Home Parenting When it comes to child nutrition, there really is no compromise

When it comes to child nutrition, there really is no compromise

by Vidya Sury August 29, 2017 13 comments
When it comes to child nutrition, there really is no compromise #RightStartforRightGrowth

My son returned to college three weeks ago. Each time I go into the kitchen, the jar of Horlicks looks at me rather sadly, just like all his other staples. I miss the routine of watching him follow his routine. It started with a hug and a “good morning”—then he would drain the water from the cup with almonds soaking. Peel them diligently and offer me some before popping some in his mouth. Then he’d gleefully eat a heaping spoon of Horlicks before drinking the beverage and taking his breakfast to the table where he’d enjoy it.

This has been constant since he was three years old. This November, he’ll be 20. And for as long as I live, I’ll always keep telling him that eating healthy, living healthy is the most important thing—everything else is secondary. More so, as he studies on campus away from home.

I was lucky that my Mom lived with us and we had the blessing of her expertise on child nutrition when we welcomed my son into this world.

Children experience rapid growth from the time they’re born to the age of 6—and I remember how amazing it was to watch my son undergo major physical and psychological changes. He grew tall quite quickly and was head and shoulders above his classmates by the time he was a first grader at the age of 6. Apparently, children achieve 60% adult height and 30% adult weight gain by the age of 6. Also, a child’s brain reaches 55% of its adult size by the time she’s 2 and by the time she’s 6, it is 90% of its adult size.

I smile to think of all the rapid fire questioning we experienced during my son’s toddler years and must confess that we did not always have the answers. What we were always conscious of was ensuring that he got the right nutrition to fuel his growth.

Why child nutrition is vital

A very critical thing about a toddler’s diet is the right nutrients in the appropriate quantities.  Having a healthy diet for children which contains nutrients like carbohydrates, proteins, balanced fat, vitamins, minerals and essential nutrients like DHA and essential fats is important.

It is easy to assume that as mothers, we are providing proper nutrition. However, making sure that a child gets the nutrients she needs over the years is a challenge. During any given day, different food items in different quantities are required to meet the child’s nutritional requirements.

On top of this, there is the issue of fussy eaters who simply refuse to eat sometimes, and come up with all sorts of excuses to skip a meal and throw tantrums. When this happens, it is naturally worrisome as the child does not get the nutrition she needs, and this gets in the way of healthy growth.

In my case, I was worried that the small tiffin box my son carried to school would barely be enough. After all, how much breakfast can a child consume when school starts at 7:00 a.m.? I packed rotis, vegetable and fruit, but considering the amount of activity he had, especially on days when they had games, it would seem like he was not eating enough—and would come home, super-hungry.

Did you know that inadequate intake of micronutrients can wreak havoc on our health? This results in a deficiency, causing something called “hidden hunger.” Also, looking healthy doesn’t always mean being healthy.

[bctt tweet=”Looking healthy doesn’t always mean being healthy #RightStartforRightGrowth” username=”VidyaSury”]

As parents, it is our duty to give our kids a headstart in life, making sure that they eat a varied diet that includes veggies and fruits, and get enough exercise and sleep. The goal is to make sure that their immune system is strong enough to keep them healthy.

I learned a few things about toddler nutrition over the years:

  • Toddlers’ appetites vary from day to day
  • Since their dietary requirements are different from that of adults, toddlers need a diet made up of foods from the four main food groups, in the right balance and in portion sizes just right for them.
  • Toddlers’ food preferences vary from day to day, so it is important to keep offering them new foods, along with their familiar favorites.
  • Toddlers usually manage their own appetite, so we need to encourage them to eat—but not force them to eat if they are not hungry.
  • It is not a good idea to force a child to finish her plate.
  • This is a really tough one: but it is a bad idea to negotiate with or bribe your child.

See the challenge?

One of the things I relied on is my favorite health food drink—Horlicks—which, I believe, helped my son meet his nutritional requirements.

But you know what? While I am glad that I gave my son Horlicks, I do realize that toddlers are different and their body-brain development is much faster during this stage. Toddlers need tailor made nutrition and this can be met by health food drinks like Junior Horlicks. Today, I recommend it for toddlers and here are the main reasons why:

  • 50% more protein*
  • 23 nutrients
  • Contains DHA and Choline important for brain development function
  • Contains nutrients for weight gain
  • Contains lesser fat vs. other high fat toddler HFDs
  • Contains high protein and milk calcium for height gain
  • Contains immunity supporting nutrients for healthy immunity
  • Contains nutri-compact formula (nutrient dense, packed with key nutrients)

Of course, our little ones love to eat it just as it is—offering the simple logic that it is tasty—with the natural goodness of milk and cereal. Can’t argue with that!

On a serious note, though, it provides tailor made nutrition for those fussy eaters and toddlers and preschoolers—giving them age-appropriate nutrition. More important is the fact that it is based on WHO’s nutrient guidelines for this age. Relevant to our family, is the fact that it is vegetarian.

I feel a warm sense of pride when I see my son today—still technically a Horlicks baby—taking care of himself, making sure he eats his meals on time, and enjoying college life.

Health is our only true wealth—and unless we have that in control, life can be really tough.

