Not only is fast food an easy option for moms, it’s also a food that’s desired by kids. Even though we know it’s bad for them, it’s impossible to say ‘no’ all the time. Sometimes, life is just easier when we give in and give them what they want. With about 72% of Americans eating fast food at least once a week (no doubt South African’s aren’t too far behind), we can’t help but wonder how this is affecting our kids’ health.
FAST FOOD FACTS
Studies show that young kids who eat fast food consume about 672 more kilojoules than if they were to eat at home. For teens, that number is upped to 1344 kilojoules. It’s no wonder that fast food is linked with childhood obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure.
EFFECTS ON CHILDREN
The effect that eating fast food has on children is astronomical. Remember, kids haven’t yet built up tolerances to certain foods and are affected at a much higher rate than adults. Think about it — if you have a cup of coffee in the morning you behave and feel the same, but give it to your pre-schooler, and you’ve got one crazy, hyperactive kid on your hands. Effects of fast food on children include:
- Shorter attention spans, which could cause schoolwork to suffer
- A sudden burst of energy followed by a crash
- Irritability or feelings of sadness in the child
- Stomach aches or constipation
- Future cravings of fast food
- Refusal to eat healthy food
- Long-term effects such as weight problems and poor eating habits
- Disrupted sleep
IS IT EVER OKAY TO FEED KIDS FAST FOOD?
Most fast food companies are offering healthier menu options, but it’s still almost always better to eat at home. Plus, if you do decide to feed your kids fast food, will they really pass on the French fries and opt for sliced apples or a salad instead? It’s probably best just to skip the ‘drive-thru’ altogether, but of course the choice is ultimately yours. If you have young kids in the house or are a new parent, consider never even offering fast food to your child. They won’t view it as a ‘treat’ for good behaviour, they won’t crave it and they won’t beg for it.
Teaching kids healthy eating habits early on is key! As parents we teach our kids what tastes good and what tastes bad based on what we eat and our behaviour towards it. Kids get used to certain tastes and if we can get them use to healthy foods then the battle is won!
ALTERNATIVE DINNER OPTIONS FOR MOMS
In a perfect world, moms would always have a healthy, home-cooked dinner ready and waiting for when the kids get home, but unfortunately that’s just not a reality in today’s busy world. There are going to be nights when you just want to hit the ‘drive-thru’ instead of waiting in line at the grocery store or fixing a meal. To avoid this, try to plan your meals in advance and have plenty of healthy, quick options available to make fast and easy dinners. By being prepared, you’re avoiding the decision of whether or not to cruise through the ‘drive-thru’ altogether! Draw up a basic dinner plan for every day in the week, this will give you the freedom to make any version of the protein/starch/veg, but still help you to make sure you have these things in the fridge. The kids will stop asking every second what’s for dinner and who knows maybe when they are older the can start dinner before you get home.
Make the switch from bad to good. Junk food should be a very special treat once in a while and keep the kids aware that it is really bad for them and that the fact that you are feeding it to them is actually no treat at all.