Kids don’t always eat when you want them to. It can be tough to get a young child, or even a teenager, to eat vegetables and stay away from fatty meals like fast food or pizza delivery. As we raise our children, are we sure they are keeping a healthy diet?
Sure – we can’t control everything they eat. But you can monitor the foods in your home and see if what you buy is a help or a hindrance to their upbringing. Let’s take a look at some of the most famous kids’ foods and see if they’re good or bad.
Avoid – Juice
Kids don’t drink a morning cup of coffee like their parents. It’s more likely that they will have a nice cup of orange juice on the table to help them with their morning kick. However, how healthy is this and is it the right thing to do?
A lot of people think juice is healthy, and to some extent it is. While it contains vitamin C and other nutrients, there is also plenty of sugar in a single cup. If you want your child to have the vitamins, it is better to give them whole fruit instead.
Increase – Beans
Your kids might not like to hear this, but beans are actually a superfood! They’re full of fiber and protein which makes it the perfect addition for lunch or dinner times as a family. When buying your beans, make sure to choose a low-sodium option, since that is bad for blood pressure.
While kids might not like the idea of beans at first, you’ll soon see how their mood will improve from regularly eating the superfood. Soon enough, they’ll love to have beans alongside their favorite veggies!
Avoid – Energy Drinks
For kids, energy drinks can be very dangerous. The big difference between energy drinks and soda is that these contain caffeine. Caffeine is known to cause a short but intense increase in blood pressure, which can have negative effects on your child and their health.
If kids drink caffeine-added drinks, they will be on a ‘high’ for around three to six hours, making it hard to put them to bed in the evenings. It’s better to monitor their drinking habits and replace this with sugar-free soda!
Increase – Eggs
Eggs are full to the brim with protein and vitamin D, B12, and iron. As well as these, their yolks also contain omega-3 acids which are vital for a child’s brain development. So, next time you’re having breakfast as a family, swap the cereal for some eggs!
The best part about eggs is that you can cook them in a myriad of ways. So, if you happen to have a fussy eater, find out if they like their eggs boiled, fried, or scrambled. The possibilities are endless!
Avoid – Yogurt
Ok, we know what you’re thinking. There is plenty of research that suggests yogurt is full to the brim with probiotics. While that might be true, there is a difference in the benefits of yogurt between children and adults. So, do kids benefit in the same way that adults do?
The truth is that yogurt might be doing more harm than good. While it has calcium and potassium, there is also a lot of sugar which can affect a child’s development. If your kid likes yogurt, make sure you get sugar-free options!
Increase – Avocado
There is such a thing as ‘healthy fats’, and avocados are a great example of this. A healthy intake of avocados will decrease inflammation and help keep cholesterol levels down. This might be more on the minds of adults, but don’t underestimate how it can help children, too!
Avocados are easy to mash up and serve in a salad or a sandwich. Next time the season comes round, be sure to serve your child with some of this summer superfood!
Avoid – Chicken Nuggets
Who can resist a cheeky trip to McDonald’s on the weekend as a family? The fast-food establishment serves the perfect type of food for all kinds of people. The chances are your kid loves the chicken nugget option…
Well, it’s not just McDonald’s that they should avoid! All chicken nuggets have a negative effect on your kids’ health. The meat is processed and contains a bunch of unhealthy fats and oils. Trust us – your teenager won’t like his face breaking out with acne from these!
Increase – Sweet Potato
If you’re rushing for time and need to serve your kids something healthy and nutritious, then sweet potatoes might become your next best friend! All you need to do is wash one and pop it in the microwave for 3-5 minutes.
No matter the age, your child will love sweet potatoes because they’re exactly that: sweet! Each portion contains more than 300% of your child’s recommended daily intake of vitamin A. Just make sure to limit the amount of salt!
Avoid – Grapes
Grapes are certainly a fruit that contains healthy vitamins, but that doesn’t mean your child should live off of them. The truth is that they might cause more of a headache for you than you would like. Here’s why:
First, the juice in the skin of grapes is a bit more difficult for a child to process in their digestive systems. Second, their size might result in choking if they are too big or not cut up small enough. If your child needs vitamins, maybe try a banana instead?
Increase – Milk
We’ve already mentioned the problems of serving your kids orange juice in the morning. While they might be a little too young for tea or coffee, it might be nice to serve another drink. Well, why consider some milk?
