It’s (relatively) easy to get an adult to stop eating certain foods: just tell them it’s fattening. But to kids, “fattening” may not be a consequential concept. And if you try to talk to them about organic and GMOs, you’ll hear crickets. Unfortunately, kids tend to love unhealthy foods. Here are 10 of the worst for them, along with healthy alternatives.
Frozen waffles generally have almost zero nutrients—none of the fiber or wholesome carbs we’d like kids to get—and typically a ton of sugar. Plus, they can be pumped with unrecognizable ingredients not found in a bakery. Find buckwheat batter or whole-grain batter and make your own waffles. These often come frozen, too. Add berries for fiber and sweetness.
Kids practically scream, “French fries!” before a server has the chance to list off the other side options. But they’re loaded with sodium and fat. Introduce your kids to sweet-potato fries. They’re even tastier and actually offer nutrients like fiber and vitamins.
Sugary breakfast cereal
The more colorful a food is (other than produce), the more processed it is. Companies know how to market to kids and they love putting those rainbow-colored cereals on low shelves in the grocery store, but these have tons of sugar, little-to-no fiber and plenty of food coloring. Try making your kids a breakfast burrito: they’ll like that it feels like lunch for breakfast, and they’ll be getting slow-digesting protein.
It’s tempting to crack one of these open when your kid is sick—or a dozen when your kid is sick for a week. But they’re loaded with sodium. Yes, even the low-sodium ones still contain far more salt than if you’d just made a simple soup yourself. Making your own soup means you get to decide the veggie-to-broth ratio.
It’s nearly impossible to ask a kid not to eat a hotdog at a ballgame or barbecue. But most are loaded in salt, fat and the lowest-quality meat available. Switch to turkey dogs on hot dog days, and if you have the patience, get the sausages that are raw and require you to fry them up. These are usually cleaner cuts of meat.
You want to give your kid a healthier alternative to red meat, and you know they’re not going to order the roasted chicken, so you let them get these deep-fried, bread-crumb drenched and preservative-pumped nuggets. Toss out the high sodium, fat and calories and instead grill your own chicken breast. Cut it into fun shapes for your kids.
They’re a movie-night favorite, and you love to toss a little bag in with your kid’s sandwich. But potato chips are extremely high in sodium. To still get that crunchy satisfaction, make butterless popcorn. And if your kids are really adventurous, you can make kale chips.
Ketchup’s best friend, ranch dressing is often a dipping-sauce choice with most kids’ items. But the average serving of two tablespoons of the creamy stuff contains more than 14 grams of fat. Make your own ranch with creamy tofu and fresh herbs.
They’re packaged in such a fun, appealing way, and all your kid’s friends probably have them, but break the cycle: these little boxes usually contain ingredients manufactured in a lab, tons of sodium, high calorie counts and loads of fat. Make your own pack with multi-grain crackers, slices of fresh turkey and natural cheese.
It goes with all their favorites: French fries, chicken nuggets, hotdogs, cheeseburgers etc. But the main ingredients in this household staple are sugar or corn syrup, not tomatoes. There are a few brands popping up with organic, all-natural ketchup made mostly of tomatoes. Try to find these or, offer your kids hummus.
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