Tag Archives: kidsfood

The Road to Good Heart Health Starts in Childhood

“Oh, high blood pressure? That’s only in old people”

“Heart problems only occur in adults or old people”

Aren’t these your thoughts too? Most of us think that problems related to high blood pressure (hypertension) and heart problems only occur in adults or older people.  In reality, it can affect people of all ages, including children.

Studies show a significant rise in the number of children affected by non-communicable diseases like hypertension and heart diseases. Commemorating World Heart Health Day, we would like to highlight that taking care of the heart needs to start in childhood.

Obesity; the main culprit

Although there are a number of factors that can adversely affect heart health in children, obesity remains the main culprit. Obesity also hastens the occurrence of other heart disease risk factors like high blood pressure, insulin resistance, dyslipidemia and so on. High BP is an important risk factor for heart diseases.

A study that looked at the relationship of childhood obesity with blood pressure in Indian school children (5–16 years) reported that high blood pressure was more prevalent in obese children. So what? Here’s the catch – the problem of high blood pressure that begins in childhood persists through adolescence well into adulthood. In a nutshell, a hypertensive child is a hypertensive adult.

Experts also believe that childhood and adolescent obesity has a compelling impact on the structure and functioning of the heart; so it is very important to ensure that children fall in the healthy weight range.

What can you do to ensure good heart health in your child?

Prevention is always better than cure. Although factors such as family history or genetic predisposition cannot be changed or avoided, we can take control of other risk factors to deter or delay the disease.

  1. Children are what they eat: Healthy eating habits not only includes healthy, nutritious food but also regular meal times. Excess of anything is bad. A diet high in fat, carbs and/or sugar contribute to obesity and excess of sodium (in the form of salt, sauces, MSG) make way for high BP.
  1. Hustle the muscle: with the advent of technology in every phase of life, screen time (like TV, mobile-use, video games) has substantially increased. Activity and exercise have undoubtedly taken a back seat. Physical activity strengthens heart muscles, helps blood vessels branch out more, regulates blood pressure and also increases HDL (good) cholesterol.

      Children and adolescents must get at least 60 minutes of moderate to        vigorous aerobic activity every day. Examples include bike                                  riding, swimming, jogging, football, aerobics or dancing.

  1. Let the children kick butt: be it electronic cigarettes or smokeless tobacco, they are all harmful. Most children may get on this track due to peer pressure or stress. On the other hand, passive smoking can also be the reason.

It’s best to form good habits early in life so we don’t have to break bad habits later.

So it is time to change our way of thinking and understand that good heart health starts from childhood.

Are Potatoes Bad?

The humble potato has earned a bad reputation in the recent years and very often it is banished from all diets. So is it true that potatoes are bad and should not form a part of our diet?

The answer is no…. In terms of its nutritional benefits, the potato has been vastly underrated and grossly misunderstood. It’s high time we peel back the truth about the nutrient treasure trove that lies in the little spud that is the potato.

Potato Nutrition 101

You may be surprised to know that potato offers a number of nutrients and benefits. Maybe not a good source of protein, but the little protein present in potatoes is completely available to the body (i.e., excellent biological value) like the egg.

Minerals like potassium, phosphorous and calcium are present in significant levels and each has their own respective roles in body functioning. Surprisingly, this spud contains a notable amount of fiber, especially the peel. This helps provide satiety, delay hunger pangs and help prevent constipation.

Skin-on potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C, potassium and fiber.

Last but not the least, vitamins – potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C. But what else? Let’s not forget B vitamins like folic acid, niacin, pyridoxine, riboflavin, and thiamine are also present.

Potatoes have a plethora of phytonutrients that parade antioxidant activity. Carotenoids, flavonoids, caffeic acid, as well as unique tuber storage proteins, such as patatin, all flaunt powers of fighting harmful free radicals.

Talking of benefits, although potato is typically not considered a good source of dietary iron, iron uptake is enhanced by its high vitamin C content. Potatoes contain significant amounts of vitamins B9 and B6 which are crucial for optimal brain functioning.

However, the main advantage of potato is the starch content, the very thing for which it is damned. Puzzled? Carbohydrates provide the glucose required for the brain to function and to fuel the muscles during activities, games or exercise. So potatoes are the go-to fuel before kids head out for games and sports.

Why the bad name dame?

How did potato become the culprit to all the bad health effects? Where are we going wrong? It’s not difficult to see that, unfortunately, the popular Western form of preparation and preferred forms of potato are either fried or even if baked, it is typically loaded with cheese, butter, cream and/or other such fat-rich products. Least did we realize that barring the extra source of fat, potatoes can be exceptionally healthy.

On the other hand, our Indian potato-based dishes are used along with other vegetables and pulses and rarely witnessed as a deep fried form (even the aloo bondas have dal based coating). So keep those jackets on the potatoes, mix them up with veggies, and resort to baking, steaming, roasting or grilling and enjoy!

The Untold Tales of Millets

Ever come across the story of the murder of millets? Yes indeed, millets were a part of our country’s staple food. However, with the advent of polished rice, wheat, and their processed descendants, millets are no longer a part of the picture.

Sadly, this acclimatization has lead to a plethora of health disorders and diseases like diabetes, obesity, and blood pressure which seem to prevail in a widespread manner. It’s time to bid adieu and break the unhealthy trend, and who better than our children to start and set the right trend.

“Did you know that millets are much superior to rice and wheat when it comes to protein, fiber, and mineral content?”

Millets could be the best bet to keep children on high-energy mode since they are said to be high-energy nutritious food and an excellent source of B-vitamins. While the protein of baragu (Proso Millet) ensures optimal growth in children, the calcium content of ragi (Finger Millet) strengthens the children’s bones and teeth.

