Fast Food Choices and Healthy Eating for Kids
Fast food choices for children have been at the center of the latest nutritional news. In the midst of this, Gillette wanted to comment on what we consider to be healthful eating. Fast food restaurants are listening to our nation’s cry for healthier options by providing better choices, which is certainly exciting news. With the reality of our busy lifestyles, it’s helpful to have healthy fast food options for those times when you find yourself in the drive-thru lane over the lunch hour. Yet, even with improvements in drive-thru menu options, it’s important to remember that fast food is still high in calories and fat—and should, therefore, be limited. Keep in mind that you can still eat nutritious foods when you’re in a hurry! Here are my tips for nutritious eating for yourself and your children when you’re in a hurry:
Plan ahead. It doesn’t take long to toss a few food items into a cooler before you head out the door…but it does require you to plan ahead.
Portable foods. Fill your fridge with portable foods like cheese sticks, hard boiled eggs, yogurt, fresh fruit and veggies. Pack sandwiches ahead of time—keeping in mind that they don’t need to be boring! Let your kids choose from a list of options: tuna, turkey, egg salad, chicken or peanut butter and fruit preserves (a better alternative to jelly.) If your child isn’t a sandwich fan, prepare a dish ahead of time that can be enjoyed cold, such as pasta salad or even chili. If you have access to a microwave later on, you can get more creative with foods that may be more traditionally thought of as dinner meals, such as lasagna, beef and vegetable stew, chili or a casserole. Foods like these can be made in batches ahead of time, frozen and taken out as needed. Dinner leftovers can also be saved for lunches or afternoon snacks. Whole fruits, fresh vegetables, and mixtures of nuts are portable and easy options that add substance to meals while packing in nutrients.
Keep it simple. When in doubt, focus on keeping things simple by going back to the basics of healthy eating. With the widely varied mixture of nutritional information available, it can be confusing to know what to eat and feed your kids— especially when you’re busy. When in a bind, it is comforting to know that restaurants are making positive changes to benefit the health of you and your children; however you will always have the most control when you pack it yourself.
If you have any additional questions, please contact your healthcare provider.
Cassie Bjork, RD, LD
Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare