Tag Archives: Child Health

Introducing Your Child To Vegetables


“After 24 months children become reluctant to try new things and start to reject foods.” – Prof Marion Hetherington, University of Leeds

As a mother*, I’m not sure if the above statement is completely true, however, I do believe that good eating habits are set early in life. A habit is after all formed by repetition and young children as supposed to be like sponges, right? When we give so much importance, to how our children should deal with what comes out of the body (potty training) so early, shouldn’t we start with what goes in, even earlier?

Eager to get your child on the right path but don’t know how**? No worries, here’s a quick guide to get you started:

  • Build on a baby’s love for colour and texture. Try a boiled and pureed carrot one day, and a steamed and mashed sweet potato the next.
  • Make small quantities initially and don’t try to substitute a tasting for a meal. This will prevent both the child and the parent from finding the experience stressful. Experiment during playtime, rather than mealtimes.
  • Note the child’s initial preferences and repeat rejected foods in a different form/combination after a gap.
  • Talk to your pediatrician and always be prepared for possible allergic reactions.
  • Make the experience comfortable by preparing, in advance, to deal with the potential food mess. Cloth the child in soft old clothes, cover the floor/table with disposable paper towels and stay away from walls/curtains that cannot be cleaned.
  • Avoid trying new foods in the evenings as resources (energy, medical help, etc.) maybe low, making it a lot more difficult to deal with emergencies.
  • Let the baby feel the food with his/her hands. it’s after all a first time experience for him/her.
  • Don’t add salt or sugar to the vegetable. Let the child discover the original taste before we alter it.
  • Don’t try anything new if the child is not feeling well.
  • Most importantly, enjoy the time with your baby.

Have we missed anything here? Is there an experience you would like to share with us?

*Always check with your pediatrician  before you try a new food or routine for your child. The author is not a childcare or medical expert and has only shared her opinion based on her personal experiences.

** There are a lot of books out there that will give you practical tips, as well as, detailed steps on this topic. Alternatively, you can speak to a doctor or nutritionist who specializes in children’s nutrition.

About the Author:

Niranjani is an entrepreneur and blogger who believes that good quality, affordable healthcare should be available to all. She occasionally puffs and pants her way through a 10k race to feel fit, despite her chaotic life.

Photo Credit: Image 1Image 2

Copyright 2014 (c) Primex Scans and Labs. Please do not reproduce this article in its entirety without permission. Alternatively, a link to this URL would be appreciated.

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15 Minute Workouts – The Pajama Workouts

Sleep late, get-up early, make and pack multiple meals, get to work, work 12 hours, meet friends/do homework with the kids, cook dinner, tidy-up the house, do the laundry and drop exhausted into bed.

Given that most of us have a routine close to this, where do we find the time and most importantly the energy to workout. We know it’s important, we make New Year resolutions, frequently start off on fitness plans, however, within four weeks most of us are back to square one.

Now, how would you like to spend just 15 minutes in your bedroom getting fit. It can even be, or should I say it must be, in your pajamas. Trust me, it is possible and it does give results. This week we’ll start with the all time favourite of children and sportsmen – skipping or jump rope exercises. Here’s what you do:

  • Set the jump rope and comfortable workout shoes, next to your bed, the previous night
  • Wake-up 10 minutes earlier than usual and slip on your footwear
  • Do 2 minutes of stretching exercises
  • Jump rope for about 10 minutes
  • Take a minute to cool down
  • Stretch again for 2 minutes
  • You are done! Now go take a shower

A few points to keep in mind, to make sure you really benefit from this effort:

  • 100 -120 counts a minute should be your target (apparently 10 minutes of this is equal to 30 minutes of mid-paced running)
  • Start with 5 minutes on the first day and build-up
  • Your heart rate should be up for 7 out of the 10 minutes, at a minimum
  • Most important, check with your doctor before starting any new fitness or diet routine

Follow this religiously (maybe even twice a day), along with a simple diet change, and see the results in 90 days. You will be amazed and addicted. The best part – no expensive equipment, clothes or gym membership required.

Our workout series aims to help you figure out the right fitness regime for your body and mind. As part of this series, we previously  covered: cyclingswimmingrowingrunning, a guide to picking the right shoe, a three-week campaign to get you out on the road and how to mentally condition yourself to get going.

