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It was one lazy Sunday evening when my “dur ki aunty” had come visiting. My daughter, a two-year hyperactive toddler was drinking her favorite Junior Horlicks milk from her favorite Doremon mug. The aunty was observing my daughter very keenly. After the initial pleasantries, she asked me what I had I mixed in the milk. I told her that its Junior Horlicks. At that, she gave me an expression which could make up for disgust, worry, pain and sympathy all at the same time. To add to it she very wisely ( ?? ) told me, “Beta. You should not give such health drinks to our children. It contains a lot of sugar and besides, they are not recommended by doctors. In our times, we used to do so many things for our children like various types of parathas, kheer, daliya, various fruit juices, etc. Today’s mothers don’t have time to manage the healthy diet at home. So you have to depend so much on such short cut and fancy health drinks.
Even though I didn’t feel offended by her comment (going by her reputation of being nasty), it surely got me thinking. Am I really so busy that I can't manage my daughter's diet? Am I using short cut foods to save my time? Can’t I make variety of food rather than simply making my baby sip on the yummy milk she loves so much? Aunties do have their way of getting judgmental about our food choices. But they don’t realize how badly it affects mothers.
I thought about my childhood. Yes. We did not have many such fancy health drinks then. But we would have loved to have it. I love the flavored milk today as well.
Yes. Our mother made so many varieties of foods. But even the quality of food was unquestionable those days. Even a simple “aloo ki sabjee” would taste divine compared to the drab taste of potatoes we have today. The fruits, the vegetables, the grains all were grown with little pesticides and were fresh from the farm. The nutrient value was intact and so whatever the mother made tasted great. But not today.
The fact is, even if a mother decides to make every single thing at home today, will it be enough?? Even if you personally buy the vegetables, clean them, chop them and cook them – do they have enough nutrition? We do not know where exactly they are grown – a fresh farm in the village or next to the railway line. And what do we know about the fruits anyways?? Apples have a layer of wax on them while bananas are ripened with calcium carbide. Spinach contains pesticides so strong that it actually tastes bitter and we can’t even think about what goes inside the porous surface of cauliflower and cabbage.
So, to conclude, our food does not have complete nutrition. PERIOD. And health drinks are a necessity today. They not only complete the amount of calories required for healthy diet, they also provide various proteins, calcium and iron to boost the cognitive growth and brain development. When I was reading Rujuta Divekar’s book on weight loss and food nutrition, I was really surprised when she suggested that every one of us should take a protein shake once in awhile. Initially my mind did not accept it – artificial protein shake?? No way!! But as I read through her entire book, I realized how our food today is terribly deficient of proteins and amino acids. Same applies to an athlete who wants to build his body. Same applies to our children, who have to grow healthy and intelligent without a deficiency.
So, ignoring all the “culturally threatening” comments by the aunty, I am happy that I am “filling in the gaps of nutrition” in my baby’s diet. And mothers do not make a blind choice. I had selected Junior Horlicks based on a detailed research on its ingredients and my doctor’s advice. And I can very much see the good effects – though it is a combined effect of food and the drink. So once and for all, I hope people stop judging the mothers for the choice of food they make for their children. They know better.