“If you study all day today - I will take you out for pizza”
“If you finish dinner - you can have dessert”
“If you play tennis well today - we will stop for ice creams on the way back”
Do you find yourself making such statements all the time?
And do you then complain that your child is a Picky Eater - who picks junk food in place of healthy food?
Can you see why he does that?
When you repeatedly offer junk food as a bribe or reward - you give it the status of the ultimate attainment - you make it that one thing worth striving for.
Junk foods by nature are intensely sweet, salty or fatty. And such foods have the ability to trigger off the Reward Pathway in the brain. The Reward Pathway is what causes people to get addicted to substances like Cocaine.
Cocaine is addicting because - once an addict is attuned to the reward cocaine offers his brain - he is unable to resist the urge to take it in larger and larger doses - which is what makes him an addict.
Junk food works the same way.
Cocaine abuse however is illegal, socially stigmatised and known to be fatal. So even in your wildest dreams you would not dream of offering your child cocaine as a reward.
But you offer your child junk food - the chemical properties of which stimulate the reward pathways of the brain. And by doing this - cause your child to get addicted to something which may not be fatal immediately – but is definitely potentially damaging to the physical and mental health of your child.
In addition with your words - you give it the status of the ultimate attainment or reward.
Unsurprisingly then - your Picky Eater picks junk food over everything else.
Stop offering junk food as a reward. In fact do not offer food as a reward at all.
Rather offer an extra large doses of your affection and time as rewards
Say - “You get two kisses instead of one - every time you play the new piano piece right”
“We play two games of Uno - instead of one if you finish dinner quickly”
“We go for a walk in evening - if you finish studying during the day”
Keep your child from getting addicted even as you compel yourself to eke out those extra minutes of quality time.
Your love in its pure unadulterated form is what your child wants and needs. Do not feel compelled to give support it with the crutch of junk food.
Stay healthy - stay happy
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When you are a concerned parent – it is extremely worrying and terribly annoying when your child says “I am not hungry” at mealtimes.
Parents who are faced with children who say they are not hungry rush to doctors requesting a prescription of appetite stimulants – but that is NOT the solution. Definitely not the permanent solution.
To ensure that your child is hungry – it is important for you to understand the gut.
The gut or the gastrointestinal system is one of the most important organs in the body and it is really important to understand how it functions.
In my workshops on nutrition when I introduce parents to their children’s guts and tell them that in a child - the gut is an inexperienced new organ that needs patience and understanding to function well – I get incredulous looks at first.
Then as I go about explaining how the gut functions – its needs - what makes it happy and what makes it sad – I have the satisfaction of witnessing the very rewarding
“Aha!”moment when parents realize how they have ignored and neglected the needs of their children’s guts.
The gut needs a lot more than just FOOD and that is what parents need to understand.
One of the most important things that the gut needs besides food – is ROUTINE.
The gut thrives on routine and when it is happy – the other organs in the body that depend on it for food – thrive as well. As a result you have a healthier and happier child.
To keep the gut happy - it is important to serve meals and snacks at about the same times every day.
This is because the gut is like the kitchen of the body. And it is a kitchen that caters to the needs of millions of cells. The food that your child eats has to be cooked further in the gut to become cell food. Each cell needs to be fed on time and so the gut has a mammoth task to perform at all times.
When the gut is relatively sure of food coming down at specific times it keeps the ingredients and sufficient manpower at hand to tackle the food. This then makes its life much easier.
So when meals arrive in expected amounts at specified times - the gut is able to digest meal 1 and get ready for snack 1 and then digest snack 1 and get ready for meal 2 at just the right times. As a result - it never feels overburdened.
Forcing the issue – never works with the gut. It begins to protest by aching and paining and packing up.
Serve meals on time so that you never have a misunderstanding with your child’s gut.
Wishing you happy meal times!
It is really strange how one’s priorities change in life.
Ten years ago - if I was to contemplate falling in love - the object of my love would certainly not have been an OBJECT.
But being a Mom changes so much.
You fall in love with things - things that keep your family healthy and make your life easier - in general make you a better Mom without your doing too much.
And today I am writing one such love story.
Being - Mom, Parenting and Wellness Consultant and Infectious Diseases specialist all rolled into one is not easy. And I am all three.
As Mom - I want the best for my daughter………..
As Parenting and Wellness Consultant - I know what the best is…….
And as Infectious Diseases specialist - I know when the best things are really not good enough to give her!
And because I am all three - for the longest time - a daily battle raged between the three of me. Especially when I thought of MILK
As Mom I was insistent upon serving my daughter a glass of milk every day. The Parenting and Wellness Consultant in me agreed that it was a good idea because milk is a complete food. But the Infectious Diseases specialist in me was always sceptical.
“Milk that is likely to be unsafe because it has germs in it or has been adulterated -is best not consumed. Drinking such milk does more harm than good” - is what she had to say every time we served up a glass full.
So Milk usually had the three of me frequently disagreeing.
When my daughter was about a year old - all three of me reluctantly agreed to serve up milk that was sold in sealed plastic packets. And though debates still raged in my mind between boiling for long enough times to destroy the germs and short enough times to keep the nutrients intact - I still managed to live in an uneasy calm.
Until one day - by virtue of being the wife of an officer of the Indian Air Force - I had the privilege of setting up home in Jorhat (Assam) - 300 Km from the China Border.
The milk available there was just terrible.
I had never trusted milk supplied by milkmen. So, there once more - I turned to milk in plastic pouches.
In Jorhat however the milk in plastic pouches travelled such long distances to get to me that by the time the packet reached me - it looked battered and dirty itself.
Unlike in the cities and towns where it arrived with clockwork accuracy in time for me to start my day -here- depending on the prevailing road conditions - it arrived at any odd time of the day. Sometimes even past noon.
By the time it reached me it had usually been in transit for so long that it was beginning to spoil. And even when it wasn’t spoilt - it looked dirty and smelt funny.
It was milk that I was compelled to ban from my house.
It was depressing. And for the first time ever since I became part of the Air Force family - I began to regret moving with my husband to the back of beyond.
Fortunately - my regret did not last for long.
Browsing the stores one day for supplies - I chanced upon Tetra Pak.
The brick shaped carton looked sturdy - it said it was tamper evident - the milk in it looked and smelt fresh - it was preservative free and it didn’t need boiling.
I couldn’t have asked for more - I fell in love - in love with Tetra Pak.
I have been a big Tetra Pak fan ever since.
In the years since - even while living in the Metros I have been unable to let go of the goodness of milk packed in Tetra Pak cartons.
However, I discovered a lot more about the company that makes the product I love so much and its commitment to providing safe food and making it available everywhere - at the seminar they organized on Food safety - last Friday in Bangalore.
It was for Moms like me.
They told us how they pack all the nutritious food we want to give our families - in 6 layers of packing!
And because they are so careful while packing what they pack - the food they pack does not get spoilt even though they don’t put in preservatives. All you need to do with food packed in Tetra Pak cartons is - cut (open the carton), Pour (it out) and Drink.
It is my dream come true.
If you are a Mom - I am sure health and happiness are what you dream of for your family.
Get both - just open Tetra Pak and pour them out.