Amongst several healthy foods, consuming oats has been considered beneficial and forms a vital part of one’s diet. And why not? If we revisit the components of oats, these gluten-free grains are rich in fiber beta-glucan, antioxidants, carbohydrates, and proteins.
Considering how oats have come to become a buzzword for health-conscious people, parents feeding oatmeal to their toddlers is not an unknown fact. But what if we tell you that oats, in fact, could be acting as a detrimental food supplement for your kids? And instead of the usual role oats play in an adult’s health, the same cannot be said when it comes to your child’s health.
As such in a conversation with indianexpress.com, Dr Priyanka Jaiswal, co-founder and chief dietician at Diet2Nourish, elaborates on the disbenefits of adding oats to your toddler’s diet. Calling it a “marketing gimmick,” she stresses the need to readopting the age-old baby food habits followed by the older generation.
“Toddlers are at an age where their growth is extremely fast-paced and keeping that in mind, their diet needs to be brimming with nutritious foods. They need a diet that provides them with a good amount of energy and nourishment, not fiber and antioxidants that oats are rich in,” informed Dr Jaiswal said.
Suggesting not to add oats to a child’s diet at least till the age of five (only if required), she explains, “Fiber is needed for a particular reason. Oats majorly come to aid when one needs help curing constipation. I suggest oats to parents if the child is obese or facing problems with motion. But if the child is healthy and has a normal system, I never recommend oats.”
On asking how oats affect a child’s health, Jaiswal listed the following reasons:
“Every diet is customised depending on a child’s needs. Similarly, oats are added to the child’s diet who actually requires it. At the root of it, oats affect the child’s natural growth. There is less protein in oats compared to other essential food items. Moreover, oats are very heavy on the digestive system, which means if you are feeding oats to your child, it will take a long time for him/her to digest. Because of that, the child will not feel hungry as quickly as they should and will end up skipping their next meal,” she states.
Dr. Jaiswal further points out how processed oats are. “Cooking grains like oats require a lot of time. They cannot be cooked easily. So all these ‘one-minute oatmeal’ schemes only tell how processed they are, which should automatically be a big no-no when it comes to a child consuming it. It only means you are feeding your baby highly-processed food.”
Keeping in mind how consuming oats has become standard practice, even so for today’s kids, we ask Dr Jaiswal as to what got this habit into place. “I believe promoting oats is all a marketing gimmick. It is because these oats companies wanted to increase their target audience and children and toddlers are huge contributors to the companies.
“There are several beneficial replacements for oats such as sago (saboodana), green vegetables, and seasonal fruits that actually contain a good amount of vitamins, minerals, and other nutritious elements that a child needs. Rather than getting swayed by these marketing stunts and getting influenced by the West’s culture, we need to go back to our ancient roots. Indian food habits are powerful and extremely nutritious for a growing kid,” she concludes.