Dietary changes in growing girls

My girl loves sprouts and pulses of all sorts. I know they are not necessarily healthy but she is more than happy to eat a sprout salad, chana, rajma, sprout sabzi over the regular veggies. We are avid travelers and on our latest travels, she discovered a new love for black bean burgers and falafel-hummus.

While I am thrilled, she loves these healthy alternatives to nuggets and fries, unfortunately for her, she has a weak digestive system. Now, this is not something we discovered through tests but a hypothesis we derived based on how she would always complain of feeling bloated, heavy in her stomach and constant tummy aches. 

There came a time when we alternated every weekend between black bean burgers, tacos and falafel-hummus. And whenever she had the hummus and falafel wraps, the next day would go in tummy aches and discomfort. The food we make at home is always fresh so I don’t doubt the quality of the ingredients or the freshness of the food. We observed this pattern whenever she had any food made out of chickpeas and even milk.

Hence, in the past two months, I have made a lot of dietary changes for her. 

  • She used to start and end her day with a glass of warm milk with turmeric but now that has stopped. Instead, I have incorporated more cheese, paneer, soy and oats in her meals to balance the nutrients that she’s missing out on from stopping milk. 
  • I have replaced chickpeas with fava beans, broad beans, moth beans and green beans and while obviously, her favorite chickpea sandwiches and falafel/hummus do taste different- most importantly, her stomach aches and heaviness have considerably reduced.
  • Initially, I used to be obsessive about her eating a minimum number of rotis or food to keep her ‘full’ but I have learnt to withdraw from this ‘mom’ habit. I have learnt to accept that she’s old enough to understand her body and hunger, and I cannot force feed her. This acceptance itself made a world of difference as I find her demeanor to food and meal time more positive and accepting now.
  • It is okay to replace meals at times with fruits, salads and even occasionally waffles and chocolate sandwiches. These sudden ‘surprise’ meals keep her excited and raring to discover ‘when’ and ‘what’ is the next surprise.

We tried a lot of over the counter medications, home remedies and hacks to ensure she doesn’t compromise on her favorite foods but with her constant pain and discomfort; it just didn’t seem worth it.

Honestly, I haven’t told her about these changes in her diets and the alterations in her favorite recipes. She has thankfully not noticed the subtle changes in tastes and textures too. For her, if the food looks and tastes good, the subtle change and differences are something she can make-do with!

After a lot of research and experimentation to salvage her eternally favorite recipes, I have finally found a winner in falafel with a combination of fava beans and green moong beans, and a black bean burger replaced with sprouts. 

The key thing to remember is you don’t need to play by the book and the rules. What works for your friends or even your parents, don’t need to work for you and your child. It is okay to stumble on your own problems, discover challenges and issues and resolve them in a way that is unique and suitable to you.

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