About the Author:

Niranjani is an entrepreneur and blogger who believes that good quality, affordable healthcare should be available to all. She occasionally puffs and pants her way through a 10k race to feel fit, despite her chaotic life.

Photo Credit: Image 1

Copyright 2014 (c) Primex Scans and Labs. Please do not reproduce this article in its entirety without permission. Alternatively, a link to this URL would be appreciated.

The ‘No’ Deprivation ‘Diet’

Last week, a friend of mine started telling me about this juice diet. Halfway through her sentence, my first I thought was ‘I love juice, so I can do it’. My second thought was ‘ but I love food too, so I can’t do it’. Her next sentence put my mind at rest. Apparently, you are encouraged to have this drink as a replacement for a meal or with a healthy meal, your option. I obviously will go for the healthy meal with the juice option.

This incident put me in a mind of a fact that we have all been long aware of. Unfortunately not many of us want to admit it, since it doesn’t sound magical or drastic enough. The simple fact here is that most diets get us to deprive ourselves of all treats (good for you but oh! so tough) or cut out certain food groups altogether (extreme and not so good for you). This is a tad difficult to maintain in the long run, unless you have the willpower of a dictator.

The easier way to go, would be to add in certain foods along with your healthy diet. In a manner of speaking, we are playing a mind game with our bodies. You can eat everything as before, just make sure you eat more of this. Adding in fiber and healthy nutritious liquids, will ensure that you have a healthy system, while having less space to stuff in your regular indulgences.

I’m starting with a pre-lunch soup and a vegetable juice before dinner. This has got to be the easiest way to get fit and balance those holiday indulgences. I’m sure you’re tempted to join me, so here are a few pointers to keep you on track:

  • Make sure that the food you are adding in is really good for you. For example, a glass of carrot juice loaded with sugar will not help
  • Finish your targeted ‘good food’ before you move on to the other stuff  
  • Since there’s no deprivation here, it’s best not to have ‘off’ days for the first month or three (till it’s natural for you to eat this way)
  • Don’t replace your whole day’s usual intake with salads, soups and fruit juices. I’m asking you to add some lettuce to every meal of the day, not turn into a temporary rabbit and live only on lettuce

Let me know how you plan to eat more and get fit. I’m rooting for you (and me).

About the Author:

Niranjani is an entrepreneur and blogger who believes that good quality, affordable healthcare should be available to all. She occasionally puffs and pants her way through a 10k race to feel fit, despite her chaotic life.

Photo Credit: Image 1

Copyright 2013 (c) Primex Scans and Labs. Please do not reproduce this article in its entirety without permission. Alternatively, a link to this URL would be appreciated.

“No, I Don’t Eat Rice……..

.. Not I don’t that I don’t like it, I just don’t eat it. Why you ask? I believe that rice makes me fat, and so I never eat it, but nonetheless I haven’t lost a single kilo! If anything I’m gaining fat!” How often have you heard that refrain? It’s almost becoming a standard discussion every time a group of people get together. I’m sure you have heard it more times than you care to remember, and are now wondering how much sense the argument for and against rice makes.

If you are a South Indian, this should actually be a no-brainer. Our fore fathers ate rice as a staple part of their diet for hundreds of years and stayed healthy, so what makes this generation so different? Okay, I know what’s running through your minds. The previous generations had a different kind of lifestyle or the quality of rice they got in those days was different or worst of all, they didn’t know the virtues of a pure protein or pure fat diet.

Okay so let’s work this one through step by step. All of us know that our bodies require the four macronutrients – carbohydrates, proteins, fat and water – to perform optimally.  Carbohydrates, such as rice, chappattis, bread, pasta and fruit, all fuel the body. They are what give you the energy to move, to breathe, to think and carry on the process of metabolism. The bulk of your diet, that is, 45 to 65 percent of it, must consist of carbohydrates. Don’t ever forget that the primary function of food is to fuel the body. If you deny your body its basic share of carbohydrates, it will look for other sources for fuel. The first logical one is protein and more often than not this means muscle protein. Sure, your body will be fueled  but by an extremely inefficient, expensive source of fuel. Pretty much like burning a sandalwood log in the kitchen fire. We all know just how hard it is to build muscle. More importantly, protein will neglect its prime function of repair and maintenance of tissues, and helping to build fresh muscle. The result is that you will be left with aging skin, falling hair and damaged tissues.

