The words "healthy" and "fast food" seldom go together. While it is always going to be difficult to marry these two, it is possible to come up with a happy medium. Let's face it, our children love these kinds of foods. They really are tasty. However, the things that make it tasty are usually unhealthy. What a parent has to do is to is match the fast food menus to their child's nutritional requirements based on the kids food pyramid.
Most fast food restaurants come with a calorie chart of how many calories each of their products has. A parent can check this chart and make sure the calories are well divided between their children, or that their children are not overeating. A large burger, large fries, and large soda already meets the daily calorie requirement of an teenage boy, and that's just one meal! As a result, that teen will end up overeating.
A young child all the way up to a teen will need about six servings of grains a day, two of those servings are fulfilled by the burger bun. They'll need five to six ounces of protein, all of which is covered in one of those large burger patties. What is missing in the fast food meal is the vegetable and food group. The lettuce and tomato that comes with the burger is not enough! Top it off with deep fried French fries and a large soda, and you have a lot of unneeded non-nutritious calories that will go unused.
If you want to take your children to a burger place, check on the calorie count of each of the items. Encourage them to drink water instead of soda, and always get the smallest serving of fries. If you can, visit healthier places, places that make the food only when you ask for it. In-N-Out Burger is a really good example of a healthier option for these kinds of restaurants.
If you're at a pizza parlor, choose thin crusts pizza. These are usually healthier and they have less refined grains. Try also going for vegetarian pizzas. Kids usually just like the cheese, so veggie pizzas would be a better choice than the meat and pepperoni counterparts. Also keep the calorie count in mind, and you're home free! Just remember that fast food cannot be eaten everyday or as often as twice a week. Your kids need whole healthy nutritious foods to develop well.
Serve your kids healthier meals if you've had fast food that day. Say you know you'll be eating out for lunch, plan your breakfasts and dinner to make sure the other food groups like fruit, vegetables, and dairy are represented too. At the end of the day healthy eating is about having a balanced diet, if you can fit fast food into a balanced diet from time to time, your kids should be fine!
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