The seeds of a diseased Heart are usually laid during childhood and adolescence. According to a study, the prevalence of obesity in school children in Indian cities like Delhi and Mumbai was about 29%. Obese children are likely to remain obese even in adulthood!
The stress on children’s heart health seems to be limited. We need to realize that childhood is when healthy heart habits should start.
Here are few tips for a healthy heart
A traditional Indian diet is considered to be heart-healthy.
– Spices: Most of the Indian spices have good medicinal values. One such food is Flax seeds. It is underutilized food that is heart-friendly and can be sprinkled over all preparations after mildly dry roasting it.
– Ghee, when taken in moderation, is good for health. We need to encourage ghee intake and lessen the overall oil consumption by replacing the cooking oil with some heart-healthy oils like Rice Bran, Canola, Sunflower, Groundnut, and Olive oil. For children over 2yrs of age, the total fat intake should not be more than 30% of complete daily calories.
– Legumes are considered to be a superfood for children. A mixture of sprouted legumes is a good idea as a breakfast side, or in the lunch box as chaat. A bowl of dal twice a day should be a regular part of meals. Soybean and Horse Gram could be used more often.
– Fresh vegetables are abundantly available throughout the year in India. Salads provide essential vitamins, micronutrients, and antioxidants. Encourage children to consume more salads by making them appealing by adding freshly squeezed Lime juice, chat masala, chopped Almonds, Raisins, and Walnuts, etc.
– Tiffin boxes are where the school-going kids get most of their meals. Attractively packing tiffin helps to resist peer pressure in avoiding certain foods. Avoid packing pre-packaged foods as meals.
2. SNACKS OTHER THAN MEALS:
Always limit packaged food. Encourage children to eat fruits and dry fruits. Keep them within reach of your child at home. Roasted Groundnuts and Chana are also healthy snack options.
Lack of outside play is the second reason (first being an unhealthy diet) for an increasing number of children with obesity. Lack of exercise may also result in Hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, early onset of puberty, and polycystic ovaries in girls. When children see their parents exercising and walking/jogging, they are more likely to develop the habit.
4. ENFORCE OUTSIDE PLAYTIME FOR YOUR CHILD EVERY EVENING:
A visit to the nearest park is a better investment of your time rather than the mall.
– Encourage participation in field games (Football, Cricket), physical activity classes (Gymnastics, Skating, Swimming, Dance classes, Martial Arts), etc.
– Older children should go for daily walks, jogging, or cycling
5. LIMIT TIME ON INTERNET USE:
Limit time spent on gaming or internet surfing or watching TV. Instead, this time spent on these activities can be used for outside games.
6. SLEEP AND STRESS-BUSTING:
Excellent quality and quantity of sleep are essential for children. Minimum 9hrs of quality sleep is mandatory. Make sure that your child has some free ‘unscheduled’ time every day.
Teach children to recognize when they feel stressed and what to do about it. Yoga and meditation are simple methods to counter stress.
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