So where is all this leading? Obviously it does not mean that you need to do a complete 360 degree turn around and gorge on every candy bar in sight? What you need to do is choose your carbohydrates carefully, and learn to read food labels. Skip the highly polished white rice and go for brown, black or red rice In this case, the more coloured it is the better it is. Look for the word unpolished on the label, which basically indicates that you are on to a good thing. Ensure that your chapattis are made with atta (unrefined wheat flour), not maida (polished and refined wheat flour) and have no oil in them. Check that the grains in your breakfast cereal are unprocessed and have no sugar. Ragi or oats porridge is always preferable to processed breakfast cereals.

Moving on to bread, the real biggie on the carbohydrate team. It’s so easy to read the label that says brown or whole wheat bread, and think that you are making the right choice. Stop for a moment and check the ingredient list. The ‘brown’ may be coming from caramelised sugar, and if in the list of ingredients whole wheat flour is listed after the salt, you know you are being conned. The quantity of salt in a loaf of bread is only a teaspoon, which makes the whole wheat even less.

Going back to our main character here, rice. It is the rich, oily gravy or the fried papaddum that you eat with the rice, rather than the rice itself that should be a source of concern. Every gram of fat in that gravy contributes nine calories, as opposed to the four calories contributed by a gram of carbohydrate in the rice. Basically, less than half your calories for that meal come from the rice.

So banish the oily and fried stuff from your life, and enjoy your complex carbohydrates. You can be certain that they will be your greatest allies on the road to fat loss and good health. So now, can we please bring on the rice?

About the Author:

Sunitha Srinivasan is a Lifestyle Consultant and Resistance Trainer. She has qualified with the National Association for Fitness Certification, Arizona, USA. She conducts workshops on wellness that she calls ‘A Celebration of Life’, counsels on the management of lifestyle diseases and writes for leading journals and magazines.

She can be contacted at sunitha@sans-souci.in

Photo Credit: Image 1, Image 2

Copyright 2012 (c) Primex Scans and Labs. Please do not reproduce this article in its entirety without permission. Alternatively, a link to this URL would be appreciated.

The Tiffin Dabba Saga

Do you go to sleep every Sunday night with this on loop in your head?  “Oh my God, it’s Monday tomorrow! The beginning of another mad week which means getting ready for work, trying to fit in some exercise, deadlines, schedules… and the biggest worry, trying to pack lunch for my fussy seven-year old.”

Most days, the dabba comes back untouched. The days he’s nibbled something, I count myself lucky. He hates vegetables and the school doesn’t encourage meaty lunches. He will eat a boiled egg but the teacher says he spills the shell all around the table…. Does all this sound familiar? I’ve even known a parent who used to pack deep-fried slices of bread, which had been dipped in sugar syrup, every day for her daughter’s lunch. Why? Because that was the ONLY thing the child would eat and the mother was so desperate that she would pack almost anything.

By the way, habits of fussy eating are picked up mostly from parents. If you want your child to eat healthy, then eat healthy yourself! The dictum of “do as I say, but not as I do” has never worked and never will.  Examine your reactions to food. Do you make a face at brinjal? Do you say “yuck” to garlic? Do you complain when the idlis are hard or the dosa is not crisp? Do you absolutely refuse to try any new food, saying “I know I won’t like it” before even putting a spoonful in your mouth? Guess what, ninety nine times out of a hundred, that ‘s exactly what your child will do too. The hundredth, will probably turn out to be a rebel and eat insects picked up off the ground or mud from the garden just to have the pleasure of hearing you go “eeeeeuuuuggghhh, how could you?”.

