The summer is over and schools have started. Aside from focusing on if you have bought your child’s stationery, uniform, and books, you must think about what to give them for lunch too.
Attention needs to be paid to the food that children consume because one in every third child is underweight in Pakistan, while 9.5% of the children are obese. The number has been compiled by the Pakistan National Nutrition Survey 2018.
You have to ensure that your child is getting the right nutrition when they are in school. Lunches that contain all the basic food groups— cereals, meat and pulses, milk and milk products and vegetables and fruits— can help prevent nutrient deficiencies in children.
The Pakistan Dietary Guidelines for Better Nutrition has given a comprehensive set of guidelines to help the people.
Here’s what you can do to ensure that your child eats healthy.
Give them home-cooked food
You should give healthy and balanced meals to your children. It could comprise portions of all food groups.
For an average desi middle-class family, it means that there should be one serving (plate) of daal/chicken curry/meat curry/ beans with one chapatti/ paratha/ toast to meet the protein requirements.
This can be complemented with half a cup of flavoured yoghurt/ milk/ ice cream or a cheese slice.
Children can also be given half a bowl of salad. You could also include seasonal fruits such as a banana/apple/orange or half a mango.
Ditch the juice and chips packets
You must avoid junk and processed foods at all costs.
Parents have been encouraged the monitor their children’s intake of “sweets, soft drinks, French fries, samosas and other deep-fried foods”.
Teach children to make healthy choices
Young children are impressionable and usually learn by following the examples set by their elders. Parents should involve their children in the selection and preparation of foods and teach them to make healthy choices.
These guidelines have been developed by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations and the Ministry of Planning Development and Reform.
They were published in May 2018 in collaboration with the UN Scaling Up Nutrition initiative. The guidelines are meant to inform the people, policymakers and food and health industry professionals about culturally-specific nutritional requirements of the population.