I thank god every single day for his presence in my life. His presence that i can touch and feel and love. I get shouted at by them even at age 40 and i can curl myself up in between them without them asking why. My parents. Two people who love me like I can only love my children. Two people who gave me so many memories of a childhood that was filled with laughter and sunshine, contentment and culture, normalcy and…….the outdoors!
They passed on an inheritance that will stay with me like a shadow for as long as I will eat and enjoy good food, good books, good friends and good play.
We had a 21 inch screen TV at home. Until I was 15 the TV unit was a beautiful piece sitting on the mantle waiting to frame the best photograph yet to be clicked! It was probably bought under social pressure but really was of no use in our modest daily routine. The laptops and search engines of today were definitely not hourly names in any household.
Which is why my childhood was versatile. I learnt to play. I learnt to love reading. I learnt to write and express. I played hopscotch and cycled on Sundays by the sea with my friends. I hated classical dance but at least I learnt to move with grace.
I learnt conversation without going for elocution classes or theater. Because I never found it unusual to talk in plenty to my parent’s friends. Conversations with adults proved to be worth a ton of experience and wisdom.
There was always something to do. Boredom was just a word in the dictionary the meaning of which i never felt the need for to search.
And that’s why I grew up healthy in habit and healthy in routine. We ate clean home cooked meals rarely peppered with anything artificial/packaged. The spice on our palettes and table habits of eating together inspired the downing of at least 7-8 glasses of water a day. Our days were never complete without aggressive games of “7 tiles” and “catching cook” taking our breaths away on roller coaster rides leaving happy smiles on our faces as we unwillingly trudged home at the end of the day’s play. Promises to meet the next accompanied.
Lack of TV and google search paved way to reading multitudinous titles and precious times with dad as he read to us every single night.
Times of course have passed and as we step into an era where obesity could set in at as early as 5-15 years, we need to steer children away from gadgets and introduce them to the wonder of free play. The likes and followers on Instagram can never replace the interaction with friends on the football ground.
5 steps that we must take to help beat childhood obesity
- Get off the idiot box: Children are 6 more times likely to take to games and physical exercise if the TV and other sources of viewing media are minimized. Global research assert that states where children indulge in 4 hours or more of screen time are 40% higher on the obesity graph. TV is shown to numb creativity, dull active brain cells, lower verbal abilities and increase sugar cravings.
- Physical exercise and free play: Free play and games and the outdoors have a cumulative effect on health and social skills. Leadership skills, social skills, muscle strength and bone development, an unbeatable immune system, burning excessive adipose tissue, mental calm & focus are just a few in a long list of benefits that regular physical activity can proudly bring in.
- Intermittent snacking: Any food, even healthy food in excess is stored as fat in the body. They become your reserve for fuel later in case you fall short in life situations. The problem lies in the fact that little bits of excess every single day will finally build an unending reserve that just cannot be exchanged for anything in this world, leading to obesity at an early age before you even start assuming responsibility for your own health. So teach your children to eat well, eat right, eat clean fresh food, eat only when hungry and eat to drive the hunger away, not to feel full. The need to munch can be a dangerous habit, once acquired difficult to reverse. So children must eat on time so that the need to snack excessively is not over powering.
- Eating the right quantity of fats: I see children being fed and themselves choosing a lot of carbohydrate dense foods. These of course are a good source of energy but it’s important to also choose this one nutrient that i see being overlooked. GOOD FATS. Again our foodie brains will automatically switch our attention to the oil laden deep fried snacks and sweets. Apply caution on quantities and the quality of the fats chosen. Nuts (Almonds, walnuts, pistas and peanuts) and seeds (sunflower, flax, chia, etc), saturated fats like small quantities of butter, ghee and fresh cream and omega 3 rich fish are good to repair and nourish the myelin sheath in the brain that conduct nerve impulses and help with vision and motor impulses.
- Allow children to develop a penchant for natural flavors: Natural flavors are mild and soothing like the sugar in carrots and milk, the pungency in onions and radish. Allow children to understand these flavors without adding too much sugar/salt to their meals. Flavor additives are strong and overpower the mild natural flavors in foods, they are also addictive and pave way to strong sugar cravings as children grow up.
Children absorb what you offer them.Their ability to choose is what parents can influence. Exercise this right, right from when they are born. Enable your children with the knowledge to choose the right kinds of foods through constant exposure to a variety of natural flavors and textures. This effort on your part will effect an organic understanding of the power of healthy foods and a natural inclination to healthy eating practices.
Health is the best inheritance you can pass onto your child. So learn, imbibe, practice and pass it on!!