Now, hanging your head in shame is not going let you see the screen in front of you. To figure out what next, look up and read on. These simple steps will make you the envy of all the mothers at the school gate:

  • Be enthusiastic about new experiences, whether it’s new books, new friends, new places or new food.
  • Be energetic. I agree that it’s easier to pack a sandwich than make a stuffed paratha, however, if you want results, there are no short cuts! If you want to create a healthy lifestyle for you and your family, it involves work. My tip here, prepare as much as you can a day before.
  • Be creative. If you have a kid who asks why he should thank god for his food when his food it consists of only ‘yucky veggies”? Make green, red and orange paranthas or pooris by kneading flour with boiled, puréed spinach or peas, beetroot and carrots. The same trick can be used for idlis and dosas.
  • Make it “cool”. For example, dosas in his lunch box again? Stuff them with a mixture of sautéed spinach, corn and cheese or paneer.
  • Be inclusive. Involve your child in the cutting, pounding and kneading activities of food preparation.  The excitement of creating their own food can carry over into eating it and sharing it. The big bonus, they learn to appreciate the effort you put in everyday.
  • Create anticipation. Tell them what to expect in their lunch box and show it to them before they leave (if you’re not rushed off your feet). Trust me, they’ll look forward to lunch time.  To keep the momentum, don’t forget to plan an occasional surprise, which creates its own excitement and breaks the monotony of always knowing what’s in the box.
  • Learn about nutrition and share it with your family. These are skills not taught at school and there’s nothing like a practical lesson at home on what the humble curd rice is loaded with – probiotics and calcium – to make it a “hero”. Ditto for the reviled brinjal and the much hated bitter gourd. Don’t force these down their throats too often though, this will cause even a saint to rebel.
  • Cook with love, creativity will flow!  Even humble steamed carrot, peas and potatoes can be made “awesome” by adding a tad of butter and some herbs.
  • Keep it simple. Children tend to prefer simpler foods to more complex, adult foods. Steamed vegetables, sundal and rotis, or rice form a complete meal, while being easy to make and pack.
  • Keep them small. Finger foods, small wraps with rotis and vegetables in a salad dressing or mayo and some cheese, all look good, taste good and make kids happy.
  • Enjoy the process. Think of it as an outlet for your creativity. Approach food and cooking with anticipation and excitement and it will repay you hugely. Approach it as though it’s a chore to be done as quickly and with as little involvement as possible and it’s guaranteed to be a pain.
  • With all this, there are still days when your child will not eat what’s in the dabba. Well, if it’s just a one-off day, don’t sweat it. We all need an occasional break. If it’s too frequent an occurrence and then consider what further action is needed.

I, however, have to add a note of caution here on being ready for the unexpected. Why? Because I am a mother of two and know that kids are unpredictable. My four year-old daughter came back from school one day with her untouched box of pinwheel sandwiches. We had made these with great excitement and enthusiasm the previous night. Why did she not eat them? Well, she thought ‘they were too beautiful to eat’!

About the Author:

AnuradhaVenkatesh is an entrepreneur with a passion for education. She loves food and everything to do with it (the making, the reading about, the eating, the dreaming), word games, kids, the monsoon and mangoes  – though not necessarily in that order.

Photo Credit: Image 1

Copyright 2012 (c) Primex Scans and Labs. Please do not reproduce this article in its entirety without permission. Alternatively, a link to this URL would be appreciated.

Dietary Control – Our Food Laws

Food control in India is still in its nascent stage. Pre-independence legislation and other laws passed in the seventies and eighties focused on primary food. The legislative framework created multiple executive authorities that lacked coordinated efforts. With industrial growth paving the way for the Information Age – “The Third Wave” brought about changes in lifestyle. Processed food started taking center stage as a perpetual shortage of time became the norm, both at work and home. A legislation to control food quality and to ensure that regulations conformed to international standards, while working on a scientific basis, was the need of the hour in order to protect the health of the consumers.

Regulatory Background:

In 2005 the Government of India drafted the Food Safety Bill to consolidate the laws relating to food and to establish the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India. This regulatory body would lay down science based standards for articles of food, while regulating their manufacture, storage, distribution, sale and import. It also aimed to ensure availability of safe and wholesome food for human consumption. The draft was given life in the form of “Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006”, however the officially came into force only on August 05, 2011. A few of the highlights of the Act are:

  • A definition of the general principles of food safety are given and require standards to be established using risk analysis and by undertaking risk assessment based on available scientific evidence.
  • Restrictions on the manufacture and distribution of genetically modified food and foods for special dietary uses.
  • The seller is made liable for sale of food in specific cases, such as when the manufacturer was unidentifiable.
  • The purchaser is empowered to have food analyzed by an authorized food analyst.

