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Unfortunately, malnutrition is a very common problem in India. With over 20% of the country's children suffering from undernutrition, it is time for us take a step to address this issue. While, the statistics in India are alarming, Indians as a community, have traditional foods that provide all the nutrition they need. Here are some of the traditional Indian foods that can help your child stay healthy and well nourished from infancy to adulthood. You may also like to read about the difference between malnutrition and undernourishment.
Traditional Indian foods for babies
Ragi kanji : This is a sort of porridge that is made for babies in India. Made from sprouted ragi (nachni), milk and palm jaggery this mixture is extremely nutritious and helps your baby grow and gain weight healthily. What makes it so potent is the fact that ragi has a great mix of vitamins, minerals, iron and amino acids that helps boost your child's immunity and improve the functioning of their nervous system. Palm jaggery helps the your baby get enough calcium and iron that aid in the proper formation of his/her bones and organs. Apart from that it's high fibre content also helps keep your baby's digestive tract healthy. You may also like to read about the health benefits of ragi.
How to make it:
Lentil water or dal ka paani: Rich in manganese, iron, dietary fibre and other essential vitamins and minerals, daal ka paani is a common weaning food, or a food that helps a baby transition to solid food. usually fed to a baby when he/she is about six months old, this mixture is made using either moong daal (yellow gram) or masoor dal (red lentils) and is great to help fulfil your baby's nutritional needs.
How to make this mixture:
Rice water: Packed with starch, rice water is yet another food that is given to babies when they are around six years of age. A weaning food, or one that is given when the child has to be introduced to solid food, rice water help give your child energy, aids in proper digestion, helps improve the quality of their skin and helps rehydrate your baby if he/she has just had a bout of vomiting or diarrhoea. You may also like to read about the health benefits of rice.
How to make this mixture?
Some pediatricians advise against rice water because kanji is more nutritious. It depends on whether the baby is gaining weight and able to digest new food and you must discuss it with the doctor.
Traditional Indian foods for toddlers and adolescent children
Egg and milk with sesame seed oil (til oil): It is a common tradition in most South Indian families, practiced when a girl reaches puberty. This mix helps strengthen her bones, nourishes her muscles and especially helps her beat anaemia -- a very common problem in pubescent girls. The egg in the mixture helps give the girl child's body enough zinc, iron, vitamins A, B and D, riboflavin, calcium, iron, phosphorous, lutein, choline (A compound necessary for brain development) and cholesterol. And milk helps provide essential calcium her body needs to prevent bone loss and improves the absorption of calcium for the food she eats. It is also a great source for proteins that helps build muscle and repair tissue. You may also like to read about the health benefits of egg.
Another part of this mixture is sesame oil, which helps strengthen her bones and has folic acid which helps prevent anaemia. Till or sesame oil is also known to reduce the pitta (or heat) levels in the girl's body and is known in Ayurveda to help improve vaginal health by increasing lubrication. You may also like to read about the health benfits of til oil.
How to make this mixture:
Administered for four days, when a girl has her first menstrual cycle, this mixture is fairly easy to make.
This can be a difficult mixture to drink at first due to the taste of til oil. A good way to beat that is to have her drink a few sips of the milk, then have the oil and top it off with milk. This does take some getting used to and is an acquired taste.
Gond ke laddu
A common food given to nursing mothers, gond ke laddoo are known to help increase lactation in new mothers. This laddoo is often served with milk and is high in nutrients, especially calcium, folic acid and vitamins. Known to help strengthen the bones of the mother and child, these laddoos are high in calories and help the baby gain weight. Commonly made in North India and by Maharastrians, gond ke laddoo are fed to young children and not toddlers.
How to make this laddu:
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