Home > Kids Health, Nutrition > Fueling Your Kids in the Fast Food Lane

Fueling Your Kids in the Fast Food Lane

The race is on!  School has started, activities are abundant and as a parent you are faced with balancing a very hectic schedule. It can be challenging to plan healthy snacks and figure out sensible choices when the convenience of fast food is inevitable.

Snacks can help bridge the gap between lunch and dinner by acting as fuel to supplement your kids’ diet, but not sabotage their appetite.

Secrets to Snacking Success:

  • Keep snacks around 150-200 calories.
  • Plan snacks to avoid snack “attacks.”
  • Limit high-fat, high-sugar foods in the house.
  • Keep serving sizes in check. For example, a ½ cup serving of Chex Mix has 150 calories, but a child can easily eat one or more cups which can double or triple the calories.
  • Pre-portion snacks in small bags instead of grabbing straight out of the container.
  • Serve snacks at the table, not in front of a screen.
  • Involve your child and give him or her choices.
  • Pair fiber-rich carbs with protein. See examples below.
Instead of This:                                                                     Try This:
1 ½ cups of Chex Mix:  450 calories 100 calorie bag of light microwave popcorn and

Light Babybel Cheese:  150 calories

Sonic chocolate milkshake (mini):  570 calories Fruit smoothie: blend fat free milk, frozen strawberries, ½ frozen banana and vanilla for 20 to 30 seconds:  200 calories
Oreo Mini Chocolate Sandwich Cookies Go Pak, 3.5 oz.: 455 Calories Spread fat free frozen yogurt between 2 sheets of graham crackers and thinly sliced ½ banana or ½ cup strawberries.  Freeze, if desired:  175-200 cal.
2 oz. bag of Cheetos: 340 calories  16 Tostitos Oven Baked Scoops with 4 Tbsp. bean dip mixed with 3 Tbsp. salsa:  200 calories
1 cup of ice cream:  320 calories Sugar cone filled with nonfat Greek yogurt and sliced fruit:  150 calories
Peanut butter sandwich with 2 Tbsp. peanut butter and 1 Tbsp. jelly:  380 calories Mini Pizza:  toasted whole wheat English muffin with pizza sauce sprinkled with 2% shredded cheese:  200 calories
1 cup granola cereal and milk:  500 calories Kashi Chocolate Almond & Sea Salt Chewy Granola Bar with ½ Tbsp. peanut butter:  190 calories

When it’s snack or dinner time and you’re running from soccer practice with one child to flute lessons with another, a grab-and-go fast food meal seems to be the answer.  Try to choose wisely so you don’t get short-changed on nutrition and end up with an excess load of calories and fat.

Tips to Navigate Fast Food:

  • Know before you go! Review menus with your children and have a plan of action for healthy choices.
  • Go for balance. Even fast food restaurants offer salads and fruit.  Substitute them for fries.  If fries are ordered, split them among several people at the table.
  • Downsize portions instead of supersizing! Portion control is the key. The average hamburger in the 1950’s was 1.5 ounces and today is 8 ounces.
  • Skip the liquid candy! Order low-fat milk or water instead of sodas or lemonade.
  • Trim the high fat, high calorie extras, including mayonnaise, dressings, sauces and cheese.
Instead of this: Try this:
Subway

6” turkey, ham, or roast beef

Chips

Cookie

21 ounce soda:  930 calories

Subway Fresh Fit for Kids

4” turkey, ham, or roast beef

Apple slices

Low-fat milk:  320 calories

Chick- fil-A

6-count nuggets

Waffle fries

Soda:  770 calories

Chick-fil-A

6-count grilled nuggets

Honey barbeque sauce or Buttermilk Ranch sauce

Fruit cup

Low fat milk:  300-345 calories

Chipotle

Burrito – flour tortilla, chicken, rice, cheese, and lettuce:  800 calories

Chipotle Kids Meal

Kids corn tortilla cheese quesadilla with black beans , low fat milk, and orange:  385 calories

McDonald’s Kids Mighty Meal

McDouble cheeseburger

Small French fries

Go-Gurt

Fat-free chocolate milk:  800 calories

McDonald’s Kids Meal

Hamburger

Kids’ fries

Apple slices

Low-fat milk:  475 calories

As a parent, the most important point to remember is you are your child’s role model and most influential teacher.  Their little eyes are on you, so practice what you preach. Don’t pig out when you eat out!  Instead, guide your children toward making better choices. Realize occasional indulgences are fine and can be worked into any healthy eating plan.  It’s not what you do on once every so often, it’s what you do every day that counts!

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