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As parents, we want to give our little ones the happiest possible start in life and fill their tummies with wholesome, nutritious food in the process. But unhealthy food – such as sugar-filled snacks and cereals – is everywhere we turn. It’s no surprise that a 2012 survey discovered a whopping 28% of the UK’s 2 – 15 year olds were overweight or obese. So it’s worth paying a bit more attention to calorie content and how many take-aways your family eat during the week – and to watch out for so-called ‘healthy foods’ as they can be very deceptive.
First let’s go through some calorie information:
A Medium Dominoes Peperoni Pizza: 1720 Calories
A MacDonald’s Big Mac: 508 Calories
A MacDonald’s Medium Fries: 337 Calories
A MacDonald’s Medium Strawberry Milkshake: 379 Calories
A MacDonald’s Dairy Milk McFlurry: 1394 Calories
A Full MacDonald’s Meal: 332 Calories
A KFC Zinger Tower Burger: 714 Calories
(Recommended daily calorie intake: 900 for toddlers aged 2-3. 1200 – 1800 for girls aged 4 -18; 1400
– 2200 for boys aged 4 – 18. Obviously this varies according to build, height and activity levels).
You might argue that the above list isn’t relevant as these aren’t children’s portions. But many children do consume food like this every day (when out with friends for example). A treat every now and again is great and I would wholeheartedly encourage it, but if you let toddlers or teenagers eat this food several times a week, there could be problems. Being a parent doesn’t stop once they are old enough to leave the house on their own. If anything, it steps it up a notch.
What Can Be Done?
Start by paying closer attention to how much take-away food your children are eating. And try to cut down on ‘instant’ microwavable foods, so-called ‘diet’ foods and ready meals which lack nutritional value and are full of additives and ‘toxic’ fats which are more difficult for the body to burn off. Also, cut down on the number of unhealthy snacks you have in the home, like chocolate biscuits and crisps – limiting them to weekends. You should also keep an eye out for any deceptively unhealthy foods such as breakfast cereals which contain high levels of sugar.
Sugar is actually highly addictive – some would say as much as nicotine – and you’re best bet is to cut it out altogether. Those whose diet is high in sugar can get tired and irritable easily (not to mention having bad teeth and skin) and that’s aside from the increased risk of obesity. The less sugary foods there are in the house, the less your little ones (and you!) will crave them. Also, try having dessert once or twice a week rather than every night. It should be seen as a special treat, not a necessary accompaniment to each and every meal!
Getting the family together for dinner at the end of the day isn’t just a great way to spend time together, but also discourages teenagers from just grabbing some chips on the way home from school. There are hundreds of healthy recipes online that your family will love and can help prevent health issues in the long run.
A Cause for a Super Hero
Super foods are great for your kids – and you – as they aren’t just healthy and low in fat, but are excellent brain and body fuel, being packed full of vitamins and minerals. See the list below:
Beans and Pulses
Walnuts (great for curbing hunger pangs in the afternoon when children get home from
This isn’t an extensive list, but it’s a great starting point. Add some of these foods to a packed lunch or evening meal and they can greatly improve your children’s diet. They are tasty and healthy – and in the long run you will see a marked improvement in your children’s health and attitude to food.