- Regular consumption of fast food is bad for your brain and body
- Childhood obesity can lead to diabetes and heart trouble later in life
- Make wise choices when eating out or create healthier versions at home
A recent study, published in Journal American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, claimed that eating French fries or rather fried potatoes regularly has been linked to increased risk of early death. This is not to scare you but excess consumption of junk food can trigger certain negative effects in your brain and body and many studies have indicated the same. It's easy to get tempted by fatty and sugary meals that fast food restaurants offer, but don't worry, there's also an easy way out. Here are few tips suggested by the American Heart Association to keep in mind while eating out with your kids and help them make the right choices.
1. Portion size matters: It's not just what you eat but also how much you eat that impacts your health. Skip the combo meals or the jumbo-sized burgers and instead opt for small bites. Also, extra topping is a big no-no because they add nothing but extra fat, sodium and calories to your meal. You can even share the meal with your child to downsize the portion and in the process, help them make better choices.
2. Watch what you are drinking: Ditch the soda or aerated drinks and opt for a milkshake, smoothie or even an iced tea. The high fructose corn syrup or artificial sugar that these fizzy drinks contain offer nothing but empty calories and are the easiest ways to put on more pounds.
3. Know your nutrition facts: Many restaurants will provide calories or some other facts about the nutrition value of the dish. Make sure you give it a good read before making your choice. If they don't mention anything, base your decision on the kind of ingredients used in the dish. For instance, a corn-flour wrap with hung curd dressing is a better option than a burger with mayo and cheese.
4. Skip the sides: The meal in itself is quite filling and so, avoid the sides or choose an option that all of you can share.
5. Ask for alternatives: Most restaurants will have alternatives for breads, sauces and dressings. Don't hesitate in asking for them. They may also offer baked, grilled or fried options for certain meals. Choose wisely and don't just go with what seems to be popular or appears on the menu.
The other way out is to create healthier versions of your favourite fast food items at home with a few simple tweaks. According to Delhi-based Nutritionist Dr. Simran Saini, "There is no harm in giving your child a pizza or a burger as long as you add some nutrition to it. Sneak in some vegetables that are full of fiber and aid digestion. Similarly, if you're making a pan-fried cutlet with potatoes, add some nuts to it and skip processed cheese. It will give a lovely crunch that your kids won't mind. Also, make sure you use good quality oil. Switch to healthier alternatives like olive oil or rice bran oil that are light on the stomach."
Bangalore-based Nutritionist Dr. Anju Sood also gives us some tips. "You can easily substitute some ingredients to balance the high content of sugar or salt in the fast food item. For instance, if the dish is high on sugar and uses maida replace it with wheat flour or millets that are high on fiber and increase the digestion time. This reduces the quantum of sugar released and prevents the conversion of glucose into fat. You can even use besan ka atta or gram flour to make savoury snacks as it is high in protein and makes your dish nutritious. Remember that you don't need to eliminate fat from their diet as it is required for the growth and development of the brain. But choose the right kind of fats that naturally occur in vegetables, fruits, milk and other food items," she suggests.