ABU DHABI //Since returning to her job as a librarian at Abu Dhabi Women's College three years ago, Shamna Krishnan has risen each morning at 5.50am to cook fresh food for her family to eat while she is at work.
The daily schedule is demanding, but Mrs Krishnan recognises the importance of a healthy diet for her son, Navneets, six.
"I always cook fresh food, not only for my son but also for myself and my husband, Rakesh," said the Indian expatriate. "It is easier to just get it done in the morning so that the food is ready for them throughout the day, and they don't end up eating something unhealthy."
Navneets, who is a pupil in first grade, leaves home at 7.30am and returns at 3.30pm.
"I make his breakfast and make sure he eats it before he walks out the door, and I prepare two or three servings of healthy snacks for him to take to school," Mrs Krishnan said.
Making sure her family eats well and incorporating healthy choices in their diet isn't easy, she said.
"I am lucky that we can employ a maid, and she is there to help me in preparing or cutting vegetables so that I can cook, but she is not there to cook for me, or to be in charge of what my son eats," said Mrs Krishnan. The couple are vegetarians and have always been committed to healthy eating, she said.
"I read so much about the topic, and I want my son to be healthy and I know it is easier for him to stay healthy if he starts out that way as a young child," she said.
"For Navneets, he eats fish around twice a week, and sometimes chicken, because a child needs more energy from protein - he can choose to become vegetarian later if he wants," she said.
Navneets' other carers - his father and his grandparents - are in tune with Mrs Krishnan when it comes to what to feed him.
"I picked up my healthy eating habits from my parents, so of course I trust they will know that a fruit or vegetable is a better choice as a snack for Navneets," she said.
Navneets' parents may occasionally allow him a less healthy "treat", such as pizza or chocolates, but it is the exception rather than the rule, she said.
"He is not yet aware what is good for him and what isn't. It's my job to teach him this, plus the school's," Mrs Krishnan said.
"It is not easy, making sure I cook something fresh every day despite my busy schedule, but it is important, and it can be done."