A glass of iced milk can have amazing benefits for your children. It is packed with calcium and vitamin D that is essential for bone growth and development. Just make sure to keep it to low-fat milk and avoid any cartons that have added sugar.
Avoid – Pasta
It can be a delicious dinner meal if topped with cheese and veggies, but there is more trouble behind pasta than you might believe. If you’re not providing additional vitamins or nutrients alongside it, then it might cause problems.
Pasta is very carb-heavy, which means that people can easily gain weight if they don’t exercise the food off of them. Also, processed pasta, like packaged Mac ‘n’ Cheese contains a chemical called phthalates, which is bad for dietary development.
Increase – Nuts and Seeds
If your child wants a snack after getting home from school, you can swap the chips and candy for a sizable portion of nuts or seeds. These can provide a super-trio of protein, fiber, and healthy fats perfect for a developing body.
Nuts have high levels of magnesium which is great for bone development and can help blood pressure stay low. For seeds, chia seeds have a lot of omega-3 fats which are great for your body since it can’t make it on its own.
Avoid – Peanut Butter
Kids love peanut butter, which doesn’t contain much sodium is actually full of saturated fat and sugar. When arteries are clogged with fat, the heart has to work harder to pump and circulate the blood around the body. Basically, too much of this can have a terrible effect on your child…
Regardless of whether they like to snack on smooth or crunchy, you’ll want to make sure that they are not eating too much and causing damage along the way. Next time they want a sweet snack, it will be better to stick to a sugar or fat-free option!
Increase – Hummus
They might not know it yet, but your kid will love this Middle Eastern dipping sauce. Hummus is made from chickpeas, which are a great remedy to help blood flow in young bodies.
Next time your young one wants a snack after school, replace his/her candy with carrot sticks and swap their salsa with some hummus. It’s not just an exotic food for them to taste, it’s tasty and incredibly moreish. They’ll never go back to candy!
Avoid – Table Salt
Next time you sit down as a family to enjoy dinner, you might want to think twice when your kid sprinkles salt over their meal. It’s pretty easy to become used to added table salt to a meal and it can be a horrid habit to break if it’s formed at a young age.
Salt contains a lot of sodium which can be bad for children who are likely to gain weight. It can also have bad consequences to their blood flow and circulation. Time to monitor their salt levels!
Increase – Tomatoes
Oh no, your child is not going to like this! Tomatoes are a great food to add to salads or sandwiches to help their everyday diet. Tomatoes have plenty of vitamin C and are a strong source of lycopene. Ben-Gurion University in Israel conducted a study and concluded that they’re great for kids and their development.
Just be sure your kids get their tomato intake from actual tomatoes! Supplements like puree or ketchup can contain a lot of sugars and salts, and might just be bad for them!
Avoid – Doughnuts
Even though they look nice and are delicious to snack on, this is a treat you’re going to want to keep away from your children. Each doughnut has around 300 calories just from the carbs! These carbohydrates turn into sugars and also contain trans fats. Basically, you don’t want your kid getting fat from these!
Sorry, if your kids are fans of Homer Simpson then they might be disappointed. But trust us, they’ll thank you when they grow up!
Increase – Spinach
Spinach is a leafy green that can have an incredible effect on your child’s development and growth – if they’re open to the idea. If they’re looking for inspiration to gobble this down, then just show them a cartoon of Popeye!
Spinach is practically a superfood for your young one. It’s full to the brim with compounds and enzymes that help your kids breakdown their food in a healthy way. It can also improve oxygen levels in their blood which is great if your child plays sports throughout the day.
Avoid – Fried Food
The Institute of Public and Preventive Health at Georgia Health Sciences University has written that fried foods can add to bad blood pressure in kids and adults. They said it’s caused by the rise in sodium and saturated fats absorbed by the delicious food.
So you might want to think twice about feeding your kids their favorite KFC bucket. They might not like the sound of it today, but their future self will be grateful when you don’t contract diabetes at 15.
Increase – Green Tea
Kids often prefer soda as a drink to snack on, but if you’re fortunate enough to have something like a Hibiscus tree in your garden, you should pick a few flowers. Then, teach them to brew a nice pot of tea! It turns out that tea is a good source of organic acids and very helpful for children.
