Who does not love fast foods? Well that’s most of us. Fast foods or junk foods ensure convenience for a busy lifestyle; they are awesome to taste and your kids want to eat more. And yes, they also come loaded with saturated fats, excess salt and added sugars, which when consumed in excess, can cause a plethora of lifestyle diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, hypertension, and so on. But refusing your child a pizza, burger or pastries might not always be easy. So, for times like these, here are a few tips that can make fast food lighter and healthier. This way, both sides win. Let’s get to these brilliant ideas.
Choose healthy alternatives
- Order a dosa with less or no oil/butter. Skip the fried potato vegetable along with dosa, and instead choose a mix vegetable curry and chutney.
- Avoid masala butter dosa and go for plain dosa, spring dosa, ragi dosa, mixed cereal dosa, or palak dosa, with less or no oil/butter.
- Choose wheat-based plain paratha, gobi paratha or ajwain paratha, and avoid aloo or paneer paratha. Order fresh curd instead of a cube of butter. Encourage your child to eat some vegetables like onions, cucumber, tomatoes, or fresh methi leaves along with the food.
Cut down on the portion size
- Pick a burger made of wheat flour, and instead of an oversized burger or sandwich, choose a small or regular one. Go for vegetable toppings with minimal cheese/mayonnaise.
- Choose mini dosas or single paratha for your kid and pair it with salad, yoghurt or buttermilk.
Choose grilled side dishes over deep-fried ones
- Avoid deep-fried kebabs or crispy chicken sandwiches and instead choose grilled chicken breast or low-fat fish sides and sandwiches.
- Roasted meat is also a good alternative.
- Consumption of air-fried pakoras rather than deep-fried ones is recommended.
Salt in the diet
All foods have a minimal amount of salt in them, but any extra addition of salt at the table can contribute to cardiovascular diseases. Salt intake of less than 5 grams per day can help adults lower their blood pressure and the risk of heart disease, coronary attack and stroke. So, it is recommended to lower the salt content in your as well as your child’s diet.
Be cautious about carbonated and other beverages
- Carbonated beverages and iced teas contain high amounts of sugar/sweeteners, which can lead to high intake of calories. Instead, choose fresh lime water with minimal or zero sweetener. Coconut water or unsweetened lassi is a wise choice too.
- Instead of carbonated drinks, you can also choose fruit milk shakes or ragi malt without added sugars.
Sharing is caring
If your child is craving fast food, encourage him or her to share with a family member or a friend. This way, he or she will learn interpersonal skills and eat moderately.
Pack homemade snacks
If you are travelling with your kid, try and pack healthy, homemade snacks like whole-wheat sandwiches, plain whole-grain crackers, nuts, dry fruits, whole fruits and so on. This way, you can prevent him or her from indulging in too many fast foods.
Choose food items that are low in fat and high in protein and fibre
- Go for salads with lots of veggies, so that enough fibre and nutrients are consumed.
- Choose a fruit bowl without honey.
- Add black or whole grains to the salad with a small portion of yogurt.
- Choose dry fruits as toppings.
- Go for fruit custard instead of other desserts.
- You should choose baked sweet potatoes instead of French fries. Sweet potatoes are rich in potassium and vitamin A, and are low in calories.
- Groundnut chikki is also a healthy snack option.
- Popcorn can be a good choice for snacks, as it is made of whole grain.
Keep an eye on the nutrient value of canned and packed foods
- Read the nutrient label on canned and packed foods before buying them.
- Avoid high-calorie and high-fat foods.
- Choose fresh fruit juices, flavoured water or fresh lime soda with little salt and no sugar.
- Check the expiry date and manufacturing date on the packaged foods to avoid food poisoning.
All in all, it is possible to make fast foods healthy, if you are a little careful about the portion sizes, ingredients and additions. By being careful yourself, you can inculcate healthy eating habits in your toddler or pre-teen as well.