Solution to address teen nutrition woes

What we know about food, nutrition and wellness today, is more than ever before. You’ll find a section dedicated to these subjects in almost every kind of media out there. However, despite the abundance of information, malnutrition in various forms continues to plague the human race.

This can be ascribed to the fact that we don’t quite know how to put all of this information into everyday practice.

A recent study published in Preventive Medicine indicates that one out of every three adolescents across the globe run the risk of developing lifestyle diseases such as diabetes and cancer.

The primary reason for this impending risk is a low intake of fruits and vegetables in the adolescent group. We could easily reduce the burden of disease and poor health by making sure that children eat more of this food group.

Although it sounds fairly simple, anyone who has dealt with adolescent children will agree that it is not! Efforts directed towards including veggies and fruits in every meal, in some form or the other, would ensure achieving the desired goal. Eating fruit at breakfast is a simple and straightforward way to eat right as the day begins. Unfortunately, not many adolescent kids like to abide by this measure. For this non-abiding lot, here is what can be done:

Add veggies to egg/paneer. Scramble eggs, paneer or tofu with onion, capsicum, tomato and spinach. Make sure to add a substantial amount of these veggies to the preparation, and avoid restricting the role of veggies to that of a garnishing.

Add fruit to milk/yoghurt to prepare lassi, milkshake or a smoothie. For those who prefer a savoury drink, you could prepare buttermilk with mint leaves.

Whether it is pancake or a sandwich, make sure to add fruits/veggies to it. Fruit can be added to the batter of the pancake or can be used as a topping. Veggies can go into the filling of the sandwich or can be used to prepare the sandwich spread. These spreads work well as a substitute for butter. A tomato chutney or salsa is another great way to get your dose of veggies and fruits.

Parathas or cheelas are common breakfast items for many of us. Even when we add a veggie stuffing to the paratha, the amount used is miniscule, therefore a better idea is to add spinach puree or beetroot puree to the dough before kneading it. Finely chopped veggies can be added to the cheela batter while cooking.

Green peas or beans can be made a part of savoury breakfast preparations such as cutlets or tikkis. Another good idea is to keep handy grated carrot/pumpkin or boiled and mashed sweet potato at all times, so that it can be added to recipes as desired.

My book Our Kid Eats Everything! is all about getting your kids to eat right without the fight.