Have you noticed one thing? Our children have such a wide variety of options to choose from! And, as loving parents who are often ridden with guilt, we let them choose often unhealthy stuff instead of being strict about food. But even seemingly healthy food might be deceptively unhealthy. This may lead to childhood obesity and improper growth. And even the Prime Minister Mr Lee Hsien Loong touched upon this subject in his National Day speech.
Here is a list of 7 things that your child should not be eating often, or if you can help it, not at all! I have not included candy, pastry, and confectionaries for obvious reasons. However, I understand the practical restrictions, so don’t be too hard on yourself if your kids eat them occasionally.
So, here is a list of unhealthy foods that you should avoid.
1# Breakfast cereals
A good thing about breakfast cereals is that they contain some amount of grains. The bad thing is that it also contains a lot of sugar or sweetening agents, making it unhealthy. Many even have a high glycemic index – something an ideal breakfast should not have. If you have to choose, though, go for a multi-grain cereal that is not sweetened. My child likes oats cooked in milk. But If I have no choice, I try and give my child unsweetened rice-cakes or muesli.
2# Instant/cup noodles
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If you are ever attacked by flesh-eating monsters and the only way to kill them is Monosodium Glutamate, throw instant noodles at them. Trust me, the instant noodles have enough msg to kill an entire army of these flesh-eating monsters. Though relatively safe when consumed by adults in customary quantities, it is at the end of the day, rich in sodium making it unhealthy for your child.
When your child has these noodles every day, it is going to exceed their recommended dietary allowance of sodium. But MSG is not the only problem with noodles. These are often made from refined flour and thus lack sufficient fibres. A daily consumption of this is thus not recommended.
3# Processed meat
If you are into processed hams, sausages, salami, there is a bad news for you. Cured meats are rich in nitrates and sodium making them unhealthy for everyday consumption. In a recent study, it was found that the cured or deli meats increase the risk of Leukemia in children. So why risk that? Just use fresh meat instead.
While we are at it, I would also suggest reducing the consumption of bacon to a minimum.
4# Fruit snacks
This extremely popular American snack is made from fruit juice. However, to make it the way it is, it has a lot of sugar, making it unhealthy. In addition, it contains food colours, something that is best avoided in children. Even if it is ‘organic’, real fruits are still a better option than these.
If you are using it as a snack, use fruits instead. If you are using it for vitamins, opt for drops.
5# Canned food
Canned food is an extremely convenient option for bachelors. However, it should be restricted to bachelorhood. If you see the shelf life of canned stuff, it is often more than 12 months. Newer techniques don’t need preservatives, but some are still found in canned food.
Go for fresh food instead. But if you have to use canned ingredients, avoid the ones with added preservatives, including salt.
6# Chicken nuggets
I must confess – chicken nuggets are my favourite form of fried chicken after KFC popcorns. However, when it comes to giving it to my child, I avoid doing it. The reason is, it is deep fried and ends up containing a considerable quantity of saturated fats and salt. Instead, I prefer to give him some grilled chicken breast.
7# Sugary drinks
An average can of soda contains 35 grammes of sugar. When you have a tea, you add about 8-10 grammes of sugar to it. In addition to giving your child unnecessary calories, soda is also implicated in causing precocious puberty in girls. Good news is, soda companies have agreed to reduce the amount of sugar in colas. That said, there are literally a million other options to Sodas.
Even when it comes to packed fruit juices, the sugar content is high. Try and squeeze some fresh juice at home instead.
Mums and dads, we spend hours working to ensure that our children get the best things that they deserve. Why not extend it to food as well? Granted, your children would be upset if you say no to sodas and chicken nuggets. But they will soon start liking the healthy substitutes you give them.
Also, read: Sugar myths debunked: 5 easy practices to adopt for low-sugar living