Thursday, 10 July 2014

Celebrating childhood to the fullest

As I age (we all do, I know), I am becoming more aware of the limitations of my body. I am still fast, agile and have the strength to carry on many tasks but it takes longer to recuperate and energise. Trying to keep up with the demands of my young energetic children is becoming a challenge and I don't have the sustainability to carry on doing the same physical activities, day in and day out.

"Where do they get all that energy!?", I scream in my head as I beg them to let me take a break and quite possibly let me lie on the playground floor for the rest of the evening!

Energiser bunnies

Children are amazing and the energy they have in them is even more fascinating. It doesn't take a lot of fuelling (food intake) but whatever they eat, keeps them fuelled for the whole day. Yet, there are some children who are not celebrating childhood to the fullest. There are many contributors to this cause and I would like to zoom into one factor which is not a common topic you hear parents or educators talk about; 'hidden hunger'

Hidden hunger is a global and nutritional issue related to micronutrients deficiencies that is lack of minerals and vitamins in our food such as zinc, iron, iodine, Vitamin A and Vitamin D. These are some of the crucial micronutrients that ensure the health and proper development of a child. A lack of these micronutrients can weaken children's immune system, cause a stunted growth and if left untreated can endanger a child's life or cause major setbacks in their developments. Especially vulnerable to children under the age of three.

On a local scale, Professor Dr Khor Geok Lin, Professor of Nutrition from the International Medical University Malaysia (IMU), stated the consequences of hidden hunger is disastrous as it can lead to poor mental development, poor physical health and productivity.
Hidden hunger often has no visible warning signs and many suffering from it may not even be aware of it. Hidden hunger is not the same as being hungry. When you are hungry you would immediately settle your hunger by consuming food but that would not tackle hidden hunger if your selection of food is lacking in minerals and vitamins needed to sustain life in the long run.

"Women and children from lower income groups in developing countries are often the most affected, but local studies have shown that even school children in urban areas like KL and PJ have micronutrients deficiencies including that of Vitamin D; which is important for the  absorption of calcium. Zinc, iron and iodine deficiencies also have been observed in Malaysian children. Thus, it is important to inform mothers and educate children from young to eat right and have a balanced diet of carbohydrates, protein, vitamins and minerals," added Professor Khor.
Research has indicated a significant nutritional gap amongst Malaysian children with 13.2% being underweight ad 15.8% showing stunted growth. The culprit behind this is largely due to poor dietary habits such as skipping breakfast, frequent consumption of snack and fast food, and low consumptions of fruits and vegetables. 

Kids want to be Tall, Sharp, Strong

Before you get all fired up and make a promise only to feed your child nutritious food, you need to understand food anxiety or stress issues.
I remember how hard and stressful it was to feed my eldest when she was ready for solids. I had 5 years of mealtime battles with her. It was painful, time consuming and nerve wreaking because she would refuse everything I prepared for her. She hated everything green, yellow and orange, so fruits and vegetables were basically off the menu. She even hated legumes and meat too! In summary, she hated mealtime and would start screaming the moment I put her on her high chair.

It took me five years (that's how determined and foolish I was to force feed her 'good food') to discover she and I had developed an anxiety towards food and meal time.

Nowadays I more relaxed and don't have a regimented feeding time. I feed on demand and serve a variety of food. The result, my toddler is not fearful of mealtime and she would try almost everything served. If she refused a particular food, I would remove and offer it at another time (the only thing you gain by coaxing her to try it - over and over again - is a heartache!)

On days she does not have a complete meal I will make sure she gets her daily nutrition and vitamins in liquid form, either from milk substitute or fresh smoothie and juice.

Luckily for us, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) introduced a new and improved formulation for its classic malt beverage, Horlicks Chocolate which comes with a rich chocolate taste. It promised to provide 23 vital nutrients including calcium, protein and multivitamins to support children's overall growth and development. It aspires to help kids who want to be Tall, Sharp & Strong!
So next, when your child has to leave home without having breakfast, be sure to hand to him a big mug of yummy chocolaty Horlicks.
Chocolate Horlicks made with fresh milk


Chocolate Horlicks experience at home

You can prepare this drink whichever way you like but my second child liked it served warm with some froth on it. My eldest daughter wasn't very pleased with the taste because she doesn't enjoy having her fresh milk flavoured. So 1 out of my 2 children gave it a thumbs up, which is not a bad outcome.
To make this luscious tall creamy chocolate Horlicks, you'll need
Fresh warm milk
Horlicks Chocolate
A flask or milk frothier
Sugar to taste
Heat milk and pour some into a flask (do not fill it more than half) and shake it well. In a large mug, mix 3-4 heaping tablespoons of Horlicks Chocolate with a whisk. Unlike other chocolate drinks, it takes a little effort to dissolve Horlicks into milk but if you own a frothier, mixing is a breeze. Then top it up with the milk from the flask and serve immediately.
If you are not a fan of milk, you can make it using hot water and you would still get the chocolaty taste.
You can even serve it chilled.
Milk frother purchased from IKEA, a handy tool to have
Horlicks made with water

It's good to know I can rely on Horlicks whenever my kids get hungry (which is all the time!) and it will not only keep them satiated but is good for their health and development, thanks to its improved formula and its aspiration to help kids to be Tall, Sharp and Strong.
Snack time

Horlicks Chocolate is available at all supermarkets, hypermarkets and provision stores in 200g (RM6.50), 400g (RM10.50), 1kg (RM21.50) and 2kg packs (RM42.00) or 3-in-1 sachets (RM10.50) for convenience.
Check out the Horlicks Chocolate commercial here: Kids want to be Tall, Sharp, Strong

Disclosure: I received a 1kg pack of Horlicks Chocolate for review purposes but all opinions are mine and mine alone.

For more recipes, please head over to my Recipes page

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