It can be tough for kids to eat healthy away from home. They are surrounded by their friends chowing down on unhealthy fast food and desserts, foods and beverages high in simple carbohydrates that lead to overweight and obesity.
These processed foods are in many cases packed with sugar, salt, white flour and MSG, chemicals and compounds linked with a laundry list of dangerous health conditions.
When eating out at restaurants, parties and other places where you don’t know how the food has been prepared or exactly where it came from, even the most well-meaning child can find it difficult to eat healthy. The following tips will help your children make healthy food choices when eating away from home, and may even make them positive role models for their friends and schoolmates.
Choose Broiled or Steamed over Fried
From poultry to vegetables, there are lots of foods which can be prepared a number of ways. Chicken is often found on the menu at restaurants and diners, as well as school lunch cafeterias, because it is inexpensive and versatile. Chicken can be sautéed, fried, broiled, boiled, and is extremely good for your child when prepared in a healthy manner. There are a number of reasons why fried foods, whether they be vegetables, poultry, fish or some other items, or less than healthy.
Restaurants use the same frying oil over and over. This can cause cross-contamination. When any oil is heated above its flash point, it becomes oxidized. This takes even healthy oil and turns it into an unhealthy toxins that surely does not need to be in your child’s body. Then there is the white flour which is usually used, along with dairy products, to make the batter which fried foods are dipped in.
Add the fact that you don’t know where the vegetable, fish or chicken that is being fried comes from, and you have a fried mystery food which can be very unhealthy for your kids. Have your children ask for broiled or steamed over fried the next time they eat out.
Don’t Add Sugar or Salt
The average child in America eats too much unhealthy levels of salt and sugar on a daily basis. Teach your kids to enjoy the taste of their food before reaching for the salt shaker, and before dumping sugar in unsweetened tea or coffee.
Limit Portion Sizes
Children that live in westernized nations, places where processed foods and fast foods are commonplace, eat massively over-sized portions. The average size of a hamburger in 1950 was 1.5 ounces, and today hamburgers weigh in at a minimum of 4 to 8 ounces. Cutting back on portion sizes is easier when your children use smaller plates, cups and glasses.
Drink Unsweetened Tea or Water Rather Than Sodas and Juices
Sugar and other simple carbohydrates are often found in staggering quantities in many of the beverages your children drink. The empty calories, caffeine and sugar in popular children’s drinks should be switched out for green tea, black tea, water or coconut water.
Get Salads and Sauces on the Side
Getting your condiments on the side rather than directly on your food and allows you to control how much you consume. You can also make smart substitutions. Instead of standard salad dressings like blue cheese and ranch, using extra virgin olive oil and vinegar is a healthy alternative.