Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Healthy Alternatives for Kids

There is always this constant struggle to feed your children healthy foods. In this day and age fast food restaurants are the more popular go-to food source and child obesity increases at an alarming rate. What many parents don’t consider (or even think about) are alternative food choices they can put in place of their child’s favorite junk food.  These healthier foods don’t necessarily have to be broccoli and carrots but instead just a healthier choice. This is what we call “starting off slow.”

Now don’t fret, I will provide you with just some of the healthier choices you can swap into your child’s daily routine:

“Mom can I have french fries on the side?” “Honey, we’re going to try baked fries tonight.”
Grill the baked fries in the oven and salted lightly. Or even better: baked sweet potato fries.

“Mom can we get ice cream?” “Tonight we’ll try low-fat yogurt.”
Other Alternates: Sorbet; Fresh Smoothies

“Mom can we have fried chicken tonight?” No, but we’ll have grilled chicken.”
Another option: Baked chicken

Following a healthier diet in the comfort of your home doesn’t always mean banning sweets entirely. Having a ‘no sweets’ rule may cause cravings and overindulgence the first second the sugary sweet comes in contact with their awaiting tongue after a long duration of abstinence. Looking at the overall picture, limits will be your best friend. There is no need to ban all of your child’s favorite foods but only limiting their consumption of said foods. Always turn to fruits. Fruits will be your most popular food to push out in front of their hungry eyes.

So drop the carrot and step away from your child. There are some more appealing foods to get through your children’s ‘no vegetable’ barrier. Having your kids eating healthy will surely put pep in their step and help you reduce the notorious worry lines. You can wipe the sweat off of your brow and congratulate yourself on a job well done! Healthy doesn’t always have to taste grotesque or bland. Healthy can be delicious!

Kid-friendly junk food alternatives
Instead of…
    French fries

    Ice cream
    Fried chicken
    Doughnuts or pastries

    Chocolate-chip cookies
    Potato chips


    Sugary Breakfast cereal

    Canned Soup

    Macaroni and cheese
(Very high in sodium and low in nutrients)
    “Baked fries” grilled in the oven and salted lightly or even better “Baked sweet potato fries”, they a are much healthier option.
    Low-fat frozen yogurt; sorbet; fresh fruit smoothies
    Baked or grilled chicken
    Try oatmeal (you can have it hot or cold and its tasty both ways)
    Bagels; homemade leather wraps
    Graham crackers, fig bars, vanilla wafers, fruit and caramel dip
    Kale chips, broccoli chips, Pretzels, unbuttered popcorn, baked potato chips
    Try making a fruit smoothie by using sparkling water. It will give it a twist.
    You can try quinoa, oat or millet as a hot cereal with some sprinkled cinnamon.
    Make your own stock (either veggie or chicken) you control the amount of salt.  Canned soup has added sodium.
    Make your own pasta, add a little olive oil and some Parmesan cheese.

Eating out with kids: fast food and restaurant nutrition for children
It might be challenging to persuade your youngster to order a salad instead of a cheeseburger, but you can steer them towards healthier options. Some important tips to remember about fast food and restaurant dining for kids:
-Avoid sodas – Kids should drink water.
-Avoid chicken nuggets – They are unhealthy imposters of real chicken.
-Skip the fries – Consider taking along a bag of mini carrots, grapes, or other fruits and    
 vegetables to have instead. This will add vitamins and fiber to the meal.
-Order the kid's meal with some substitutions – Children often love the kid's meal more  
 for the fun box and toys than for the food. Ask to substitute healthier choices for the
 soda and the fries if possible.

Opt for chicken and vegetables or spaghetti with tomato sauce in a sit-down restaurant, rather than a big plate of macaroni and cheese.

To do at home

Your home is where your child most likely eats the majority of his or her meals and snacks, so it is vital that your kitchen is stocked with healthy choices and treats.
Don’t ban sweets entirely. While many kids' sugar consumption exceeds healthy limits, having a no sweets rule is an invitation for cravings and overindulging when given the chance. Instead, limit the amount of cookies, candies, and baked goods your child eats and introduce fruit-based snacks and desserts instead.

-Limit juice and soda. Soft drinks are loaded with sugar—“empty” calories that don’t do anything healthy for your child’s growing body. Many juices aren’t any better nutritionally.Instead of soda, offer your child sparkling water with a twist of lime or a splash of fruit juice.

-Keep snacks small. Don’t turn snacks into a meal. Limit them to 100 to 150 calories. Focus on fruit. Keep a bowl of fruit out for your children to snack on. Offer fruit as a sweet treat. Kid-friendly favorites include frozen juice bars, fruit smoothies, frozen bananas dipped in chocolate and nuts, strawberries and a dollop of whipped cream, fresh fruit added to plain yogurt, and sliced apples and peanut butter.

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