Every day I leave for work by about 6.30 am. In the lift there are scores of children with their heavy school bags. A parent, sometimes both, is sure to accompany their kids to see them off. At least a dozen of buses stop in front of our building which one of the tallest in the area. And every day, I can’t but help observing these kids and their parents – I am an educator you see.
Today while waiting for the lift (an inordinately long wait always!), I met my neighbour, an Indian lady, with her two kids. Small children – aged about 7 and 4. Both had white bread and jam sandwiches which they were nibbling at – there is no time to sit and eat, you see! There have been occasions when I have seen some children – especially from the Middle East regions – walk into the nearby grocery, buy a packet of Lays & a can of Pepsi / Coke and board the bus. I would stand and stare, with my jaw dropping – I can never ever think of having these for any kind of sustenance, not to mention then early mornings at 6.30 and 7 am and that too as breakfast!!
We Indians have scores of healthy breakfast options ranging from idlies and sambhar* (believed to be the most nutritious Indian breakfast according to a recent article) to rotis and dhal or sabji, depending on which part of India you belong to. Media, print, audio as well as video, are replete these days with what is good for us and what is not? Yet, it amazed me as to why mothers provide unhealthy food options for their children. White bread has nothing to offer by way of nutrition. You can however make it nutritious by making use of a healthy filling. Working or not working mothers, there is no excuse. It is essential to inculcate in our little ones good, healthy eating habits.
Which makes me wonder, why don’t we teach this at school? I remember we had a wonderful nutritious breakfast week at school under the aegis of our Home Science department**. Our Home Science students of Grades 11 & 12 addressed different grades about the need for having a good breakfast and ensuring that it is healthy too. We got the feedback that many primary school students went and informed their parents and asked, rather insisted, for healthy breakfasts.
At numerous meetings with my senior Grade 11 & 12 girls I have also gleaned that they skip their breakfast. Breakfast is the most important food of the day. You are actually ‘breaking’ the ‘fast’. The age old adage goes – have breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper. In fact I also found out that many students have very late dinners. No wonder they have indigestion, acidity and similar issues at a very young age.
Home makers play a very vital role in ensuring that their children have the right kind of food and enjoy a healthy relationship with the food they it. Not only that, a short thought of gratitude before and after eating the food – for that you must sit at the dining table – will also ensure that children appreciate the efforts of both food growers and food makers. If we can instil these in our children, we would be equipping with a life long skill – something that will keep them conscious of what they eat and how they eat them. Out will go with that issues of anorexia, bulimia and other eating disorders plus obsession for zero size figures. Eating right and enjoying a healthy relationship with food will go a long way in building their self confidence and self esteem – the very need of the hour.
Reference: * http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-08-29/india/41579656_1_sambhar-idlis-metros ** http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/uae/community-reports/pupils-play-active-role-in-encouraging-a-healthier-lifestyle-1.1058582