In the midst of a manic day (that is a long way from being done) you and the kids sense hangry setting in. Easy-to-find food – that will broker little argument – is now the priority.
Yet many widely available grab ‘n’ go takeout options are junk food.
Did you know:
- A KFC Kids Meal with Flatbread Slider contains 7.5 teaspoons of sugar per serve
- A McDonald’s Happy Meal of cheeseburger, a small fries and apple pop top contains 8 teaspoons of sugar per serve
- A Hungry Jack’s kid’s meal of cheeseburger and juice plus a small chips contains 7.5 teaspoons of sugar per serve?
Let us keep in mind that it is recommended kids shouldn’t consume any more than 6 teaspoons per day and none at all if under 2 years.
We know fast food isn’t great for us. Largely comprised of heavily refined flours, added sugar, nasty oils and a number of lab-made flavours and preservatives, one would hesitate to refer to junk food as food at all!
Yet eating junk is becoming the norm. And the decent serve of sugar is often a surprise in savoury junk options.
While the occasional meal of junk is fine for most, if you find yourself faced with fast food, here are some ideas to help you make healthier and low added sugar choices for you and your kids when out and about.
Always pack snacks
Having a healthful snack on hand will curb the energy low that results in grasping for the first thing that resembles something edible as we pass it by. It will also help fill bellies, so you and the kids aren’t likely to consume as big a serving of junk.
Choose the right amount of food for the age of the kid
Often meal deals are too much for kids until they reach their teens. Choose an appropriately sized meal, and question whether the sides are necessary.
Do you need the sides?
Sometimes the core product, such as a burger, is filling enough! Opt to share a side instead of each having a mountain of food. Remember, junk is designed to be moreish, so it’s easy to overeat.
No need to supersize
As tempting as getting more bang for your buck out of a fast food meal can be, it isn’t necessary nor worth it.
Choose whole foods where possible
Many fast food outlets offer whole food alternatives. Choose sliced fruit over fries and choose the pizza or burger option that also serves up a heap of veg.
Leave the fizzy and sugary drinks alone
A meal does not need a soft drink, juice or any other kind of beverage. If you are having a fast food meal, do your body a favour and drink water afterwards instead.
Manage the kid’s expectations
Discuss with the kids before you get to the restaurant what the parameters are for choosing what to eat.
Teach how to navigate fast food
Partaking in a little junk on occasion isn’t the end of the world, and it is helpful to guide our kids in managing themselves to make good choices in these environments for when they get older.
Lead by example
Kids are keen observers. One of the most effective methods for teaching positive habits to our kids is to practice what we preach.
If you’ve other tips for eating well while out with the family, we’d love to hear from you!
By Angela Johnson (BHSc Nut. Med.)