Healthy options at fast food restaurants

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Despite our efforts to eat healthy, most of us still turn to fast food as a meal choice for the family. But by doing so, are we putting our kids’ well-being at risk? Find out how you can make smart and healthy choices for your kids the next time you dine at your favourite fast food restaurant.

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How to get your child to eat healthy in fast food restaurants?

While fast food consumption is not the only cause of obesity in children, it is considered a major threat due to the rising number of fast food outlets in every community. Although fast food joints do not reveal the calorie content of their products, everyone is probably aware that fast food meals are packed with more calories than our children needs in a day. Not to mention that they are also high in fat, sugar, and sodium, which could all be harmful to our bodies as well as our children.

Calorie requirements

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How many calories are in your favourite fast food items?

A child’s daily calorie requirement depends on his or her age, size and level of activity. Generally school-age children would need 1600-2800 calories a day, but as they grow older they need more. Teenage boys need more calories than teenage girls. However, a very active child requires more calories than one who is not so active, regardless of gender.

Kids don’t really have to worry about counting calories because their bodies would tell them when they need more. What is important is that they do not eat more than their bodies need. Excess calories are stored in the body and converted to fat. Too much fat can cause various diseases. So if you don’t want your kids to become overweight and obese, then give them a healthy and balanced diet. Refrain from giving them foods that are very high in calories such as sodas, sweets, and fast food.

Fast and convenient

Sadly, many busy parents see fast food as a solution rather than a problem. In this day and age where speed and convenience are highly important, fast food outlets are gaining more popularity because these are exactly the things that they offer. Parents with very hectic schedules will have no time to prepare meals for their kids. So fast food becomes a convenient way of feeding our kids.

Although many people know the “evil” lurking in each fast food product, they don’t seem to mind eating them. These foods offer so much convenience that it really doesn’t matter if they’re totally unhealthy. While fast food restaurants are doing fine, their loyal customers may already be suffering from some disease. Remember Morgan Spurlock from the 2004 documentary ‘Super Size Me’?

Eating “healthy” at fast food outlets

Okay, I don’t really want to sound so tough and say that kids shouldn’t eat any fast food at all. Fast food is fine just as long as it doesn’t become a staple in your children’s diet. Health experts say that a maximum of two visits a month to your favourite fast food joint won’t really hurt a child’s diet.

As a parent, you can influence the amount and type of food that your children eat. So on your next visit to a fast food outlet, be sure to make smart choices. Here are a few tips to get you started on maintaining a healthy diet for your kid, even when you bring them to a fast food joint:

1. Limit the size and amount of food

Order kid-size meals only and never give in to the temptation of getting an upgrade even if they say that you can save more money by doing so.

2. Avoid deep-fried, coated food

Talk your children out of ordering foods that are breaded and fried such as chicken nuggets, fried chicken, French fries, chicken fillet sandwich and onion rings. Offer them alternatives of foods that are boiled, steamed or roasted instead.

3. Give them healthier side dishes

Choices such as baked potato or fresh garden salad are always healthier than the usual fried sides offered in fast food joints.

 4. Explain to your children that soda is not healthy

Give them water, juice or milk instead.

5. Bring along some healthy snacks

These include crunchy and colourful choices such as carrot sticks or fruit slices that your kids can eat on the way to the fast food outlet.

6. Order a healthy meal yourself.

You’ll be able to get your kids to choose healthier meal options if you set a good example yourself.

Below is list that will give you an idea of the calorie content of some of your favourite fast food products:

McDonald’s

–          Large Fries (170g) – 570 calories

–          Cheeseburger (121g) – 320 calories

–          Big Mac (214g) – 540 calories

–          Hot Fudge Sundae (179g) – 340 calories

–          Fried Chicken (223g) – 500 calories

–          Fillet-O-Fish Sandwich (156g) – 470 calories

–          4 pc. Chicken Nuggets (71g) – 190 calories

Burger King

–          King Size Onion Rings (150g) – 500 calories

–          Regular Hamburger  (121g) – 290 calories

–          Whopper (290g) – 670 calories

–          Bacon Cheeseburger (140g) – 400 calories

KFC

–          Twister (252g) – 550 calories

–          Fried Chicken Original Recipe (59g) – 140 calories

–          Fried Chicken Original Recipe (120g) – 360 calories

–          Extra Crispy Chicken Drumstick (60g) – 160 calories

–          Chicken Popcorn (71g) – 270 calories

Wendy’s

–          4 pc. Chicken Nuggets (60g) – 170 calories

–          Cheeseburger  (123g) – 320 calories

–          Breaded Chicken Sandwich (208g) – 440 calories

Pizza Hut

–          Cheese Pan Pizza (111g) – 361 calories

–          Cheese Stuffed Crust (162g) – 445 calories

–          Meat Lover’s Pan Pizza (130g) – 344 calories

–          Meat Lover’s Stuffed Crust (196g) – 543 calories

–          Super Supreme Pan Pizza (136g) – 401 calories

–          Super Supreme Stuffed Crust (198g) – 505 calories

Be Creative

If your children really like fast food, then maybe you can prepare some of their favourite fast food products right at home – but with a healthy spin. For example, you can bake potato slices to replace the greasy French fries or make hamburgers using wheat buns.

There are actually a lot of ways to make your kids eat the food that you prepare for them. The secret is to make them look very attractive and appealing, like how fast food restaurants do.