All breads, pastas, waffles, bagels, cereals are made from white sticky flour, which is really harmful for our digestive system.
By Payal Kothari
Keeping teens and pre-teens off white powders is getting tougher by the minute. We are welcoming more and more international food chains who only use processed flours, refined sugars and junk. Food served or made today is far from what we would like to give our kids, which is nutrient-dense food to keep their immunity high. Feeding kids white flour or maida, white sugar, salty snacks, breads, bagels and other junk foods leads to mood swings, attitude problems and weird behaviour.
Most macronutrients used in cooking or in restaurants, even when food is ordered in, is loaded only with plain processed flour and refined sugars in the name of bread. All breads, pastas, waffles, bagels, cereals are made from white sticky flour, which is really harmful for our digestive system and the Enteric Nervous System. These grains lack fibre and micronutrients as they are way too polished in the factories, making them non-beneficial for consumption. Teenagers are in a rapid phase of physical and neurological development that requires us to pay attention to how food is doing them more harm than good. Simple changes and being able to read through ingredient labels well is a great way to avoid these gut and brain damaging foods.
Get off the invisible sugars
Don’t get fooled by an image of a field of corn and the lovely colours and try to look beyond the cover of the product you purchase. Marketing gimmicks have a huge role to play, which is why we reach out to the so-called healthy boxes. Make sure the first 3-4 ingredients are complex and fibre rich.
Avoid white products
If you are a pasta lover, it’s alright to indulge in it once or twice a week making sure the pasta is made from fibre rich grains like quinoa, wholewheat, buckwheat or even red bean pasta. Cook your pasta with different vegetable sauces, herbs and delicious fresh cheese.
Avoid ordering in too often
Cooking at home can be therapeutic as well as easy on the pocket. Cook more often with your teenagers; encourage them to feel, smell and taste different vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and cheese. Use different grains to cook and different oils to get all the good essential fats required for that body to develop into a strong and healthy one. Good fats are good for the brains to develop well too.
Don’t get fooled by gluten-free, sugar-free and fat-free labels
If gluten is removed from wheat, it will be replaced by an artificial chemical that gives the same sticky texture to the food like gluten does. If it’s sugar-free, then artificial sugar will be added to make the product sweet. And last but not the least, if fat is removed, then lard would be added to make it taste, look and feel better. So, go in for the real sugar and fat once in a while to steer clear from these harmful chemicals.
Parents and kids’ day out
Fix a grocery shopping day along with your teens, making sure they read labels well and pick a rainbow of fruits and vegetables. Encourage them to pick natural, plant-based foods rather than packaged foods.
Look beyond the bread aisle
Breads are a great source of energy, but the right kind of bread is equally important. Plain white bread can raise blood sugar levels and increase fat around the hips, thighs and belly. Encourage more fibre rich grain breads like amaranth, jowar and quinoa breads. Baking breads at home can be a great option for cooking on Family Days.
Encourage consumption of natural starches and sugars
Pick whole fruits, root vegetables, rich grains, unprocessed flours and lots of fresh water to drink throughout the day.
Quick meals, instant packets, snacks etc. are high in sodium, sugar and preservatives. These lead to various simple and chronic illnesses. Make sure you and your child are getting natural foods in more rather than processed. Hormonal changes, mood swings and PCOS are one of the major problems teenagers especially face, thanks to ignorance, lack of time to cook and ordering in way more than should be allowed. Guidelines need to be laid down by the adults of the family to avoid obesity and various other problems.
(The writer is an integrative and functional nutritionist.)