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Nutritional Health|01 April 2022

How I learned the importance of a glass of milk in my child’s diet

Clinical cum pediatric nutritionist and diabetic educator at Qua Nutrition with over 12 years of experience, BSc in Nutrition, Food Service Management & Dietetics, MSc in Health Sciences, and a Diploma in Vegan & Vegetarian Nutrition

“Beta, dudh pilo” is something we can all relate to. In every house, you will see a mother chasing, cajoling and sometimes even forcing their child to gulp down a glass of milk, trying absolutely everything to make their child drink milk.

My mother was always adamant that I have at least a glass of milk daily. It was non-negotiable, and she didn’t heed any excuses or tantrums. I always wondered, “Why does she want me to drink milk?”, “Why is she so strict and stubborn about it?”, “That glass of milk doesn’t dole out extra marks!”

As a parent, I now understand that she wanted me to do well in life and, for that, I needed to be healthy.

Despite knowing the benefits that milk offers, I’ve recently started to actively study it. The longstanding belief in the health value of a glass of milk has been reaffirmed by scientific research and studies.

Nutrient-rich complete meal

As a working mother, I would constantly worry about my child’s diet and nutrition.

During a call with my grandmother, she asked me to start giving my child regular milk, claiming it to be a complete meal in itself. She said that she too used to do the same with her children and it helped them develop into stronger and fitter individuals. Coming from the wisest person in the family, this gave me an inkling of the importance of milk in my son’s diet.

Helps stay stronger and fitter

As grateful as I am for my energetic child, his energy often causes him to be reckless – he doesn’t think twice before jumping over something or breaking into a run. Although I am not much of a cricket fanatic, I do follow cricketers, and I know about Dhoni’s fondness for milk. Dhoni is still one of India’s fittest and strongest, injury-free even in his late 30’s. His regular milk drinking habits in his childhood are now paying dividends. My son idolizes Dhoni and, much like him, is always up for a glass of milk.

Boosts Immunity

No mother ever wants to see her child fall ill. My family doctor always says that falling sick is inevitable, and steps should always be taken to ensure good health. Like my grandmother, my doctor always insists on milk for my child as it is a source of essential nutrients, and strengthens the bones and improves immunity. Vitamin A boosts his immune system, while Vitamin B12 produces healthy cells.

Rich Protein Source

Recently, I have been reading up on child nutrition. I have learned that as a child grows, their daily protein intake should increase as it is essential for their growth and development. Being a vegetarian, it is far more difficult to fulfill my son’s protein needs. His fussy eating habits make it even tougher. He does, however, like to drink milk, and I am thankful for that.

Convenient Food

How many times has your child gone out to play without eating because they couldn’t spare five minutes? Kids being kids are so eager to play that they avoid anything that delays them. Milk is the most convenient option, making it my runaway favourite. A quick glass of milk doesn’t take much time and has the added bonus of providing the nutrients necessary for a child. It’s a win-win for everyone!

We all have a unique journey with food. Mine is with milk – I have realized its importance in a child’s diet.

I am now following in your footsteps “maa”; it’s milk time for the little one.

PS: Customized Strategy

Each individual has varied nutritional needs and consumption habits. The same food can offer different nutritional values based on its production and sourcing methods. For example, eggs can have different nutritional values depending on whether they are cage-free, pasture-raised or free-range. Sometimes, taking a supplement dose alone can cover all your nutrition requirements. For instance, many multivitamins now contain 800 to 1000 IU, when the body only needs 400 IU a day. Some vitamins (like Vitamin D) are fat-soluble and can accumulate in the body; they might not be as conveniently eliminated as water-soluble vitamins, which can lead to other health concerns. Get yourself tested regularly and work with your nutritionist to know your required Vitamin D dosage.

The views expressed are that of the expert alone.