Here are some tips from what I’ve learned about cultivating healthy eating habits:

  • Offering a variety of foods helps children get the nutrients they need from every food group. This increases the chances of being open to trying new foods and liking them. This makes meal planning easier.
  • Showing by example—eat what you expect your child to eat.
  • Shopping together—great way to teach children about food and nutrition. Keep up a conversation about where they come from and why making healthy choices is important. Also, it made my shopping quicker and easier as my son loved to look at our list and fill our cart!
  • Involving children while cooking and encouraging them to come up with recipes. Total win-win.
  • Making the same dishes for everyone in the family. Easier on the cook, whoever that is in the family!
  • Not using food as a reward. Hugs and cuddles have always been our go-to-s…followed by books, of course.
  • Eating together—you know what they say; the family that eats together…
  • Sharing activities together—going for a walk or playing together.

Parents have a tough job being good role models. I am glad I had Horlicks to help, and those of you with toddlers have the extra benefit of Junior Horlicks!

* Basis label claims per daily serve for leading (By Market Share) Health Food Drinks in India

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Darla M Sands August 30, 2017 at 7:25 pm

What a thoughtful post, as always. I’m reminded me of a show I like called “Monsters Inside Me”. In one episode a misguided, well-meaning couple gave their child raw milk resulting in a deadly infection she was lucky to survive.

Vidya Sury August 30, 2017 at 9:39 pm

Thank you Darla! You know, we have the practice of boiling milk until it rises, even though it is pasteurized and doesn’t need to be. As for raw milk…it is amazing how in the villages here, even today, folks drink straight from the cow’s udder. I shudder to think of that. Things aren’t what they used to be any more. I feel terrible for that child you mentioned.

Vidya Sury recently posted…One Happiness Trick That Will Change Your Life

Deepa August 30, 2017 at 9:29 pm

Great post Vidya. I agree with you on so many points you mentioned here. Eating healthy and staying healthy is very important and I keep on stressing it to my girls too. I strongly believe that good is the best medicine.

Vidya Sury August 30, 2017 at 9:58 pm

Thank you, Deepa! True. I always tell my son that…and any one else who’ll listen!

Good is the best medicine! (Although I know you meant food! Hugs!)
Vidya Sury recently posted…One Happiness Trick That Will Change Your Life

Susan Scott August 30, 2017 at 10:17 pm

This took me back to my sons’ prep school days and packing their snack boxes. Years later they tell me how they envied their friends tuck boxes with chocolate, muffins and things I wouldn’t have dreamed of putting in 😀

Vidya Sury August 30, 2017 at 10:23 pm

Hahaha! I know. My son said the same, and of course, today he understands why. Back then, I suspect he thought I was being mean.
Thank you Susan. <3
Vidya Sury recently posted…One Happiness Trick That Will Change Your Life

Asha August 31, 2017 at 11:57 am

Some thing that’s constantly in my mind these days.. Especially because my son enters adolescence soon and protein requirement becomes so important for the second growth spurt. Thanks for throwing light on your experiences !

Valley Angel August 31, 2017 at 12:32 pm

First of all, you know I had to look up this product on Amazon. I’m guessing it’s a drink but I couldn’t figure out how much it would cost in US Dollars and I’m sure it doesn’t come to the US but it sounds yummy and I’m fairly certain we have a few comparable products. – I kept as much junk away from my kids as I could when they were growing up. They rarely had pop. I cooked all of our meals and we all sat down and ate together. I’m happy to say now that my grandchildren are now being raised very much the same. 🙂 – This was a great post Vidya and I totally agree. It’s so important to get these healthy routines going at a young age. –

Vidya Sury August 31, 2017 at 6:23 pm

Hi Karen! I doubt if Horlicks is available in the US, but the Indian Grocery Stores might stock it–not sure though. It is a health supplement, basically and in India, is available in three flavors. I am pretty sure you have comparable products. The best thing for kids is home cooked, and for them to know that’s the best. I grew up that way, my son is growing up that way. The funny thing is, when he sees something exotic, his first question is, can we make that at home? And he’s fine with it not turning out a little differently, and swears our version is much better. Truly blessed, eh?

Great to see you–I haven’t seen your posts in my mailbox recently. Hugs!
Vidya Sury recently posted…Zentenced to Gratitude

Ridhima Patel November 27, 2019 at 3:32 pm

what a awesome article, it put me in self doubt.

Carol Naturesblend September 8, 2021 at 10:28 am

That is an awesome initiative! I have a 3 year old and what I understand is that you preach by example. If he sees me eating whole foods, fruits, vegetables, home cooked meals, he will be interested of trying it out. Plus eating whole foods rakes the guessing game out of the “nutritional” labels that pre-packaged foods have.
Carol Naturesblend recently posted…Excessive Use of Gadgets: Effects on Your Eyes

Pamela R Arteaga September 21, 2021 at 2:10 pm

Hi Vidya, Thank you so much for the info.

national vitamin company casa grande az May 19, 2022 at 9:13 pm

It is quite ridiculous that on one side of the spectrum children are starving and on the other children are obese. By fusing science with care and redesigning medical education change will happen. Focusing on childhood is wonderful because brain development and changes occur with experiences and nutrition. Focusing on children is a good investment down the road because children are our future.


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