Q: How can I treat my kids to their favourite foods but still ensure they are getting a healthy diet?
A: One of the simplest ways to moderate your child's intake of treat foods is to establish a healthy approach to portion control. If your child loves sweets, set out an agreed upon portion in advance so that their expectations are managed and you are ensuring they aren't getting too much of a good thing. Another strategy is to replace high energy/high fat ingredients with healthier alternatives. For example, if your children love to eat pizza, why not make a healthier pizza with a wheat base, lots of vegetables and their favourite cheese. A sandwich can be made healthier by using wheat bread/multi-grain bread with their favourite veggies,egg slices and can be served with interesting dips and sauces.
Q: Are the natural trans fats in dairy as harmful for the body as man-made trans fats?
A: There have been some suggestions that naturally occurring trans fats are less harmful than commercially made ones. The reason for this suggestion is that man-made trans fats are created when healthy, polyunsaturated or monounsaturated liquid vegetable oils go through a process called partial hydrogenation. However the current scientific evidence is inconclusive. The main effect of trans fats (whether natural or man made) is that they raise 'bad' cholesterol levels and decrease 'good' cholesterol levels, which increases the risk for heart disease.
For heart health, it is recommended that you try to limit pastries, pies, biscuits and cakes,mathris, kachoris etc. to only occasionally and eat less than 2g trans fat each day.
Q: My teenage daughter is skipping breakfast at the moment. What are the benefits of eating a healthy breakfast?
A: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, as it is a long time since the body was last refuelled. A nutritious and sustaining breakfast will supply her with the energy she needs to get the day off to the right start. A breakfast that is high in carbohydrate will supply energy for muscles and the brain. A healthy nutritious breakfast prevents you from binge eating on unhealthy snacks throughout the day and can contribute to healthy eating. Carbohydrate foods that are good breakfast choices include bread, cereal, fruit, milk and yogurt. Wholegrain breads and cereals are the best option for breakfast, as they contain carbohydrates, essential nutrients and dietary fibre, which is important for inner balance. Many breakfast cereals are also fortified with vitamins and minerals to help boost daily nutrition. If time in the mornings is limited, try quick options like reduced fat-yogurt like NESTLÉ SLIM dahi, wholegrain toast or a piece of fruit.
Q: What are the best drinks to put in my child's lunchbox?
A: Water and reduced-fat milk are the best drinks for children to drink most of the time. They can be frozen to help keep foods in the lunch box cool. A small tetra pack or bottle (200 ml) of fruit juice is also OK. Sweet drinks such soft drinks are high in sugar. It's best to keep these drinks as special treats.
Q: It's challenging to make sure my family has healthy choices – what should I look for in an evening meal?
A: When planning an evening meal, start with a carbohydrate base. This could start with some breadsticks or croutons in soups for evening snack. For dinner, cereals like chapatti (preferably from multi-grain flour), rice (brown rice is a healthier option) should be included, Include a source of protein such as pulses, lean meat, , fish, eggs, tofu or a glass of milk (low fat like Nestlé Slim milk) Add a colourful mix of vegetables and/or fruit to provide fibre, vitamins and minerals. The evening meal can be an opportunity to make up for a poor intake of particular nutrients. For example, if family members struggle with getting adequate calcium, make a pasta sauce or curry based vegetable with milk or cheese.. If iron absorption is a problem, combine lean red meat or green leafy vegetables with vegetables rich in vitamin C. If your family members are reluctant vegetable eaters, hide grated carrot and zucchini in spaghetti sauce or slice some raw vegetable sticks as appetisers. Serve a wide variety of foods and your family will receive all the nutrients they require.
Q: Are stir fries healthy?
A: Stir-frying is an excellent way to prepare a healthy meal. In addition to encouraging vegetable consumption, they require very little fat to get a delicious result. The technique is fairly straightforward. A small amount of oil is used at high temperatures to quickly sear the food. Additional flavourings such as salt-reduced soy sauce, oyster sauce, garlic, chilli and ginger can be used to help bring the dish to life. Vegetable sizzlers or vegetable skewers can also be eaten with interesting dips .
Q: My kids are all very active and by the time we get them home after school activities, they are starving. How can I feed them quickly without sacrificing taste and nutrition?
A: There are a few strategies to use. The first is to plan ahead, keep the fridge and pantry well-stocked and master a few quick recipes such as stir-fries, sandwiches, parantha rolls/vegetable wraps , pasta sauces and curries. Use time-saving products such as minced herbs, bottled pasta sauce, flavour bases and frozen vegetables. Supplement these with fresh ingredients to create quick, tasty and nutritious meals. Another option is to double-up when cooking meals. For eg Idlis made in breakfast can be turned into idlies with sautéed vegetables as a snack/meal for lunch. A final option is to give the kids a quick snack to take the edge off their hunger - a bowl of soup, a milkshake, sandwich or a parantha roll are good examples of easy, nutritious snack choices.