Instant food such as store-bought noodles is terrible for children’s health. They have no nutritional value and studies have shown that they’re leading to obesity in children in developing countries.
They’re cheap, easily available and ready in mere minutes, which is why working parents from low-income households often rely on them for their child’s meals.
“Noodles are made of maida (white flour),” said nutritionist Dr Ayesha Abbas on SAMAA TV programme ‘Naya Din’ on Thursday.
There are no proteins or fibre in them, she added.
One cup of instant noodles contains at least 36 calories and a dangerous amount of salt and preservatives, Dr Abbas explained.
Consuming such high quantities of salt leads to blood pressure and diabetes in the future, the nutritionist said.
However, she advised against completely eliminating flour from the diet. Meat and vegetables could be added to homemade noodles to make them healthier, Dr Abbas suggested.
As for the protein component, egg noodles would be a healthier option, topped with meat such as mutton.
“Give mutton instead of chicken because mutton has no hormones,” Dr Abbas said.
Instant noodles should not replace proper meals which should have balanced portions of all nutrients. If a child is a picky eater and particularly fond of noodles, giving them wheat noodles would be a better option, she advised.
This is because wheat helps with digestion and prevents the child from getting constipated. She said constipation was becoming very common in young children and concerned mothers daily visited her clinic for nutritional advice.
Dr Abbas also suggested that mothers who want their children to eat healthy should develop healthy eating habits themselves first, as children are prone to copying their parents’ behaviour.