For a person to remain healthy and spend a good life it is essential that he takes a healthy diet and maintains a balance between physical exercise and rest. The practice of eating healthy food should start right from the childhood which will help set a practice for the whole life.
Fibre is one of the essential ingredients of food. Fibre is a plant substance which the human body is unable to digest and it helps digestion and prevents constipation. Fibre is present in grains, beans, nuts, fruits and vegetables. It is necessary that adequate quantity of fibre should be part of the meals for proper digestive system. It has been found that many children resist intake of items of food rich in fibre and for them the doctors recommend dietary supplements in the form of bran tablets. Many laxatives given to children are basically fibre supplements. The importance of consumption of fibre can be judged from the fact that heart association of America has recommended that a child of 3 years should intake at least 19 grams of fibre per day. This requirement of fibre for the body increases as the child grows older.
Children who consume more milk, yogurt, cheese and refined grains, though considered healthy by their parents, lack adequate intake of fibre and generally complain of constipation. Fast food, which is becoming more and more popular with children these days, is rich in fat and made from refined stuff. It lacks fibre and is not considered good for the health of the child. It is the duty of the parents to plan food of the child in such a manner that fibre intake is adequate.
The best part is that fibre is filling and discourages overeating in people of all ages. With the increasing problem of obesity, which is spreading like an epidemic in the developed world, consumption of fibre which is low on calories or rather calorie less could be an option. High fibre food helps roughage move smoothly through the digestive system. Roughage helps in reduction of LDL cholesterol and prevents diabetes. Fibre with adequate liquid intake helps prevent gut cancer.
The first meal the child will take before he goes to school or even preschool is breakfast. Many breakfast cereals are available in the market which will help provide necessary inputs to the body. Oatmeal is the best option for breakfast not only for the children but the whole family. For change of taste and to rotate food, make some dish of whole grain cereals. You can make pancake from whole cereals with berries and raisins. The child will love to eat them and will get the necessary input. Wherever possible add a spoon full of bran to the breakfast item of the child.
For lunch and dinner you can make a number of fibre rich things for the child. If you make sandwiches remember to use whole grain brown bread. Multi grain bread is also available in the market. Serve it with peanut butter and bananas. If you make a dish of rice for the family, use brown rice instead of polished rice. Ensure that green salad is a part of at least one meal every day. You can serve green salad with or without topping with dinner. Green salad can include ingredients like carrot, cabbage, broccoli, radish lettuce and tomatoes. This will be easy to digest and can be enjoyed with soup made from fresh vegetables.
There could be a number of other fibre rich healthy dishes you can make for the child or the family as a whole. You can discuss with other friends and family members as to what they cook that is liked by kids. You can also surf the net and find a variety of dishes you can make for change.
High fiber fruits
Fruit salad is generally liked by children of all ages. In salad you can put pear, apple, banana, berries and oranges. Add a small quantity of dry fruit like almonds etc. Whenever possible do not remove the skin of fruits and vegetables used in salads, just wash them properly. This dinner can be repeated may be for two days in a week. Fix alternate Sundays for fast food so that the child does not feel that he is not allowed eating outside.
If the child is not accustomed to this type of food earlier, do not try to change eating habit overnight. Slowly try introducing fibre rich dishes to the dining table and as and when possible discuss the benefits of these items of food on the health. Persuasion is better than forcing.