groups on a regular basis and keeping changing them so the child gets all the nutrients in a balanced way. This may prevent any nutritional deficiencies in kids.
A nutritionally adequate and diverse variety in the meal helps developing positive attitude towards food since childhood. This also prevents development of either of the conditions of over and under nutrition in kids. Planning the meals in advance would help ensure the child’s health and manage it easily on a regular basis.