10 Ways to Cut the Fluff from Your Child’s Diet
Sometimes, helping your family live a healthier lifestyle can be simple and small adjustments here and there. A few simple changes to your normal routine can add up to significant improvement to your gang’s nutritional well-being.
1. A Soda Slow-Down
Some kids consume a huge number of empty calories each day in the form of sugary drinks. If quitting cold-turkey seems too daunting, impose a soft drink ration in your home. In my house, it’s one per day, per kid. (Tip: this is easier to keep track of if you purchase canned beverages rather than large bottles) Pretty soon, you may be able to drop them altogether. Beware of juices that pack a sugary punch, too.
2. You Want Fries With That?
Practice saying this with me: No. The fast food industry has done a masterful job of convincing us that a sandwich or burger must be consumed with a side of fat-laden, starchy fries. If you must have a side item, choose a side salad or some fruit. Most chains offer this option with kid’s meals, so take advantage of it.
3. No Bag-Grazing
It’s so easy to sit down with a bag of chips or another salty snack and mindlessly consume 3 or 4 servings without even realizing it. Don’t allow your children to snack directly from the bag or container. Instead, pour out a reasonable portion in a sandwich bag or bowl so they don’t over-do it.
4. Watch Out for the Fun Cereals
Breakfast cereals marketed to kids are not as nutritionally hazardous as they were years ago, but it’s still a good idea to compare labels for sugar content. You may be shocked to learn that your child’s favorite is basically a dessert. Look for lower sugar per serving, and more whole grain and fiber content to keep them full.
5. Grocery Aisle Magic
You can buy healthier versions of your children’s favorites, often without them ever noticing the difference. Choose lower-sugar and all-natural versions of things like peanut butter and jelly, and opt for whole grain bread instead of white.
6. Be Suspicious of Convenience Foods
Some of the worst nutritional offenders marketed to kids and families are appealing because of their convenience: the pre-made lunch kits, certain juice boxes, etc. Read the labels to make sure you’re not sacrificing too much to save five minutes in the morning.
7. Ditch the Dog
Hot dogs are typically loaded with saturated fat and sodium, and aren’t a good choice for any of us. If your kids love them, try going with a lower-fat version, like a turkey dog instead.
8. Not So Many Nuggets
If chicken nuggets are another notorious offender in the fat and sodium category and your child likes to dip in sauces, she’s getting a good dose of sugar, too.
9. Fruit snacks
What? How could something made from fruit be bad? Trust us, it can. Those little fruit gummy snacks and fruit leather snacks are packed with sugar and offer little nutritional value in return. Opt for fresh fruit instead, and your child will get the added benefit of fiber, a bevy of antioxidants, and fewer grams of sugar.
10. Put the Car in Park
Did you notice how many of the things on this list are consumed on the go? Fast foods and convenience foods are major nutritional problems for our kids, and we can avoid them most effectively by eating at home more often. When you know your family is going to be on the go all day, pack a small cooler with some healthy snacks and drinks to save you from that drive-thru temptation!
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