Jan 10, 2019

Book Review: Notes for Healthy Kids by Rujuta Diwekar

Ever since Rujuta announced this book, I've been eagerly awaiting its launch. Having read all her previous books, I resonate with her approach towards nutrition, fitness and health. Though I may not agree with every single tip/guideline that she shares in her books, I totally subscribe to her underlying philosophy of eating local, seasonal and traditional foods.

A few months back, I was at a book store and was skimming through another popular book on kids nutrition written by another celebrity nutritionist. I knew this book wasn't my type when I came across a strict calorie-based approach and suggesting 2 rotis for lunch, 150 ml of milk for after-school drink etc, all measured to the T. We are raising children, not robots.

Coming to "Notes for Healthy Kids", Rujuta in her trademark style describes the various factors that are impacting the health of today's children. And parents alone cannot be blamed for it. It is a systemic failure due to poor regulations, biased policies and lack of efforts from the Government.

The book gives equal importance to nutrition, exercise, physical activity and sleep. Apart from addressing parents on the importance of each of these aspects, there are also chapters that elderly kids and teens can read and relate to. Rujuta has also shared some interesting anecdotes from her interactions with her clients. The one on oats noodles with veggies cracked me up. And I was so happy to see her calling out the amounts of sugar and other artificial ingredients in packaged "health drinks" like Horlicks, Bournvita etc. Something that most Indian mothers and grandmothers believe to be quintessential in a child's diet. Towards the end of the book, Rujuta has listed down all packaged foods and she advises not to exceed 1-2 times a month. This includes packaged cheese cubes, yes, the ones which go into the snack box every single day. 

Here are three important key take-aways for me from this book.
  • Rujuta shares 4 important "food fundas" for parents, out of which I'm following 3 of them. I have eliminated most junk foods from my daughter's diet, cook local, seasonal and traditional foods for her and don't talk to her about individual nutrients like protein, calcium, iron etc. I feed her according to her appetite. When she says enough, I stop. I have never force fed her. We eat simple dinners before 8PM on most days. So far, so good. The area I need to work on are
    • HOW my daughter eats. Rujuta recommends the three S's of eating right - sit, switch off, senses. I need to follow this important rule as well. 
  • Ninety minutes of free play every single day. Given that we live in an apartment with limited outdoor space, she is bored to play in the same place everyday. I'll have to figure out something to encourage her to step outdoors and play often.
  • Stay active and help around. Involving kids with chores and tasks at home is extremely important to enable them to become more self reliant and independent. Now that my daughter is 7, I should involve her more often in various tasks at home.
The book also gives food guidelines based on different age groups, specific health situations and ailments, which can be a handy reference.

Overall, I loved reading this book and I would highly recommend it to all parents. 

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