Eating at Home
We are so busy today. It can be very hard to always cook, and sometimes fast food seems like the best way to feed our families. But fast food is often high in fat and calories and low in many nutrients children need.
- Use whole wheat pitas, bread, tortillas or pizza crust.
- Add vegetables to stews, sauces, casseroles and soups.
- Reduce fat, sugar and sodium.
- When using oil, choose olive or vegetable oil and use as little as possible.
- Choose low-fat or fat-free dressings and margarines.
- Read labels and don’t choose foods with sugar, corn syrup or fats as one of the first listed ingredients.
- Choose foods lower in fat.
- Choose fresh vegetables when possible, then frozen.
- Canned fruits should be canned in juice instead of syrup.
- Let your child help! He can wash food, carry ingredients, stir and help in many ways.
- Cook a large amount of ground beef or chicken cut into chunks to use for meals during the week.
- Mini pizzas
Use refrigerator biscuits or English muffin halves and let your child spread tomato sauce or spaghetti sauce on them. Top with mozzarella cheese and toast until the cheese melts. Serve with vegetable soup for a quick and easy meal.
- Cheese toast and veggies
Toast bread and then put on it cooked broccoli, cauliflower, tomato or another vegetable that is soft. Cover with cheese and put under broiler until the cheese melts.
- Whole wheat pasta and sauce
Pasta is easy and quick. Just boil pasta in water until it is tender. Cover with your child’s favorite spaghetti, cheese or other sauce. Add lean ground beef or sautéed chicken chunks.
Use whole wheat tortillas and cooked ground beef or pinto beans with cut up tomatoes, cheese and lettuce, with a fruit salad or apple and orange slices for a quick meal.
- Beans and rice
Cook enriched instant rice and warm canned beans. Mix and serve with frozen vegetables.
- Stir fry
Buy frozen stir-fry vegetables and cook them in a skillet with cooked ground beef or chicken
Eating out is perhaps the most difficult thing to do in a healthy way. Children are drawn to the toys offered in many meals and not to the food. Children will learn very quickly to prefer high fat, sugary and salty foods with fewer nutrients to those that are healthier for them. Children do not know that a piece of fruit is better for them than a French fry. When you choose to eat fast food, be creative and make it healthier for you and your child with some of the following ideas:
- Limit eating out to once or twice a week.
- Freeze meals ahead of time and have simple and quick-to-prepare items, such as salads and frozen chicken breasts, on hand.
- Talk to children before going out about what foods they can and cannot order.
- Give children choices of healthier foods offered at fast food restaurants, such as salads, apple sauce and fruit, instead of French fries. Offer broiled chicken or even half of a hamburger instead of a whole hamburger.
- When eating pizza, choose the kind with cheese and vegetables, and whole wheat crusts when possible.
- Make eating at home fun. too. Have easy dishes such as vegetables and dip with cheese, or fruit and peanut butter.
- Order low-fat milk instead of sodas or milk shakes.
- Sodas should be only an occasional drink for children and should be caffeine-free.
- Ask for a nutrition guide from fast food restaurants, or look them up on the Internet.
Tips for Eating Healthy
|Instead of:||Try this:|
|Chips||Baked pretzels, celery or carrots|
|Saltine crackers||Whole wheat crackers|
|Hamburger meat||Lean meats, such as chicken and lean beef|
|Regular yogurt||Non-fat yogurt|
|White bread||Whole wheat bread|
Artificial sweeteners are now available in a variety of drinks, snacks, candy, cookies, ice cream and other foods, and parents are using them as an alternative to sugar. These foods are a better choice than high-sugar items such as sodas, sugared drinks and snacks, but consider the following:
- There are no studies on the long-term effects of artificial sweeteners on children.
- Learning to enjoy the taste of naturally sweet foods like fruits is a better choice.
- If children get used to the sweet taste of artificially sweetened products, they’ll want them more than other foods.
- Products containing artificial sweeteners are sometimes higher in fat and calories. Something has to give the food flavor!
- Most pediatricians advise to avoid giving artificial sweeteners to children under age two.