We all want our children to grow up happy and healthy. So, it is truly frightening to discover that childhood obesity, attention deficit, hyperactivity and anxiety disorders are all on the rise in India. However, according to Harvard Medical Journal¹, if we introduce naturally nutritious foods and mindful exercises like Yoga to kids as early as possible, we can start to reverse these trends.
Bad posture, shallow breathing and muscle tightness are not a natural state of being. Kids today spend an inordinate amount of time slouched at their computers, video games, television and on cell phones, forgetting healthy ways of moving and breathing. They also face increasing pressures in school to perform and fit in.
- Before you enroll your child in a yoga class, you should know what the programme involves and make sure that the instructor is qualified to teach children, not just adults.
- Meet the instructor or observe a class to determine whether your child will feel comfortable.
- Remember that yoga is not competitive; don’t compare your children with others, or strain or push them to be like someone else. Let them go at their own pace.
- A fun workout for kids that increases children’s coordination and awareness levels, helps to strengthen joints as well as the core, can also aid in other physical activities. Additionally, it helps to develop focus and concentration.
Yoga is usually associated with adult fitness. However, more studies are showing that these mind-body fitness modalities can help children grow and develop into strong, healthy, and centred adults. The below nutrition tips help to bring mindful eating. As the saying goes – “It is important to know how much we eat than what we eat”.
- Children need a good start every morning. Put aside the sugar laden, colourful cereals that will only make them hungry in an hour’s time. Instead, cook them a hot breakfast like idli, dosa, upma or whole wheat pancakes. Include protein as part of their breakfast mains or accompaniments. This ensures a well balanced combination of protein, calcium, iron and the B vitamins.
- Always prepare a fresh meal. Frozen, packaged and left-over foods should be restricted to a maximum.
- Opt for a miracle pre-yoga snack such as groundnuts and almonds, which will keep your child going until the session.
- Eliminate soft drinks as young bones are still developing and soft drinks will rob them of precious calcium. They also contain an abundance of sugar and calories.
- It is best to do yoga on an empty stomach; 2-3 hours after a big meal, 1-2 hours after a light snack.
- Encourage only sips of water during the session and a glass of water at the end.
- Raw foods help to flush out toxins, hence include fresh fruits, veggies, seeds, nuts which is always a good choice.
For our children to have a healthy, active and long life, we as parents need to make sure their bodies and minds are properly nourished with nutrient dense whole foods, and that they learn to breathe and move in healthy ways with exercise programmes like yoga. The benefits of providing a healthy childhood will last their whole lives.
The author is Priyamvadha Chandramouli - founder, Alma Nourisher, child nutrition expert and wellness consultant.