How To Make Healthy School Tiffins For Children
Pediatric Nutritionist, BSc, Post Graduate in Nutrition and Dietetics, PhD (Std)
- Posted On March 20, 2017
Have you ever realised where the word “Tiifin” originates from? It is derived from English colloquial or slang tiffing meaning to take a little drink, which in the rule of British India over the decades became naturalised among Anglo-Indians to mean luncheon. Hence, Tiffin came gradually to denote a light midday meal.
The word “Tiffin” brings about a range of emotions in mothers as they strive to make child’s snack box the healthiest and palatable one. Children have sharp taste buds and they eat food that looks appetizing as well as delicious and mouth-watering at the same time. So, do mothers need to be professional chefs to ensure that their children complete their tiffin in their breaks?Do mothers need extra culinary training to do so?
Our team of Paediatric Nutritionistsat FitterFly have laid some handy tips to help make child’s meal interesting and tempting to consume.
- Prepare meals that are handy to consume: Children get a short recess or a break andthey would not like to compromise their playtime. Hence portion size as per the capacity of the child must be at priority, else they are likely to leave the food and play. If food is handy and in a small portion size they would be able to complete their boxes happily. Example Choose Stuffed paratha or thepla over upma or poha.
- Food that is nutritionally dense in calories and protein: Calorie dense meals enable optimal nutrition even in a small quantity. Example Paneer Paratha where the carbohydrates from wheat flour and protein from paneer make it a complete tiffin snack.
- Incorporate Calcium and Iron and Omega-3 Fatty acid rich foods: Addition of iron rich foods will keep your child alert and active in his school classes. Calcium will increase his muscle strength, enhance his bone development, growth and improve his sports performance. Omega-3 fatty acid rich foods will enable better concentration and intellectual development. Hence, do incorporate foods like cheese, paneer, powdered or finely chopped nuts and dry fruits like til, flax seeds, walnuts, almonds and dried dates(kharik) in the form of tiny ladoos, chikkis, and easy finger foods.
- Attractivepresentation of meals Foods that visually look appetizing help develop appetite. Child friendly presentations in the form of their favourite cartoon characters or smileys in their favourite tiffin box will tempt them to consume their meal in no time. Using colourful cutleries are excellent motivational tricks to help in the task of completing the tiffinbox.
- Add Colours to the meal: The addition of a variety of fruits and vegetables will make the meal look attractive as well as provide essential antioxidants and phytochemicals that will boost child’s immunity. Small cut fruits, few grapes, some differently cut veggies like cucumber, carrots not only add colour but increase the fibre content of the compact tiffin making it a healthier choice.
- Addition of disliked foods in hidden form: Most parents complain that their children dislike vegetables. Instead of adding whole big cubes of vegetables you may finely chop or puree the vegetables and add it to recipes without you child knowing about it. Example - spinach puree or any cooked vegetable can be added to the usual roti or paratha, pastas, in chutneys etc.
- Change in the weekly menu essential: The usual tiffin meal of poha, idli,paratha may lead to boredom. Children love innovative recipes and recipes that are a look alike of their favourite foods like the usual cutlet can be wrapped into an interesting Frankie or a Falafel or nutrient packed soya cutlets incorporated into burgers.
- Avoid packing messy foods: Foods like curd, milk, juices and dals or kadhis should be avoided as children tend to spill such foods and mess up their food area or school campus and are often ridiculed and they might get uncomfortable to eat their food in class.
- Avoid foods that spoil easily: Foods like curd, yogurt, buttermilk, certain fruits and certain vegetables spoil or turn rancid in a short span of time should be avoided. Foods that have a larger shelf life should be included to prevent spoilage and wastage.
- Dejunk your child’s meals: A lot of school canteens contain a variety of unhealthy junk that are high in saturated fats, sugar, sodium and preservatives that are extremely harmful for your children. Hence keep your child away from all sorts of packaged, ready to eat products and fried foods by making his tiffin tasty yet healthy.
- Do not try too many to include too many new ingredients in your child’s tiffin: Children usually like and adapt to familiar foods previously consumed than unfamiliar foods. There is a high possibility that the child may dislike the new recipe or ingredient and choose to consume the easier alternative of junk food. Try new recipes and ingredients when he’s at home where his consumption can be monitored or a healthy substitution can be provided at home level.
- Do not Force feed any particular food: It’s normal for children to dislike certain set of foods like for example he may dislike a particular vegetable. As responsible parents we want them to consume everything that we serve on the platter. However, don’t we all have our likes and dislikes? So, do not force your child as this may cause your child to develop a permanent aversion for that particular food. Introducing the same food with lot of variations and bringing on a variety in preparations can mask the taste and appearance of the food.
Hope these tips will help the parents prepare healthy and nutritious tiffins for their tiny tots.
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