Whether we like it or not junk or fast food has an underhanded way of finding our children. Exposure to advertising on TV, the internet or simply what family and friends choose to eat carves influences our eating behaviours. While we do our best to try and educate our children between what is ‘sometimes’ and ‘everyday’ food, it can often feel like an uphill battle.
Without villainising ‘sometimes’ foods such as fast-food takeaway, lollies, cake, ice-cream and pastries it is important we talk to our children about how unhealthy foods affect their moods, sleep and energy levels. While our children are young, parents have the ultimate control over what they eat, but as they get older it’s imperative to teach them, like any other life skill – how to make good choices for themselves.
Rather than harping on about nutritional content, children relate to how they are feeling so building awareness through connecting food and mood is a great place to start. Put it simply if we eat foods that make us lazy and tired then we don’t have the energy to run around and do all the fun things we want to in life.
So instead of not allowing our children to have fast food on demand, making mindful choices is where it starts. Spend time explaining to your children why you are making the choices you are and why it may be fun to create some home-cooked foods that replicate your typical fast foods but in a healthier form.
Most savoury and sweet treats have healthier versions – that can be incorporated into your children’s eating repertoire – Here are four examples and who knows, they could become even more favourable.
4 Healthy Fast Food Swaps
McDonald’s – Homemade Burgers
Make your own or buy low-fat mince to create burgers that knock the socks off popular fast-food chain versions. Include ingredients such as lettuce, tomato, melt cheese over the pattie and lightly toast the bun… YUM!
Ice-cream – Coconut ice-cream
My children always loved it when I made this for a treat, just be aware it does include nuts!
+ 2 ripe bananas
+ flesh from one raw coconut (about 1 cup)
+ 2 dates
+ 1/4 cup macadamia nuts
+ 1/2 tsp vanilla
How to make
+ Chop bananas and coconut meat and place in the freezer for 2 hours or until completely frozen
+ In your food processor or thermomix process the frozen banana and coconut meat with dates, walnuts, and vanilla until it resembles a creamy ice cream-like consistency.
+ Serve straight away or scoop into a container and freeze. Simple as that!
* Be as adventurous as you like with this one, you could add cacao powder, honey, berries etc.
Takeaway pizza – homemade pizza
Without trying too hard it is super simple to create healthy pizzas at home that aren’t dripping with cheese. Buy thin pizza bases, add pizza sauce, and include toppings such as cooked chicken, bacon, sliced vegetables, tomato, onion and a sprinkle of cheese.
Thick shake – Smoothie
Not only is it costly to indulge in café drinks for the family – but they are also loaded with more sugar than most children should consume in the day. It’s quick and easy to create smoothie treats at home using frozen fruits, milk of your choice and honey. Acai bowls are always a favourite and with frozen pouches now available at the supermarket you are avoiding the hefty café prices. Add frozen banana, yoghurt and a dash of milk – sprinkle with granola and you’ll soon have a family favourite.