Of course you are a vigilant mom. But with hundreds of toxic substances entering our food chain, it’s easy to miss some crucial red signals in your day-to-day routine. Particularly when it comes to diet, your little ones need just that little extra care. Children have less developed immune systems than adults, and their bodies are smaller, which is why dietary toxicants have a greater impact on their health.
However, no need to be alarmed. Cut the kids’ exposure to harmful substances in 6 easy ways!
1. Avoid plastics in the microwave
You probably heard this one before – do not place plastic containers in the microwave. But many a time, grandparents, or the household help, or even you may absentmindedly heat food in plastic containers, because ‘everyone does it’.
Research confirms that ECDs – endocrine disturbing chemicals – are a group of chemicals leach out from the plastic into the food that is heated. This can lead to disorders that affect a child’s health from an early age.
Option? Glass and porcelain containers are food-safe in the micro. Or, simply heat food up in stainless steel vessels on the stove.
2. Minimize the intake of artificial food colour
It’s ubiquitous. Synthetic food colour is present in all kinds foods, from the butter you eat, to the packaged macaroni you buy. Scientific studies prove that food colour causes hyperactivity (ADHD) in some kids. Others may have allergy-like reactions, or worse, carcinogenic residues may sit inside the body for years.
While it’s not possible to eliminate food colour from your diet, it can be substantially reduced.
Option? Cut out brightly coloured soft drinks and juices, candies, cake icing, or coloured Indian sweets like jalebi or bundi laddos. Instead, choose naturally-coloured foods whenever possible.
3. Throw away your plastic chopping boards!
Every time you use a plastic chopping board, microscopic bits of plastic are going into the food. The little ones are actually ingesting these particles of plastic, and obviously, that’s not healthy.
Option? Use wooden boards to chop all your vegetables and fruits. And keep a separate one, designated only for chopping meats and fish so that there’s no cross-contamination.
4. Is your fridge breeding bacteria?
Do you remember the setting of your refrigerator is at this very moment? Chances are, you don’t! If your fridge is set even 1° too high, e.coli bacteria start breeding, and items such as raw veggies, meats, and unpasteurised milk begin to spoil.
Even if food that is slightly ‘off’, kids are the most vulnerable. Their delicate digestive systems can’t cope, and the result is an upset tummy.
Option? Regulate the refrigerator at no higher than 4° c. This is the right temperature to optimally preserve your food items and ensure all the chilled items remain fresh.
5. Rid leafy greens of contaminants and chemicals
Of course you want your kids to eat their greens. But do you often wonder where those spinach leaves were grown? Or what pesticides were sprayed on them? There is simply no way of knowing, is there.
But that doesn’t mean you give up on greens altogether. Leafy veggies like spinach, methi, kale and salad greens are all super healthy and a great way to feed the kids their nutrients.
Option? Get greens squeaky clean with a vinegar-and-water bath. Mix 1 part vinegar to 6 parts water and plunge the leaves into the solution. Leave the greens to soak for about 5 minutes and then rinse out under running water. The leaves will almost 100% bacteria and chemicals free.
6. Keep tooth decay at bay
It might surprise you to know that sweets and cakes aren’t the only foods that trigger cavities in kids. In fact, fruit juices and aerated drinks are just as lethal! Apart from large quantities of sugar, juices like orange juice also contain citric acid, which causes tooth erosion. Tooth erosion is quite different from bacterial caries, and happens to be the most common disease in children from the ages of 5 to 17.
What hastens the process of tooth erosion is that children’s milk teeth have a thinner enamel coating than adults – this means the acids attack the tooth enamel more easily and this results in cavities.
Option? Get the kids to stay away from the aerated stuff! Although fruit juice is healthy, limit the intake. And help to build tooth enamel by serving the kids dairy products like cheese, milk, and yogurt.
Article by Madhuri Iyer
Madhuri Iyer started her writing career as an advertising copywriter. She has edited lifestyle and fitness books for the Times of India group, and Penguin India.
Madhuri launched her first work of fiction with Pink Champagne with Indireads, an online imprint. She is author of best-selling novel Manhattan Mango, launched in 2014, with Fingerprint!
Her first lifestyle book, The SuperMom Cookbook, has just launched.
This is not just another recipe book! The SuperMom Cookbook is a lifestyle handbook that guides moms how to stock, cook and serve healthy food. SuperMoms learn the art of reducing unhealthy fats, sugars, and processed foods, and opting for wholesome substitutes instead.
And how do moms convince their kids to eat healthy? Madhuri’s Sneak & Tweak techniques are the answer. Madhuri sneaks in fresh vegetables and other wholesome ingredients into “junk food” menus. She tweaks recipes to cut out unhealthy ingredients. So the kids enjoy everything from pizza to chicken pad Thai, and yet, they don’t even know that they are getting their full supply of daily nutrients!