By: Judy Davie - The Food Coach
MUM - This is always shouted in a very loud voice . How many times have you heard that this holiday?
The school holidays are upon us which on one hand is great because you don't have to deal with the what-to-put-in-the-lunch box issue every day, but now they're home they seem to want to eat ALL day!
No one wants to be a sergeant major through the holidays when your kids are having fun, but if you bow to their every consumable demand, you'll go broke pretty fast and the kids won't benefit from it either. Sure a road trip might force you into McDonalds once in a while and a trip to the movies pretty much demands a choc top, but holidays or not when it comes to food and health, your kids body doesn't take a holiday.
It's an easy option is to stock up on biscuits, cakes, ice-creams and pretty much everything else that comes from a box; that way the kids can race into the kitchen, grab what they want and race out again: But there's a big problem in doing that which if you're being honest with yourself, you already know. Packaged food can only survive in boxes for years because of the food additives used to preserve it: Colours added make the food appealing to the eye and flavours enhance the taste in the food to make kids want to eat more. The down side in eating all this garbage is the increased risk of asthma, skin irritations, behavioural problems (actually that's more of a problem for you) and of course increased body fat. Even if your kids are active and don't gain weight, junk food is just that and they shouldn't eat too much of it - except that choc top at the movies!
Here are six healthy swaps that your kids should love which might also save you money
1.Canned soft drink
swap for: a much more rehydrating natural fruit juice, such as pomegranate or cherry juice diluted with sparkling water made in a Soda Stream. It's much cheaper than buying bottle sparkling water and reduces waste: Your kids will love making it too. I call it fart water because of the noise it makes when the gas goes into it. It never fails to give them a giggle.
2.Frozen ice blocks
swap for: watermelon paddle pop. Blend the watermelon to a smooth consistency and pour it into ice-lolly moulds. This is another you can get your kids to make since it's so easy.
swap for: Mango and coconut ice-cream. It's cheaper to buy mangos by the tray but you don't want a race to eat all the mangos before they go off. Instead, cut some mangos up and freeze the cheeks (without the skin). The next time your kids shout they want ice-cream, you or they, can throw the frozen mango into a high speed blender with some coconut milk and lime juice to make (in just a couple of minutes) mango and coconut ice-cream. You can do the same with nectarines and peaches.
swap for: sweetcorn. I know they are hardly the same thing but they'll eat a biscuit in seconds and come back asking for more, whereas the sweetcorn takes ages and, with some butter, is a substantial, inexpensive and nutritious snack. They take 3 minutes to steam so it's no big deal to make.
5.Cheese flavoured crackers
swap for: cheese on crackers with mini tomatoes served alongside. Cheese is a great food for kids. It provides calcium which is so good for their bones and fat with energy that will keep them fuelled for a lot longer than flavoured crackers or chips. Served with the oh-so-sweet mini tomatoes available this summer it's a good solid health snack they will enjoy.
6.Chicken and chips
swap for: sweet potato wedges. Sweet potato has more nutrients than potatoes and they can be baked in far less fat. They are also cheap. There are a number of air fryers on the market which are the best investment for busy parents. A sweet potato cut into wedges and tossed in a tiny amount of oil will bake in 15 minutes. You can also cook chicken drumsticks in the air fryer which is cheaper and MUCH healthier than buying take away chicken.
Don't forget the obvious stuff as well; raw mini carrots, cucumbers and beans, dips that you yourself and fruit has always been and will continue to be the best fast food around.
A final note: If they get stroppy and demand their junk food, tell them that it will affect how well they do on their computer games. Evidently, in a US study conducted on kids between 9 and 14, those who ate the most fast food fared the worst in reading, maths and science. The researchers suggested that fast food diets lack key nutrients, such as iron, and too many bad fat and sugar can impair learning and immediate memory.
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