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My son Peanut is a classic fussy eater (very agonizing considering that I love ALL food).
When he was old enough to nibble, it was such a constant struggle to get anything in his mouth. He could literally go for hours without food, sending the ‘first time mom’ in me, in complete panic mode.
Doctors gave me that know it all smirk and commented – children will never starve themselves, don’t worry.’ Oh well, Doc, as much as I tried to let my little toddler go without food for hours, eventually I would cave in and start the food offerings. I had to ensure I gave my little one the required vitamins, minerals, fat, protein and basically let him enjoy a balanced diet.
Many hours were spent trying to get creative about his food intake, and then many hours were spent trying to introduce and feed Peanut the nutritious meal. With a mouth glued so firm, it was a miracle if a few bites went through. Oh not to forget all the drama with lots of shouting and crying (both mama and son would be at wits end when the meal ended). The worst part was I was not even sure if his nutritional need was covered after all this drama.
Had he eaten enough? Would those 2 spoons of spinach be enough?
Had he eaten the required nutrients for the day? Would that quarter cup of dal be enough for his protein requirement?
I had read and heard time and again that growth in young children is rapid, so they need special nutrition. As a parent I knew all too well how fast these little munchkins grow. One day not being able to stand without support and walking independently the next day, their vocabulary explosion in days and forming sentences the next. This rapid growth needed specialized nutrition to further bolster the growth. Then the child starts to go to nursery school- a time when his immunity needs to be strong. Being a psychologist I had read and studied that a whopping 90% brain development happens by the age of 6!!! With such a small window of influence that we have, ‘nutrition’ clearly was super important for growth and immunity.
All this made me even more anxious about Peanut’s fussiness!! I felt I was completely failing as a mother if I could not even feed a balanced diet to my children. All the love in the world would not matter, if his eating habits did not improve.
Right about this time when I was at my exasperated best on the food war with my son, I met another mother in the park (the Facebook of the real world for mommies). Her 2 healthy boys were busy jumping around and since food was on top of my mind I blurted out my woes to her. She said her toddlers go through the same fussiness sometimes (sometimes!!! Wow! Lucky mom I thought) and then she recommended a health drink for toddlers! A health drink for a 2 year old!
Ok I was listening.
She continued, “You know how all us mothers know that, one cannot afford to miss out on the right nutrition in the child's foundation years.”
I nodded my head, painfully aware of this fact. I piped in “That’s exactly what my issue is; I understand the role of nutrition in the foundation years, but what one does about it?”
She smiled and said, “Well, I started giving my boys Junior Horlicks twice a day. This health drink was quite reassuring for me especially on days when my children were super fussy.”
Intrigued by now, I asked her how exactly was this helping her children?
Kind enough to humor me, she continued, “I give them this health drink with food or snacks as it helps to complete a child’s nutritional requirement when consumed with food. Now I don’t have to stress about keeping tab on my children’s calorie, vitamins and nutrient intake”.
I liked that part of ‘no stress’ and smiled.
She then asked if I had heard of DHA?
“Yessssss, I’m a mother to a vegetarian (by his own choice!). And that was my issue with plant sources, that they contained little or no DHA (a major building block of the brain that is found in high levels in the brain and eyes). I dislike the fact that my child should suffer for an otherwise healthy lifestyle choice.”
She stopped my rant and said, “So this has DHA and other important smart nutrients. Since you said Peanut is vegetarian, it may help you to know that this drink also has proteins”.
“Google darling”, she laughed and replied to my quizzical eyes. “You think I would just give anything to my kiddos!”
Now, that was super important for me to know as my ‘ghar ka khana’ was vegetarian and really could I even trust the nutrients coming in from that? What with all the preservatives and pesticides present in our ‘homely food’ and killing most if not all the nutrition in the greens! Hubby and I have both been prescribed vitamin supplement for just this reason. Well then our children were eating the same home food and so they too needed their own ‘important nutrients’ through supplements.
Just then her little one came wailing because he needed to attend to nature’s call and I was left to mull over our conversation.
I decided to try it out and after some suspicious looks by Peanut at this ‘new’ brown dudu (milk) and some prodding by us, he took his first sip.
Today Peanut may not be fond of much in the food department but the one thing he demands and laps up eagerly is his all time favourite, anytime drink – chocolate dudu.
Seeing his enthusiasm, his younger sister- Buttercup follows suit and all this leaves a happy and a content mother (with respect to the food intake, at least).
picture courtesy: http://impulso.zuhc.co/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/fussy-eaters.jpg