Are the Youngsters and Children responsible for eating junk foods ?
‘Ma! Not roti sabji again. Cant you make something rocking?’ says Bhavika, my 9 year old daughter. This is what you will hear frequently from youngsters and children. All the mothers have surely heard their children saying these words. They want to eat all kinds of junk food that is fattening and unhealthy. Cheese pizza, burgers, noodles, sandwich, french fries and more and more. Who is responsible for this? Can we only gunpoint the new generation? Or should we hold the society and the media responsible for this?
As parents, its time we start thinking on this seriously. Just by cursing the media or the society our children are not going to become healthy. Here are some of the reasons why the new generation is tilting more towards the junk food.
1) Busy Schedule: Mothers are working women and do not get enough time to prepare special dishes at home. If a child wants to eat noodles the mother will immediately make a packet of instant noodles.
2) Work Pressure: Many a times the work pressure is so much that the mother comes home late and she is either too tired to cook or not in a mood to cook.
3) Availability: Fast foods are readily available in very attractive containers close to the house. They are easy to cook and tasty to eat.
4) Funds: Earlier the family had only one salary to spend but now there are two salaries. So what is the necessity of toiling at home and wasting time which can be efficiently used for earning money.
5) Weekend celebrations: As children we always got to eat something special on Sundays prepared by our mother or father but now most of the women themselves insist on eating out on Sundays as even they need rest.
6) Status Symbol: ‘The food there is excellent, there is a new joint opening, oh! We have already tried that place, the tandoori items there are excellent.’ It satisfies the ego of the human being.
7) Incentives: ‘If you get good marks in this class test, I will buy you a big packet of chips’. Parents encourage the children by giving them junk food as incentives.
8) Feeling of guilt: Many parents who don’t get enough time for their children, think that junk food can substitute their time, love and affection.
9) Lack of interest: Many ladies do not enjoy cooking and therefore they encourage feeding junk food to the family.
10) Lack of co-operation from the family: Making noodles or burgers at home can be fun only if the entire family enjoys it. If the whole meal has to be made in addition to this then its better to buy 2 or 3 burgers or a plate of noodles from outside.
Doctors say that cholesterol accumulates in the body right since childhood. So what can be done? Is there any solution to this problem? Avoid feeding junk food to the children and if we cannot put an end to it atleast lets try to reduce the bad effects of it. Here are some tips that can be useful for the parents:
1) Improve the quality of food: Junk food is unhealthy because they are prepared using more of bulk food like refined flour (maida) and very less roughage. They are oily, spicy, have artificial colours and contain a lot of ingredients that are preserved (Sauces, tinned mushroom or fruits etc.). If these dishes are prepared using more roughage and less oil and spices the effect of it might not be as harmful as it is. Remember the body needs a lot of roughage and water for regular digestion and excretion, consumption of too much of refined flour leads to constipation. Here are some ways to balance the effects of these refined foods:-
Noodles: Noodles are not very harmful if they are prepared at home with some vegetables like cabbage, carrots, onions and capsicum. If one doesn’t have the time to chop them the Chinese style then just chop it in the chopper or hand blender. Avoid using MSG or use very little quantity. Noodles prepared by hawkers are very oily and the oil used by them may not be healthy. Its better to prepare them at home using good quality and less quantity of oil. Even if the packed instant noodles are to be prepared in case of emergency, don’t forget to add some vegetables to it.
Burgers: Burgers should be served with slices of raw tomatoes, onions, cucumber and lettuce leaves or cabbage leaves. Make cutlets using vegetables like carrots, beet root, potatoes, cabbage, capsicum and coriander. Shallow fry instead of deep-frying. Cheese slices make them fattening and should be avoided.
Sandwiches: Encourage serving vegetable sandwiches with tomato, cucumber, cabbage and carrots rather than cheese or potato sandwich. A little cheese in addition to these vegetables may not be very harmful.
2) Food can never substitute love and affection: Try to spend time with the children. Enjoyment is not only dining out try watching cartoon with your child for half an hour or play educative games like crossword or monopoly. This is surely going to make the child more happy. Take them for a morning or evening walk, spend time with them don’t just be Sunday or holiday parents to them. They need you everyday and not only on weekends.
3) Change the type of incentives: A kiss or a hug can be a better incentive rather than a packet of chips or noodles. In our busy lives and work pressure we even forget to show our love for our children. They are too young to understand emotions if we don’t show it.
4) Interest: Take interest in cooking food for the family because a human beings thinking depends a lot on the type of food that is consumed.
5) Habits: Try and inculcate good eating habits right from early childhood. If the child is hungry offer fruits instead of biscuits or wafers.
Written by — Muskaan Nayyar
This article was published on 16th november 2008 in The Hitvada, Nagpur.