The ripple effect of COVID -19 has created a fear among parents to safeguard the lives of their children in the upcoming days. While parents and guardians are taking all the possible measures to ensure that their little ones are protected, while staying indoors, however, keeping a watch on their child’s health and nutrition which eventually helps them build up a robust immune system to fight against future infection is also equally important during the lockdown.
Unhealthy diet, lack of physical activity and increased exposure to social media accompanied with a surge in screen time are some of the key factors that have severely impacted the mental health of the children. If not managed or diagnosed early, these medical issues collectively carries a long-term consequence on their health and nutritional status such as obesity, poor overall growth, hormonal imbalances and heart diseases etc. As many parents and children often face the issues of malnourishment and over nutrition, therefore, at a time when building immunity among all is extremely crucial, we need to identify and treat them early, as the true burden of this pandemic on children is yet to be unveiled!
Approaches to tackle your child’s health and nutrition includes following measures –
- Variety is the key: Follow MY PLATE guidelines, make quarter portion of your plate of mixed cereals with at least 50% of it should be whole grains like whole wheat, millets, maize, unpolished rice (red rice, brown rice) etc. they are rich in valuable fibre and nutrients . Provide the refined ones like white rice/breads and soft cooked foods only if the child is suffering from illness.
- Include protein boosting sources like beans, channa, rajmah, sprouts, dhals, nuts, peas, paneer, dairy, mushroom, poultry, egg, fish in your child’s daily meal.
- Daily add a serving of fruit with 2-3 servings of vegetables and less of starchy vegetables.
- Evidence suggests that nutrients that help to boost immunity are zinc, selenium, iron, copper, folic acid, vitamins A, C, D, B6 , B12 and E which can be sourced through a balanced diet with adequate cereals, pulses, vegetables, fruits, nuts, oilseeds, dairy, mild use of spices, fats & oils. Optimum proportion of these food groups should be fixed by your nutritionist based on various factors, as every child is unique.
- Provide fluids with some sugarless immune shots like plain water, lemon water with tulsi, cucumber & amla juice, soups, buttermilk with turmeric, pepper & ginger, fruit & nut smoothies too.
- Use antioxidant immune boosting foods while preparing your child’s food in moderation such as ginger, garlic, tulsi, turmeric, pepper, jeera, honey, tomato, cinnamon etc.
A healthy body with a healthy mind is the key and all your effort of investing in your child’s nutrition will definitely not be futile as we know that nutrition is intrinsically linked to immune system and disease susceptibility.
Authored by – Dwina Raj, Senior Clinical Dietician, Aster CMI Hospital