Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Posted by Aparna Balasubramanian
I am Aparna, I write a vegetarian blog at My Diverse Kitchen and am excited to join the team at The Daily Tiffin. When Meeta invited me here, she suggested I could write posts related to "healthy kid-friendly meals".
While I am not an expert in this area, I have a 13 year old daughter who has a very strong opinion on most things, including food. Trying to ensure that she eats food which I deem healthy and she likes is not a very easy thing to do.
I am not an authority on child nutrition even though I did study biochemistry, nutrition and dietetics in university a long time ago. I have, over time, discovered (like many others) that no degree in anything remotely connected with health, diet and nutrition can prepare you for the task of getting your child or children to eat what you think is best for them. It is always about what they want to eat, which mostly is what you would prefer they didn't!
Funnily enough, I never had much problem with getting my daughter to eat when she was younger. She wasn't a very fussy eater though she could take hours to finish a meal. At that point she used to find the rest of the world more interesting than food, and often had to be reminded that she needed to finish what was on her plate!
At the age of 8 or so, whenever we went grocery shopping, Akshaya would check all the product labels to ensure that they were vegetarian, contained no trans-fat, preservatives or colour! Whenever we ate out, she would refuse aerated drinks insisting that she only drank water!!
In fact, I started baking a lot more at home because she didn't like the "funny" taste of store bought cookies/ biscuits and cakes.
Sure, she had her own likes and dislikes where food was concerned and there would be occasions when we would argue over her not eating something. A large part of the time reasoning things with her or giving in to her demands occasionally kept the balance going.
Then around the time she turned 10 something happened. Apparently, teenage sets in these days a lot earlier than it did in our times! And our daughter's food tastes and preferences underwent a dramatic change! She discovered junk food with a vengeance!
Pepsi or Sprite was so much "cooler" than water, traditional food just didn't have the "style" that a McPuff, a McVeggie or a McAloo Tikki from McDonalds did and how could a dosa (Indian savoury crepes) ever stand up to "ze pizza"?
That's when the question "Can Kid Friendly Meals Be Healthy?" really became relevant for me. I am happy to have discovered that that the answer is definitely a "Yes!" Well, most of the time anyway.
We found ways to ensure that most of what our daughter eats is on the healthier side. This is not to say that she and I do not argue over what she eats. In fact, one of her pet peeves is her inability to understand why I have to cook and insist on her eating "healthy and boring" food! Actually, she does understand this but I think that she doesn't want to accept it, most of the time.
We have now arrived at a sort of compromise where she now accepts my need to ensure she eats healthy food while we accept her need to occasionally fulfill her "unhealthy" food cravings.
This post was written by Aparna
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