Whatever the occasion – if you are a parent – the first thought you would have is – what will my child eat? And so – the thought process is no different during Diwali. During the festival of meeting and eating and celebrating – you are sure to wonder “What should my child eat during Diwali to stay healthy?”
Diwali is a mouth-watering festival. The very thought of Diwali – just the name of the festival – is enough to make your mouth water.
More than anything else – Diwali is about the amazing sweets, snacks and savouries that are cooked and served in every household. Almost every family always has something special that they cook and serve on this festival. And usually these specialties fall in the category of snacks rather than meal time foods.
Although Diwali is actually a festival that is only one day long – because of the snacks that go with it – usually have a shelf life of several days – the festival extends at least a week or more before and after the actual day
Snacking and eating food that is essentially made up of sugar and usually has large quantities of fat in it would have been OK for a day perhaps. But because the gastronomic part of the festival extends to several days – it is important to be slightly cautious about what is eaten – especially what is eaten by the children.
Exercising a little bit of caution in what is eaten can ensure that children stay healthy – through the festival and after it. Thereby adding to the joy and steering away from the unhappiness that can be caused by a child being unwell.
What should children eat during Diwali
As wrapped up as we may be in the celebrations of the Festival – we must ensure that children are served their regular meals – because that is what they need to eat.
The profusion of snacks and savouries that surround us may be tempting and our children may love them and keep eating them as well – but it is important to remember that these are essentially empty calories.
Most snacks contain excess sugar, excess salt, large amounts of saturated fat and refined flour. They lack the carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals that the body needs. While the adult body is able to tide over a period of improper eating and lack of nutrients because of the reserves that it has. The body of a child is usually unable to cope with the lack of these nutrients for very long. And this results in children quickly falling sick.
It is also important to remember that snacks that we adults may really like may sometimes not appeal to children so much. And if snacks are the only things available to eat throughout the day – your child may end up not eating anything for several days.
So, while over eating may be a problem – not eating anything can be a challenge too
How to make children eat healthy when there is so much unhealthy food around
The long shelf life at room temperature of the Diwali snacks and savouries have distinct advantages from the point of view of storing and using them but these properties are a problem when it comes to consuming them in large quantities.
With jars and boxes of sweets and savouries in plain sight and within easy reach on the dining table and the kitchen shelf – it is almost impossible not to overeat.
The only way to avoid eating too much is to store the bulk of the snacks in large containers in places that are out of sight – such as a cupboard or a store-room. It is then wise for a responsible person to take out the snacks in small quantities. Only amounts that can be consumed during snack time on a particular day must be taken out.
That is the only way to ensure that no one in the family overeat.
It is also nice to share the snacks and savouries with the less fortunate through the festival and immediately after. This has the two-fold advantage of preventing illness due overeating and feeling good because of the joy obtained from the act of sharing
Create long-term healthy eating mindsets
Diwali is about sweets savouries and snacks. Yes that is what we know and remember from our childhoods.
But is Diwali really only about unhealthy eating? No it is not.
A host of healthy foods are also part of the eats on Diwali. Fruits and dry fruits are an important part of the festivities – but they often remain ornamental and perfunctory only.
It is important to include the seasonal fruits and vegetables in the celebratory food and to lead the way by eating them even when there are unhealthy options available. If this is not done – children will learn to associate Diwali with unhealthy binge eating only.
What should children drink to stay healthy
Diwali being the festival of visiting and being visited – at any given moment in any household – there are bound to be a profusion of fizzy drinks and juices available. Of course these are enticing and children are bound to gravitate towards them. But drinking fizzy drinks and juices in excess can cause dehydration.
It is important to encourage and coax children to drink water in small amounts through the day to avoid getting dehydrated.
Dehydration can lower the immunity and make children fall sick. Dehydrated children are also more likely to be cranky and tired and injure themselves because of bad moods and exhaustion.
Diwali is the festival of happiness. Focus on staying healthy through the festival and after it. Wish you a very happy Diwali.
Stay safe – stay healthy. Happy eating – happy celebrating.