Childhood obesity is fast becoming a staggering problem in developed nations of the world. Just a couple of years back, obesity was found only in adults, however, today a large number of kids and teenagers are also found to suffer from this condition. This is because of the unhealthy food choices people, or rather kids' make. There has been a remarkable change in the food habits and food industry due to the growth of fast food joints all over the world. Regular consumption of fast foods is considered to be the number one cause of obesity in children. The awareness about childhood obesity has risen further due to First Lady Michelle Obama's campaign and organization called 'Let's Move'. If you are a parent, and wish to treat or prevent obesity in children, then you should look for healthy food choices for kids. Here are some options or tips to follow the same.
Healthy Fast Food Choices
Fast food is loaded with calories which are not required by our body. The excess calories in the body get converted into fat which gets deposited in the body itself. Most fast food meals meant for kids contain more than 1000 calories. This is more than what a kid requires in a single meal. For e.g., a combo of Burger King's
double cheese burger, fries and any drink add up to more than 900 calories. Although majority of food obtained at fast food joints is unhealthy, as it is loaded with calories and fat, there are certain less-unhealthy food that can be considered. Let us take a look at it in detail:
Healthy Eating Tips
- Subway sandwiches are considered as one of the healthiest fast food options available in the market as they are loaded with veggies. However, you need to avoid adding cheese, mayonnaise, and any fatty sauces in your sub in order to make it healthy.
- Original Baja Taco also contains around 200 calories and can be a healthy fast food option.
- McDonald's is a favorite fast food chain and it is difficult to keep kids away from it. However, you can encourage kids to have any hamburger (without cheese and soft drinks) as it contains around 250 calories, which is fairly less than their other products.
- Panera Bread fruit cup and muffins are also safer options as they contain 70-100 and 200 calories respectively.
- Wendy's hamburgers (without cheese also contain 100-120 calories, and hence, can be a better choice than other fast foods.
- Some other fast foods like Chili's grilled chicken sandwich, Denny's Breakfast for kids, etc. are also low calorie fast food choices as they contain less than 400 calories.
Fast food is definitely tempting, tasty; and hence, it is hard for keep children away from it. Secondly, in most families, working women find it difficult the cook a homemade meal every day. Many children are picky eaters and hence, most parents find feeding kids with fast food as the only option. However, you can adopt following methods to make fast food meal as healthy as possible.
- The first and foremost tip in making healthy food choices is to avoid 'super sizing' anything. A super sized meal can go up to 1000 calories. Therefore, you should order a medium size or smaller burger / sandwich, etc.
- Rather than going for the combo meal, make an assorted order, and order extra only when you are hungry. This way, you can avoid overeating.
- You should look for foods that are not fried, buttered, marinated, etc. Similarly, avoid adding cheese, mayonnaise, Ranch, Alfredo, sauce, etc. to your meals. Use mustard sauce or plain ketchup instead.
- A Subway sandwich (without cheese and mayonnaise) can be considered a healthy meal for kids. Choose whole grain bread, and add as many vegetables as possible to it.
- You should avoid ordering any soda based drink as it contains large amounts of sugar and calories. Order plain water instead. Same is the case with fries. A salad is a better option than French fries or chicken strips!
- Fast foods and processed foods contain high amounts of trans fatty acids and salts. Therefore, avoid adding anything more fatty to it. It is also recommended not to add more salt to your food.
- Lastly, drink water before your meal and also in between. This will curb your appetite to gorge on more unhealthy food.
However, most fast foods can be made at home, using healthy ingredients. Homemade fast foods are not only fresh, but may also contain less amounts of fat. Following are the three best foods loved by kids and can be easily made at home.
How to Make
- English muffins, cut in half
- Pizza sauce / salsa
- Shredded Cheddar / Mozzarella cheese
- Any topping of your choice (tomatoes, bell peppers, onion, mushrooms, pepperoni, bacon)
The oven should be preheated to 350 degree F. Place the cut slices of English muffin on the table such that their centers face upwards. Start by evenly spreading the pizza sauce or salsa on the muffin. Next, spread the toppings evenly on top of the sauce. Sprinkle shredded cheese on top of toppings. Place the mini pizzas on a baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the cheese melts completely. Serve with mustard sauce or ketchup. Similar recipe can be used for making a large pizza. You just need to substitute muffins with a proper pizza base.
How to Make
- 1 pound of ground beef
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon of cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons of finely chopped onion
- 1 teaspoon salt
- A pinch of black pepper
The oven should be preheated to 350 degrees. Mix all the ingredients together to form a homogeneous mixture. Make small balls of the mixture using bare hands. Place the meat balls in baking sheet and bake for 18-20 minutes. These meatballs can be added to spaghetti sauce, or even served with spaghetti / pasta.
How to Make
- 1 tablespoon of chocolate syrup / chocolate sauce
- 1 chopped banana
- 1 cup of milk
- Some crushed ice
In a blender, add chocolate syrup / sauce, bananas, milk and crushed ice. Blend till all the ingredients get mixed properly and a smooth mixture is formed. Serve chilled with chocolate shavings or chips on the top.
All in all, we can conclude by saying that healthy fast foods for kids are those which contain lesser calories, are not fried (deep or pan), nor buttered, and do not contain cheese or mayonnaise. But, remember, if you take a look at the salts, fat and calorie content found in these foods, you would rather consider cooking and eating at home! There are several healthy snacks for kids, that are equally tempting, and can be easily made at home. So, as a parent, you should definitely think about it. Good luck!