What is happening today?

“Watch out for what you eat. It could be killing you slowly and sweetly” – screamed the  headline of a report by the Centre for Science and Environment, in March 2012, warning us of trans-fat content in junk food.

The study revealed the following:

  • Most junk foods contain very high levels of trans fats, salts and sugar – which inevitably lead to severe ill health and diseases like obesity and diabetes
  • CSE lab tests 16 major brands of foods relished by people, particularly the young
  • Finds companies resort to large scale misbranding and misinformation; many say their products contain zero trans fats, but CSE finds heavy doses
  • Danger lurking: Younger generation hooked to junk food, vulnerable to heart diseases in the prime of their life

Trans fat is short for trans fatty acid. Industrial trans fats like those in vanaspati are formed during the addition of hydrogen atoms to products to increase their shelf-life. The fats are associated with serious health problems, ranging from diabetes to heart diseases to cancer. They have been banned in a few European countries, such as Denmark and Switzerland, and in some of the cities in the US. But not all trans fats are bad for health. At least not the natural ones found in ghee, butter and cheese.

Are we winning or losing the battle?

On 11th January, 2012 a division bench of the High Court of Judicature, New Delhi ordered the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India to draft guidelines or rules to ban junk food in and around schools. The court passed the order on a public interest petition by Uday Foundation, a non-profit organization in Delhi, which alleges that junk food damages the health and mental growth of children. The petition was filed in 2010. The foundation works on child nutrition and health; it has sought a ban on sale of junk food in schools and within 500 meters of educational institutions. The next hearing was scheduled for 25th July, 2012. I am unable to mine a report on this and hence have reason to believe that the matter rests with the court and hence sub-judice.

Food businesses which have been affected by the new norms have filed writs. One of these writs was heard and issued on November 08, 2011 by the Madras High Court. Another case was heard by the same court and interim orders were issued by the learned judge restraining the Centre from enforcing some of the regulations in the Act against the affected parties. The Honorable Justice has directed a Central Government Standing Counsel to take notice returnable by June 05, 2012. As of now, I believe the matter is sub-judice.

On one hand, we seem to have made strides with path breaking legislation, while on the other we lack the teeth for execution. Ultimately, the fight for ‘dietary control’ has to be a personal one, where each of us arms ourselves with knowledge and takes responsibility for ourselves and our families. As the famous saying goes “Forewarned is forearmed”.

About the Author:

Naresh is a fitness enthusiast who enjoys running, rowing and a multitude of outdoor sports. He also works in the healthcare industry and, at close to sixty years, is trying to create awareness of the concept of health through fitness.

Photo Credit: Image 1

Copyright 2012 (c) Primex Scans and Labs. Please do not reproduce this article in its entirety without permission. Alternatively, a link to this URL would be appreciated.

 Sources:

1 Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006

2 The Hindu dated May 02, 2012

3 http://www.cseindia.org/content/watch-out-what-you-eat-it-could-be-killing-you-slowly-and-sweetly-says-new-cse-junk-food-and accessed on 01-Sep-2012

“But there are no trees to climb…..

……and no wide-open spaces to run in, and even if there were, I don’t have the time to do so. There’s my face book page to update and emails to reply to. I’m addicted to my play station and I do have to spend some time everyday on school work.”

As a result, of variations on the above-mentioned situation, 24 percent of the adolescents and 12 percent of children in urban India are obese. This is a sad state of affairs considering the fact that this has transpired in the span of just one generation.

So what causes ‘childhood obesity’, a precursor to adult lifestyle diseases, and how can one prevent it? The answers always lie in a combination of the two basic health mantras – a healthy diet and lots of exercise.

 The Right Kind of Food

Perhaps the biggest myth that pervades most families, is that children should be allowed to eat anything that they want, because they are growing, and need the calories, besides which they can burn off the extra calories. Well, we are wrong on both counts. Typically a teenager requires approximately 2000 calories a day, to maintain his or her current weight. This is however an extremely rough figure, because it depends on the youngster’s body frame, activity level and gender. The numbers here are not important, what is important is that a teenager eats the right kind of food in adequate quantities, and is persuaded to avoid junk. This will ensure that the palette gets trained from a young age, so that even as an adult, it becomes extremely natural to eat healthy.

