Are you one of those parents who is worried about your child’s unhealthy eating habits? Look no further. We have compiled a list of healthy foods that can be used as alternatives to junk foods.
By Ashwin Dewan
When you browse through kids' channels on television these days you will be shocked to know that a majority of the advertising veers towards unhealthy foods — candies, burgers, cola, ice cream, etc. In fact, junk food is everywhere and children are lured into believing that it is the coolest option for them. Parents and nutrition experts are worried about this growing trend that can have a devastating effect on the health of children.
Teaching children to make healthy choices is important. But, as a first step, why not offer them food that is equally appealing, yet packed with nutrition? There are healthy and tasty alternatives available for your little one. So, the next time he wants to have some French fries, instead of ordering some or reaching out for the packet of frozen fries, try baking some potato wedges sprinkled with rock salt instead.
Upashana Sharma, a mother to an 8-year-old boy, says, "My son loves eating hamburgers and fries. Initially, I indulged him thinking that eating fast food once in a while wouldn't hurt. However, when he started craving for it daily, I was alarmed. I was afraid that fast food would have adverse effects on his health. So, I began to offer him brown bread sandwich, with innovative but healthy fillings. At first, he resisted; but, when he tried the food, he loved it. Today, he no longer craves for burgers; instead, he enjoys my brown bread sandwich."
There are many different, healthy alternatives to junk food that you can try, which may appeal to your child. It is also imperative that, as a parent, you act as a role model and inculcate the habit of healthy eating at home, which your child will surely imbibe.
We bring you some easy-to-try healthy alternatives to junk food:
1. French fries (packaged or from the fast-food joint) vs Baked potato wedges
The next time you visit a fast-food joint, think twice. French fries are loaded with calories, bad fats and salt. According to a study, Fried potato consumption is associated with elevated mortality: an 8-y longitudinal cohort study, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, in the year 2017, lead author Dr Nicola Veronese and colleagues suggested that fried potato consumption is associated with elevated mortality. Baked potato wedges, on the other hand, contain no oil, and can be made with fresh potatoes.
Healthy alternative: Baked potato wedges
2. Burger vs Brown bread sandwich
Who does not love biting into a big, juicy burger? Children certainly do! Yes, a burger may taste yummy; but, it is bad for health. Apart from being loaded with calories, they contain additives, which many manufacturers and food joints use to preserve the burger meat. Extra calories and unhealthy additives, combined with the cheese, mayonnaise, etc., make the burger a strict no-no. A far better option would be brown bread. It aids weight loss, has the germ and bran intact and contains more nutrients.
Healthy alternative: Brown bread sandwich
3. Cola or Soda vs Fresh fruit juice
A glass of chilled cola or soda that children love to guzzle down contains a high amount of sugar, is loaded with calories and has several additives. Consuming cola regularly leads to several health issues such as obesity, breathing problems or skin problems. Your best bet would be — fresh fruit juice or just a whole fruit, which is packed with the goodness of vitamins and minerals.
Healthy alternative: Fresh fruit juice
4. Instant noodles vs Semiya (Vermicelli) noodles
According to a report published by the World Instant Noodles Association in 2017, India stands fourth in the global instant noodles consumption listing at 5.5 billion servings per year. Since noodles are made to last long, they are highly processed, low in nutrition and high in fat, calories and sodium. You can instead go in for semiya (vermicelli), which aids slow sugar absorption in the blood and helps in healthy weight loss.
Healthy alternative: Semiya (vermicelli) noodles
5. Ice cream vs Yoghurt with fruits
We all love to slurp on ice cream on hot days. They are delicious and come in a variety of flavours. However, the downside is that ice cream is full of fat, sugar and carbohydrates. Compared to ice cream, yoghurt, a probiotic, is good for our gut health, improves digestion and, when combined with fruits, is a healthy option. Offer your child a bowl of unsweetened yoghurt.
Healthy alternative: Yoghurt with fruits
6. Fried rice (white) vs Fried rice (brown)
Fried rice made using white rice is tasty, but it does nothing good for your health. In fact, this preparation is a source of empty calories and carbohydrates with very little nutrients. The same dish made with very little oil and brown rice is a better alternative. Brown rice has more fibre and antioxidants.
Healthy alternative: Fried rice (brown)
7. Chocolate cookies vs Oatmeal cookies
We all love chocolate in any form, especially children. And, when they get to eat chocolate cookies, they consume it by the dozen. This should stop. As tasty as they are, chocolate cookies are loaded with sugar, additives and colouring agents. Oatmeal cookies, on the other hand, are a healthy option as they contain the goodness of oatmeal and are devoid of artificial additives.
Healthy alternative: Oatmeal cookies
8. Candy bars vs Peanut candy
Just like chocolate cookies and cola, candy bars are also highly processed for a long shelf life. They contain a large amount of sugar, additives and other harmful preservatives. Homemade peanut candies made with jaggery and peanuts or the ones found in organic stores are a better option.
Healthy alternative: Peanut candy
9. Fried snacks vs Baked samosa
Fried snacks, especially the ones sold on the streets, are often double-fried in oil and are full of trans fats. They are also loaded with salt and additives. If your children are craving for street-style food, offer them samosas that are baked. They are sure to love them and may not even know the difference.
Healthy alternative: Baked samosa
So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and try the above healthy alternatives to processed and calorie-laden food. Not only are they healthy but they are also high on the taste quotient.
For any help regarding your child's nutrition, join our discussions!
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