Food and nutrition are known to play an important role in building a healthy immune system. Therefore, it is necessary to give equal importance to the food we eat and what we feed our children, especially in these times. There are certain micronutrients that, when consumed, can provide additional health benefits for children.
* Try and include fruits and vegetables in the diet. Give them freshly cut salads, large batches of soups and stews. The inclusion of seasonal fruits and vegetables is very essential, as they are rich sources of essential micronutrients and minerals. Try to include all the colors of fruits and vegetables in the diet, as that will include a wide spectrum of vitamins and minerals essential for the body. Be careful to add vitamin C-rich foods like citrus fruits, zinc-rich foods like whole grains, baked beans, and nuts to your diet. These can provide protection against viral infections.
* It is recommended to eat freshly cooked foods, preferably homemade, since they will be nutritious and hygienic for children, thus reducing the risk of intestinal infections. Adding milk and milk-based products like curd will help maintain good health, and foods fortified with vitamin D can also be a helpful contribution.
* Avoid processed, artificially colored, and artificially preserved foods as they have a high amount of saturated fatty acids, sugars, and salt. Avoid sugary drinks. Instead, replacing them with lemon water, adding cucumber, or herbs like mint leaves and parsley are great ways to hydrate throughout the day. Make sure your child consumes eight to 10 cups of fluids throughout the day. Liquids can include unsweetened milk, fresh citrus juices, coconut water, etc.
* Following a fixed eating routine, such as eating together as a family, can promote healthy family time. Avoid watching television or any type of screen during meals. Take the opportunity to make meals fun for kids, so they can eat a healthy and nutritious diet. Help them make their decisions and make them part of the decision-making process when planning meals.
* For babies and infants, breastfeeding is important and should not stop during the pandemic. Exclusive breastfeeding is essential for babies up to six months, starting with complementary foods in the sixth month and continuing until two years, as recommended by UNICEF. If a mother is not well, she can give expressed breast milk to the baby. Breast milk is known to strengthen babies’ immune systems and protect them from infections.
* Lastly, maintaining a healthy mind with a healthy body is of utmost importance. Teach children to express gratitude for the food they eat and always keep mealtime happy. The thinking with which we consume food also helps to secrete the correct enzymes and digestive agents essential for proper digestion. A healthy body with a healthy mind, along with all the necessary precautions, such as washing our hands, wearing a mask and maintaining social distance, must prepare our children in their fight against COVID-19.