Fast Food means two things:
A. Food that is readily available.
B. B. Food that looks & so good that it is eaten in minutes.
Given how easy it is to produce in bulk, food brands of the world have worked diligently to popularise fast foods and have enticed children with attractive photographs of the food and toys as giveaways. But, fast foods are certainly not something that should be eaten daily. Why? Mainly because, they aren’t balanced in nutrition and not the best type of food to indulge in regularly, especially during a child’s growing years.
Before we dig deep into the reasons of avoiding junk food and suggesting alternatives, let’s go back in time a bit.
Remember the good old days when we didn’t have video games and 24*7 TV programming to rob us of family dinner times?
Yes, it does seem like that was a generation ago! But it wasn’t that far back. Meal times (the times when we feed our bodies and it, in return, stocks up on energy to allow us to function the whole day) were/are a major part of life and there was nothing back then to mess with it. In the 90s and early 2000s, when technology hadn’t completely invaded our lives, of all other things, we surely had better eating habits. We ate to satiate our appetites and because kids weren’t exposed to fast food ads, they weren’t demanding of the same.
Meals were balanced – had greens, proteins, minerals – and no, children back then, didn’t have to be bribed with extra iPad time to eat their veggies.
And then, marketing of fast foods happened!
Bright flashy ads of colas, pizzas, burgers bombarded the minds of our children and there was no escaping it. Before we knew it, these became a part of our weekly diet, being consumed at least twice/thrice a week. Now, we aren’t saying that children mustn’t eat fast foods at all, but they need to eat these as rarely as possible.
Now, we come back to the why.
Simply put, fast foods are unhealthy!
Let us get some basics right. Fast foods are delicious and very pleasing to the eye, they are easily available and taste good anytime of the day and night. BUT! They have tons of ingredients that are processed, have preservatives and are anything but fresh. Fast foods are often low in fibre content, high on trans fat, and have more sugars and salts when compared to any food that is homemade.
While it is difficult to explain the concept of healthy living (over tasty food) to a child, you can, as a parent incorporate habits that work towards bettering their overall understanding of healthy eating.
Here are certain ways in which you can teach your children all about healthy eating and inculcate that habit in them.
• Make eating greens mandatory for all weekday lunches. It could be lady finger, broccoli or good old french beans, let them know, there’s no option but to eat these.
• Establish one day in the week as Junk Food day. Only and only on this day must you allow your child to eat junk food. This way, they aren’t deprived of these foods, but their intake is highly monitored.
• Lead by example. A child won’t learn much if they see you in indulging in junk food ever so often. So, practise what you preach.
• Have fun while eating! Children love food which looks (colours) and feels (texture) good. So, make a broccoli tree, a mushroom garden, an egg sun and more such make-belief scenarios to capture the imagination (and appetite) of your child.
So, why don’t you go ahead and try out these techniques with your kids?! Try hard, try regularly and you will succeed in inculcating the habit of eating healthy foods in them. If you need inspiration, ask your child what he/she eats at The Learning Curve all day. We follow a balanced diet prepared by nutritionists that is healthy and tasty and novel in nature. Thus, no two meals are repeated and no, kids are never fed any type or form of junk food here.