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Sidhaarth was soaked in sweat after a tiring tennis session. He could not wait to get home as the hunger pangs had become almost unbearable. He was greeted by his grandmother when he rang the doorbell. His grandparents had moved-in with them a little while ago. His mother, Malini was busy preparing vegetable sandwiches in the kitchen as she was well aware that as soon as Sidhaarth sets foot in home he would ask for something to eat. She hurriedly placed the sandwiches in Sidhaarth’s favorite plate along with a generous dollop of his favorite homemade tomato chutney. As she made her way out of the kitchen, she could hear the faint chattering of Sidhaarth from his grandmother’s room. As she entered the room with her delicacy she saw him emptying almost a whole bowl of aloo bhujiya which his grandmother had offered to him as she thought it would instantly satisfy his hunger. Sidhaarth said a strict no to the vegetable sandwiches which Malini was offering to him. Once again, Malini was not happy at the fact that he had finished a serving of aloo bhujiya and the healthy sandwiches which she had prepared so lovingly were rejected by him as he was no longer hungry now. This had become a regular affair in the house. Malini had made umpteen efforts to make her mother in law realize that such packaged, fried snacks were very detrimental for Sidhaarth’s well-being who was just seven years old. All her efforts to feed healthy snacks had been going down the drain lately. On the other hand, her mother in law did not think of it as a big deal. She had a standard answer whenever Malini confronted her,” Kabhie kabhie khaane se kuch nahi hota, bacha itna bhooka tha to usne kha liya”. But Malini knew that this ‘kabhie kabhie’ had become an almost daily thing. Not only snack time was challenging for her to deal with but Sidhaarth would eat almost anything at any time and this had severely affected his meal times. He had stopped eating almost all vegetables as he found the packaged biscuits, namkeens and chips way more tempting to eat. Malini was constantly worried as she knew that Sidhaarth was missing out on proper nutrition. She had to find out a way to break the cycle of unhealthy snacking and reintroduce freshly made, nutritious food in her son’s lifestyle.
The instance that I have narrated is based on a real time conversation that I had with a friend recently. I had been noticing a worried look on her face for quite some time and one day she shared what was troubling her with me. The only advice that I gave her was to have a heart to heart talk with her mother in law and to get rid of the aloo bhujiya and similar things. She had to be firm yet gentle in stating her viewpoint in front of her. After all they were going to live as a family under one roof and neither heated confrontation nor her meek acceptance of this fact would solve the issue. She would also need to have an open conversation with Sidhaarth about the detrimental effects of unhealthy snacking. Although kids are well aware of what junk food is and what it does to our body but they have to be reminded time and again as it is very easy to give in to the temptation of such foods.
Times have changed and nowadays both the parents are equally involved in each and every aspect of their children’s lives but still mothers play the most pivotal role as far as feeding the kids is concerned. Many mothers have to face very difficult times with regard to inculcating healthy food habits in their kids as some kids are very fussy eaters. It takes considerable time and effort to ensure that your child is having a healthy and nutritious diet. On the other hand those kids are very lucky who have the privilege of grandparents showering their affection on them. I know this as I live in a nuclear family and my kids really miss both the sets of grandparents. But the line between affection/care and pampering is a very fine one. It is very easy to traverse on either side. There needs to be a fine balance between the two. Grandparents need not give in to every whim and fancy of their grandchildren. They also need to understand and appreciate the efforts that mothers put in ensuring that the kids get their daily dose of nutrition. It is not at all an easy task to instill healthy dietary habits in kids. It is an immense privilege to be receiving the love of grandparents in this era of nuclear setups but at the same time it is of vital importance to take care if the fact that this love does not dive over to the other side and in any way become detrimental to the kids well-being.