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Fast Food - Fast Food at Home

Child Nutrition Basics

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Updated September 15, 2008

Experts often warn about eating at fast food restaurants too often.

Getting extra fat and calories from French fries, milk shakes, and kids' meals, is likely one of the reasons for the current childhood obesity epidemic.

But even those parents who avoid going to fast food restaurants too often typically overlook the fact that their kids eat too much fast food at home, including frozen pizza, hot dogs, french fries, fruit juice, and soda.

Fast Food at Home

Ideally, a good home cooked meal would be healthy, being low in fat, low in salt, low in calories, and high in fiber. Unfortunately, just because your kids eat at home doesn't mean that they are eating something healthy, especially if they are mostly eating pre-made, processed foods.

This doesn't include home delivery of fast food or meals that you pick up from fast food restaurants on the way home.

Classic fast food that parents often make at home can include:

  • Macaroni and Cheese
  • Chicken fingers
  • Frozen pizza
  • Canned pasta, which can be high in fat and sodium
  • Kids' frozen dinners
  • Chicken pot pie
  • Deep fried foods
  • Corn dogs
  • Regular, full-fat salad dressing and mayonnaise
  • Pre-made lunches, which are often high in fat and sodium
  • Sugary breakfast cereal

Healthy Food at Home

Eating healthy food at home doesn't have to mean spending several hours preparing and cooking meals. That is likely a relief for parents who are looking for healthy alternatives for fast food at home, but still need quick and easy meals.

First, look for healthy recipes that are quick and easy to make. Many crockpot recipes are also fast and easy to prepare.

Next, make plans for your family to eat together as often as possible, make meal times enjoyable, and:

  • don't push your kids to clean their plate

  • turn off the television during meal times

  • serve vegetables with most meals, even if your child doesn't always eat them

  • cook foods by baking, grilling, or roasting as often as possible, instead of frying them

  • serve milk during meals instead of juice drinks, fruit juice, or soda

  • prepare and serve whole foods as often as possible instead of processed and packaged kids' meals that are often high in fat, calories, and sodium, and low in fiber

  • in addition to occasional treats, offer healthy snacks in between meals and for dessert

  • serve more whole grains instead of refined grains, such as white bread, white rice, and flour tortillas, etc.

  • avoid foods with a lot of added sugar and foods high in salt

  • serve lean meats and low-fat dairy products

  • choose foods that provide enough calcium and iron to meet his growing body's requirements

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