Effects of Packaged or Ready-to-Eat Foods on Kids

Indian family having a meal together

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One of the most common issues these days is unhealthy eating habits, and the use of packaged or ready-to-eat food has played a very pious role in it. Kids are always attracted to such food items, due to which they miss out on the intake of the proper nutrients.
Proper nutrition impacts the overall health of an individual, i.e. the way we look, the way we work, the way we feel, how one performs in school or college, our behaviour patterns, our energy level, which on the whole creates our lifestyle.
Ready to eat food items promote food with eye-catching characters, prizes, shapes, colours which influence them to indulge in unhealthy eating habits. Kids get easily tempted by their favourite packaged food item regardless of the harmful preservatives, excessive usage of salt or sugar, chemical-based ingredient or artificial flavours it has. Such products lack in essential nutrients, and at times, they are difficult to digest.
Advertisement is everywhere, and it is very easy to get to people through different forms of communication through print, TV, media, social media, etc. The role of advertising is to promote awareness about products, but it leaves a negative impact on kids, who are especially are targeted by the food industry. It is very easy for them to create a vague image of a product and promote it as a portion of health.
Let’s make it simpler with an example. There are advertisements which show how all fruits are mixed together in mixed fruit jam. They promote jam as a product full of fruit power and various nutrients, and all you need is to apply on either bread or on chapattis and eat it.
Such a product contains nothing but lots of artificial colours, sugar, artificial flavouring agents, and preservatives. Regular consumption of these artificial flavouring agents is unhealthy and can harm the child.
The only solution is – homemade jams or chutneys! A homemade recipe can always be used with a number of substitutes. For example, sugar-based items can be replaced by natural sweeteners such as jaggery, dates, figs and honey. At home, we never add any sort of artificial food colouring or flavouring agent. Homemade food is itself a blessing. It is full of purity and freshness.
Branded products with some fruits and vegetables are always labelled healthy and are promoted to be consumed for your wellbeing. They are said to be high fibre to satisfy our quick hunger, but the reality is that our homemade food cannot remain fresh even for a month. Then, how can we pick a jar of jam, a packet of soup, a bottle of energy drink from the grocery store, which are packed for months or even years?
However, there are a few food companies who have understood what the customers want in terms of health and nutrients, they have upgraded their product by replacing white or refined flour (maida) with whole wheat and oats or millets. Also, people who are diagnosed with health-related issues like blood pressure, diabetes, or thyroid are making changes in their buying behaviour, such as choosing rock salt instead of normal salt, cold-pressed oils over refined oils, etc.
Social media has promoted a lot of ways to indulge in homemade cooking through different cooking channels. There are special cooking shows that focus on children by taking care of their overall nutrition intake. Providing easy recipes for children with less usage of salt, sugar and spices, and also guiding parents with different ways kids can enjoy their meals.
The internet has created a lot of awareness and positivity for people to strengthen the relationship between food and children. This has encouraged parents to switch from packaged products to fresh homemade food to ensure their and their children’s health.
Child’s behaviour and food are closely related to each other. The purpose is to raise a healthy eater, which is not possible only by pressurising the child. We have to empathise with picky eaters and move ahead with love and care. Pressurising children is a negative approach, and it can lead to unhealthy eating habits. The right way has to be understood by both the parents and the kid.
For Parents :
1. When? – Offer the child three meals and two snacks in a day.
2. What? – Offer wholesome, healthy, and nutrient-rich food.
3. Where? – Offer food to everyone on the dining table, and most importantly, maintain a regular mealtime.
For Children:
1. Which food to eat – The child can choose to eat from the foods you serve him/her.
2. How much to eat – Whether to eat less or more, is entirely up to the child.
Creating a healthy eating habit in the house is the most significant achievement of life, which will ensure the health of your child. Where the present generation has become demanding about taste and food preferences, it will be a real challenge to make healthy choices. But, this is the best way to build the right foundation for your child.
For our own knowledge and awareness, it’s crucial to understand not to get carried away by any such traps or tricks at the cost of one’s health. Basically, for them, it’s business, and their main aim is to sell the product. It is entirely up to us to choose for ourselves and our children.

 

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