These acids are good for the blood system, reducing blood pressure and making sure that your kid keeps a healthy lifestyle. If you don’t own a Hibiscus plant, you should buy some in the store today.
Avoid – French Fries
Your kids should blame a study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health for destroying their favorite food. The organizations discovered that consumption of fries caused high blood pressure and higher levels of fat in children.
Kids should avoid French fries and be sure to swap them with a side salad or carrot sticks. That way, they can still nosh on something without the added fats or oils. They’ll thank you later.
Increase – Mango
It’s possible to treat your young kids to a sweet dessert every now and then – and why choose anything other than a mango? First, it guarantees a sweet and juicy taste with each bite, but it’s also great for their dietary needs, too.
Mangoes are a great source of beta-carotene and fiber, and both have shown to lower blood pressure in kids. If they don’t like eating them raw, try putting them in a freezer overnight and turn it into a sorbet for their next dinner dessert!
Avoid – Sauerkraut
There’s a reason children can be drawn to salads that contain sauerkraut, and that’s because of the high amounts of sodium found in each portion. An average helping has around 460 mg of sodium, which is already a third of your kid’s recommended allowance.
Sauerkraut is a nice addition to hot dogs or salads, but you might want to reduce your kid’s intake it next time they eat it. Try to replace it with fresh cabbage or lettuce, both of which are far more healthy for them. They might not think it tastes as nice, but they will thank you later on!
Increase – Bell Peppers
Bell Peppers are a perfect addition to a dinner salad if you want to make sure your children are keeping fit and healthy. Not only do they provide a great intake of vitamin C, but they also assist with hypertension in their veins.
Watch out for different colored peppers and their slightly different tastes! You’ll want to make sure you and your child find which ones you both like most. This writer prefers yellow and orange peppers – and avoids green ones at all costs!
Avoid – Pretzels
These popular kids’ snacks might seem harmless, but they are actually unhealthy in a bunch of ways. They are made with white flour which actually transforms from a carb into a sugar when cooked. You won’t want your children getting stuffed up on carbs each day after school!
What’s more, they’re normally sprinkled with additional salt! This means each modest portion contains a crazy amount of carbs, fats, sodium, and salts. Only a handful of pretzels are more than your child’s recommended daily intake.
Increase – Apricots
Apricots can be a healthy snack or breakfast addition that can lower their chances of chronic disease when they grow up. You can put apricots in their desserts, salads, or even as a snack in front of the TV!
They have high amounts of beta-carotene and vitamin C which are both fantastic for overall health and blood pressure. Apricots also have an impressive amount of fiber inside of them – making them your child’s next favorite snack! If you haven’t started already, try adding some of these to their diet.
Avoid – Baked Goods
It’s a sad day when you’re a child and you have to acknowledge that all the best baked goods are unhealthy. It’s not that shocking: they have high amounts of sugars, carbs, white flour, and fats – all of which are bad for a developing body.
Next time you offer a breakfast croissant or they eat your delicious homemade banana bread, consider the effect it will have on their health in the long run. We suggest sticking to some toast if they need bread in their diet – which they probably will while they are still growing.
Increase – Carrots
This food perfect for bunnies is also a perfect snack for your kids! We’ve mentioned how carrots have high levels of vitamin C and beta-carotene and are perfect replacements for some of the fattening things that might be lurking in snacks today.
Carrots are also fantastic for children and their skin (if they have acne), eyesight, and new teeth – making them perfect for all children and their growth! It’s ideal to have a few to snack on instead of crisps or candy- so get your child going on it today!
Avoid – Refined Sugar
You might want to get your child used to avoiding sugar – it might just save their life! Refined sugar can cause diabetes, weight gain, and bad skin – especially during puberty. It’s fine to have some sugar in your diet every so often, but it can be very bad if eaten too much.
It’s also very addictive, so look out next time your kid wants a snack or a cup of tea! Try to get them to replace it with artificial sweetener, or try to have nothing added at all. Maybe it’ll take a few days for them to get used to the new habit, but they will start feeling better soon.
Avoid – Pot Pies
Before we expand on this point, we’re going to reveal a secret: kids love the sodium in these snacks. The average pot pie contains around 1,400 mg of sodium and more than 35 grams of fat in each portion. These after school snacks are very unhealthy for your child and should not be eaten unless for rare or special treats!
