Are we going overboard when it comes to giving food choices to children?
Watch any channel on the television and you are likely to be bombarded with numerous food options for breakfast, lunch and dinner or even for after-school-hours snack time for children. These advertisements make you wonder if children have become fussy over the years or are we making them accustomed to new menus on the plate everyday.
Undoubtedly regular cooking has become more experimental and innovative than one could have imagined even a few years ago. Being a chef is cool and if you are a mom who can present innovative and fancy food frequently, it seems to up your cool quotient. Young children are getting used to a new cuisine every week. There are multiple options being showcased on television, food blogs, cookbooks, specialised classes in neighbourhoods and even available as key ingredients for menus on the shelves of supermarkets.
Walk to a supermarket and one is bound to be greeted with chocolate syrups to make milk more tastier to various forms of pastas, varieties of noodles to specialised cereals in mind-boggling flavours and not to forget series of special fruits and veggies that are sourced across shores to make a dish that none knew when we were young. But when the choices are overwhelming for someone who cooks regularly for families and for kids, is there a need to control how much we cook or is it time to enjoy the multitude of food options?
Says Nirguna Suresh, mom to two young daughters, “I have been brought up in a health-conscious environment by my parents and since the time I have become a mother, it has been like a natural action for me to give my kids a host of healthy options. I personally do not feel it is overdoing my activity as this suits my family perfectly fine. This does not mean that I buy instant foods or packaged foods. There is variety for my children even a noodle or pasta has wholesome nutritious accompaniments. Moreover when as parents we can afford variety, what is the need to hold back on the options we give to children?”
While there are moms who feel being experimental in cooking is a matter of choice, on the other hand there is a tendency towards instant food and dining out.
Marketers view children as emerging consumers. Pester power and a disposable income leads to culinary experiments.
Says Vidhya Ramasubramanian, a nutritionist and a mother of a five-year-old, “I have met a few mothers, who are quite obsessed with every meal having to be nutritious and they over feed their child. As long as you can balance out on how much to cook including buying special ingredients with your regular food, it is fine. Have a blend of food options including simple menus featured on your weekly menu list.”
For Smitha Anand Rao, a mother to two kids and an architect, “I have one child who is a picky eater and the other who is really casual about food like me. Generally, I keep my cooking priority simple and believe in presenting fresh food. However, I do allow for a few easy options in my kitchen, considering the practical constraints my life. It is after all about choices and I am clear on not being a super-mom.”
In the age of consumerism, perhaps it is on to the parents how one can present healthy choices and yet not forget that being simple and plain is fun and acceptable too, even when it comes to food.