“Each one of the millets has more fibre than rice and wheat. Ragi (finger millet has thirty times more calcium than rice while every other millet has at least twice the amount of calcium compared to rice.”

Research shows that a jowar (Sorghum Millet) rich diet improves growth and positively affects the hemoglobin, folic acid, vitamin A, iron and calcium content in school going children. Those hunger pangs can be saved for later since the high fiber content of millets gives children a feeling of fullness and as a plus point prevents over-eating.

Millets are not only easy to digest but also offer healing action in cases of gastrointestinal inflammation and ulceration. This gluten-free grain is the mantra for children struggling with gluten related health issues like celiac disease. Additionally, consumption of millets notably cuts down the incidence of wheezing and asthma in children.

Loaded with phytochemicals, millets provide the antioxidants that keep the body’s immune system at its peak. Not only do fermented millet products act as natural probiotics but millets’ whole grain also shows pre-biotic activity, boosting the population of friendly bacteria that play a key role to promote digestion.

Although it would be nice to say that millets are synonymous to perfection, they do contain anti-nutrients. The proportions of these anti-nutrients can be cut down by simple food processing techniques like decortication, germination, malting, and fermentation.

Last but not the least, here’s another bonus – with the monsoon setting in, get set to include millets in your children’s diet because it is a warming grain that will help to heat the body in cold or rainy seasons and climates!

Make Sure Your Budding Athlete Eats Like A Champion

Being on top of the game doesn’t just require the best gear and right training but it’s also about being prepared inside out. It is incorrect to think that nutrition aimed at enhancing performance on the athletic field is only the prerogative of professional athletes.  Whether your kids are competitive athletes or weekend warriors, athletic performance is at its best only with the right nutrition.

Successful sports training and stellar performance come with adequate calorie intake to support energy expenditure and maintain strength, endurance, muscle mass and overall health. Briefly, nutrients that are important for your little athlete are iron, calcium, potassium, high glycemic carbs, and protein.

Why is nutrition important?

The muscle needs food to exercise. So it first uses its own store of glucose (called glycogen) followed by the liver’s store. However, when the sport requires repeated bursts of energy or energy over an extended period of time, the glycogen stores run out. This results in muscle fatigue (commonly called “hitting the wall”) and the athletes either have to stop or drastically reduce the pace.

Therefore, a pre-exercise meal is of utmost importance as it helps prevent the young sportsman from going hungry during the exercise bout and also maintains the blood glucose levels for the muscle to keep recharging itself through the activity.

So, the key to stamina and endurance is to include carbohydrates which release glucose slowly and therefore last over the entire exercise period. So is a glass of milk, a banana or a fistful of dry fruits enough? Not really!

Food choices should be high in complex carbohydrate (high-glycemic), low in fat and moderate in protein. Make sure to fuel your child with a fiber rich mixed millet milk porridge sweetened with jaggery or date syrup or a couple of oat idlis with a glass of milk.

Even a boiled potato whole wheat sandwich with a glass of milk can do wonders for your child’s game. Make sure to avoid high-fat foods as they may cause stomach discomfort.

During exercise, hydration is the mantra. In the absence of thirst, experts recommend that kids drink water or other fluids before beginning their activity and every 15 to 20 minutes during physical activity.

Coconut water, diluted juices, lemon juice, watermelon juice are superb choices. Sugary drinks and carbonated drinks are a strict no-no.

Last but not the least – nutrition post-exercise. Experts recommend that you feed your child carbs within 30 minutes after intense activity and again 2 hours later. Refueling with ample carbohydrates and moderate protein means you’re on the right track. But most of us take the wrong step here. Carbohydrates don’t equate to glucose alone, so loading up on glucose tablets or reaching out for off the shelf juices post exercise can harm the pancreas in the long run. This is because it is overworked in producing loads of insulin to deal with the glucose glut.

Ideal food would be high-glycemic foods like millets, brown rice and lean meat, boiled chicken or whole pulses along with some fat like butter, ghee. It’s important that the post-activity meal be a balance of protein, carbs, and fat.

Understanding young athlete’s nutrition requirement is quite tricky. So keep these tit-bits in mind and do reach out for professional help in managing their nutrition as it is very important in determining the course of their health and the game!

HOW THESE KIDS SURPRISED THEIR DADS ON FATHER’S DAY WILL MAKE YOU SMILE

On Father’s Day, kids do their best to show their dads that extra bit of love and appreciation. And since we directly interact with kids on a daily basis, we decided to help them out.

MonkeyBox delivers fresh, nutritious, and delicious meals to school kids during their mealtimes, every day, and is a refreshing alternative to the average tiffin box. So, a few days before Father’s Day, we slipped the following note into the kids’ MonkeyBoxes, inviting them to do something special for their dads.

 

Father's Day

We asked them to do something simple: write a special message to their dads on the note, and send it back to us in their empty MonkeyBoxes. Out of over 500 notes sent, we received an overwhelming number of responses from the kids. Take a look at some of the cutest ones below – believe us, we had a hard time picking!

 

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What happened next was a surprise for both the unsuspecting dads and their excited kids. We delivered the notes to the dads on Father’s Day! The end result was a large number of euphoric dads, and tons of brownie points scored for their kids at home. To us, that sounds like a mission well accomplished.

Out of the many hundreds, here are responses from some very surprised Dads.

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responssAt MonkeyBox, we know the things that make kids happy. And nothing makes them happy like seeing a smile on their parents’ faces. We hope this little surprise did just that and a little more.