If you want to help your kid live a healthier life, just make sure they avoid this meal. And this is just information about the pastry – we’re not even talking about the rest of the stuff inside the actual pie!
Increase – Greens
There are plenty of nutrients, like potassium, that can help your kids monitor their sodium levels from snacks. If not balanced, their lifestyle can highly contribute to their raised blood pressure. One way to make sure your child has a healthy lifestyle is to incorporate more leafy greens in their diet, such as lettuce or arugula.
Next time, think about adding some fresh greens into their dinner time meals – and see how their mood and health will improve! They might want to resent you when you force them at first to eat their greens, but they’ll thank you soon enough!
Avoid – Cheese
Ok, so everyone knows how cheese can be so tasty. However, we have to think about the amount of salt and fats that are in these little blocks of tasty deliciousness. Let’s take just one example: cheddar cheese, which has around 621 mg of sodium per 100 grams, can be bad for your kids if they eat it regularly.
When thinking about your child and their dietary needs, consider cutting down on the frequency that they eat types of cheese. It’s not essential to cut it out of their diet completely, because this would be an upsetting day, indeed!
Increase – Berries
Berries, especially blueberries, have plenty of natural antioxidants and compounds that are called flavonoids. This might not sound very interesting to your kids, but they have been proven to lower blood pressure and improve the long term health of your child for years to come. It’s pretty simple to add a few berries into their daily routine.
Raspberries, strawberries, or blueberries can all be consumed as a small snack or even added to granola at breakfast times. These sweet snacks can enhance their health and overall mood – with very few negative impacts.
Avoid – Candy
Here’s a clear one – and they probably won’t be too happy to see this on the list! Your kids’ favorite candies are full of sugar like corn syrup and high fructose, which will lead to rotting teeth, weight gain, and can even speed up diabetes. Generally, you’re going to want to limit these for your kids.
Not to mention, candy will lead to one of your kid’s first serious addictions: sugar! It can also lead to acne if they are approaching puberty – it’s just better to avoid the stuff in the house! Next time your child eats his/her favorite bag of mentos or Oreos, remind them of the long term damage it can cause.
Increase – Oatmeal
This is the perfect breakfast meal to replace their sugary cereals: oatmeal is actually a high-fiber, low-sodium, low-fat, and tasty way for kids to get a great start to their day. It’s the perfect fuel to keep them going strong throughout their school days, and can act as the base for berries – something we already mentioned!
Oatmeal is a healthier option to their regular portions of cereals because it likely avoids the sugars found in children’s treats. This can actually also help them maintain their weight or lose it if they have some puppy fat around the edges.
Avoid – Soft Drinks
Similar to candy, children can develop problems if they consume too many soft drinks and sodas. These drinks are actually highly addictive due to their sugar levels and can leave them wanting more and more. If your child absolutely must have a soda, make sure it is at least sugar-free.
The American Heart Association conducted a study and found that you should not consume more than 355ml of soda per week – which is a little more than a single can! Some kids might complain about the diet alternatives at first, but after a while, they won’t know the difference.
Increase – Omega-3s
Fish in your kids’ meal is a wonderful source of omega-3s and lean protein needed for their growth. A lot of fish contains good fats, for example, salmon or mackerel. These have high amounts of acids which are perfect for muscle and bone development. They also have vitamin D – which few foods contain so you won’t need to invest in supplements!
Preparing fish for your kids doesn’t have to be complicated – you can simply fry or bake a fillet of salmon or mackerel in the oven for just a few minutes. Or even better, you can introduce them to sushi, which is one of the most popular meals in the world.
Avoid – Ramen Noodles
When your child reaches college, he or she will be disappointed to learn how those instant noodles they’ll probably live on contain will contain dangerous amounts of sodium. It might be worth training them when they’re younger to make sure they avoid this dangerous food.
Just one portion contains more sodium than the amount you should consume in a whole day. Even if it’s eaten as a treat, only one meal can set their health back in bad ways.
Avoid – Cereal
Cereal is another popular breakfast food enjoyed by kids – but it’s important to consider what is inside each bowl. While the cereal companies might tell you it’s full of healthy options, it’s probably also full of sugars and preservatives.
Next time, your little one might benefit from some oatmeal or muesli. This alternative is a lot more healthy for development and avoids all the nasty sugars associated with kids’ cereals. Better yet, the oatmeal could be covered in berries to supplement the juice!