The basis of sound nutrition always goes back to the food pyramid, where the requirements are (by total calorific value):

  • 45% – 65% of carbohydrates;
  • 12% – 15% of protein and
  • less than 30% of fats

Where carbohydrates are concerned, it is important to remember  that, the less processed it is, the more nutritional value it has. Therefore, chappatis made of wheat flour, red or brown rice, and whole wheat bread what we should be opting for.

Protein is crucial in the diet of a growing child, because the deposits of calcium that are stored in the skeleton are like deposits in a bank. The more you deposit during the growing years, the less your probability of breaking a bone in your twilight years. Milk and eggs are some of the best sources of absorbable calcium. A teenager needs 3-4 glasses of skimmed, unsweetened milk every day. If your teenager is weight conscious, do inform him/her, that recent research has pointed out, that milk is one of the most powerful foods in a calorie watcher’s diet. In fact, it actually helps you shed the unwanted flab.

With rising levels of affluence, it has become a fashion to make sweetened cereals consisting of processed wheat or corn, breakfast staples, which is one of the primary causes for children being obese and improperly nourished. Pray what happened to the good old ragi, wheat or oats porridge? A cup of one of these (cooked with lots of milk and a spoon of honey, if required, for sweetness), with some fruit (dry and/or fresh) along with an egg cooked with as little oil as possible, makes for a perfect teenage breakfast. It contains all the nutrients to power the body and mind for the day ahead, without being heavy or oily.

As you go along the day, make sure that the young one’s diet contains large doses of fruit and fresh vegetables. Do not pander to requests for sweets and fried stuff. Reserve that for weekends or a special treat. Dry and fresh fruit will satisfy that sweet tooth perfectly, and a crunchy salad is a perfect substitute for chips and samosas. A little discipline on your part right in the beginning will ensure that your child has healthy eating habits for life, and does not have to spend his or her life yo-yoing from one crash diet to the next.

Staying Active

Then there is the exercise aspect. During the week, a child needs an hour or an hour and a half’s intensive exercise every day. This is crucial for the following reasons:

  • To ward off obesity and other lifestyle diseases
  • Full development of the skeletal system and organs
  • To combat the stress levels that most children are subjected to today

Make sure that your child takes part in a variety of sports and perhaps a form of martial arts. The various types of exercise need to be balanced, so that all three requirements of an exercise program are fulfilled:

  • Aerobic activity to develop the heart and lungs – running, badminton, a game of football maybe?
  • Developing strength – rowing or tennis are excellent to develop strength in the upper body
  • Flexibility – yoga or any form of martial arts will develop flexibly and strength

Strength or Resistance training can be started from the age of 12/13, but under the supervision of a well qualified instructor who will ensure that correct “form” is maintained, and that boys especially do not overstrain or injure themselves, by using weights that are too heavy.

Weekends are crucial in the life of a teenager, not only from a “thank God it’s Friday and school is out” point of view, but also because, you can make exercise part of a lot of fun activities including treks, cycling trips, rock climbing. This outdoor fun is the stuff memories are made of and let the children learn from an early age that exercise can be enjoyable, and that the wide open outdoors are their giant playground. In addition, you will reduce the time spent in front of that play station and television.

Ultimately it all boils down to the big C, common sense. Combine it with a bit of discipline, to ensure that your young one is set on the path of good health for life.

About the Author:

Sunitha Srinivasan is a Lifestyle Consultant and Resistance Trainer. She has qualified with the National Association for Fitness Certification, Arizona, USA. She conducts workshops on wellness that she calls ‘A Celebration of Life’, counsels on the management of lifestyle diseases and writes for leading journals and magazines.

She can be contacted at sunitha@sans-souci.in

Photo Credit: Image 1

Copyright 2012 (c) Primex Scans and Labs. Please do not reproduce this article in its entirety without permission. Alternatively, a link to this URL would be appreciated.

Demystifying health, healthcare and the secrets of a healthy lifestyle

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Demystifying health, healthcare and the secrets of a healthy lifestyle