Raising A Healthy Vegetarian Child
Today, many parents and families are moving towards a vegetarian diet either because they feel it is healthier, or because of increased environmental awareness, animal ethics or simply religious issues. With the change comes the parent concern if, thediet choice that they have made will be sufficiently healthy for their children or not. A child nutritionist is an apt person to help plan healthy meals for a vegetarian child.
The surprising part is that the age old notion that animal foods help in creating better health no longer holds true and in fact going vegetarian scores high. A well planned vegetarian diet is the key. Here are some pointers on what are the healthy foods for kids on a vegetarian diet:
Feeding children fruits and vegetables which are rich in fiber, micronutrients and antioxidants from a young age can help protect against disease and promote a healthy body weight. Green leafy vegetables, dals and beans are also rich in calcium and iron. Adding fruit or vegetables rich in vitamin C to a meal or snack will increase the absorption of iron.
Parents need to be assured that there is plenty of protein in plants like dals, beans and grains. Soaking and sprouting of beans produces an even higher quality protein. Furthermore nuts and seeds are also instrumental in providing protein to kids along with the healthy fats.
Children consuming adequate dairy products can not only meet their calcium but also their vitamin B12 requirement through them.
The cereal grains like whole wheat flour, millet flours, oats, quinoa, whole wheat bread and pasta, etcare instrumental in providing iron, fiber, vitamins, minerals and energy for the children’s growing bodies.
Children can get omega-3 fats from plant foods such as walnuts, flax seeds and soybeans. Vegetable oils and some ghee is just as essential.
So, there is absolutely no reason to believe that a child’s growth or development will be hampered on a vegetarian diet.
Children enjoy variety in food. So, apart from the usual roti-sabji and dal-rice, you could offer a variety like a beans and vegetable burrito, hummus sandwich, baked sweet potatoes, paneer frankie, vegetable or dal parathas, vegetable or chickpea patty burgers and subway sandwiches. Make sure the home is filled with healthy eating options like fresh fruits, vegetables and nuts. Indian foods have a lot of healthy vegetarian options. An Indian nutritionist who has knowledge about child nutrition can help parents plan healthy, nutritious meals with a variety to keep children interested in their meals.