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Chef Sachithra Danendra believes training chefs on nutrition is important to change what kids are served in restaurants


What do you think is the current status of foods offered to children in the OOH (Out-of-Home)* sector?

I’m happy to say that our school canteens are required to uphold high nutritional standards by law. In other OOH establishments however, we are seeing a trend towards oily and sugary foods, including fast food.

*OOH (Out of Home) refers to consumption of food out of home, in establishments like restaurants, hotels, canteens etc.

What do you think can be done to make it healthier?

The main deterrent to healthier cooking is the perception that taste must be compromised. With the right training however, healthier meals can still look and taste good. We need to train food operators* to enhance taste in a healthier way without large amounts of negative nutrients like sugar, salt and fat. We also need to encourage them to get creative with their presentation. It may also help to have simple, easy to understand displays of the nutritional composition of the food and how it can benefit your body, to make it more appealing to kids. For e.g., “Milk has lots of calcium and can help make your teeth and bones strong.”

*Food operators refers to the management of OOH outlets

What tips and tricks do you have for preparing healthier food for children?

Try and ensure that each meal is balanced, with just the right portions of meat, carbs, dairy and fruits and vegetables. It can also help to offer healthier alternatives to their favourite dishes. For e.g., roast potato wedges instead of French fries, fresh juice made with sparkling water instead of carbonated soft drinks, etc. Finally, get creative with your presentation! Make the meal fun, with interesting colours and shapes.