Feeding Time

An authoritative study by British researchers reports that children of working mothers are less healthy than those mothers who stay at home. The study also cites data that children of full-time working mothers were driven to school by moms or dads, watched over two hours of TV per day, drank sweetened drinks in between meals and also eat less fruit and vegetables. This data was the same across all income groups.

Family meal times today!

The research also says that mothers who worked part time had kids who eat more fruit and vegetables. When it came to the level of exercise that children took, there was no difference between working mothers and non-working mothers.

Fussy eaters seem to be the most common complaint of Mums in every part of the world. One kid I know in Mumbai does not have this problem. I have never seen this kid’s mother as she is always accompanied by her manservant, Bahadur whose singsong statement perennially is ‘Hamara baccha, sab khaatha!’ (Our child eats everything) and she looks it alright. And the other Moms in the building give him dirty, desperate looks as uniformly all their kids between ages 1 and 8 are fussy, difficult eaters.

I cannot but look back at my childhood and my children’s eating habits. My mother used to say that I was not a great eater and until 5, I was mostly brought up on milk and maybe a little dhal and rice,  the paruppu saadam that all Tamil kids are fed. My mother was a great cook and made many pan-Indian dishes and my brothers and I grew up on a variety of cooking not limited to Tambram dishes. My father was a strict disciplinarian and we just had to eat what was served on our plates especially if we had our meals in his company. The downstairs tenant could always predict this state of affairs if various veggies came flying out of the windows and landed plonk on his doorstep. ‘Aha! The upstairs children are eating with their father’ was his knowledgeable nod.

My children grew up with a lot of interaction with neighbours and friends. Most often the meals were shared by all the kids, especially in the weekends and holidays. They ate many
international cuisines—a gamut of Indian regional fare, local Creole food, Mauritian dishes, Chinese mein and French gratins and consommés. Later they polished up their plates in various parts of the world eating anything and everything. At home they had their favourite veggies and generally shunned local varieties like cluster and broad beans, padol and tooris. Now as an adult, my son has to eat many of these veggies as he has to set a good example to his kids. Given a chance he would miss out on these varieties even today.

Today’s kids seem to have no problems eating noodles and pasta. South Indian kids have taken to roti in a big way and anything fried goes down like a dream. When it comes to the ordinary dhal chawal (rice and lentils) fare they develop blocks in their throat (needle gullets as my Mom used to say) and food tends to accumulate in their cheek and jaw cavities.

The blame for the kids poor eating habits is automatically thrust on the shoulders of working Moms. Sometimes I think it is a conspiracy of men to lay on the guilt trip on women. Kids welfare is such a convenient button to be pressed where women are concerned! However, many men are taking on the responsibility of overseeing and catering to their kids mealtimes. Yet the majority do think it is the woman’s job to see that kids are fed wholesome and healthy food.

Meanwhile Mom’s run around desperately trying to see that their kids eat properly and most often it is a loosing battle. Even paediatricians, many of them male, say that meal times must be made interesting. Any sidetracking activity during feeding, like watching
Barney or Dora or storytelling by grandparents is strictly frowned upon. Kids are smart—they know which buttons to press on the DVD, the computer or on their
parents psyche!

About padmum

You could call me Dame Quixote! I tilt at windmills. I have an opinion on most matters. What I don't have, my husband Raju has in plenty. Writer and story teller, columnist and contributer of articles, blogs, poems, travelogues and essays to Chennai newspapers, national magazines and websites, I review and edit books for publishers and have specialized as a Culinary Editor and contributed content, edited and collaborated on Cookbooks. My other major interest used to be acting on Tamil and English stage, Indian cinema and TV. I am a wordsmith, a voracious reader, crossword buff and write about India's heritage, culture and traditions. I am interested in Vedanta nowadays. I am now an Armchair traveller/opinionator/busybody!
This entry was posted in Holistic Cooking, Society, Wellness and health. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Feeding Time

  1. Delirious says:

    I think this study would be especially true in the US, because working moms often don’t have time to cook, therefore buy fast food for their family. Fast food is really unhealthy here. It is greasy, and high calorie, with little or no vegetables. And children are being raised on it!


  2. padmum says:

    Delirious–this is true of all urban families. When Mums go to work, they have to do too much and food is the first casuality. Look at the obesity problems…it is gaining gigantic prportions!!


  3. Grannymar says:

    Thankfully I was in the position to be able to stay home and make all meals from scratch. Elly loved her food with very few dislikes, one I recall was Brussels sprouts. I insisted that she eat two, usually the smallest in the dish. The excuse I gave her was that one day she might meet a young man and be invited home to meet his mother. What if the good lady made dinner and served up large helpings of the dreaded veg? She would have to make an attempt to eat them and not insult her hostess. It worked and now she is very adventurous with food.


    • padmum says:

      You sound exactly like an Indian Mum who brings up daughters with the preamble to every sentence, “When you go to your husband’s house, your mother-in-law will say…….”. Dire consequences for aberrant behaviour was always ominously predicted. The word ‘adjustment’ plays a huge part of getting ready to be married in India.


  4. anuvenkat says:

    as a mom of the gen x , would also love to mention a few more things . A lot of parents ( moms and dads ) working full time/ part time and also a lot of grand parents arent cooking on their own for their own kids these days . Thayar ready dosai maavu, grand sweets batchanam, sri krishna cheedai s, and tiffin carrier meals are taking over the domain space of our tables. biscuits replace the “poruvalangai “urundai , packed savories instead of the dabba la murukku , are a common sight .

    I am a so called “Flexi working mom “. but i am proud to say I cook every meal for my kid , and lucky enough that he reciprocates the taste well . ( touch wood)boiled rice batchanam and paruppu podi are some of his favourites amidst the pastas and pizzas doled out at him !

    Kids reciprocate the interest we show , after all it is difficult for the smell of fresh ghee soaked rotis to be replaced by the one s delivered by the rotiwalah ! and the former ‘s aroma in itself is an appetizer.


    • padmum says:

      Come on Anu….get real. For every single Mom like you who does own cooking, fresh titbits and sweetmeats there are a 100+ who find the great South Indian eateries so handy. To confess, as two people I too buy a lot of bakshanam. There was a time when I used to make all this….now I have no energy. Food is cooked fresh including rotis (no ghee though). I have great house help so this is going on.

      My kids used to be part of cake making, decorating cookie cutting process. I am hoping my granddaughters will also enjoy this–going to initiate them soon. I am dreaming of putting AC my kitchen..need it badly in Chennai!


  5. blackwatertown says:

    I find getting the eaters to help with the cooking helps introduce them to new food.
    Then again, I also lie about what it is they’re eating, until they’ve eaten it and not dropped down dead.
    My own mother used to answer questions about “What’s this?” with the response – “Purple Poison.” So I do too.
    Or even more ominous – “It’s an experiment.”
    (PS – You still have to let me know your book choice.)


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