A few food rules to make winter warm and healthy for kids
Cold winter months can not only chill your bones, but also make you feel depressed and lethargic. So, imagine what it can do to your little ones! Winter can also lower focus and energy in kids, change appetites, and affect sleep patterns. Children might become more susceptible to cold, flu, and fever as well. So, apart from bundling them up in warm winter clothes, you need to pay attention to their winter diet. Piping hot meals prepared with fresh seasonal ingredients can make cold months bearable and even enjoyable. Remember that the metabolism slows down during winter too, and hence, you need to serve dishes that are easy to digest yet filling, tasty and healthy.
Food that can make winters safe and warm
- Never underestimate the power of seasonal vegetables during winter months. Firstly, their shelf life is sorted at cold temperatures. Hence, you won’t have to step outdoors very frequently, as you can just stock up your fridge or pantry for a week easily. Secondly, the rich fibre content in veggies will ease your child’s digestion. Greens like spinach and mint can do the needful (but if it is rainy, step away from too much of greens to avoid parasites and worms). Make sure you clean vegetables thoroughly before cooking them. By preparing stews and curries with these, you can enhance your child’s body heat and supply them vital nutrients too. Particularly, plants with edible underground parts are known to warm up the body. So, carrots, potatoes, onions, and beets must quickly find their way to your cart. Soups made with these can always be a hot, soothing and tasty option for your little one.
- Try serving a refreshing bowl of chopped fruits or juice them up at room temperature. Papayas are well-known for the heat they produce. Pineapples are also great heat-givers. Along with vitamin C, gooseberries provide heat during winters. And who can forget dates? Many traditional Indian winter recipes involve the use of dates, ghee, and jaggery, to keep the body warm and immune system strong. So, prepare yummy laddoos and halwas to make the cold months pleasurable!
- Spice it up! All of those natural flavouring agents that India is known for can help provide warmth to your kid! Mustard seeds, dill seeds, ajwain, fenugreek seeds, pepper, ginger, and turmeric are known for their remedial powers, when it comes to a cold or sore throat. These spices are also used for treating joint pains that result from winter chills, and they aid in enhancing blood circulation and appetite too. In addition, certain herbs like basil leaves or even seeds like sesame can fight the winter temperatures well. You can add them to salads, soups, stews, and even stir-fries.
- Hot beverages are a must-have during winter months. Make the most of the spices mentioned above and try to create a variety of warming beverages. A concoction of cinnamon, cloves, ginger, cardamom and a bit of honey can warm up your child from the inside. These spices are antibacterial and anti-inflammatory too. You can also serve warm badam milk, enriched with the goodness of crushed almonds, cashews, pistachios and walnuts.
- Fishes rich in omega-3 fatty acids should be included in your child’s diet as well, like rawas, rohu, pomfret, and ahi. These can keep your child warm and give him tons of energy.
- The sunlight vitamin might be hard to obtain, owing to the limited sun exposure during winters. However, since the D vitamin facilitates calcium absorption, you have to make a conscious effort to introduce foods that are rich in it, in your child’s diet. Very few vegetarian sources offer vitamin D, though milk and cheese are fair sources. Liver, egg yolks and fish contain decent quantities of vitamin D. Or, you can consult a doctor for supplements.
Apart from adopting the above nutritional hacks to boost your child’s immunity during winter and to keep him warm, encourage him to be physically active too. Activities will keep fatigue at bay and prevent your kid from getting bored. Try to serve freshly made food as much as possible and serve lukewarm water for hydration.