IS FAST FOOD OK FOR KIDS?

Over the last two decades, so many fast food restaurant chains have emerged and are on a constant rise. Whether we are travelling, have guests, short on time, hanging around with friends or simply want to relax, pizza, burger and fries are an instant choice, both affordable and comfortable for parents and children. In reality, food with high sugar/ saturated fat/ salt (what does sugar do to kids?) and low nutrient value in terms of protein, fibre, vitamin and mineral is termed as Fast Food. Food that can be served ready-to-eat and fast. Many of our children are fond of such ready-made food. But these foods have a negative impact on kid’s health in the long run and some of the concerning outcomes are obesity, stress, hormonal imbalance in kids. A single fast food meal could add 300-500 calories instantly without much added nutrition, terming it as empty calories (Why should kids eat a balanced diet?).

Kids love to enjoy meals with high sugar content. Sugar can be consumed in many forms like Bread which is extremely high in added sugar and one of the most staple foods in every household for kids. Other common sources of sugar are white sugar, brown sugar, cane sugar, cookies, candy, donut, cake, canned drinks, packed juices, bottled shakes and smoothies, granola bars, sauces, jams and many others. Such intake on a regular basis can deplete four of the best bone-friendly nutrients from your child’s body.

During the early years, the bones of kids develop and grow while also being depleted at the same time. If the consumption of calcium, Vitamin D and other required minerals are sufficient, the health of bones will be positive. If the consumption of required vitamins and minerals are less, the depletion of bones will soon take over resulting in much weaker bones and easy fractures. When sugar is consumed, there is acid that’s released in the body. In order to balance this acid, calcium is extracted from the bones resulting in Calcium deficient weaker bones. Vitamin D assists in absorption of Calcium by the bones. Consumption of sugar increases an enzyme that degrades vitamin D and thereby also results in reduced absorption of calcium by the bones. Double whammy!

Vitamin C helps to make collagen and also delays the decaying process of bones. Sugar intake restricts the absorption of this vitamin into our body cells resulting in weaker bones.

Magnesium works on keeping the bones strong. Sugar strips the body of magnesium too by releasing it out through urine.

BEST SNACKS FOR CHILDREN:

Many packaged snacks for kids are extremely unhealthy. They are often full of refined flour, added sugars, and artificial ingredients like colours and flavours. Snacks can act as a great opportunity to sneak some extra nutrients into your child’s diet. Instead of highly processed fast foods, fill your child’s tummy with healthy whole food snacks that will provide energy and complete nutrition.

  • You may consider popcorn as junk food, but it’s really a nutritious whole grain healthy fast food for kids. As long as you don’t drown it in unhealthy fat like margarine, popcorn can be a snack for kids. It is also loved by them. Popcorn actually has 4 grams of fibre per 3-cup serving, which makes it a filling snack and good for digestion.

Amongst many minerals and vitamins that contribute towards Brain Health– Development and Function, a few are Manganese, Vitamin B6 and B9. Just a cup of Makhana is enough to meet 50% of Manganese requirements for the day.

It is those rare snacks which are loaded with a good balance of Vitamin Bs. Not just Brain, Makhana also supports strong bone development of a growing child.

  • You can make them healthy fast food for kids, when you use the right ingredients. Healthy cookies contain whole grain flour, which provide protein, vitamins, minerals, and fibre. It can be a favourite treat for kids and adults as well. Adding ground seeds like flax, chia or sunflower seeds to the cookie mix make them more nutritious. By swapping out the added sugar and using other alternatives like puree of dates or raisins or dried berries can make the cookie a healthier choice. (Recipe of cookies)
  • Bread is a staple food in many households. Healthy spreads for bread can be a good way to feed essential nutrition to children. It can not only calm down a kid’s hunger pangs but also give a dose of good fat, protein and vitamins. Peanut butter mixed with cocoa and dates or honey is a bread spread which is loved by adults and kids alike. It is enough to provide with essential nutrients as well as antioxidants. (Recipe of spreads)
  • Mixed nut balls or laddoo are the best snacks for children to settle their sweet cravings. Peanut butter (or any other nut butter) mixed with almond flour, dipped in melted dark chocolate is just the perfect snack for anytime during the day. Consuming Nuts and seeds is among the best food with protein to meet the daily requirement of the body and also among the best foods for children in their developing years. (Recipe of nut balls)
  • Smoothies are a great way to pack fibre and vitamin rich fruits and vegetables, calcium, protein and good fats into a drinkable meal or snack. They are really easy and fast to make at home, and you can create lots of flavour combinations using what you have. An addition of kefir instead of yogurt adds the necessary bacterias to the drink. (Recipe of kefir shake)
  • Cake or cupcake is undoubtedly a favourite and healthy fast food for kids. Using whole wheat flour and mixing with seeds of Sunflower, Pumpkin and Melon together offer a great source of nourishment to the body. 1 tablespoon of this seed mix provides 5g of protein. A spread of this can easily blend with any dish and won’t even get noticed by kids.(Recipe of cupcakes)
  • Recipe of Chocolate chip Oat Cookie with seeds
  • 1/3 cup each semolina, wheat flour, oats and melon seeds
  • Handful Chocolate drops (or more)
  • Honey (as per sweetness)
  • Pinch salt
  • ¼ tsp Cinnamon powder
  • 2 heaped tbsp ghee or unsalted butter
  • Milk as little as to make firm dough
  • Take a big ball of dough
  • Roll in between two baking/parchment papers.
  • Preheat oven for 5 min.
  • Place rolled cookie with baking sheet on the middle rack. Bake as a single piece at 200 for 15 min. Once edges begin to brown, take it out.
  • Cool on rack. Once completely cool, break the cookie as you like or just eat rightaway.  

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