Teaching kids to be healthy

Well known celebrity dietician Rujuta Diwekar has written a new book on nutrition for children called ‘Notes for Healthy Kids’. Though,of course,it focuses on food, the book is very clear that healthy children are built of more than just the food they take in.

The book has a lot of good advice and tips to raising your children in a way that health becomes a habit for them.

Here are some of them:-

1. Free play

Throughout the book, she emphasized that children should be given at least 60 minutes of unsupervised play outdoors. They can play games or sports with others or by themselves, however, no screens (read gadgets) allowed.

2. Playing outside in every weather

Don’t shelter them from the heat, cold or rain indoors but encourage them to play outdoors in the best part of the day. This will toughen them physically and mentally.

3. Involve them in the kitchen

Kids will never value what you simply put in front of them and force them to eat. Even if you have staff, involve them in food processes of the house. Take them shopping for vegetables and take their help in preparing the food and cooking it. Teach them about where the ingredients come from and how they’re grown. They will understand their food as a whole so it won’t be a daily fight.

4. No packaged food

The more processed, preserved or fancily packaged a food is, the poorer it is. Food is more nutritious if it’s fresh, local and free from additives and this is what you should give your children. The chemicals can cause a lot of health issues and many preserved foods lack nutrients.

5. Limit the screen time per day

We often employ a screen to be a babysitter but this is terrible for children’s health and development. It’s impossible to prevent your children from spending time on different gadgets but you must. Make an exception for homework or other educational research time.

6. Make them learn a sport or some balancing exercise

Aerobics, gymnastics, yoga are all good forms of balancing exercises and there are sports aplenty for them to learn. Constant lessons will not only keep their bodies fit and help them constantly grow stronger but it will also strengthen their mind and teach them values like discipline or teamwork.

7. Make them learn a musical instrument or dance

Aside from music and dance, a musical instrument is important for healthy development. Rujuta tells us how such pursuits teach children to “see music and hear colours’ and she explains how this increases the nerves between muscles in the body and promotes maturity

8. Don’t over-sanitise them

According to Rujutta, the most sanitised countries are the ones who’s younger generations are developing a lot of allergies. This is because their immune system never get a chance to build up, so rather than sanitizing, let them be exposed to a reasonable amount of germs to build a tough immune system

9. Don’t get lax during holidays

Though you might have a good routine on school days, it’s hard to maintain discipline every day and one may tend to want to take a break on holidays. However, this will not instill discipline or help in maintaining good health in children so make sure there’s some structure to these days as well.

10. Take them on active vacations

Take them on some holidays that involve trekking, camping or some kind of physical exertion. Hiking, camping or even skiing and the likes are good examples of such holidays.

11. Maintain regular sleep times

Sleep is essential for a young body, for that’s when it grows and heals. The child should be made to sleep and get up at a fixed time every day and maybe one day a week one can be lax about the time within the range of an hour, but that’s all.





Excerpts from the book “Notes for Healthy Kids” by Rujuta Diwekar.

This article first appeared in the TOI.

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