The Kid's Meal: 6 Reasons to Stop Feeding Your Kids “Kid Food” Now! by 30Seconds Mom
According to the National Institutes of Health, on any given day one-third of children and 41 percent of teens eat from a fast-food restaurant. They also report that the restaurant meals often served to kids contain too many calories. One expert, Doctor Yum, says it’s time to ditch the “kid food” and start giving kids better options.
“Most food is kid-friendly. Kids just need to learn how to eat it,” says Dr. Nimali Fernando, a pediatrician who founded The Doctor Yum Project. “Kids who are taught healthy eating habits, which include eating a variety of healthy foods, will be far better off now and in the long run. They will be learning healthy habits that will last a lifetime.” Here are six reasons to ditch the pizza and pouches and get your kids back to real food:
- Kids can learn to eat real food. Most of us parents overestimate the amount of food children need. Therefore, when a toddler takes two bites of their entree, parents may feel defeated instead of realizing they may have eaten enough. Parents then may be more likely to reach for those kid-friendly, addictive snacks (like crackers and gummy snacks) to fill their child’s belly. It should be no surprise that grazing-style eating, where hunger does not fully develop, leads to a poor appetite at mealtime.
- Restaurant kid’s meals are a waste of money. When eating out, say no to kid’s meals, which are usually variations on the same “kid-friendly” foods like pizza, chicken nuggets and sweet drinks. Most of these menus have little to no vegetables or fruit. They may be belly fillers and provide calories but little added nutritional value for your dollar. Instead, order a healthy similarly priced appetizer and/or share your entree with your little one (restaurant meals are so oversized that chances are good that the serving is too big for you anyway).
- Kid-friendly foods are misleading. Recent studies of toddler foods show that many actually have more sugar and salt than what is recommended by experts. Food companies know that parents worry about nutrition, and know the buzzwords to attract those worried parents.
- Kids need real food to develop and thrive. While pizza and macaroni and cheese may fill a child’s belly, kids need fruits, vegetables and whole grains to provide the necessary, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients (plant nutrients) for optimal growth and development.
- You don’t have time to be a short order cook. Making two or three meals to satisfy everyone's preferences is exhausting and can lead to cooking burnout. Teach kids to eat what you are eating to save time and money and to encourage the spirit of adventurous eating. Check out the Doctor Yum Project’s kid-tested, pediatrician approved recipes on doctoryum.org.
- Nutrition shouldn’t be hidden, so stop hiding the veggies. Kids that are very hesitant eaters may be benefit from a few hidden vegetables as they gain confidence in food, but in general parents should try to help kids learn to love healthy foods without hiding them.
Learn more by visiting DoctorYum.org.