Navratri Fasting 2019: The much-awaited festival of Navratri is finally here. Apart from all pomp and merry, an important part of the festivities is the ritual of fasting.
During Navratri, people usually observe the characteristic fast where they eat Satvik food, including sabudana, makhana, fruits, vegetables, milk products and some special flours. With adults fasting in the house, some kids may also tend to follow the fasting rules during the nine-day festival. But with kids still in their growing years, is it healthy for them to fast?
Express Parenting got in touch with Dr Asmita Mahajan, consultant neonatologist and pediatrician, SL Raheja Hospital, to find out if you should let your kids fast this Navratri.
Should kids fast during Navratri?
Kids up to the age of seven should not ideally fast during Navratri, Dr Mahajan suggested. “Children — whose bodies are still growing — have a high metabolism rate. So, their calorie and protein requirements are also high. I wouldn’t recommend small children to fast, definitely not those below the age of seven because that’s when the brain and body develop rapidly. The general consensus is that kids who are in their teens can start fasting,” she said.
Even if kids are fasting, they should not skip breakfast, recommended the pediatrician. She explained, “As you know, breakfast is very important, especially in the case of kids. So, skipping breakfast is not good for them, specially for their cognitive and behavioural function. Of course, if it that happens temporarily, during the days of the festival, it won’t have an impact in the long run. But during the day, the child may feel tired and exhausted and may not be able to concentrate on studies and other activities. In the case of strict fasting, they might suffer dehydration or gastritis, leading to abdominal pain or even vomiting.”
What should parents do?
For kids who are seven and above, you can introduce them to fasting gradually, said Dr Mahajan. Kids are anyway fasting overnight and if they don’t get the requisite amount of calories and protein in the morning, their entire day may not go very well.
Parents can explain the concept and the importance of fasting during Navratri. You can start by getting kids to fast for a few hours in a day than what is routinely done by adults. You can also teach them by asking them to abstain from having some favourite food item.
Tips for kids fasting during Navratri
Dr Mahajan advised, “If at all kids are fasting, they should always have the food allowed during fasting ready in their tiffin or other meals like sabudana khichdi or Navratri-special snacks. Bananas also give a lot of energy and potassium to the child. If the kid is feeling weak or dizzy, give them a banana immediately, as this will boost their energy.”
Parents should also make sure that their kids stay hydrated during Navratri. “Kids should have lots of water and fruit juices. Your kids need to maintain their protein and calorie intake despite fasting,” Dr Mahajan emphasised.