Today, the health of our children is a serious matter of concern. It’s no longer only about childhood obesity. Juvenile diabetes, autoimmune disorders, thyroid conditions, heart problems, skin diseases, ADD (attention deficit disorder), PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) are all on the rise among children. Who is to blame here? The problem begins with the kind of diet we make our children follow. A slice of cake, a bite of pizza and some outside food wouldn’t really create a problem, would it? However, if taken in excess, it could.
One of the main reasons is the overconsumption of sugar and junk. Today, a child is exposed to all kinds of environments like schools, home, tuitions, birthday parties, outings etc. where the food primarily consists of junk food. It’s easy for a child to slip off and get into unhealthy eating habits if parents do not intervene. In cases, where both the parents are too busy to provide home-cooked meals for children or they have kept their children occupied in extracurricular activities, junk food is the only easy way out. Food marketers use this to their advantage and design foods in such a way that it becomes addictive and numbs their taste buds.
Junk food is often made in a factory and undergoes processing to the extent that it is completely stripped of its nutrients. Foods that fall under this category are loaded with sugar, salt, trans fat, caffeine and monosodium glutamate which is extremely unhealthy. Aerated drinks, packaged fruit juices, cakes, candies, chocolates, bread, muffins, wafers, biscuits, pasta, instant noodles, namkeens, and burgers are examples of food that come under junk food.
Junk food makes the cells in our body starve for nutrition and then these cells rob nutrition from nearby cells to stay alive. This causes many vitamin and mineral deficiencies, dipping energy levels, lack of concentration, stunted growth, psychological issues, hyperactivity and even hormonal imbalance.
Junk food is not only bad for health but can even put your kids at the risk of Fatty Liver Disease. Go through the below article to read and know more.
Every time a child consumes junk food, his immune system is weakened. Junk foods disrupt the growth of a child physically and mentally. For e.g. sugar weakens the immunity, brain cells and destroys the gut. It also feeds bad bacteria, which can overcome the good bacteria.
Since kids are young, their bodies are capable of healing itself if the right conditions are provided. They needn’t undergo any rigid detox plans or cleanse. Even simple changes in their eating habits go a long way such as:
1. Get them on track with hydration
Water is the simplest way to detox. Getting their bodies hydrated ensures proper functioning of eliminatory organs and maintains an alkaline pH. Add a slice of lemon to their water and you further enhance its detoxing power. Junk foods are also dehydrating in a way so consuming water helps.
2. Get them to eat raw foods
Every time your child eats fruits or vegetables, their system gets into detox mode. Encourage more of raw foods in your child’s diet like soaked nuts, seeds, fruits, salads, and veggie juices. Explore recipes that revolve around raw food like cacao almond milkshake with dates or a colourful fruit platter and let your children help in making these foods.
3. Add fibre to their diet
Nothing clogs up our gut like junk food. This can lead to constipation and a build-up of toxins within the gut, which is the most important detox organ of our body. Design meals and snacks around fibrous foods like hummus with carrot and cucumber sticks, green moong pancakes, grated carrot with honey - yogurt dressing, mashed pea patties, mixed bean salad and watermelon chunks with crushed nuts / seeds.
4. Encourage outdoor activities
Sweating is another way through which the body gets rid of toxins. Keep their video games games out of sight and make them play outdoors. It could be running, walking, jumping up and down, playing in the garden, skating, badminton, football, skipping, cycling, etc. Playing also helps in stimulating lymphatic drainage and developing better cognitive function in them, so it’s a win-win situation.
Each of us should join hands and take responsibility to start pushing healthy food as a way of life for our children. This involves teamwork, commitment, patience, sacrifice and good intentions from every parent to make this work. We need not be extreme and cut it all out, but practice moderation, which is key.
Luke Coutinho, Integrative & Lifestyle Medicine - Holistic Nutrition
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