Does your child favour store-bought, readymade food over what is traditional and homemade? Tell him stories about the Gods and their favourite foods to bring about a change in his preferences.
By Aarthi Arun
Traditional food like rice and roti may not be as popular as pizza or pasta with children, but eating local and having a balanced diet is the way to go. In fact, many experts believe that choosing to consume what our grandparents ate is key to staying healthy, today.
Which is why, traditional Indian food is the best choice for your child. For, it includes the right amount of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and other essential nutrients. And, there is no shortage of delicious, aromatic and nourishing spices in Indian cuisine. What’s more, our method of cooking involves using fresh ingredients rather than tinned or frozen fruit or vegetables —making the prepared dish that much more nutritive and nourishing.
But, how can you encourage your child to eat something made at home rather than his favourite fast food? Here are stories from Indian mythology to inspire your child to eat the preferred food of some Gods and stay healthy.
Krishna is famous for playing pranks on almost everyone in his village Gokula. He and his gang of friends – including a troop of monkeys – went around stealing butter from houses in the village, whenever they got the opportunity. To protect the butter from being stolen, the milkmaids would store it in pots that were then hung from the ceiling. However, Krishna and friends would throw stones to break the pots and then, have their fill of butter. Sometimes, Krishna would also climb on the shoulders of his friends to reach the pots and take out the butter. And, when the milkmaids complained to Yashoda, Krishna's mother, he would hide behind her and look at them with pleading eyes. The milkmaids' hearts would melt at Krishna's adorable face and they would let him go.
The takeaway: Can anyone get bored of chubby Krishna's tales? His intellectual abilities and even, glowing skin can be attributed to the yummy homemade butter he loves! After all, good fats are essential for the optimal growth of your child's brain and nervous system. She needs fat for energy and absorbing vitamins. Full of vitamins D and K, butter can boost your child's immunity and protect her from many diseases. So, make some butter at home, tell the story of naughty Krishna and motivate your little one to eat a dollop of goodness slathered on her rotis.
One day, Lord Narada presented a mango to Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. It was supposed to contain all the knowledge of the world. When Shiva was about to cut the fruit in half to eat it, Narada stopped him. He said that the fruit should be consumed whole to gain the knowledge contained within. Shiva fondly offered the fruit to Parvati, but she was reluctant to eat it without sharing.
Just then, Lord Ganesha and Karthikeya came to meet their parents. Both of them wanted the mango and began quarrelling over it. To stop their fight, Lord Shiva came up with a challenge. He said that whoever goes around the world and comes back first will be the winner and get to eat the fruit.
Immediately, Karthikeya hopped onto his peacock and flew away, leaving Ganesha behind with his vehicle, the mouse. Ganesha knew that his mouse was no match for the peacock. So, he came up with a brilliant idea. He circled his parents and explained that they were his world. Impressed, both Parvati and Shiva offered the fruit to Ganesha.
The takeaway: Lucky for your child that she doesn't have to circumnavigate the world to eat a mango! She just has to wait for the right season. Fruits may not make your child smarter overnight, but they do have all the necessary vitamins and minerals to boost intelligence in the long run. Tell the story of the fruit of knowledge to motivate your child to eat all the colourful, seasonal fruits that are filled with goodness and health.
Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati along with their son, Lord Ganesha, went to visit sage Atri. The sage and his wife, Anusuya, greeted the family and welcomed them to their ashram. Shiva and Ganesha were feeling hungry and asked for food. Anusuya began feeding little Ganesha first. However, he kept asking for more and more. His insatiable hunger surprised everyone.
Anusuya thought that perhaps a delicious dessert would satisfy Ganesha's hunger. So, she offered him a modak. After having the modak, Ganesha burped loudly. Lord Shiva also had the modak and burped 21 times. Since then, according to Parvati's wish, Ganesha is offered 21 modaks on his birthday.
The takeaway: A homemade sweet is delicious and made of ingredients that will benefit your child, unlike readymade cookies and biscuits. Tell your child that desserts made with love, also contain all the goodness of ghee, jaggery and coconut. That these will not only give him instant energy and strengthen his muscles, but also keep his brain sharp.
Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati enjoyed playing a game of dice every now and then. One day, they decided to place bets and play. It so happened that Lord Shiva ended up losing all his possessions, including his begging bowl. Furious, he rushed to meet Lord Vishnu and narrated the entire incident. Vishnu consoled him and urged him to play another game, saying that he would influence the way the dice rolled.
As Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati begin playing again, the dice started rolling in Shiva's favour, and he won back everything that he had lost. But, Parvati got suspicious, and began arguing with Shiva. This led Lord Vishnu to reveal his involvement. Lord Shiva quickly added that possessions are merely an illusion and don't belong to anyone. However, Parvati didn't agree with the fact that food is an illusion. So, she stormed out to prove her point.
In the absence of Goddess Parvati, nature came to a standstill. There was drought in the land and all the gods, people and animals began to suffer. They prayed to Goddess Parvati urging her to return. Seeing their suffering, Parvati came back and offered food to the inhabitants of Varanasi. Lord Shiva too realised his mistake and came with his begging bowl.
The takeaway: The main constituent of our food is carbohydrates which is one of the most important sources of energy. Telling the story of Parvati, or Annapurna, to your child will help her realise the importance of having a full tummy to do well in life.
With obesity and lifestyle diseases on the rise, and even children falling prey to them, eating right shouldn't be optional, but a way of life. By offering your child nutritious and nourishing homemade food, you can ensure that she grows into a healthy adult. So, begin narrating these enriching stories, and nurture your child, in body, mind and soul.
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