Healthy nutrition is of utmost importance for each individual, notwithstanding age, gender, state of health etc. But unfortunately, we all take due caution only when the need arises. It’s just one life, so it is always better to be safe than sorry. Approach should be to act proactively. Healthier options should be incorporated wherever possible. This especially is very important as far as kids’ nutrition is concerned. With ever growing instances of kid’s obesity and other chronic conditions, it becomes parent’s responsibility to take charge.
Given that kids are usually difficult to tame, parents give up and settle for junk food for them, just so they eat something. Often times, parents themselves are not aware of the fact that most of their kid’s diet comprises of unhealthy food. Parents should be well aware of the calorie count and nutritional value of the food kids eat and should try sincerely to replace them with healthier options. Following are few of the most unhealthy food items that most kids indulge:
1. Sugary cereals
Even though most cereals are considered healthy, sugary cereals like marshmallows come laden with excess chemical preservatives, hydrogenated oils and artificial colors. It is wise to opt for whole-wheat cereals instead. Nutritional value and taste can further be enhanced by adding raisins, berries, bananas and other fruits.
2. Chicken Nuggets
Super tasty and much loved by kids all over the world, this food has practically zero nutritive value and loads of calories and fat. This dish contains high sodium levels, high fructose syrup and high amount of trans fat because it is prepared by deep-frying. Moreover, kids eat them with high-fat mayonnaise sauce, which makes the option a tad worse. It is advisable to try grilled chicken at home and cut them into funny, interesting shapes using a cookie cutter to make it appealing to kids.
3. Juice and flavored drinks
As opposed to the popular belief that juices are healthy and full of nutrition, the packaged variety is rather sinful. They come laden with sugar, carbohydrates, thus high calories. The fiber is also missing which is otherwise present in fruits. Excess consumption leads to obesity and tooth decay in children. They should rather be encouraged to consume plain water or low fat milk instead. Both are better beverage options.
4. Lunch meat and hot dogs
Kids definitely dig hot dogs, bologna and other processed meat forms. Processed, pre-packaged meat is known to contain cancer-causing nitrates and nitrites, artificial colors, saturated fat and high content of sodium. All of this is risky in the long run. Studies are also there, that children consuming hot dogs on a regular basis are more prone to develop “leukemia”. Unprocessed meats like lean chicken, tuna etc are much healthier options for kids. Sandwiches should also be made using whole wheat and whole grain breads as opposed to white floor varieties. Kids should also be encouraged to have veggie hot dogs instead of having non-veg all the time. Change is always good.
5. French fries
This snack transcends all barriers and is undoubtedly a favorite amongst all age groups. Children can possibly not live without them. French fries are tasty, we all know, but we also must know that they are deep-fried using hydrogenated oils that contain trans fat. Carrots and celery sticks should be served to kids as an evening snack instead. If your kids must eat French fries, atleast go for the baked ones.
6. Potato chips
This is another all time favorite snack. It goes without saying that everything that looks good and tastes delicious comes with a heavy price. And your kid’s health is a heavy price to pay indeed. Potato chips are high in saturated fat and sodium and associated with many health risks. Baked chips, popcorns, freshly cut crisp vegetables are some healthier snack options.
7. Fruit leather
It’s a common mistake to consider something nutritional if the word “fruit” is mentioned therein. Fruit-bites, roll-ups and other such options are full of gelatin and contain high fructose corn syrup and artificial colors. It is always a problem to get your child to eat fruits in their original form. You can try and be innovative like cutting fruits in interesting shapes. You may add gelatin occasionally. That ways at least they would have fresh fruits sans high sugar and artificial color content.
These foods are sugary and high on trans-fatty acids. It is ok to have them once in a while and as a dessert. Parents often serve these to kids in breakfast, which is a fatal mistake.
It is hard to resist pizza. I am sure anyone can have it anytime, anywhere. Least we can do is to be mindful of the portions/size and toppings. Efforts should be made to go for whole-wheat pizza base instead and top it with healthy vegetables, fresh tomato sauce made at home and less cheese.
With kids around, you should always lead by example. Kids often follow your footsteps and imitate behavior and habits that they see around them. When you yourself lead a healthy lifestyle, your kids would invariably be benefited too.