Perhaps a parent takes their three-year-old son for a drive after dinner and whenever he or she sees the all-too-recognizable giant Golden Arches, he or she screams out, “I’m hungry again!” Most parents know the burgers at McDonald’s aren’t the healthiest, but it may surprise you to learn that in many instances, food you think is healthy is actually not.
Here is a list of the top 5 foods you should avoid feeding your child/children.
Fruit Roll-Ups and Gummy Shaped Bears
They look harmless, don’t they? Made with real Vitamin C and fruit, of course they are healthy for your kids. Wrong! Full of more sugar than a supposed “fruit” flavoured candy, your children’s teeth will have so many cavities, your dentist will be the only one who benefits. With all natural sugar, and nothing added but pure sunshine and lots of rain, apples, cranberries, oranges, bananas, plums and peaches are all far healthier and equally yummy for your kids.
Hot Dogs and Most Deli Meats
Full of high levels of sodium and fat, children who eat hot dogs and deli meats are at risk for high blood pressure, type II diabetes and obesity. Also containing sodium nitrites and nitrates, which have long been linked to myriad cancers, there is no reason your child should eat hot dogs and deli meats. Healthy substitutes are chicken/turkey or tofu franks (they can’t tell the difference, promise) and sliced chicken or turkey carved off the birds that you cook yourself.
Is it a vegetable or a starch? Potatoes on their own are full of many nutrients that our bodies need, however, once they have had their skins removed and have been deep fried, any possible benefit has been lost and replaced with havoc wreaked on the body. Children don’t need to eat anything that is deep fried as it contributes to hardening of the arteries – yes, this is a real health concern, even for active kids! The fat alone is more than even the most athletic kids need in one meal, and let’s be honest, is your child running and playing as much as he or she is sitting in front of a video game or the telly? There is no place for that fat to be stored but your child’s belly and built up around his or her heart. Yes, children are not immune to cardiovascular disease. If your kids love fries, bake up some sweet potatoes, keep the skins on there (that’s where the nutrients are hiding) and if your kids don’t love them, Bart Simpson will eat his own shorts!
Surely by now you know how unhealthy soda is for you and for your kids, but did you know that most fruit drinks are equally bad for them? Look at the label on your cranberry, grape or apple juice. Unless you see the words, “100% juice,” your kids are drinking more sugar and/or high fructose corn syrup than they could if they just drank that soda you wanted them to avoid. All of that sugar is hard to burn off unless they are outside playing most of the day. Excess sugar can lead to type II diabetes, which more and more kids under the age of 12 are developing. If your kids love fruit drinks, buy some fruit and squeeze it. It is really the only way you can ensure they are getting all the fruit they love and the added sugar they don’t need. A healthy alternative is always water. If your kids balk at the idea of drinking “boring” water, squeeze a little lemon, lime, orange or grapefruit in there.
More sugar than even your 10% fruit drinks, sports drinks are terrible for kids. Designed for people who work out and burn off hundreds of calories at a time, they were developed to replenish one’s body of electrolytes after a hard workout. Unless your child is on the football team, soccer team or wrestling team, he or she really doesn’t need all that sugar, which like those found in “fruit drinks,” can only lead to type II diabetes and extra belly fat. Water and your freshly squeezed juices are far healthier than any sports drink is for your son or daughter.
There are ways to encourage a child to eat healthy and one way is to not have unhealthy snacks such as potato chips, cookies, and candy readily available in the house. Out of sight, out of mind (and stomach). Instead, have fruits like grapes, banana, cherries on your kitchen counter and the family room table, where kids can easily see and reach for them (and see you do the same!).
The Health Local Staff is a team of writers and experts dedicated to bringing you the latest health, nutrition and lifestyle information at www.healthlocal.ca.