My elder son is an extremely picky eater. In last the 3 years after he stopped breastfeeding, I really do not remember a time when I have not been worried or bogged down because my son wasn’t eating enough. He was hardly eating, I was quite convinced that he was definitely falling short on significant nutrients that he requires in his initial years of growth. By the time he was 2 years old, I was contemplating various options on how I could supplement the nutrition that he was falling short of.
In the meanwhile, I met a cousin who had kids slightly older than my son and shared with her my concerns about his eating habits and how I need to start some supplements for him. I remember mentioning to her very categorically that how she was lucky that her kids were enthusiastic eaters and she did not have to worry about supplementing their nutritional requirements. She took a deep sigh and told me that as vegetarians, we ran a high risk of losing out on various nutrients that vegetarian foods cannot provide adequately. Thus she too had to resort to health food drink for her kids. Her reply surprised me and I decided to take this up with my doc.
On my next visit to the family doctor I brought up the issue and following were my most significant points to take away from the discussion –
- A meal devoid of meat, fish and eggs is generally devoid of sufficient amount of nutrients like vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium, Omega-3 etc.
- Though most of the above nutrients are available in milk and dairy products, they may not be sufficient to fulfill the needs of a healthy growth rate among children.
- Vegetarian or non-vegetarian picky eaters run a risk of hampered growth due to various deficiencies from an age as early as 2 years onwards.
- Nutrients such as DHA and Choline play a vital role in development of brain cells. Incidentally DHA is available in extremely limited vegetarian food items such as flax seeds, soy products etc. And introducing these foods to toddlers may be a little tricky especially in case of picky eaters.
Thus my family doctor’s safest bet to ensure that my kid got all the nutrients that he needed was to introduce him to a health drink that contained all the necessary nutrition to ensure healthy physical and brain development and at the same time was tasty enough to make it easy to include it in his daily diet.
I had been prescribed a mother’s health drink by Horlicks’ during my pregnancy. And as I recalled my pregnancy that was laced with food aversions, the health drink was a high point of my meal routine that I looked forward to. Thus I checked with my doc if Junior Horlicks’ was a good choice. Once he approved of the alternative, I began by mixing a small quantity of Junior Horlicks’ in my son’s milk, so as to acclimatize him with new taste. To my relief he took it positively, so within a week I was adding the prescribed quantity to his daily milk intake.
Within a couple of months,I could see some definite positive effects. Ability to engage himself in any activity with sustained level of interest was one of the most significant impacts. Also, earlier my little one used to be extremely fidgety and lacked interest in following instructions. His reactions to certain situations were sometimes very aggressive. But with time, he began to look more composed and confident about himself and displayed significant improvement in terms of following instructions at play-school.
Even if I discounted the behavioral irregularities to growth spurts and credited the subsequent settling down of the same to time, I felt very nice about a health drink in my kid’s otherwise stingy diet routine, because I knew that not only was it aiding in proper brain development, but was also a source of sufficient proteins to provide for a good physical growth and not to forget, its immuno-nutrients were actively working towards a stronger immune system.