Children tend to be picky eaters, and generally go for simple flavors that most adults would consider to be “comfort food,” high in fat and sugar. Unfortunately, those are the exact types of foods that kids should be avoiding, because even if they’re active, it can be easy for kids to pack on the pounds with those dishes. Not only do they need to eat healthy foods to support their growing bodies, they need to eat smaller portions than adults. Here are five foods that you really shouldn’t feed your kids, or at least save for special occasions.
There’s very little nutritional value in these deep-fried nuggets of fat, salt, sugar, and questionable chicken. And while chicken fingers might at least be made with real strips of chicken, they’re still breaded and fried. Serve your kids baked chicken breast with the same dipping sauces (or chicken that’s been breaded and baked instead of fried) and they’ll hardly be able to tell the difference.
Hot dogs and other processed meats like bologna and salami are full of sodium, saturated fat, and nitrites, all of which are unhealthy for kids (and adults). These are, thankfully, easily replaced: replace hot dogs with nitrate-free turkey dogs, and processed lunchmeat with fresh sliced turkey, chicken, or roast beef.
Some cereals contain several teaspoons of sugar per serving, along with hundreds of empty calories. Kids may complain, but trading Fruity Pebbles for All-Bran will be worth it in the long run.
Pizza is among the unhealthiest foods you can eat, largely thanks to the addition of handfuls of cheese and fatty meats like sausage and pepperoni. Instead of ordering in, make pizzas with your kids (you can buy premade whole wheat crusts) and let them add on the toppings, which can include lean meat and plenty of veggies.
Having a few chips at a party is one thing, but the problem with snack foods like Doritos and Cheetos is that once kids (and adults, for that matter) start eating them, it’s difficult to stop until the whole bag is finished. By then they’ll have eaten more than 100 empty calories and more sodium than should be eaten in a whole day, let alone one sitting. Air-popped popcorn is a much better snack.